One of the strangest things I remember from the morning I was told my son had passed away were the odd thoughts that went through my head. And, the strange things that I remember more distinctly than other things that would seem to me to be more memorable. For instance, moments after the deputies told me he had not survived the car accident, I remember thinking, “Then, why did he get his broken ankle fixed?” What? Why would I think such a thing? It seemed like I was thinking, “If he was just going to die, why would he have to spend the time in surgery, recovery and therapy to get his broken ankle fixed?” I totally do not understand that line of thought. I think it was born of anger, but I’m not sure.
I remember many things from the first few hours “post horrific announcement”, but some things my mind played over and over again for weeks afterwards. Such as, the phone calls I made in the first hour after being told he was gone. The deputies kept asking me if there was someone I could call, like a chaplain. I remember just staring at them, thinking, “What are you talking about? Why would I call a chaplain? This isn’t real. I’m not calling anyone.” But, call I did. I started to call my husband, then decided I couldn’t, so I handed my daughter my phone. I could hear her trying to explain to her dad what was going on, but she was crying so hard he couldn’t understand her. So, I took the phone and was trying to tell him that there were two deputies at our house who said Izzy had been in a car accident and had passed away. I just remember crying and sort of screaming at him that this was his wife, because he thought he was still talking to our daughter, trying to communicate what the deputies said had happened, and I remember his calm voice saying, “I know. I hear you.” I could hear his voice trembling a little, but he wasn’t on the verge of hysteria, as I was. He was my rock that morning, and has been my rock through this whole ordeal.
After calling Dan I went back to our bedroom to try to get dressed. I was shaking so badly I wasn’t sure I could stand, much less get my clothes on. After getting dressed I remember going into our closet to call our pastor. I don’t know why I went into the closet. I think it might’ve been so our daughter wouldn’t hear me, but I’m not sure about that because I know she was in and out of our bedroom while I was getting dressed. I remember that he couldn’t hear me very well, so he removed his Bluetooth and got on his phone. He understood that someone had died, but didn’t know who I was saying had died. When he finally heard me say it was our son, he said, “Oh, Leanne” in the most sorrowful tone, a couple of times. I can still hear him saying that.
I called my mom next, again from our closet. My mom can always tell when I’m upset as soon as I say, “Mom”, so she started to pray for me. I remember interrupting her and saying, “Mom, Izzy was in a car accident and he didn’t make it”. I heard her gasp and say, “Oh, Jesus. Oh, sweet Spirit.” I can still hear her saying that. I can still imagine her reaching for the dining room chair, trying to sit before she collapsed.
I must’ve wandered around a bit before I made my next call, because I was on the front porch when I made it. I called my closet girlfriend for the past 28 years. I can still hear the sound she made when I told her. I heard that over and over in my mind for weeks after that day.
I write these seemingly uninteresting happenings from that day because I don’t want to remember them, but I don’t want to forget them. It feels like if I let go of the horrific memories, I’m letting go of him. I hate remembering these things, so I write them down so I won’t forget, but I won’t have to carry them around with me. I still have them, but they aren’t burdening me on a daily basis.
In Dennis Apple’s book, Life After the Death of My Son, he writes about his wife needing to hold on to her grief like an umbilical cord to her child. Letting go of her grief would be like letting go of the son she lost. I feel like that to some extent. I hate grieving, but I can’t let it go, yet. I can’t let go of all I have left of him.