Monday, July 27, 2015

More Grief Lessons

I wonder if everyone thinks like I used to and has sort of a line drawn in the sand about what you think “can possibly happen to me” and what “simply can never happen to me”.  For instance when I’d hear of a certain tragedy that befell someone, I’d think either “Oh my God - that could have been me!” or it would simply never cross my mind because things like that “just can never happen to me.”  There was kind of an “awful” factor that determined where everything fell under one of the two categories:  - Could possibly happen although I hope and pray that it never does and - Much too horrible and can never really imagine “that” could ever happen to me. 

Seriously, is it just me or does everyone kind of think like that?

I mean realistically I knew you could/would lose family members and that if you lived long enough everyone would experience loss to some degree.  I had lost aunts, a cousin, my grandparents, two brothers in law and they were all terrific losses to me.  But there still were certain things that I thought were kind of off-limits; just not the kind of thing that could ever happen to me.  Like: I will never get cancer; I will never lose my mother or a sibling; I could never lose a spouse; I will never lose a child or a grandchild and maybe still a little bit of “I will never really die”.  Unrealistic?  Absolutely. But true just the same.  Like the average sixteen year old that thinks they are invincible.  They know death exists, they know what the risk factors are: like drinking and driving, experimenting with drugs, jumping from a nine story building with an umbrella etc.  They know other people die from these things.  And yet, somehow they magically believe that it can’t happen to them??? As parents of that sixteen year old, we drill home the fact that that is magical thinking and it certainly can happen (“so don’t do them!”) but as adults in the secret recesses of our own heart, we think at times just as illogically about what can and cannot happen in our lives.

But when you lose a child, an in-law child and a grandbaby in one single horrific day – suddenly you realize you are open game.  If “this” in all its multiple layers of horror, can happen to me --ANYTHING and everything can happen.  The line between those categories has been erased and everything falls under the “Oh my God, that could have been me” side of the list. 

Though I’m pretty sure I never actually consciously thought that I was immune to horrible tragedies. I mean I’m of average intelligence and that is really not logical but being a Christian and fully believing in the goodness of God and the power of prayer I was somehow lulled into a false sense of security.  Maybe it was simply because it made life a little less scary and slightly easier to deal with.  But that is one example of those things that you can’t undo.  Like I said about being unable to go back and be five years old again.  I cannot go back to the innocence of believing ever again that I am safe and protected from anything.  Anything that the world has to throw at me without limits – can be my fate at the drop of a hat.  Instead of being immune to these things; I now feel like I have a target painted on my forehead. 

I think it is human nature to look for things that make the evils of this world make some sort of sense, or perhaps we look for something that may give the illusion of having control over what happens to you.  To feel that everything is just “random” is a scary thing. 

Like in the book of Job, when all of the tragedies that literally destroyed his life came on him; his friends, instead of comforting him, wanted to make the tragedies somehow justified by his own actions – I think it is human nature to believe that when you are inherently “good” or you do good deeds or you try and help people and you are not cruel or selfish or dishonest --that you will be spared the really horrific things life has to throw at you and if you are dishonest, intentionally hurtful, self-centered and cold – that those are the ones that suffer horrific loss.  This is both a logical assumption and a safety net of sorts.  It gives you the impression that you have some semblance of control over how much bad comes into your life.  However, If you are familiar with the book of Job then you already know not only was that NOT at all the case but God reprimanded Job’s friends for their assumption that Job had done wrong and was being punished for it.  Just like we jump to the conclusion like Job’s friends that when horrific things happen to someone that it is somehow their fault or repayment for some un-repented sin; we also believe the opposite is true if we are basically a good person we can somehow avoid the horrors of this world.  I think Job was as confused by the outcome of things as his friends were and frankly the book of Job has never quite set well with me and that would be because I believe it is human nature to feel that good should be rewarded with good and evil with evil but the truth is, just like in the book of Job, that is not the way the world works.  Good and evil falls on all of us just like the rain. And our belief in how we feel it should fairly happen is really our desire to be able to control what happens in our world. 

But, we are not in control.  Never have been.  Never will be.  And just because evil has not yet touched your life – it does not mean: 
A – That you are all good or that being good will ward it off
B - That you are immune to such horrific tragedies or
C - That it never will.

