Moms Columns & Blogs

Archive-December-Part 4-Details, Why & Funky Pink Shoes

“Details”

blog post photo

  I know that everything happens for a reason; my sorrow, selfishness, my throbbing heart, however, are demanding his return, for the clock to move backward to my other life, the one in which he was still very much here.  Despite believing that he must have completed his mission in this life, we are struggling to accept that our job with him was also finished (Lord we weren’t done with him yet still so much to do the best yet to come).  I trust that there is some bigger purpose, and that some good can and will come from our losing Brian; I cling to this, my faith being my only hope.  

You cannot prepare yourself for something like this to happen; the mere fleeting thought of such a thing is so repulsive, so vile, that your mind will not allow its consideration.  This same defensive mechanism is what is allowing us to function (barely)…  I feel disconnected, separated; another part of me has escaped, gone away (to anywhere but here the mountains the beach a deserted island to the moon) for a while, and is in no hurry to return.  

Without actually discussing it, John and I have the reached the same conclusion; we want to proceed as soon as possible, for neither of us can tolerate the idea of Brian staying at that hospital one minute longer than necessary (he’s alone dark cold cramped place unhallowed ground).  Unreasonable thinking, sure, but unable to feel otherwise… and Father’s Day…not a possibility…   We are clueless, unfamiliar with the details of death; we have attended exactly one funeral in the City of Charlotte, years ago.  Thankfully, someone suggested McEwen Funeral Service, for no reason other than they have a Mint Hill location.  My aunt knows someone there who can assist us; he actually dropped off a packet last night to help with the process (thank you but we haven’t even caught our breath we’re hardly breathing every decision brings us closer to that final farewell, at least for now).  You would think that the choices to be made are simple, straightforward, but when you have been unwillingly relocated to the twilight zone…  

So many details…where should he rest? (not too close I cannot bear to pass him every single day) somewhere pretty, peaceful, maybe reminiscent of Pine Lake, he loved it so; the casket (wood or metal what is the point of that how many types of liners?); a picture for the paper, one that will capture Brian’s spirit (the prom? he was so happy, excited); writing his obituary-how can you sum up your child’s life in so few words? (Lord, please let me remember any oversight hurt feelings my mind is a marshmallow).  His date of birth is wrong (hospital Pineville wrong info during chaos and turmoil); what time (early as possible traveling family Butler’s graduation I’m so tired are we done yet); pallbearers? (his friends to carry him how can I ask that I cannot but I must who do I ask what if someone says no what if I leave someone out this is too hard).  Only two easy decisions this day…no viewing (briefly for family only) as everyone should remember Brian smiling his smile… the other…we want his service to be a celebration, a reflection of his life…Brian lived his brief life to the fullest, laughing and loving unconditionally…  

Surprisingly, the hardest decision (for me, at least)…selecting his final attire…for it requires opening the door to his room, and a face-to-face confrontation with my guilt over opportunity lost (oh why didn’t I come in here yesterday morning the open door say something to you anything I love you wake up are you working today anything at all instead just walking out how could I have known it was my very last chance to say everything) while searching for the perfect outfit, his room exactly the same as yesterday when he left for work…and forever different as well… 

“Why”

blog post photo

  Today I would like to pause for a moment in sharing our story to thank each of you for your comments, support and encouragement, and to offer a brief explanation as to why I am trying to do this…  

If I have learned anything since June 12, 2008, it is to try and make the most of every opportunity that I am given in this life.  This can be as simple as opening the door for someone else, allowing a car into traffic, or singing along with the radio.  While I fail to do it more often than not, the lesson is something I try to live by.   

On that ordinary summer day, without warning, our family was suddenly, irrevocably shattered.  Our son, Brian, died in a three car accident around lunchtime in Pineville.  

You never think that something like this can happen to you.  Not to your family.  This is something that happens to someone else, some stranger.  You feel sorry for them, for their loss; maybe you say a prayer, maybe even two-one for their family, another for the blessed safety of your own.  In this way, we are very much like our teenagers: ignore the possibilities; our family is invincible, nothing bad can happen to us.  Bad things can and do happen; I am living out every mother’s greatest fear and worst nightmare.  The fact that I am not the only one to join this tragic fellowship this summer is of no comfort to me; my heart aches on their behalf, for we are kindred spirits, forged through a common, unwanted bond of pain.  

