I don’t know how to do this.
I don’t know how to get up tomorrow in a world where my son is gone. I don’t know how to face a week with Thanksgiving coming up, and Dragon is not here to sit at our Thanksgiving table. I don’t know how to drive past the park where we had so many birthday parties, where he played lacrosse, where we took our last Christmas pictures, knowing that I will never be with Dragon in that park again.
I’ve seen therapists. I’ve tried yoga, melatonin, meditation, melaleuca. I’ve met other parents that have lost children. I read. I write. I sign up. I show up. I pray. It all helps. But it’s still an impossible task. How is a parent supposed to go on?
I wish someone could tell me what to expect. I wish someone could say, “Well, when the crazy comes, when the agony of missing him knocks you off your feet, what you should do at those times, is X… When Halloween comes around, and you remember the 14 years you carved pumpkins and dressed in costumes, but now you only have one child to watch dress up, what you should do is X….” Years ago, I watched the HBO miniseries, John Adams. Adams’ daughter, Abigail, was diagnosed with breast cancer. In those days, the treatment of breast cancer was surgery – breast removal. But there was no anesthesia and no sedatives. The doctor gave Abigail a cotton rag. The rag was for her to bite on while he sawed off her breast. I was horrified. It’s a scene that has remained with me. That’s what Halloween felt like to me. That’s us, sawing off our breast, not just once, but day after day after day. Here, have a cotton rag.
Even if I knew what to do, even when I experience and endure the pain, the thing I can’t escape is the knowing, the knowledge. Imagine it, your child is gone. Your child was killed. Your child is never coming back. You will never get to see, hug, or hold your child in this world again. How the fuck do you get your head around that?
I have a new friend, Amanda. Amanda lost her 4 year old daughter last year, the month after we lost our 14 year old son. Amanda and I seldom see each other, but we often text. Sometimes when I’ve spent the day putting on a brave face (read: not breaking down and crying), I need the understanding of these new friends. Amanda texted me today, “It’s like I’m living a nightmare I can never wake up from.” This is true. But’s it worse than true. Last night, Daniel woke up suddenly, weeping, moaning, “No, Dragon, NO! Oh God, why? Why? WHY?!!”
What could I do? I wanted to say, “Daniel, wake up. You’re having a bad dream.” He was. But, what could I wake him up to?? I wanted to say, “It’s okay, it’s just a dream.” But it’s not. Our life is the bad dream. What do you do when you no longer have a place from which to escape the nightmare?
They say that grace is unmerited favor. We have done nothing to deserve His love, but we have it. I want to know, what is the opposite of grace? What is the word for unmerited devastation?
And when it hits, how do you go on?