Archive | May 2018

My Hiding Place

Catnap

Naptime at my age (and no, I’m not telling), is welcomed and refreshing any hour of the day. When I feel the need for a nap coming on, I head to my favorite place and my favorite recliner. (I have a small bedroom where I can close the door against my furry friends who are heat-seeking “missiles” craving a warm lap.)

This particular day my backside had no sooner sunk into my comfy chair when out popped Bailey from underneath! His sudden appearance startled me. I didn’t realize that his favorite hideout was under my chair when he seeks some alone time. I got up to let him out since he hates a shut door standing between him and freedom. Obviously, my naptime ruined his. Poor baby.

This little run-in with my cat brought a memory to mind that I will share with you if you don’t object. It happened years ago soon after losing my firstborn to suicide. After my hubby returned to work (from his grief leave) I had the house to myself during the day. It became my hiding place of sorts. I was too sad to force myself out into the public unless it was Thursday. On Thursday I made sure I had plenty of errands to run to keep my mind focused elsewhere for the afternoon hours.

Thursdays were a painful reminder of the hours I paced and prayed for my son’s safety, but my prayers were not answered in the way I wanted. Instead, in the early afternoon, I got the awful call from the police telling me they found my son, dead, in his apartment. For weeks and weeks, I could never be home Thursday afternoon or I would be tempted to watch the clock and relive every diminutive detail from that awful day.

My home was my safe haven. If I didn’t have to go out, I stayed behind closed doors. Others might judge me as “hiding out” from life, but how could they possibly understand unless they had walked for a minute in my shoes? No one chooses to lose a precious child. And only those who likewise suffer get it.

If I needed an outlet, I had the computer to keep me abreast of the news as much as I cared to know. I had no social media connection back then, but I had email, and there were always plenty of messages to open.

One day while going through the emails, I came across something that had been forwarded from someone (who loved my son very much, mind you, and had attended the funeral just a short time before). The subject line of the email said something about being tired of the long winter. Innocent, right? I clicked to open it and instantly froze.

There’s no need for details except to say that the picture was of a snowman (sitting like a person) on a park bench with a caption that read something like, “If spring doesn’t hurry up, I will k— myself.” What!!? Then I took a closer look at the snowman. “He” had a —- tied around his neck, an implement commonly used for suicide. In fact, it was the very same method my firstborn used to end his life! One could think . . . just a thoughtless oversight. However, the action still baffles me. Even though the person was cognizant of the details of my son’s death, they still chose to forward the email to me.

Some folks might have reacted differently if they had looked at my computer screen that day, but my reaction was automatic: I jumped up from the chair and ran through the house screaming before collapsing on a sofa, crying my eyes out. This is where my hubby found me and tried to calm me down. To this day I never open emails from people I am not certain I can trust.

My home had always been my safe place; a place where I felt secure in my solitude of grief, but the medium of cyber communication broke down my wall of security and invaded my space. Going forward, I am even more vigilant and protective of my shattered heart. I imagine you are as well.

This incident and my explosive reaction may seem trivial, even silly to some, but readers who are grieving a loss to suicide know the strange phenomena of triggers. In fact, you might recall situations in your own experience that set you off, triggering a garden-variety of emotions and tears. It doesn’t take much in the beginning, and not surprisingly, triggers can happen anytime, anywhere, and even after years have passed.

Since my son’s death, I have discovered that I need comforting more than ever before in my life. I have also discovered that there is a higher power who can provide that comfort. He is the God of heaven. He is my soft place to fall. He is my rock (Psalm 18:31) and under His wings, I am sheltered (Psalm 91:4). He mourns with me. He loves me more than I can comprehend. He is my personal truth. And He is my hiding place.

God is good, a hiding place in tough times . . . Nahum 1:7

Verse shared from The Message (MSG)

 

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Eyes Only for You

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  1 John 3:1a

With your permission, I will share a story about my youngest son (but don’t tell him, lol). Several years ago my son began dating a lovely young woman. Later he proposed to her, and wedding plans were in full swing. I could tell by the way he looked at her ~ as if he could not get his fill ~ that he was totally smitten. She is a sweetheart, and we embraced his choice with pleasure. For a period of time educational pursuits separated them by hundreds of miles, forcing them to continue their courtship long distance.

