Moms Columns & Blogs

Archive-February-Part 10-The Onset of Guilt & Control? Not Anymore

“The Onset of Guilt”

blog post photo

  We have handled so very many things in such a brief span of time, but we really haven’t dealt with anything at all.  We made decisions that were absolutely necessary and unavoidable, but to think that we have really begun to cope with any of this, well, how does one do that with something so awful that you cannot consciously bear thinking on it?  I consider bits and pieces carefully, trying to begin to process what happened, to understand what we have become; I start with putting together Brian’s activities on that fateful morning…  

Their to-do list that day must have been short; Brian was still in bed (though his door was marginally cracked open) when I left the house just before 9:00.  They finished up sometime after 11:00, and as they were leaving the job site, Brian backed into a mailbox.  Evidently, he didn’t damage it beyond repair.  I’m proud to say that he stopped to fix whatever mess he made of it.  

Brian had plans.  He was on his way to bring his girlfriend Sunny lunch (Chick-Fil-A, