Archive | June 2017

Awash in tears

My eyes pour out tears to God. Job 16:20b

“Back then” I never thought I had a story worth sharing. My life was too ordinary, too boring; it didn’t contain elements that would capture anyone’s attention. I even prayed about this ever so often . . . and then the indescribable happened . . . creating a story awash in tears.

Perhaps it will benefit someone to hear my story from the beginning. I don’t share it often, because it remains so painful to talk about even after all these years. “To go there” is to bring the tragic loss of my son back into sharp focus where the memories of loss still have razor-sharp edges. Truth can be painful, can it not? It would be easier if it were a mere fictional account from an overactive mind. Unfortunately, it is not.

A further word about sharing one’s story before I get into mine: telling our stories is important; there is healing in the telling. I know it hurts to tell. It’s a rather bittersweet quandary, you might say, with benefits not readily seen, but they are there. Beyond personal help, it is my hope that it helps a reader along his or her journey into grief.

I had an uneventful life until that day which turned my world upside down. It began with a phone call that changed everything I had known up to that moment and . . . ended with the burial of one of my precious children. How do you recover completely from a horrific, senseless tragedy that leaves you mercilessly spinning like a top? We both know the answer. You don’t.

At 10:00 AM that Thursday the phone rang. The call was from my firstborn’s boss. I had never spoken to him before, so he instantly had my attention. He called to say that my son had not shown up for work yet. Since it was unlike him to be late, he suggested that I have the police do a well-check at his apartment. With shaking fingers and pounding heart I dialed the number at the precinct.

An eerie, sinking feeling began to form a knot in the pit of my stomach. My heart  thumped wildly as I completed the request and hung up the phone. I paced the floor, praying. I prayed and paced for the next three hours. What could possibly take the police so long? Was it an indication of something bad? I dared not allow my mind to go there.

I called my husband at work. His voice remained calm when I told him. As I hung up, I thought perhaps I was being overly dramatic, and this was nothing more than a delay from a flat tire. Eventually I called the police back to get an update. I was told that someone would be calling me. Now worry joined the sinking feeling in my stomach. If the well check had found nothing, why would it take so long to let me know?

Waiting was so hard! I prayed constantly that my boy was safe, but the knot of fear in my belly was growing and moving upward, threatening to choke me. Finally I was talking to a policeman on the phone. He asked if I was alone and I said, “Yes.” He asked me to call someone to be with me. At that point the pressure of waiting needed to escape, and I exploded, “JUST TELL ME!” And he did.

“Sorry, ma’am. Your son is dead.”

Two short sentences ~ six little words struck horror in my heart. I dropped the phone and screamed and screamed and screamed. This was the beginning of my “nightmare of sorrows.” Six little words, and the wall of my life came tumbling down.

These two sentences changed my life forever. I could stop right here, say no more, and readers who have lost a child could fill in details from their own personal story of tragic loss. If your story includes suicide, your mind immediately flashes back to the beginning of your tragedy, does it not? Whether our stories mirror each other’s or not does not matter; the loss of one’s own child is horror enough.

Much of what happened next is fuzzy. It involved phone calls to family members who quickly carried the awful news from person to person. Caring people brought in food along with their hugs and tears. Friends took us places where one goes to make final arrangements when a loved one dies, so why were we going? Loved ones die of old age, not suicide. It was all so wrong, but sadly, it was necessary. As overwhelming and confusing as it was, there was no ditching the tasks set before us. I just wanted to drop into the space my son would occupy and pull a blanket of dirt over the two of us. How could I go on without my firstborn child?

Memories remain sketchy, but I do remember someone trying to engage me in light conversation. She leaned toward me and asked, “Have you been doing any crafts lately?” My mind was toast . . . crafts . . . crafts, what does that word mean? I couldn’t even process this ordinary word. I had no room in my brain for mundane. No longer did I have an interest in anything from my former life. It was all ashes.

Amazingly, I have survived without my firstborn almost twelve years now. It seems impossible that this much time has passed when I didn’t think I could last a week. If you are new to your grief journey, please don’t be discouraged. Suffering loss is just that . . . it’s suffering, and who can put a timetable on suffering? One must allow the painful process of healing to work at its own pace. Fortunately, pain will wax and wane in its intensity over time as we all make our way along our journey of grief.

A shattered heart cannot be put back together, but it can be recreated, and that is where the next chapter of my life began. I finally came to the realization that my God was [and is] never absent. He did not kill my son. He loved my son. His love, which goes beyond my human understanding, is constant and comforting. According to His promise, He will never leave or forsake His children (Deut. 31:6).

My trial is awash in tears, but there is good news! I plan to see all my missing family when we are reunited in the air when Jesus returns! I am sure you plan to spend eternity with your loved ones, too. My hope, spelled out in Scripture, is where my faith is anchored.

This hope is a safe anchor for our souls. It will never move. Hebrews 6:16a

Verses selected from New Life Version (NLV)

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This entry was posted on June 17, 2017. 2 Comments

The cheerio cherubs

PENTAX Image

Memories. Life is made up of them, is it not? After losing my firstborn to suicide, all the memories that crowded front and center in my mind were harsh ones. Painful ones.

It seems like good memories take a long time to surface. And making new, happy memories somehow feels disloyal to the beloved someone we are outliving. It took lots of time before memories of my children, when they were little, finally began to trickle into my thoughts. I could smile as I relived them before shedding some tears.

Please don’t be discouraged if all you can recall right now are sad memories. Making new memories will happen in time. They might just catch you by surprise.

