Hope is that thing that looks harsh reality in the eye, recognizes it for what it is, and still believes that everything is working toward a satisfying and glorious conclusion because God has said so with an eternal “Yes!” Jim McGuiggan
I spent Thanksgiving in the middle of the Sabine National Forest. The foliage was dense and not familiar in the way that Duval County is. Not one cactus in the areas around Toledo Bend Reservoir. Southwest Texas has plenty of thorns. And snakes. I’d never heard of snake boots until Bob started hunting out there.
There are plenty of snakes in southeast Texas, too, but it was just chilly enough for them to be languid and not so excited about an old woman clomping around in hunter orange. Not the best fashion statement but required vestments in the wildlife management areas during hunting season.
I spent more time reflecting as I sat in the deer blind than I would have if I’d joined GE and family for T’giving celebration. I’ve learned that silence contains so much more than sound. When my son Jack died, the voices in my head screamed, ranted, and sobbed for hours at a time. I tried to drown them out with activity and with noise. It didn’t work. My best friend took me to a centering prayer meeting, and in the silence of meditation, I found peace. Funny how the quiet subdues the agitation of my soul.
Today would be Jack’s 27th birthday. I’ve gone through 6 birthdays since he died. The first wasn’t the hardest. Jack’s nephew shares his birthday so I spent the day at the hospital with GE and Jonathan. I spent much of the time threatening God if GE and the baby weren’t perfect. Everything went well. Not because God cowered under the wrath of Margaret, but because things were always going to go ok. New baby excitement exhausted me and I was all over the emotional map.
I find myself following a family tradition on each of his post death birthdays, tracking what we were doing in the 24 hours before his arrival. I know my sisters’ birth stories as I know my own; our mother would detail them as the time of birth got closer. (Do you know what we were doing XX years ago? Your father and I were waiting for our little girl…) I subjected my children to the same nativity trail.
I did the same thing riding with Bob to fill the feeders in Freer. In my mind, of course. Thinking of GE’s pure joy at the thought of meeting her new brother. Remembering, remembering, remembering. It’s kind of like pressing on a bruise sometimes. Other times it’s like ripping out stitches with my bare hands. It’s somewhere in between this year.
Pre-sobriety, I lived my life observing and acting appropriately. I was my personal Deus ex machina, prepared to pull myself out emotionally when the going got muddled. Walking through grief has taught me to live in the moment, accept things as they come, the good and the bad. I’ve learned that I can’t rely on my emotions. The damn feelings betray me. And I’ve learned that it’s ok when they do.
I’ve also learned to rely on God. My concept of God. I love God like I love a best friend. I will never believe that God sent me my son’s death as a lesson, a punishment, a “blessing in disguise.” It is what it is: a terrible loss. It cannot be explained to me as God’s will. That I endure and love and live following my son’s death is God’s mercy.