I learned that the hard way along with a lot of other things that the school of grief has taught me.  Like, I am stronger than I ever thought I was.  That what you think would absolutely kill you – does not – no matter how much you wish it would.  Your life can be forever changed with one phone call.  And there really is no security in life this side of Heaven. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Little Better Week

It has been a long time between posts I know.  I have been dealing with a lot of inner junk and truly did not feel that I could write anything edifying.  What is that old “Mama used to say” saying?  “If you can’t say anything good just don’t say anything at all”? Well, that’s where I’ve been – in kind of a dark place and unable to say anything at all.  It has been so bad until I have been considering taking the Blog down because I don’t feel that I can write anything that could be helpful and it is beginning to sound like I’m just “crying in my beer” all the time.  But with lots of prayer and lots of support from good friends both old and new – I’m a little better --today.

We have passed Brian and Kara’s sixth anniversary (July 11) and my first birthday without them and last week was a year since the last time I kept Paxton and he was singing “Haddy Dirtday” to me.  I know the day and time because I videoed him singing to me.  And I am so thankful I did as I find comfort in watching it and being able to see him even if for just a little while. 

Since I am back to full blown pretending again I let those days slip right on by without incident. 

I was right in thinking that Paxton was going to be the first and the most intense grief in the beginning and then Brian would be the worst by far and the longest.  But it makes sense.   I’ve had him longer and he of course was my own child.  Kara is intermittent.  I think about her everyday too and some days are just “her” days.

I have still not touched any of their things.  Still not ready for that.  But I put away some of Paxton’s things from my house.  We have just a few to go and I am hoping that by the one year mark I can let go of them.  That is hard to even write.  I don’t want to let go of him.  They are all I have left and it feels like if I am willing to let go of them that in some way it is representative of letting go of him.  I think I am afraid that if I put them up and remove all evidence of him I will forget him or he will no longer seem real to me.  I didn’t have him that long and he might begin to seem like a dream.  Something far off that I imagined but that never really happened.  I don’t want that.  And, as bad as it hurts to think of him, I’d rather bear that pain than to forget or have him seem like a distant memory or a dream that wasn’t real.  I couldn’t stand for that to happen.  So I think I am hanging on until I am sure that his memory will not fade.  

Shortly after all of this happened and I was juggling devastating grief and caring for my sister, my friend Kathie sent me this saying that I really loved.  It has been on my wall at work ever since.

It said:

A woman's Strength isn't just about how much she can handle before she breaks.
It is also about how much she must handle after she's broken.

I don’t think many people could relate to this to the magnitude that I could at the time.  It is something that I look at every day. 

Where I am at this point - The short answer is –better - but the real answer is “better this week” but hey, I’ll take it.  Thursday of this week will be eleven months.  It, in no way, seems like it has been that long.  I still cry but thankfully, it is not every day and I also laugh. We are planning a trip to the beach at the one year anniversary and no, I did not intentionally plan it like that but it happened and I am actually looking forward to it – this week.  Last week I almost canceled it...again.  I do have a little fear that the timing is way wrong and that it will put a damper on the trip but it is not going to be an easy day no matter where I’m at.  I’m making myself get out and do some things and have found that they are not as hard as I had thought they would be.  It is still hard on the weekends when I am home and not working or around people or have responsibilities that I am obligated to.  I still think about them every single day.  The loss still pretty much dominates my thoughts almost all day - every day.   They are usually the first thought when I wake up and the last before I go to sleep.  And I have spent the previous six or eight weeks in deep sinking depression.  Over this past week, I realize it has lifted somewhat.  Lots of prayers I’m sure.  It was a really uplifting and positive week.  It was my birthday week and I had been dreading that but my friend at church brought me wonderful fresh vegetables from his garden and I enjoyed them all week long.  My new friend made me the most beautiful prayer blanket and gave to me with the message that all the ladies in her prayer shawl group had laid hands on it and prayed for me over it.  My sister came and took me to lunch and brought me a beautiful new blouse.  Another friend from work took me to lunch on my actual birthday and gave me a card.  My husband gave me a beautiful and sweet card and the new wind chime for the porch that I’d wanted.  I spent the night with my oldest and dearest friend and she took me to a great dinner and gave me a new pair of cute and comfy pajamas.  My daughter and son in law took us to lunch and she gave me a beautiful new blouse. 

I had dozens of calls, texts and emails and even though it hurt a little that I heard nothing from my youngest  sister, my brother, my other best friend or my oldest son – it did not ruin my day or my week.  I was thankful for those that I had that did care.  And even though I was sick the rest of the weekend – it was still a good week.