I took my dad to see his orthopedic surgeon today. He had shoulder replacement surgery 4 weeks ago and it was time for his first check-up. He uses the same orthopedist my son used when he broke his leg in a motorcycle accident a year before he passed away. So today we went to the same office I took my son to for his appointments while his leg was healing. My parents walked in and sat in the same chairs my son and I sat in 4 years ago. I was okay. “I can do this”, I told myself. My memory slid back to that day 4 years ago, sitting in those chairs, waiting to see his doctor, playing a game of Scrabble on my Kindle. He was so proud. He knew I could beat him, but he was going to give beating me the best shot he could. He was stumped, at one point, and I patiently waited, even though I could clearly see a move in his favor. I finally asked him if I could help, to which he grudgingly nodded his head in the affirmative. Then the nurse called him back and our fun was over.
The nurse called my parents back as my mind drifted back to the present and I asked them if they wanted me to go back to the examining room with them. My dad said he did, so we all got up and moseyed toward the door. I had gone back to the examining room with my son the day we sat and played Scrabble in the waiting room. I don’t know how, or why, these things happen, or why I can remember them like I do, but the nurse took us to the same examining room today that my son and I were in 4 years ago. Again, “I can do this” was playing in my head, but it was much softer, like from a great distance, this time. Other, louder things skittered through my thoughts now – the sound of his voice, the memory of his bare leg on the green examining table, the shock of seeing his Frankenstein-like scars running up both sides of his ankle, his chuckle at my shock, him saying his leg itched, the doctor saying how good it looked – which shocked me even further. It didn’t look good to me.
After my parents were situated in the two chairs in the room, I sat on the doctor’s stool, still believing I could muscle through this bombardment of memories and be the good, supportive daughter I wanted so to be. But it wasn’t to be today. I excused myself, my parents giving me their usual compassionate and understanding look and left not only the room, but the building. I headed straight outside, phone in hand, calling the one person I know knows what this feels like – my husband. We have both been experiencing a new level of grief since the 3rd anniversary of our son’s passing last week. It goes deeper. It hurts a bit more. It is a little more sorrowful. I don’t know if this is because the reality of the loss is making itself more real to us, or what. But the more time passes, the more we know he will not be coming back to us, and the more that fact hurts; we simply miss him like crazy. Can any loving parent go 3 years without seeing one of their children and their heart not yearn with longing to see, hear and touch him? It’s excruciatingly painful sometimes. Today is one of those times.
I got home from taking my parents to see my dad’s orthopedist a little before noon, fixed myself lunch, ate, then headed back to the kitchen to clean up, and here we go again.
The day our son died, a couple, precious friends of ours, came over as soon as they could to comfort us and help out in whatever way they could. I will never forget hearing Darlene ask if there was anything she could do. I would normally never accept help with my household duties, but this day was an exception. (That’s the understatement of the century.) We had been to a block party the day before and I had come home tired and in need of a relaxing evening with my love, so my dirty dishes sat in the kitchen, just like I’d left them after cooking for the party across the street the night before – the party that turned out to be the last time I saw my son alive. I remember feeling like I couldn’t breathe, much less stand and wash dishes, so I told my friends that I needed my dishes done, if they really wanted to do something. Of course they did, and they proceeded to wash, dry and try to put away my dirty dishes. I sometimes still see Darlene standing at my kitchen sink, washing dishes, Jeff by her side, drying them, when I go to my sink. Today was one of those days. I could hear her sniffling as she washed. I could see Jeff with that look of helplessness on his face – he was helping in the only way I suggested he could, but I knew he wished he could “fix” the situation.
It was one sad moment after another today. A day of flashbacks to happier times and flashbacks to the most horrible day of my life.
But I keep plodding along, through the days of wishing this were all over, the days of rejoicing that I still have a wonderful husband and 4 of my 5 children alive and well, walking this road with me, and the days like today where memories – both good and bad – assault my thoughts every time I turn around.
“Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly…………I, by your great love, can come into your house; in reverence I bow down toward your holy temple. Lead me, Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies – make your way straight before me…………..Let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Surely, Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” From Psalm 25