I think I say the same things over and over, because I often feel the same things over and over, day after day, month after month. I find it so hard to believe that 3 years have passed since our middle son was killed in a car accident. It feels like I’ve been sleep-walking through most of the past 3 years. In some ways I feel like I’ve begun to wake up, but in many other ways, I still feel like I am half-asleep. I don’t know what to do to change this effect of the tragedy that occurred in our lives 3 years ago.
The sleepiness is slowly leaving, and as it fades and the light of day dawns in my mind more, the pain is deeper, the loss is more real, our “new normal” feels more and more like a living nightmare – not the kind where your heart beats rapidly and you’re running from something, trying desperately to find a safe place, but the kind when you know you are going to be okay but you are still slightly frightened and wish you could wake up and end the dream. I don’t get to wake up from this “dream” until I am sleeping in a casket. Not to be melodramatic, but that is the fact of the matter.
When my husband and I began our lives as parents, we were deeply, deeply in love, not just with each other, but with each of our children as they came along. Our main goal in life was to have a family – a large family. We both loved children and wanted several of our own. It took us a few years to get our family started, and I’m sure that only increased our desire for children and our love for the ones God gave us. We loved wholeheartedly, not holding back in case things didn’t go as we had hoped; we’ve never been like that. We gave raising our children all we had.
Our counselor asked me once if I had known in advance that my middle son would be tragically taken from us at the age of 25 if I would have held back my heart a bit and not loved him with all of it. I tell you what, I was tempted, at that time when the pain was so raw and nearly unbearable, to say “yes”. It certainly would have been the safer route to take. But I couldn’t say that. This is how God made me – to love my husband and my children with my whole heart. I’ve always believed Titus 2:4-5 to be speaking directly to me and I was to obey it: “……older women……….encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” (Of course, I am now an “older” woman! But I still strive to do what God commands me to do.)
Dare I hold back my heart, just a little, so that the pain of loss would be a bit less severe? My husband used to say, in answer to questions like this one, “Is the pope Catholic?” Having been raised Protestant, I actually had no idea of the answer to this question when we were first married! But, yes, now I know the pope is Catholic. And, no, I could not hold back my heart, even if it meant loving a little less deeply would save me a fraction of the pain from losing someone I love. I can’t do that. I have to follow my heart. And my heart says to love with all of it.
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” Deuteronomy 6:4-5
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might……” Ecclesiastes 9:10
“Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we many obey it?’, Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?’ No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you……” Deuteronomy 30:11-16