For most of my life, I ascribed to the belief of the big white, bearded man in heaven by the name of “Jesus.” I believed in purgatory and hell. I believed in resurrection and life ever after. I believed that good things happened to good people and bad things happened to bad people. I believed in order and organization.
How wrong I was. The death of my 26-year-old son has humbled me. If I didn’t know my own son, how would I know about God or things unseen? I’m at this point now in my life where I don’t fill in the lines. I don’t have the answers, and I’m proud of it.
Of course, let me delete what I’ve just said because then there are days of righteousness like today. I woke up this morning only to be notified by FB that my son’s former friend was celebrating another birthday. Perhaps, I’m reading it wrong, but this young man isn’t the most selfless young man around. Years ago, he abandoned my son after my son helped him relocate to another state across the country. My son had high hopes of moving to that state also, but, in the end, my son’s travel companion threw him out of his vehicle along with his luggage. My son later informed me that a Good Samaritan helped him pick up and reorganize his belongings that were flying all over the place. I remember picking up my son a week later at the airport. I remember how I kept the “I told you so” lecture to myself. Most of all, I remember the relief of seeing the sight of my stocky, healthy son standing in front of me alive and well. I forget what month it was, but it wasn’t in November. I disdain November as much as I disdain October, because October leads into November.
So November kicked off with this young man that apparently took advantage of my son celebrating another year alive. Yippee! He has a great job. A wife and child. I don’t know if he has another child on the way, because a mere glance at his Facebook page is a recipe for code red pain. Needless to say, this young man never even reached out to me when my son passed away. Of course, most of the other young adults that grew up with my son didn’t reach out to me either. I know. I know. I have no control of these things. Who knows why good things happen to not-so-good people sometimes, but today is one of those days in which I simply want a just, punishing God to bludgeon evildoers!
Ironically, last year when tragedy struck in November, I couldn’t wait for the year to pass. I surmised that my womb of grief would feel a reprise from the agony. But grief is different from pain. Grief does not heal in the sense of disappearing. It finds its own space and you learn to live with it like a low-grade headache.
Now in reality, each day closer to the actual day of my son’s death anniversary feels like my low-grade headache is about to explode into a migraine. As everyone around me prepares for Thanksgiving and Christmas, I try and maneuver through a landmine. I am grateful to the pandemic, because I don’t have to deal with too many insensitive earthlings. I limit Facebook (except for days like today when it intrudes on my woman cave). In addition, I have stored all of my son’s photos and memorabilia away, because there is no solace in “happy memories,” only regrets and sorrow and an end of a chapter in its raw beginning and not in its end with a proper conclusion.
Nonetheless, when I have to deal with earthlings, including my boss and the few around me, I try and proceed, acting as if I have faith that I won’t wither and just die like the autumn leaves. However, I think the ones who really know me realize my sweet, almost child-like optimism is gone. In essence, I wish I could fake a cake of a smile and make deliciously yummy talk, but I won’t hurt myself in that manner. As my therapist said early on. “This sucks!”
In all certainly, I hope no one ever has to live through losing a child. Of course, this notion is not realistic. With this idea in mind, getting back to my son’s former friend, I guess, I’m glad his mom doesn’t have to feel the unbearable pain that feels like losing a right arm without the numbing effect of anesthesia. As much as it hurts for me, I’m glad the young man, whom I can’t help but dislike, is celebrating his birthday. What it means is that maybe one day he can, maybe, do one small act of kindness for someone else and get a stab of feeling compassion and empathy. Selfishness may feel satisfying, but it takes a lot of fuel to run a tank that’s always hitting empty. On the other hand, selflessness is an act of faith that fills the spirit with renewable energy that feeds you at supremely satisfied levels.