I’m starting to feel fairly certain that it is possible to die of a broken heart. I’m also beginning to have more mercy for all those grouchy, angry looking people we all see every time we go to the grocery store or gas station. I’m sure I look like that sometimes, maybe most of the time. And, for the most part, no one knows why I look like that. When Izzy first passed away, I had such a hard time going anywhere, like the grocery store, because I felt like I had a big sign on my forehead that said, “I’m the woman who lost a son.” I dreaded the looks I imagined I was getting. I was hurt by the lack of looks I thought I should be getting. This is just a hard road. There is no comfort anywhere, from anyone or anything that helps. There are moments of reprieve, and the times of seemingly unbearable deep grief come at intervals that are farther apart than in the beginning, and that is a welcome relief. But, missing him never stops.
Tomorrow is the 4th of July, and it feels like, “Here we go again; experiencing another holiday for the first time without him.” And, this is a big one. We lived on 20 acres in the middle of nowhere when our kids were growing up, so we could, and did, have huge 4th of July celebrations. It was like Christmas for our kids. They had a hard time going to sleep the night of the 3rd, they were so excited with the anticipation of the next day. We always had family and friends over to shoot off firecrackers and bottle rockets during the day, and fireworks that lit up the night sky in the evening. I can still see the lawn chairs lined up along the north side of our circle drive, ready for our kids and guests to launch those bottle rockets from the pieces of pipe Dan pounded into the ground, at the perfect launching angle, in front of the lawn chairs. Nothing like comfort and convenience while you’re blowing things up on a hot July day! As our boys got older, and Izzy was into the years of building rockets and making jet fuel in my electric skillt, they began making more and bigger fireworks and bombs. With each rocket Izzy would build, we would all go out onto the front porch or in the yard and watch him launch it. The first couple of times they crashed pretty quickly and he would be disappointed to the point of being emotional. But, as time went by and he matured and learned more about aerodynamics, his rockets would fly higher and stay in the air a little longer each time he launched another one. Building rockets gave him a year-round outlet for his desire to fly and blow things up. The 4th of July came but once a year.
One year, when Izzy was old enough to have a summer job, he worked for my brother installing and finishing hardwood floors. It wasn’t Izzy’s favorite thing to do, but it gave him some spending money and some time away from Mom, and with his uncle. Unbeknownst to me, he was saving his money for the 4th of July that year. I learned of his frugality after the evening’s spectacular display of fireworks put on by my husband, our oldest son, Joe, and Izzy. As they were walking back, in the darkness, toward the family and guests clapping and cheering for their beautiful display of fireworks, I walked toward them to congratulate them on a job well done. I turned back toward the crowd and walked beside Izzy as we headed toward the house, and he said to me, “Well, I just blew up an entire summer’s pay in the last 30 minutes.” I was proud, heartbroken, nostalgic and hopeful all in a split second, hearing my son say that. Proud that life had presented him a lesson and he recognized the opportunity and seized it; nostalgic that my little boy was growing up; heartbroken that my young man was leaving his childhood behind and taking another step toward manhood; and hopeful that maybe I hadn’t completely failed in my attempts to teach him the value of managing his money, and someday he would remember this invaluable lesson and decide to save his money for a more lasting return!
We, as a family, celebrated every day that seemed even remotely worth celebrating – birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, accomplishments, and sometimes just ordinary days that seemed like they needed to be a little more special. Like the fact that there are no words to describe the sorrow I have been dealing with as a result of losing a cherished son, there are no words sufficient to describe the joy I experienced raising the amazing people God allowed me to bring into this world. I grieve, mourn, and sometimes even lament the loss of my precious Izzy. But, I am thankful and rejoice in the Lord for the amazing family God has blessed me with.