In one day? There are times when life can only be endured from moment to moment to moment if truth be told. January 15 will be the 5th anniversary of my son Jack’s death. It all happened in one day, 1826 days ago.
How strange that I could fall asleep worrying about him and his future, mildly annoyed with him, and wake up, sucked into a black hole of loss. In one day.
I think “black hole” is apt, too. A black hole absorbs all light, the end point of a star. Objects falling into a black hole can’t come back. Never.
After Jack’s death, I heard phrases like “God has a plan” and “He’s in a better place.” Behind my nod and murmur of thanks was a big old “Go to hell!” I don’t believe God plans for any of us to lose our children. I refuse to believe that. I believe the free will of others can crush us, though. And as far as the “better place?” The jury’s still out about whether there’s any place after we leave this one. Somehow, heaven seems to me like an eat your vegetables and THEN you can have dessert kind of proposition. I like the idea; I just can’t hold out and endure in hopes for a magical better place.
Do you know how very often a shy child will come to you if you just sit quietly and wait? That’s the way God was with this heartsick hurt mother. Waited and gave me time to turn back. I had plenty of God’s people to listen to me and hold my hand and tell me I wasn’t alone. Meanwhile, God withheld lightning strikes when I screamed into the night, “You filthy bastard God!” God just waited until I was quiet and surrounded my heart with peace, muffled the voices in my head that shrieked blame and regrets. Time takes time and nothing happens in one day when it comes to grief.
One of the things people said that I dearly hated was that I’d have to learn a “new normal.” Really? I think you get a new normal if your company closes down or you retire or get a divorce. Losing your child? That’s abnormal. And it never gets a texture that feels like normal. In the first few years, I hated being asked how many children I have. What should I say? And if I say a daughter near Austin and a son in heaven, will I have to endure “What happened? I mean, if you don’t mind talking about it”? I want to say that I was a normal mom thinking I had problems with my son and then my son died. That’s what happened. No, normal goes out the window and abnormal flies in.
In one day. Everything changes. Anything can happen.
A few weeks ago my friend called to say her husband suffered a cerebral hemorrhage after taking her mother back home. She’d just enjoyed a breakfast and was relaxing when the earthquake hit. Instead of doing chores, making time pass until her husband got back, looking forward to an evening with her love, fear and decisions smacked her. Life turns on a dime, not in a day.
On this 1,826th day after Jack the Crazy Head, my silly son, moved on, I don’t know what will happen. That’s the way grief is for me. I am as powerless over this loss as I am alcohol. Will I have flashbacks to that day when I drive to work? Relive the race behind a speeding ambulance carrying my dying son? Will the doctor’s cruel words echo in my head when I sit at my desk? Who knows?
I endure the grey noise of sorrow, but joy seeps into my life. Jack’s unremitting YES personality makes it hard to summon a memory that doesn’t end in a smile.