It’s been one Mother’s Day, a Fourth of July, and one very depressing anniversary since I pulled out my laptop to write about my journey. It’s not because I have nothing to say because my mind is constantly filling up with what could have been. The problem has been finding the time to put these thoughts to paper. I convince myself that there is something more pressing, or more important for me to do. I remind myself to keep the thoughts tucked safely away in my memory bank and that there would always be time later to write. When I finally do have a few minutes to spare, the stories that I tried to hang on to are slowly fading away over time. This repeats itself day after day, with another story being tucked away again, while sadly another one slowly dissipating with time. Time. A misconception that we believe it means forever, endless. “I’ll have more time next week but is there really …. time?
I met a woman by fate a few months back. Scott and I were taking the kids and grandkids to the snow, and we needed gear. After scouring empty store shelves, we came up with nothing. A friend suggested one of those sites where you place your unwanted items for sale. I created an account, logged on, and BINGO! I found exactly what we needed! I messaged the person, whom I’ll call Mary. Our schedules were so full, that I asked if she could hold the items and as soon as we found time, we would swing by. She was gracious enough to say yes. I told my husband that one way or another, we had to take the time to get there. I was relieved the search was over. Little did I realize that what I found along the way was something I wasn’t expecting.
Mary came to the door and brought out the items. We chit-chatted a bit as I looked the items over and selected what we needed. There was a pair of snow boots that I debated about, unsure if they would fit our grandson. I decided against them, gave them back, and thanked her. We got into our car and as I was closing my door, I reached over to my husband, and I said “Wait. Hold on for a sec.” I sat in silence for about 30 seconds, as our car idled illuminating Mary’s driveway. I told him I needed to go back and buy the boots. He looked at me and asked why since our earlier conversation and been about the boots maybe not fitting our grandson. “I don’t know,” I said “I just have a gut feeling that I need to get them. Plus, I don’t have time to go look anywhere else for boots! Wait here. I’ll be back in a jiff.” Exactly what is a ‘jiff’ in the concept of time? That night, it was about 20 plus minutes.
I grabbed a few bucks and back I went. Mary came to the door, and I told her I had changed my mind. She smiled and went back inside to grab the boots. As I waited for her, I noticed a vehicle in the driveway that I had not paid much attention to earlier. In the back window was a memorial sticker. It had the name of a young man, his date of birth, and the day he passed. I stared at it the entire time I waited. Thoughts filled my mind. Why didn’t I ever have a sticker made? Who is this young man and how did he die? Why did he die? Why did Joey die? They were both so young. Why didn’t they have more time?
Mary returned and as she handed me the boots, I asked her about the sticker. I have NO idea why I did, but I just had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to ask her. She told me that it was her son that had passed a few months back. She shared a few details as I nodded reassuringly. I then shared my own story of loss with her. We talked about the pain, the tears, the anger, the guilt. I told her about navigating this journey and the many twists and turns and bumps you encounter along the way. We talked about how their passing seemed like yesterday, yet at other times it feels like forever ago. We exchanged phone numbers, I shared this blog with her, and I told her to reach out to me whenever she needed to talk, cry or scream. My husband finally came looking for me. My ‘jiff’ had turned into almost 30 minutes. Grief makes you lose the concept of time.
One morning a few days back I was attending a staff meeting when my phone vibrated, and I saw it was Mary. She sent me a message that she had thought of me the night before. Before I could put my phone down, it vibrated again. As I read her words, my head began to spin. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and my stomach felt queasy! I re-read the message repeatedly: “My grandson, the son of my son who passed away, died last night. He would have been 3 this Friday.” I grabbed my stuff, walked out of the meeting, and frantically text her back. “What happened?! OMG! What can I do!?” As she gave me the few details she knew, all I could think is WHY???? Why is this happening to her? Has she not paid her dues at a hefty price? She has already been through hell and back, so why is this happening again?! This isn’t supposed to happen to the US again! We, the grieving parents who are doomed to suffer their entire lifetimes!
I tried my best to give her words of comfort, but I had no idea what to say. Me, the one that always has something to say and is always ready with a comeback, was speechless. I told her that people are going to try to make her feel better, me included, but none of us understand her pain. Dealing with the loss of one child is horrendous enough, but dealing with another loss, especially so close to the first one is inconceivable. I told her to take good care of herself and I asked if she was alone. What I really wanted to say was, “please don’t do anything impulsive”. I would be lying if I said thoughts of ending my life never crossed my mind. Your thoughts become irrational and all you want to do is go to sleep and wake up when it’s over or maybe never wake up again. What I know as the greatest pain of all time, doubled for her overnight. She not only lost her son, but she also lost her grandson…the only earthly connection she had left of him. She lost all the tomorrow she could have had to make sweet memories with him. Her time with him had run out.
I think about Mary every day. I try to check on her and let her know she’s on my mind. I want her to know that there are people out there who share her pain and would never judge what thoughts may go through her head. People that would give her hope and a lifeline when needed. I pray she finds the peace and comfort that only God can give her and that no matter how many times she wants to give up, that she finds the hope she needs to hang on. The best I could do is send her some books that helped me through my process. I told her to read them on her own time.
Time………. the greatest deceiver of life.