Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Time Heals? I Am Still Caught Off-guard (repost)

Here it comes . . .

After all these years, I didn't expect it to hit me. Hasn't time wiped away the surge of grief?

To another mother (one who gets grief because her son died, too) I wrote:

"The roller coaster ride is about to begin . . . Actually, it already has and for whatever reason, has caught me off-guard. Why do we think we can escape the memories of such sorrowful days? Why do we think that time takes care of restoring our eyes so that they will no longer shed tears? And oh, when other moms speak of trite scrapes and bruises their children have had, why do we still gasp at what we have endured?"

On a recent morning, seated among other moms, the conversation turned to kids and their childhood illnesses. I tried to listen, but when the comments were made of how bad one mom had had it, all I could think was: But your child was rescued. Your child lived.

Memories of Daniel's last days that led up to his death bombarded me as I tried to add to the topic without talking about his demise. I spoke of a time my husband and I got hepatitis A shortly after Daniel was born. How hard it had been to nurse him and hold him then. How weary it was to care for him and his older sister Rachel when my internal organs ached and I was the color of mustard left out in the sun.

But as I shared this bit of history, my heart was not fooled. My heart knew that story in comparison to Daniel's cancer-related death was a mere walk in the park.

Years ago I would have acknowleged my pain, making sure people knew of my son's death and the agony it brought. This day I didn't feel the need to. After all, these mothers knew of my loss. Surely, one of them would suddenly remember that I had watched my son breathe his last breath. Or even if they didn't mention it, that was okay.

I would be normal today. After nearly sixteen years since my child's death, couldn't I push the thoughts of rushing to the ER, of watching his bloated body aside? Couldn't I have a normal story to tell?

It didn't help that the day was drizzly. I drove home from the gathering with an acute awareness of the scar on my heart. I felt lonely, distant from those who knew not of the continual sorrow bereaved mothers face.

Yet, I was not lonely for long. Those who have also buried children gone too soon, were waiting to greet me in this wonderful world of cyberspace. Their virtual hugs and words of understanding gave me the consolation I needed.

And as I write in my new book, Getting Out of Bed in the Morning, "Bottled up grief can make our hearts heavy; sharing it with a friend, even the friend of a journal, can alleviate some of our confusion, frustration, or loneliness."

I am not a freak. I am not crazy. And I am not alone.

I am a mother who misses her Daniel.

Yes, even after all these long, long years.

And to me, that's what is perfectly normal.

~ Alice J. Wisler

To order a copy of Getting Out of Bed in the Morning, visit Amazon.

[This was first posted at my Patchwork Quilt Blog.]

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