That time of year

IMG_4530Grief has layers like an onion and quite frankly some stink more than others.   Death and life are all around me each vying for my attention.

Recently a friend has suffered the death of her husband.  He was my friend too, but I was not as close with him.  Beloved in his community , touching the lives of so many, he is going to be sorely missed.   The death was sudden and unexpected and I have to say I can’t identify with her loss except for the abrupt nature of the loss.   I have not lost a spouse.

My son life touched lives.  He is remembered, but humans are only able to remember so much for so long.  Those of us who now have grief as a member of our household can’t escape its presence.   Those who remember our loved ones do so intermittently and we learn to pardon them because if we could choose we might let more go ourselves.

The layer of the onion I have worked my way into is that of recognizing my friends grief and being powerless.  My advice for her is only my own findings. I am willing to  help, I only have advice about coping skills that might help , but maybe not.  I can’t change her situation any more than I can mine.   That is the problem.

Her husband was relatively young as is she.   They had no children.   She is a cheerful upbeat person – so people will expect a lot from her.  I hope she learns quickly that there is only so long you can wear the mask.   You folks who house grief know what I am talking about and I know you know  how exhausting it is to wear that “I’m alright” mask.

The Christian world is turning towards Advent and welcoming again the birth of a child who came to bring peace and the seal of salvation.   God allows death.He did not forbid it for the one He called His own son.   I struggle every year.  No I take that back, I struggle every day with the things I hear said by people who say they believe in this god.

I don’t think men have gotten much right about Him.   So if He is indeed willing to forgive me then I assume He forgives others for the crazy things they say and attribute to Him.    My son died.  My friend’s husband died and I don’t understand.   Every human’s passing scratches at the scar tissue and the scabs that still exist on my heart.  I don’t know why good people have to die.

I don’t believe it was my son’s time or my friend’s husbands time.  I do believe that accidents happen and that our fragile genetics predispose us to all sorts of ailments that can, in the right situation cause fatal problems.     That at least explains my son’s death and my friend’s husband’s death.   Could God have created a world without death?  We are told he has that waiting for us after our earthly bodies death.  I hope this is true.  I really do.  But sometimes it is hard to wrap my mind around because larger for me is the fact  I really miss my son and I know my friend will always miss her husband.

It is that time a year again.  It feels like we were just talking about all this just yesterday.  Actually I think we were.

Posted in anger, Coping with the Death of a Child, Death, Faith, Family, Holidays, Marraige | Leave a comment

June

IMG_6848Tomorrow is June the 2nd. It makes one month from the 7th anniversary date of my son’s death.    I had all intentions of avoiding the cycle I have seen myself enter each year around this time.   Now at year seven, I am accepting that resisting is futile.

 

I continue to have random grief attacks.  I saw a tall young man with his family out and about the other day and cried all the way home.  It is not the kind of weeping that requires me to pull over but it makes me slow down.  I keep boxes of tissues in the car anyway but mainly because of this.

 

There is that feeling too that comes which I can only describe as wanting to burst and not with joy.  I find myself inhaling and not able to exhale.  I tense up and hold  my breath for some reason until somehow my body’s functions forces me to exhale.

 

I shake my head “no” a lot.  I address  the empty room or the horizon or the beautiful Spring plants.  I feel like I am telling them, no, I won’t give in right now.  Don’t look at me that way, I have things to do.    If I give in I may not be able to climb back out.

 

Yet, I do climb out.    Not always able to be jovial or cordial even, but out, and doing the things that “have to be done.”    I shake my head, no, at them too.

 

I don’t think the grief weighs less, I have just gotten accustomed to the weight.     The sharp edge of yearning never dulls.    It never dulls.   Maybe that is part of that feeling like I am going to burst.

 

I have perfected the self talk for almost all occasions.  I say almost all because those occasions still occur that dismantle all my efforts very quickly.    Yet even those occasions give me the excuse to unleash a little of the tamped down anger I still harbor, so those times are not without use.

 

Death.  I’ve known about it from such a young age.  Perhaps there are cultures who don’t dread it, or fear it, but that is not a part of the culture I grew up in.  I don’t  know what to do with it anymore.