When my two boys were little they would often get into stuff and make a mess. Sorry to say, I got upset with them, thinking about all the extra work they made for me as I cleaned up after them. How trivial it seems now. I’d love to go back to those experiences and laugh at their childishness ~ laugh at innocent children having fun. I have a memory that I would like to share with you. There is probably nothing of value in it, except to give you encouragement that you, too, at some point, will have good memories to soften the edges of the sad ones, even bring on peals of laughter.

The boys were probably a little younger than ages 2 and 4 at the time this story took place. To set the stage properly, I should tell you that even though hubby had worked a double shift, he had agreed to watch the children while I slipped away to buy groceries. I fixed dinner for them before I left, thinking that by the time the three of them had eaten the meal and played for a while, I’d be back home.

I pulled into the garage, savoring the last remnants of my peaceful outing alone. Unbeknownst to me, I was about to find out whether or not my time management plan had worked. I stepped inside the house and stared with my mouth open. It looked as if a tiny tornado had ripped through our house! The kitchen was a mess. Food and dishes were scattered all over the table and floor. Apparently no one was hurt, for two little boys met me at the doorway, smiling, and the younger one saying, “Dink, Mommy, dink” code for “I’m thirsty.”

I looked over the heads of my chubby cherubs to the lower level, which used to wear green carpet, but all I could see was brown. What on earth? My voice trailed off as realization set in. I took a few tentative steps forward, slowing venturing into the crime scene. “Where’s Daddy?” I asked weakly. They pointed downstairs. Ah, yes. Tired Daddy was sound asleep on the sofa. He was peacefully snoring, oblivious to the tornado our tykes had created.

The brown on the carpet was, you guessed it, cereal. Boxes and boxes of cereal! And how do I know it was a whole bunch of boxes? I had a pantry which closed with a door, but no lock. I stored canned goods and other things on the shelves, plus I stocked up on boxes of the boys’ favorite cereals when they were on sale. I figured I had at least 10 boxes of cereal on hand and most of them Cheerios . . . but no more.

Since the boys weren’t able to articulate what happened, I put my detective hard hat on, and decided that this is how this escapade went down. My firstborn, looking for something interesting to fill the time, got into the pantry. A light bulb went off in his little head. We love cereal! Look at all these boxes! They stuffed their faces, opening up box after box. Soon tiring of eating from the abundance, older brother, the idea king of this outfit, got another brainstorm. Let’s fill our dump trucks with cereal and haul it around!

And that’s just what they did. They probably made lots of racket, as little boys do, making motor sounds as they pushed their large dump trucks, heaped high with cereal, around the basement floor. Round and round they went, even circling the sofa where Daddy lay sleeping soundly.

More cereal. More hauling. Stomp, stamp, trample that cereal into the carpet. Throw it high into the air. Whee! What fun! And then . . . killjoy Mom came home. They looked at her with innocent, upturned faces, (and she read the message written there) “Thanks for all the cereal, Mommy. We’re thirsty. We’ve had a blast entertaining ourselves while Daddy took a nap.” Blast indeed!

Daddy’s nap was O-V-E-R! “What were you thinking (or not thinking)?” I asked in exasperation, with hands on hips. “You don’t leave two little tykes to their own devices! You were supposed to babysit, remember? How could you allow yourself to fall asleep?”

“Easy!” he yawned. “Double shift, remember?” Oh, yes. I remember. I also remember WE WERE OUT OF FOOD . . . except for the cereal . . . which used to be in unopened boxes. Sigh. Here’s some trivia for you: did you know that when you attempt to vacuum Cheerios, they bounce off the sweeper and explode . . . ping! . . . into tiny fragments, making even more of them to sweep up? After I finally got the mess cleaned up, I needed a little sympathy from another understanding mother. Wisdom is supposed to come with age, so I called the children’s grandmother. She had the nerve to laugh! The more details I shared, the harder she laughed! It was not funny!

No, not funny then, but it’s funny now. I’m grateful to have one of those little boys . . . all grown up now . . . to share this story with, again and again. It may be embarrassing, but also a memory that he will delight his own children with one day. Perhaps history will repeat itself. Who knows?

Like Paul Harvey used to say on his broadcast, “Now you know the rest of the story . . .” there’s more to this one, too. Like I said, the pantry door had no lock. When hubby had sufficiently recovered from my tirade, he affixed a hook on the pantry door. There. That should protect groceries going forward. Not so fast. Little ones can out-think grown-ups, just in case you didn’t know that. LOL

One morning, these little guys were being way too rambunctious so early in the morning. “Boys, go sit in the rocking chair in the corner while Mommy gets dressed,” I instructed them, “then I will fix your breakfast.” They dutifully got into the chair, and I hustled upstairs. In what seemed like just seconds, I heard giggling coming from the direction of the corner chair. I peered over the stair railing to see what was going on. There sat my little cherubs eating cereal. HOW DID THEY GET LOCKED-UP CEREAL? “Easy, Mommy,” chirped the idea king, (who would always coordinated these heists I was beginning to learn). Being the obedient son that he was, he stayed in the chair so as to not get into trouble, but he conned his little brother, who had an under-developed conscience at this point, to be the disobedient one. “See,” he continued his teaching lesson, “I told my brother to pull up a chair to the pantry door, stand on it so he could reach the hook, and unlock the door. That’s how we got cereal.” He beamed, apparently quite pleased with their team effort. They both giggled again.

Outwit, outplay the grownups. Yep, I’d been played. It may have been the first time, but it wouldn’t be the last. Those giggles are treasured, sweet music among my memories. Wouldn’t we all go back to a time of innocence . . . if we could?

He will once again fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy. Job 8:21

Scripture from the New Living Translation (NLT)