In August, right after the funeral, my dear friend Mina gave me a book written by Nicholas Wolterstorff, “Lament For a Son.” Wolterstorff, a professor of philosophical theology at Yale, wrote it to mourn the death of Eric Wolterstorff, his 25-year old son whom he lost to a mountain climbing accident. When I read “Lament,” I felt understood for the first time since it happened. This father had said all the things I was feeling in my heart about the loss of our child, that I could not yet put in words. And he said them so eloquently. I was amazed there was such a book.
Here is an excerpt from “Lament.” I read this page days after the funeral, remembering all the things Dragon’s friends had said at the funeral and memorial. It was painfully bittersweet, reading all the notes from his teachers, coaches, friends, learning more about how Dragon looked out for people, about his funny personality, about his bringing together of friends. It all touched my heart, but stabbed me, thinking of all we had lost.
We took him too much for granted. Perhaps we all take each other too much for granted. The routines of life distract us; our own pursuits make us oblivious; our anxieties and sorrows, unmindful. The beauties of the familiar go unremarked. We do not treasure each other enough.
He was a gift to us for twenty-five years. When the gift was finally snatched away, I realized how great it was. Then I could not tell him. An outpouring of letters arrived, many expressing appreciation for Eric. They all made me weep again: each word of praise a stab of loss.
How can I be thankful, in his gone-ness, for what he was? I find I am. But the pain of the no more outweighs the gratitude of the once was. Will it always be so?
I didn’t know how much I loved him until he was gone.
Is love like that?