 

I have been able to separate it from those who are with me now in this life.  I think my son would be annoyed if I allowed the times I have with his sister or his dad to be diminished and not enjoyed to the best of my ability.  There were times when I could not avoid it but I try to be in the moment when I am with them and savor everything about the time with them.

 

Lots of broken things continue to function on some level.    Some days I am better at functioning than others.

 

He will always be my son.  I will always be his mother, living or dead that is what we are. The time I give him now, in my grief is not wasted.  Were he still here I would be giving him all the time he asked for.   I can’t say no concerning my time to my children.   He is not claiming more than he deserves, or more than he is worth and it is not wasted, it is not wasted because even in that grief there is love.   Love is truly that energy that can never be created nor destroyed – only transferred.

 

I whisper it to the air every day.  I wake with it and go to sleep with it amid all those thoughts and hopes for those I love.

 

Miss you so much sweetheart.   Love you forever.

 

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child, Death | 4 Comments

Times like these

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Sometimes I forget important things. I forget little things very frequently. Where I laid my phone, or my watch. I find things I value in unexpected places and then I am consumed with trying to figure out why I thought at the time that was good place to put them.

 
Sometimes I am so busy with something like my artwork that for a short time I forget everything. Perhaps it is not so much forgetting as “not thinking about” certain things. I don’t think about my husband or daughter or my son.

 
One type of thinking about all of them is through memory of times past and comparing them to the present. My son is totally in memory. There are times I attempt to project what things would be like with him in the present were he still here but that usually leads to hours of tears. So sometimes I stop myself when I am tempted to do that – it takes up what little time I have.

 
I think about how things used to be. Or a photo shows me a scene and I try to patch together every memory I have about it. Some times the memories are like a scene in a movie where the camera rushes in close up. I imagine my pupils dilate becoming like dark wells with every thought spilling down into me. There are times when I come across a photo that I put it aside deliberately because I know the gravitational pull it will have on my emotions.

 
I understand that my emotions are not who I am. They are an expression, a chemical reaction at times and anything from a smell or a sound, a refrain of music or the appearance of a bird silhouette against a cobalt blue sky can evoke an emotion. At times I have the presence of mind to hold them at arm’s length and regard them in context. Sometimes I just give in to them, pile them up on the bed with the curtains closed and wallow in them or allow them to drip onto the book I am reading, the painting on the easel.

 
The evidence of the passing of time with the traces on my face and hair, the backs of my hands cannot be overlooked. I feel it in my body’s joints. My son is never going to grow old which is something not only I but the world should regret.

 
He (as I know so many others who have passed too soon) had so much to contribute to a world who could have used a mind like his. I find this to be the most difficult thing to get past when I think of him. I understand that everyone is of value and I as most parents have wondered why I could not exchange places with him. Then I think of my daughter and when she was so ill and could not take her place in treatment either. It was not possible.

 
It is hard to accept what is yours sometimes; the courage to live out your life anyway. The ability to recognize your talents for what they are – tools to be used in any way you see fit – whether just for yourself or for others and accepting the consequences. And I really hate consequences.
Yet this life is the life I have. If Stephen Hawking is correct and there are other mes and others of my son in parallel universes it does me no good here speculating. It serves only to frustrate the fact I can’t send a message to her son to tell of the consequences his choice might bring about. But perhaps where they are there are no rocks to climb or ropes there are failsafe.

 
Sometimes I hesitate to even write about it any more. It can become like a locomotive engine hitching itself to my train of thought for the whole day and taking me where I do not what to go where there is regret and self-recrimination, doubts and frustration. I understand that I have experienced part of this every Spring when the green world turns its face to me daring me to not sigh over its beauty.

 
It would be more beautiful for me and my husband and daughter if our son and brother were still here, laughing with us, teasing us, coaxing us to try new things, hike and embrace this world. We do these things still but they are shaded differently and sometimes the poignancy of the missing number in our family equation equals grief and yearning that cannot be swept away.

 
Sometimes I still want to think I am mistaken. That he cannot possibly have died, that he is somewhere else – traveling and enjoying his life. It never lasts long and perhaps it is the passing of the years that have truncated that fantasy , though it is a soothing one to indulge in, sometimes.

