I find myself in a club that no parent should ever belong to. It’s the club of parents whose children have died. I’m a member of this club twice over, first with the passing of my daughter Jaime, and then my son, Joel.
I wasn’t quite sure how to broach this subject. Do I share about my experience with grief? The loss of my sister, my father, my daughter, my son? It’s so easy for me to go off on tangents and talk about such things as the stages of grief, the grieving process, how our culture does and doesn’t handle, or process grief. By the way, a tangent, I find that the popular 5 stages of grief are not so much stages that you work through and finally graduate to “Acceptance” but that grief, and its stages, are always there. At any point in time you are probably in a stage. While I am over the “Anger” stage today, I may find myself hanging there tomorrow. I’ve learned that I can either dance with grief in a way that is healing and helpful, or in a way that is destructive and hurting. Tangent over.
This last month, I finally realized a convergence of the following:
- You may not have even noticed, but I haven’t posted a blog in some time. Not that I haven’t wanted too, but each time I sat down to write about something, it just didn’t feel right. Imagine that–me, a dude, feeling something.
- Joel is in my dreams more frequently than usual.
- The movie “HEREAFTER” came out and having my “man crush” on Matt Damon, it’s on my radar.
- The change of the seasons stirring something in me.
- Just an uneasy sensation in my being. By the way, is it just me, or do you also find that our bodies just know things long before our minds do?
It dawned on me that its been 10 years. In fact 10 years ago today, Oct. 27th, that Joel’s mother and I were at his bedside. He opened his eyes, took one look, took one last breath, and he left us. Some would describe that moment as Joel having “slipped” away from this life into the next, or that he has now begun his new “journey”. My picture has always been that of Joel running, as fast as his new legs would carry him, into the waiting, loving arms of his older sister.
Joel had a deep, from the belly laugh. There were times when I would be drawn into the room where Jaime & Joel would seem to be having a laughing contest with each other. I had not a clue what was so funny to them, but I could not help but just join in.
When Joel wanted his alone time–you had best give him some space. But when he would give you cuddle time, I find there is little in life to compare that feeling with.
On Christmas, or Birthdays, he cared little for the presents, but sure loved to play with the wrapping paper.
Other than the physical pain that Joel experienced from his special needs, He knew, and experienced great love. The love of his parents, his brother and sisters, his friends, Nila, his very special aid, his wonderful teachers, his numerous doctors, nurses, his cousins, aunts and uncles. Heck, pretty much his whole world.
I remember when it came to be that Joel joined the regular 4th grade classroom, and trust me, there was much trepidation on all our parts as to how this would go. But blessed with wonderful, willing, teachers, students, and staff, they were very special years for Joel and all of us. I remember when they put on a play at the end of the year…His classmates and teachers wrote the play, and gave Joel the part of a being from another world. Fortunately one of the students was able to translate the very special language that the special being from the special place spoke. And while to most of us his transportation appeared to be that of a wheelchair, it was really a very special spaceship. In the play, the mission of this special little man from a special place was to help bring peace and understanding to our world. He did, and continues to do so in my world.
I recognize that we could debate what the life hereafter might look like. I have a very vivid picture of what it will be when I close my eyes one last time, take one last breath in this world, and enter the next. That first moment will find me sitting on a dock at the side of a lake with water so clear, the sky so blue, the evergreens so green, the kind of sun that heats your face with the warmth of true, unconditional love. My feet will be dangling in the cool water. Joel and Jaime, sitting on either side of me gently splashing the water with their toes. We are talking. Just talking, about absolutely nothing of any importance. And I am marveling at the sweet sound of their voices.
My day today will be filled with celebration of what has been, and what will be. I don’t know what your day will bring you today….but for heaven’s sake…have fun……Fred