The sun came out yesterday after several days of cloudy, rainy weather. I forget how the cloudy, rainy days affect me until I am down in the dumps again, wondering how I will ever get out. It’s on those day – the dumpy days – that I choose to write, with hopes that sharing my feelings will give them a little less power over my mind. It works for a little while. But not like the sunshine works.
The squirrels were scampering around outside my office window today, enjoying the sunny day and entertaining me. There were a few clouds in the sky, reminding me of my silly middle son and his caricature drawings. They make me “smile cry” every time I see them. That is the best description of a happiness as a grieving mom I’ve heard so far – to smile cry. I smile cry a lot.
I’m learning – slowly – but I’m learning about this new life I have to live. That has been the angst for me – the absolute refusal to accept that the life I saw for myself until the day I die, will never be. It’s not going to be the way I wanted it to be. And I’m just bratty enough to not accept anything that isn’t what I want! Ha! That’s actually not true. It’s more that I am tenacious enough to work at things going the way I think they should be until they are that way, or until the Lord shows me they aren’t supposed to be that way. Neither of those things can happen in this situation. I hate this saying, but it is applicable in this, my new life – “it is what it is”. This always sounds like a cop-out to me. But in regards to losing a beloved son, it is what it is, and I can’t do anything to make it go the way I want it to go.
But, back to a happy day. Today, I almost want to be who I am supposed to be. Today, I almost want to live however long God wants me to live. There is such a painful dichotomy being a grieving parent – I long to see the son I have in heaven and haven’t seen for over 2 years, but I also feel strongly that I need to be here for my hubby, four other children and four grandchildren. Some days the longing for the one I haven’t seen for so long is overwhelming and I am not happy.
Lately, though, I have become aware of a progression toward healing through my own words, spoken out loud when I visit the cemetery.
In the first few weeks after our son was buried, I’d go to the cemetery and stare at his temporary name plate, trying to grasp that the name I gave one of my children was on a cemetery marker, and that it was there legitimately. It all seemed so unreal. Like a cruel joke had been played on our family. I read that marker over and over and over again, trying to believe it was really one of my children that lay 6 feet under the surface of the ground, waiting for the final resurrection. I stood and stared and cried a lot in those first many weeks after his passing.
Sometime around the first anniversary of our son’s death, I read of another grieving mom who spoke to her son every time she visited his grave. She told him she loved him and that he was still her son. This struck me as something I should do, so I began telling my son I loved him when I visited his grave. I said it through sobs many times, brokenhearted that he was not standing beside me, hugging me when I said it. But I said it. And I told him he was still my son. This seemed significant to me in that I needed to hear with my own ears that fact had not changed. It felt at times like it had. It felt like he had been ripped from my life and my heart, and that that ripping had nullified the 25 years he had been here with us on this earth. Saying out loud that he was still my son helped me to see the truth of that fact. Nothing will ever change that fact. God made me his mother, and his mother I will always be.
I visit the cemetery often; probably more often than would be comfortable for someone who has not lost a child. A huge piece of my heart is there. And, I realized recently, I go because I can’t do anything else for this child of mine. I can’t buy him Christmas presents or make him his favorite meal for his birthday or help him out monetarily. I can’t do anything for him but visit his grave and make sure it is being well-tended. I straighten the flag we have there when I go, and I dust off the top of his stone. It’s all I can do for him.
I’ve said pretty much the same thing every time I say something to him when I visit his grave. Recently, though, I said something that I didn’t realize I’d said until about the 3rd time I’d said it. I straightened his grave site – picking up the wilting Christmas ornaments, removing debris from the greenery on the bell I had hanging by his grave and adjusting the flag, all the while telling him what I always tell him – I love you. I miss you. You’re still my son. Then I added – And I’ll see you again.
At the sound of my own voice speaking this comforting truth, my heart had a rush of hope and joy. I will see him again. I know I will, and I want him to know I know I will. I will see him again.
“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise, you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.” Psalm 139:1-18