I feel compelled to share our journey for many different reasons.  Others have been down this road before us; without a doubt, more will come after.  The walk through this valley of shadows and sorrow is different for each of us, and yet it is the same.  John is withdrawn; he is preoccupied with punishing himself for what he did not prevent and for what he is now helpless to change.  Beth’s silent fury at the unfairness of our situation endures; she is questioning why him and not her, and furthermore why her brother, her family?  Grace keeps running away from the truth; she refuses to accept that Brian won’t be home later, and keeps waiting, desperate to prove to the world that this was all a big misunderstanding.  I keep dancing around the jagged edges of what remains, changing to suit the greatest need of the moment, clinging to my faith and hope, praying for strength to endure for a little while longer.  The fact of the matter is this: grief is grief, no matter the circumstances.  It is hard; it hurts, and it overwhelms us without warning.  It is a unique, individual experience.  There are different stages in the process, and there is no universal guidebook, roadmap or owner’s manual. The only way through it, is simply that-through it.  

Many people have said to me “I simply cannot imagine what you are going through”.  My response is always the same: please, don’t even try.  I hope that the telling of our tale will allow you a glimpse into the valley, without burdening you with too much of our pain.  I hope that in our story you can find something to encourage you, help you, to give you strength to face whatever challenge is before you at this moment.  My greatest wish, however, is that you are reminded that life is very precious, and that there are no guarantees…so be sure that the people you love know it, just in case….on some ordinary day…the unthinkable happens to you.  

“Funky Pink Shoes”

blog post photo

Time no longer passes for me as it did before; mere minutes seem like hours; huge stretches disappear of which I have no memory, like a silken cobweb set adrift on the wind, no evidence of its existence left behind…  

I refuse to let our compounding sorrow eclipse the memory of our exuberant child; Brian’s zest for life, his way of embracing everything and everyone, is what must be honored, remembered, an example for us all to follow, especially now.  While pastors from both Hickory Grove Baptist Church and Elevation Church have come to us in this dark hour, our steadfast decision to celebrate Brian’s life leads us to ask Pastor Larry Brey of Elevation to conduct his service.  Brian recently began attending Elevation services at Butler with Sunny and Brad; whatever goodness drew him there time and again is more than worthy to provide comfort to those of us who loved him so…  

The morning of our farewell was bright and beautiful, brilliantly blue with abundant sunshine, full of promise for the world, laden with irreparable loss for us.  If I had actually been able to sleep for any length of time, I may have believed that I was dreaming.  My entire life has taken on a surreal quality; I am an actress with the lead role in some horrible production, my performance is never ending and there is no understudy waiting in the wings…   Our home is bustling with activity (breakfast no thanks pictures memory board is everyone up all hot water gone), fairly bursting at the seams, every nook and cranny occupied by our extended family.  I’m wandering from room to room (play hostess pretend you’re calm clock stop moving forward don’t want to go there not ready), watching the interaction between our various relatives with a sense of detachment, observing the strengths and weaknesses of the ties that bind.  I wonder if the rest of the world can see what is so clearly evident to me right now.  Things being said (you have got to be kidding me, who said that?) and others left unspoken (would someone please tell them THIS is not the time or the place), things that are left undone (it’s not up to you thanks for playing), some begrudging considerations made (today is not about you after all)…  Thankfully our positive support system far outweighs the negative energy of a few…  I suppose that even within the strongest of families, during times of extreme emotional duress, filters of politeness and consideration collapse, allowing carefully concealed thoughts and hidden bias to escape, adding to the burden of pain, deliberately or not, just like an overly intoxicated person blurting secret truths at the worst possible moment…  

What does one wear to bury her son?  Last night, I forced myself to go out (must escape or lose my mind my temper just a few minutes away the selfishness mind-boggling) in search of something appropriate, having no idea what it could be.  The only ‘proper’ dress in my closet is about six sizes too big (wear it anyway won’t stay on then what).  The excursion resulted in two hastily acquired outfits (hopefully will fit didn’t try too tired to bother) from which to choose, a study  in contrasts: the first, a long black sheath dress, appropriate for any and all somber occasions, the other, black capris paired with a black and pink empire tunic, certainly unsuitable by conventional standards.  I couldn’t care less about being dressed properly…  My mind is screaming, rebelling, demanding to defy this orderly progression, protesting this new life I’m being forced to live, by my attire if nothing else.  My son has gone before me, the standard order of things has been violated; the rules no longer apply.  That said, I am going with the outfit that Brian would choose, adding funky pink shoes for good measure.   

I lock myself in my bathroom; I must collect my scattered thoughts, harness my whirlwind emotion, and prepare for what we are about to do.  I pray for strength, for composure, and mostly to be gracious as we face this agonizing task before us.  As I leave the safe confines of my small sanctuary, I am humming a little song I haven’t thought of in years.  “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine, this little light of mine…”  Somehow, right then, I know what I must do, what Brian would expect of me.  I resolve that I will be the first of his living legacy, starting right now… 

With fierce determination, I take another deep breath, and find John…the time has come for us to go, and to start saying good-bye…

  Comments