 

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child, Death, Family, Memories, mindfulness | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

the end of the year

IMG_2812I have started and abandoned a number of writings this year.  The overwhelming feelings rush over me.  I loath to admit it is the fear of loosing the entire day if I dare to acknowledge out loud or at least on paper that I am trying to keep control of one more day. This day if no other day and then the next day and then the next.  Stepping stones across the time I have left while trying with all my might to stay in the present.

I’ve got so much left to pay attention to.  People who matter  to me, events in their life and my own and joy to find.   Sadness or grief or whatever you want to call remains a constant companion.   I used to try and avoid triggers.  I gave up.   Memories of my son permeate everything.

He is everywhere and in everything . At every event I attend because I have to mention him at some point to new people and old friends just have to figure out for themselves how to handle it when I mention him casually.   He is a part of me, so if you want to be with me you have to be with him.  And that is true concerning my husband and daughter and even my dogs.  They are a part of me.  Take it or leave it.

Writing about him, or how I feel seems almost superfluous at this point.  To write of him is to write about everything.   He is in my writing as are my other family members and loved ones.   They all influence me and infuse me with their wisdom, insights and the light they bring to my life.   I feel him all the time.  Early on after his death that was not true.

I worried that I would loose that “feeling” of him.   Surprisingly it has grown and if anything it is like the cloud I travel in with him.

Oh, there are still plenty of tears, anger, frustration – impotent rage about the unfair aspect of living and dying.  I feel it when I watch the news too, or view how things are going in our world.   What little we can influence for good we should do -for whatever time we have left in which to do it.  And there is no measuring ourselves against others.  Just us, in our sphere doing what we can for as long as we can with all that we have to give to the effort.

Most important in all of this I find it necessary to be true to myself.  I am a person  my son loved ( my daughter and husband too.)  I must be me and the best me I can be.   It is my gift to myself in honor of the love my son had for me.   Its much more complicated than I make it sound.  It can become a goal or something to just remind yourself of when you are tempted to refashion yourself.  Be true to the person your child knew, morally, ethically, in your generosity and insight and your ability above all else to give love.

So if there is a wish for the new year for all who have lost a beloved child it is this:  That their memory of you might surround you and bring you comfort.  That they may remind you how beautiful you were to them and that you might become that again to someone who is still here and needs you.  There are still gifts and joy to share.

To my son.  You know I love you.  Always will.  I will be now and forever your mom.

 

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child, Death, Family, Friends, Holidays, Memories, mindfulness | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Every Day is Mother’s Day

My mother used to say “every day is mother’s day.”    As a child I never knew what to make of that.   I am loath to admit I thought she meant that we were supposed to put her up on a pedestal, bring her flowers and candy every day.   Maybe we should have.   She never explained herself.   She would have a look that my young eyes could not discern and later with repetition of the phrase, I came to ignore it.

There were things I made for my mother that I wanted to give her.  They were met with mixed reactions.   I had my feelings hurt.  There were things that I gave my mother because I thought she expected them and when she would gush over them it felt hollow.

I wonder how many times I have done that to my own children?    My mother is gone now.    She was not an easy woman.    I don’t miss that.  I miss what I wanted and did not have.    Perhaps that is what all missing is.

My daughter is a person of great compassion.  She and I share a sense of humor and a sense of taste.   I love her audacity, complexity and drive.   I love that she is so strong while being so fragile.  She is a giver, a nurturer and a true friend if you are lucky enough to win her favor – which is very easy to do because of her generosity.   She is able to learn anything she sets her mind to and is willing to go whatever lengths it takes to do so.   She appreciates nature, music, beauty, ideals.  She lifts up the fallen, cheers for the underdog, and I think sees people – and tries to appreciate them for who they are.

Her brother is gone and left her at a juncture in her life when they were just beginning to be friends again.   The teenage years were gone when both were struggling to be independent.     He saw in her all the things I saw and maybe even more.   As a male I am sure he had insights I missed.

There are photos of them together at every age.  The bond they shared was emotional and physical.   He was a perfect match for her genetically as we found out after his death.

