I will preface this ‘writing’ by setting the stage. Yet again, Peanut-the-cat is curled in the circle of my arms, watching my typing fingers, just in front of the keyboard. Max is whining because my son has just left by the front door and I have shut the door that leads upstairs. No proper good-byes today.
I’ve snacked on strawberries and slices of Sunday’s roast beef, having just returned from a walk with Max, over at the pond where I used to pick up a bag of garbage every day for three months. (to bring my readers up to speed on that…the place is covered with plastics and Tim Horton’s cups and packaging…it makes me sad, but I go there anyway) I sat on the bench that overlooks the pond and just relished in the sunshine, the warmth and the reflections of clouds on water. (Peanut’s head is moving along with my clicking finger tips…click click click. He likes it here.) I enjoyed not thinking about anything, while sitting in the sunshine. I was completely present to all-things-sensory and absolutely nothing was going on in my head. I wasn’t thinking about death or lost youth.
People who think about and write about death are potentially labelled, ‘morbid’…so are people who have preselected the hymns they want sung at their own funerals. I am pretty matter-of-fact about publicly announcing that I want my friend’s homemade salsa and good chips to be served at my wake. For this, one of my children will predictably pipe in, “That’s morbid!”
I have no fear of my own passing. I think it’s because I believe. But losing someone I love, that scares me silly.
It began with Jarrett, I think. I couldn’t figure out how it was even possible that a child could die. (Of course, intellectually, I knew that children died every day…but for the first time in my life, I knew it was so. Do you get what I’m saying?) If I could have been in his mother’s face around the clock, I would have. I just didn’t know how a mother could survive losing her child. So, I sort of wanted to be there to make sure she survived.
When the lost boys started to add up…that’s when I really began to wonder about the safety of my own children. Frank took his own life. He had egged my house when he was in junior high. All of a sudden, I feared that it was because he had to make reparations for that one rebellious act, that all those years later, he would end his life. I wanted to track down the boy who threw the other dozen eggs…just to make sure that he was alright.
Over the years, I watched in disbelief as parents lost their children, too many to mention. Even now, I lift up a silent prayer as I type…remembering each one. Peanut slips out of my arms and plunks onto the floor.
My daughter lost Jordan. She had a whole heap of memories and moments shared with him and in an instant he was gone. I took a pot of purple pansies to his mother. I sat on her couch and stared blankly. What words are there? From the outside, you look at the activities of the families who have lost their precious children…and they all seem so ordinary and at the same time, surreal. Someone smiles. Someone makes coffee. The living continue to move through time and space, but utterly changed. As I drove away that evening, I remembered thinking…”I believe.” But there, in the circle of the family, there are no words. There are only the prayers that you utter while your windshield wipers flop back and forth and the sky looks so dark.
My daughter has lost so many friends since losing Jordan. These are all beautiful beings, filled to bursting with passion, emotion, life force…brilliant light.
I thought my daughter needed help after Patrick died. Now I’m thinking, “Is this just me?” She mentioned, as though she knew from a lifetime of wisdom and experience, “before the time comes around to get help, the wall will already be up.” What is it that I can’t seem to put up that wall?
I sink madly into an empathy that I can not really feel because my children are with me. I feel grateful every single day for the joy of the crappy days with them, as much as the joy for the awesome days with them. Every day is a good day when your children are safe.
I think, though, that we all grieve at the loss of other people’s children. I get sad when I hear of the civil bombardment on the streets of Syria…with the loss of so many children. Just as it is said that it takes a village to raise children, I think that we all suffer tremendous loss when young people die.
This is a bit of disconnected writing, but it is essentially a bit of healing as well. I’ve been following one person’s journey and I am moved beyond belief at the courage it takes for one sister to step into each day without her brother. All of the ordinary stuff continues, but with a hugely surreal twist.
If there is one thing that I have learned from the living…and those who have lost their lives…it is that I want to take nothing for granted. I want to treasure every one in my life and cause them to feel treasured. I am deeply blessed.