The month of May was fast approaching, bringing yet another Mother’s Day. I would prefer to not celebrate; however, there were other feelings to consider since my hubby and youngest son wanted to take me to lunch. I appreciated the invitation and determined to muster up some holiday spirit in spite of the pain each holiday brings.

Unlike previous Mother’s Day holidays, this one encompassed a special surprise. My son’s fiancée had let hubby and me in on a little secret: she had purchased a round-trip ticket and was flying in to surprise her unsuspecting fiancé!

At last, it was Mother’s Day. My hubby and son found a table in the restaurant while I, supposedly, was making a quick return to a store in the mall where we were having lunch. Actually, I was meeting my son’s fiancée at the bookstore around the corner from the restaurant. The excitement was written all over her face as the seconds ticked down to the culmination of the grand secret!

Meanwhile, back at the restaurant my son was texting his fiancée like he did every other day. He peppered her with questions like: “How is your day going? What are you doing?” Feeling giddy about meeting my son in just a few minutes, his fiancée giggled as she “made up” logical answers, as if she were far, far away. Back and forth zipped the texts. We were enjoying the thrill of building tension, but we didn’t want to keep the guys waiting too long.

Moments later I settled into my seat across the table from my son. He barely acknowledged my presence; he was so preoccupied with texting the one he missed so much. His body language spoke a clear message: I wish I was having lunch with the love of my life right now. For some reason, Mom and Dad didn’t quite fill the bill, but this lunch was about to get a lot better.

A few seconds later she slid into the vacant chair. He looked up. Shock registered on his face. You could have blown him over with a feather! He appeared stunned! I have never known him at a loss for words, but there he sat dumbstruck, gazing at his lady. I watched as realization slowly crept across his face as it dawned on him that he was really and truly looking into the face of his beloved fiancée. Then he broke into a broad smile. It was so gratifying to watch the lovebirds stare into each other’s eyes. Neither of them could stop smiling! Words appeared to be unnecessary. My son kept reaching out to touch his sweetheart as if he needed reassurance that she was real and not a figment of his imagination. Can you picture it?

I can’t help but wonder: does God feel this way about me? Does He have eyes only for me? For you? Does He look into the eyes of our children with so much love He’s about to burst? As I ponder the imagery laced through these questions, I can imagine Him saying: I am God, and I love you. I have your name engraved on the palms of my hands. If I had a refrigerator, your name would be on it. I know all about you, even the number of hairs on your head. I am intimately in love with every inch of you, and I always will be (John 16:27; Isaiah 49:16; Luke 12:7, paraphrased). The pictures that come to mind make me smile. The love in these words sounds warm and tender. Do you think He really is that loving toward His kids? I think so. Actually, according to His Word, I know so.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Dear Reader, as you read this happy reunion story your heart may be permeated with pain. All of our days, following the loss of a child, are often filled to the brim with sadness. It is always worse on holidays when we miss them so much the grief overflows the banks of our hearts. We might find it difficult to enjoy a precious moment because the heart is so preoccupied with thoughts of the one missing such a happy occasion. I know how hard it is. The death of a beloved child to suicide, as is my story, seems to paint the world forever in perennial shades of gray, obscuring the light of the sun.

Friend, I read the sad remarks rung from your aching heart on social media. You say that the one you miss was the “love of your life.” You remember your son or daughter as a kind, gentle, loving soul. You say how strong the connection was between the two of you and still is. We tend to remember all the good things about them and wonder how they could slip from our lives so quickly and totally, leaving us feeling like we are missing a limb. We can’t wait to look into their eyes once more, and soon we will for eternity has been promised! Soon we shall see our children face to face! Joyfully we will lock eyes with the ones we have waited to see for so long.

Verses shared from New International Version (NIV)

 

This entry was posted on May 4, 2018. 4 Comments