Because of them I have my own understanding of the phrase “every day is mother’s day.”  There is no day that my children are not a part of.   My daughter with her calls, visits and checking in.   My son in my memory.  I carry them both in my heart.

As much as I would like to think that I was a part of the nurturing that made them who they are and were – I have to admit that the gifts they imparted to me have made me who I am for better or worse.

So I write this and do not include a photo of flowers or candy.   No image of children or mother’s with babes in arms.   I say simply to my daughter and to my son – thank you for making every day mother’s day.

I love you both so much.

Forever.

Mom

 

History Channel’s history of Mother’s Day

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child, Holidays, Memories, mother's day | 2 Comments

Furniture

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I have in my studio the one non-office chair my son purchased. It is chair from Ikea. I was with him when he shopped for it. In the Ikea store they have this  same model of the chair in a plexiglass container along with a device that simulates a human sitting down and standing up over and over and over. I think he really wanted that whole contraption with the simulated human butt for his home but ended up with all that they would make available – the chair. The seat and back are covered in blue fabric and the arms and frame are wooden, curved in an arch that supports the seat and back. You can bounce slightly in the chair. One of my dogs prefers it to sleeping on the floor on the big dog pillow I have for them. I keep a towel in the seat because of the dog’s habit.
My son bought himself a bed frame too. The rest of his furniture was comprised of hand me downs. There were two futons that his dad and I purchased for him. I never found them comfortable for sitting or sleeping but there again his dogs seemed to like them.
There is something very adult about buying furniture. I remember the first purchase my husband and I made of two rattan swivel rockers. I wish I still had those chairs they were so comfortable, but I gave them away. I have given away a lot of furniture.
Furniture is intimate stuff. A lot of things happen there. Eating, reading, sleeping, relaxing and other things too intimate to mention here. Crumbs and fur get buried deep into the crevices, earrings disappear, jellybeans, tissues.
The back of the couch in our den is torn to bits from our two dogs who love to perch there. We bought leather but I did not realize the top part of each cushion along the back was vinyl. Dog claws applied with great enthusiasm as they use it to hurdle from den deck window to breakfast room window have damaged it. We have placed a quilt over the back but the dogs have decided they must remove it and dig into it to cuddle down to sleep.
There are scratches too on the window facing of the breakfast room window. My dogs stand with their feet against the window watching squirrels at the feeder. The den deck door is painted with nose prints.
We leave our mark too.
Perhaps not as indelibly on woodwork and floors as the marks dog claws make. But the marks are there all the same.
My sister once carved her initials into a wooden toilet seat in boredom and then tried to claim it was not her. I carved up a vinyl chair once when I was a child – the forbidden razor blade slid so smoothly through the vinyl.
There is a very uncomfortable wooden church pew on our patio. It was meant to keep church goers awake – sitting ramrod straight and hard against bony hip bones. I wonder who sat there and where their mind wandered.
My daughter bought her own mattress and bed frame. She has accepted many hand-me-downs too.
There is a point where you want to express your own taste and style. It comes with time if it is something you are interested in.
The chair in my studio resembles my son’s taste. Functional, comfortable, no frills – thin framed, light, portable and slightly laid back – like him. I feel it curve against my back as I sit here to write. I wish he had stayed around long enough to wear it out.

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The End of March

Dear Son,

Your dad has retired from his job.  He seems to be content with the choice.  He could have worked longer.  He could be like some men I know who identify so closely with their job that leaving it is like leaving a part of themselves.  Surprisingly it is not so for him.

He works in the yard as much if not more than he ever did.  We have the chickens and he dotes on them.  He is getting bee hives soon and I hope they are successful.  We worry about bees because of environmental concerns.   The solar panels will soon be a year old and they have provided well for us.  We talk about travel but never make plans.

Ms. Ebbie died.   Do you know that?   She had a great day playing with Newman.  I actually did a video of her that day because she was so playful.   She lay down that night in one of her usual spots and when we went to get her to go to bed we found that she had died.   She would have been 16 on Tuesday.

Daddy buried her up on the hill with Kaycee, Sonny, Honey and Cocoa.   I made a new marker that hangs up there now and catches the morning sun reflecting it into the kitchen.    The boys seemed confused by her absence at first but now seem to have adapted and maybe it is my imagination but  somehow they seem more close.

