I saw a poster in the entry way of one our eclectic restaurants in our small town. It was advertising a lecture on the subject “are we really here?” I smiled to myself at the time, but now as evidenced by my writing you can tell I have thought about that subject. I know in the past year I have certainly asked myself that question.
I had one life prior to July 2nd 2011 and now I have another. The people I love and am the closest to in my family changed and continue to change. I know that I do too. I wish I could say that it is all for the best, but that jury is still out. My husband, daughter and I continue to adjust and readjust. My daughter and I are closer in many ways than we have ever been before. Would it be this way were her brother still with us? I have no way of knowing.
My husband and I process some things differently, but thankfully we do communicate. He is a tender hearted man with a non-fixed flash point. When he is finally at his limit he flares. Much about our son’s death has triggered anger in him. Talking to other men who have lost a child, I have found this is common. For men the need to be the protector, to prevent and stave off danger is a big instinct. Not being able to protect their child is devastating.
The subject of “are we really here” can be taken a number of ways. There were not a lot of clues as to the slant of this lecture. I wondered if the speaker was going to talk on the idea that we all exist in some sort of “Matrix” like world. If you have seen the movie then you know what I am talking about. We are all asleep in little bubbles with a simulated world being fed to our neural ganglia.
I would take it a different direction. After the death of your child is anyone really able to really be here? It is easy to get lost in a fog of memories, regrets, anger, disappointment. It is easy and perhaps justified to feel sorry for ourselves, to feel sorry for our child that is gone, to feel sorry for our children that remain if there are any who remain. Certainly and justifiably we re-prioritize concerning the activities we want to take part in and the people we want to spend time with. It is unfortunate that such a tragedy is the thing that precipitates this re-evaluation.
The shocking revelation when we come to it is that there was never any real normal. It was just the way things were for that time. I know this because outside of my small world I have watched others still occupied by their “normal” – change. The push and pull of the world as time continues to pass alters many things and with the push and pull comes change, adaptation.
Hopefully not just change, but real growth. The hope is that we can become better in some way. In some things we simply cope for a while. In other ways we adapt. We have been doing this in one way or another all our life and mostly by choice. This adaptation is not of our choosing. Now we have to choose to “really be here” or not.
One of the thoughts that has helped me is to imagine my son telling me what he wants for me. Picturing him – not as he was when he passed, but healthy and secure and happy telling me what he wants for me. He was in part what he was because of me and I am in part, what I am, because of him. Truth is we did not always agree. He had a way of pushing that sometimes made me uncomfortable but I appreciate the fact that he had high expectations for me.
Can we choose to “really be here” because of them and despite our loosing them?
My son was an encouragement to me. He expected me to try new things, to step out of my comfort zone. He expected me to read and learn, to evaluate and connect. He cheered me on in my art and my writing. He wanted me to do the things I could do and to do them well. I wanted that for him too. He never disappointed me.
I am trying to be present and it is an act of conscious will. Responsible and accountable in this day because I may not have another. I cannot live a surrogate life for him. I don’t know what he might be doing right now were he still here. I know he would still be expressing his love for me, for his dad, for his sister. I know he would be encouraging his friends and looking forward to new adventures.
My perspective on life has changed. It probably would have changed regardless. Perhaps the changes would have been more subtle but there again I have no way of knowing. It is changing still whether I am participating or not. I want to be more aware of the changes, I want to roll with the punches. I want to help others move forward at what ever pace they can manage.
Lament and tears are a daily part of the routine for now. Perhaps that will change one day too. If it does I might let you know. Until then, while I am here-missing my son-but partly because of him and despite his death, I will try and really be here. I can, at least, continue to try.