We have a hard time venturing far from home.    It settles on us sometimes like some sort of apathy or maybe it is fear.   Maybe we are just weary.  Making plans; especially elaborate plans makes me feel weary.   This has been a weary year thus far.

The presidential election has not helped the feeling of weariness.   It began with dread that now has merged into a daily need to walk to the train track where our country is speeding along and see what is going to crash.   I am loath to say it because in some ways I would like to get your opinion but in other ways it is probably better that you not know.

I am sure there are people who have been my friends who view me differently now.   I am vocal (and I know that does not surprise you).  I try but probably do not succeed in not being  vitriolic.

The problems that you expressed concerns about six years ago have only gotten worse.   Everything you observed and I so hoped you were wrong about has proved to be correct.  The world could use more wisdom and insight like yours and we just don’t have it.

We miss you.  Your dad and sister and I miss you.   The reminders have not ceased, the situations in which we find ourselves when we are so aware of your absence have not decreased.  I have accepted the fact that each day I will look for you and often find something of you somewhere.   Maybe that is why it is hard to plan a way to leave home for any length of time.

Yet I know that if we were to travel we would find you there too.

I know I am not going to fix the situation our country is in.  I feel like it is important to be involved because of you and your sister and your dad.  It is important to me to be a part of any solution that I can – whatever that might mean.   I feel like I must honor all of you- my family- however I can with the days of my life.

I can’t retire from being a mother.    And though your dad can retire from public work neither can he retire from being a dad, nor your sister- your sister.   That has been driven home to me.

At night I pray and sometimes it is only to repeat the Lord’s prayer because all other words fail me.  I ask for healing yet people die.  I ask for peace yet wars rage.  I ask for equality yet misogyny, prejudice and discrimination reign.    I recognize that I am having to deal with my misunderstanding of God and my own sad acceptance of mankind as broken.   I wish you could weigh in here.

There are so many words I have spoken to you as the days pass.  So many thoughts that seem almost like prayer that I give up to the universe hoping they reach you.     Power and control are the cruelest delusion.

Know this as you have always known.  In this we are all secure.

We love you.

Always have, always will.

Forever,

MomIMG_3610

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The season of reason

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This is the 5th Christmas season since the death of our son. Something about the numbers five, ten, fifteen and twenty and the milestones they represent taunt those of us who continue to grieve, yearn for and miss our children.
During this year I have felt myself waking up. I don’t mean that I have literally been asleep but parts of me have been. I’ve had a difficult time paying attention in the past five years. There are things that have happened that are documented complete with photographs that startle me a little when I realize “When did we do that?”
One of the things that I have been unaware of is the political state of this country. My son would have kept me on my toes about that. He would have pointed to trends, warning signs and fallacies. He would have held me accountable and questioned my understanding of the issues. He would have been being vocal.
Given the state of things now, I expect he would be applying for citizenship elsewhere.
I am a bit ashamed that I have not honored him by continuing to be alert concerning these issues because though they do not effect him now, they do my daughter and my family and friends.
My son was not overly impressed by the outgoing president. He understood my joy when Mr. Obama was elected but he also understood there is no perfection in any man. I can’t begin to understand the complexity of being commander in chief. There are things in which Mr. Obama has a right to take pride and other things that will be laid as blame at his feet. It is true for every presidency.
I can’t write about my son or family any more without it being cast in the light of what is going on in Washington. I am not a part of a family who has made and inherited millions and billions of dollars so there is no chance for me to make a bid for public office. Even in the most public of arena’s I have a very small voice and very little sway.
I can ,however, go back to the things I learned in civics classes, sociology and philosophy. I can draw conclusions based on the premise that during all these years I have seen played out again and again. That is the premise that “past behavior is a predictor of future behavior.”
I won’t use this page to deride anyone.
I am disappointed in the things a large portion of our nation believes or at lease says they believe by the votes that they cast. I really thought that people had gotten past the color of a person’s skin. I witness that there has been little change in perception concerning gender and objectification of women. There is an oppression going on in places where it seems to be done because of entitlement which is a concept I have never understood. I worry about the environment and support efforts to preserve it – most recently by installing solar panels on our home. I know my son would like that.
I don’t understand the source of the anger that I feel and see. I have been taught that anger is a manifestation of fear. I can’t quench everyone’s fear but if there are words that can be said or things that can be done to help, I am willing to try.
My biggest fear was always that of loosing my children.
After my son died I was angry for a while. Angry at God, angry at the world for being so unaware of the pain of such loss. So you understand why when we are shown the brutality of loss day after day in the news it becomes easier to go back to sleep.
I can’t stop children from dying. Wars, disease, mistreatment, accidents and addictions take control away from us. Being unable to control is the one thing we as parents of loss understand and are frustrated by. Now there are people who are lining up to take active roles in making choices for us that we have no control over either. I truly hope though I doubt that all have good intentions.
So what can I wish for everyone (myself included) this season while many of us mark another year without our child?
I wish that we may stay informed and keep a level head.
I wish that we take nothing for granted, good or bad and that we search out the truth in all things.
I wish that we will take a good hard look at our neighbor and see how at the core we are very much alike and that if we believe in a Creator then we must accept that we were all created in His image- every nation, tribe and people.
I wish that though we cannot bring our children back that we can live a life that would, if they could or can see us, would make them proud.
I love my son and I miss his voice more than ever in this world that needs a voice of calm reason.

 

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Socially acceptable

 

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When the hard things happen in life – the failures, the losses and defeats- social media has become a spotlight that few can stand in for long. The struggle most of us already have to know the right and polite thing to say gets stretched. We not only want to say the right thing but also want the thing we have said to be judged as good – to get as many “likes” as we can. Our posts have become our vanity plate.
For the hurting, the wounded,the one whose hopes and dreams are now shattered and scattered like dry fall leaves there is the conundrum as to whether it would help to bare their soul or to simply disappear. How does either make them look? And the fact that we worry about how we look in the eyes of others is most disturbing because at times it seems to override all decisions.
The concern about how we look, how we present ourselves is based mostly in facade. The political arena is perhaps the most obvious place, but it happens in our jobs, our schools, our churches and sadly even in our homes. There is nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward or choosing to try and put the best authentic face on something that you can. Social media, however, has become a new gauge of benchmarks. It is a lie.
Social media is subjective. It is driven by the users, their culture, their sense of right and wrong, and their own life experiences. Who has not cringed when they have heard the words they hated coming out of other’s mouths now coming out of their own and to make it worse they are typing them and inflicting them on others.
When Jesus squatted and drew in the dust sitting alongside the women caught in adultery whose accusers stood armed with stones to kill her, he averted his eyes just long enough to give the accusers the time to retreat. He knew that by not looking them in the eye they also had the opportunity to raise their stone against him in their anger and indignation. The question I have always had in this scenario is where was the man with whom she committed adultery but it was a dominate male culture – that Jesus recognized and stepped in to avert.
On social media you can just imagine how that story would have been handled. Misogyny, discussions of adultery, who was her paramour, would the children suffer, who was wronged, who was right -hit like, love, wow, angry. The point about forgiveness and understanding that there was not one person anywhere who had not committed something either outright or in their heart that convicted them also of human crime would be buried under reaction. We are a nation that reacts and spews opinions without even recognizing the stones we are throwing as we hide behind our keyboards.
Watching “The Durrells in Corfu” last night on PBS there was a character portrayed – a prisoner that is befriended by the youngest Durrell boy. His wife had died when he shoved her in anger and he had gone to prison for it. The wife had fallen and hit her head when he shoved her. He stood by her grave and confessed that within him flowed a river of tears.
I read the posts on social media. I see a lot of fluff and I wonder what is flowing underneath it all.
For me there is a constant current that sometimes threatens to flood my life – the loss of my son is a part of every day. Friends have lost husbands to health issues, friends have lost friends to suicide, accidents and the host of parents who have lost a child or children are a part of my network.
All these events no can do a thing to remedy – to bring back those who are lost to us or to rewrite he days that lead to their demise. What is strangest to me is that few outside of this group and some within it have not learned how to offer condolences. We are expected to get over it as others do the simple bumps and bruises of life.
Yet give them a political, economic or military situation that they disagree with and they release a diatribe without any intention of putting their warm body in the front line to change it. Nor will they physically give the grieving a hug and say “I am so sorry. I am sorry that your son is no longer in this world. When did we become so stunted, emotionally and lacking empathy. When did we growto believe that the face we put on for everyone else is the real thing.
In the scene with Jesus we are never told how many men were there poised to stone the woman. We are never told who was first to put their stone down and walk away. We are not told if Jesus or anyone else put an arm around her shoulders as she kneeled there sniveling and shaking expecting her life to end. We are not told how she was treated by the community afterwards, whispered about and held at arms length – talked about behind her back perhaps never again embraced. We don’t know. We can’t ask.
Today, with our social media we can ask. We can use it for good as well as evil. We can ask after those who we know are hurting, hiding, depressed, suffering, drowning in the river of grief that flows through them though they post only the things that others might want to see. Sincerely asking does not make grief worse. By giving it a name, by acknowledging the pain we actually gain strength. Pretending that the posts of sunsets and kittens, balloons and birthday parties really represents what is going on in a life is a lie.
Soon enough all the swords drawn to do political battle will be sheathed and put away again. Just words without action to back it up or to make any material difference for a suffering neighbor. “You who are without sin, cast the first stone.” Jesus said and knelt to draw with his finger in the dirt.
If all you can do is drop your stone and walk away it is possible that that might be enough. But you might want to learn how to take those few steps, offer a hand to the ones kneeling waiting for the blow to fall and help them. Look into their face if you dare because you might just see your own face mirrored there.

Posted in anger, Coping with the Death of a Child, Death, Faith, Family, Friends | Leave a comment

Saturday, July 2nd

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Dear Son,

I remember distinctly July 2nd 2011. I know there are details missing, but there are details that stand out – that are burned into my brain. I have a few days that are like that – but I have allowed the dates to blur – but that day and awful date I remember. I am sure there are others who remember it too. Maybe they don’t remember the exact date – but because it came in such close proximity to the 4th of July – perhaps they do. I hope for them some of the pain has eased.
If there were a box or a devise to secure those memories out of the way maybe someone would want to use it. I would not.
I don’t remember July 2nd of 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. I know the days came and went and I am sure there were tears but I cannot tell you one other thing I did. Maybe there is something on a calendar somewhere or something I wrote that day. Beyond that there is nothing.
So how will I remember today besides the fact that it has been five years since I last saw you? Maybe these few words will remain. I wish they held more.
I know this sounds crazy but I still worry that you suffered. I think that is every parents fear. I am astonished at myself that I did not worry this much over the other times when you obviously suffered. Maybe I did but not to this obsessive degree. A lot of those times you kept hat suffering to yourself. You were if nothing else a meticulously private person.
For a while I hated the days after you died for moving me farther and father from you. Now I realize almost daily that I am moving closer to you.
As for people “feeling sorry” for me or our family I’ve decided it is okay. If people can feel “sorry” because you are not here, then I’ll accept that . People need to feel something these days.
Conversely, I feel sorry for them. They didn’t get to know you (if you would have let them). I remember when I told you that I had run in to the mother of young man you had known as a child you lost touch with. She and I agreed to remind you of each other and you were so annoyed with me – at us – the meddlesome moms! Then her son Caleb reached out to you and you responded and the friendship that ensued! It still makes me smile.
You introduced me to Matt and Zach, Travis, Joseph, P.T., Chris, Andrew, Jennifer among so many others. You shared your friends with me. What a gift!
Thank you for teaching me about dinosaurs, praying mantis, cobras, birds of prey, hiking, ethnic foods,craft beer, authors I would have never read and philosophy. I might never have considered learning about any of those things had it not been for you.
Thank you for loving us, your family.
So today is another day to pull out all the poignant, fine, sparkling memories. Louise Penny in her book The Long Way Home says “Maybe every now and then he (she) simply wept. Not in pain or sadness. The tears were just overwhelming memories, rendered into water, seeping out. (You) could almost see the images inside the tears.”
I love you babe.

Forever – Mom.

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child, Death, Family, Friends | 3 Comments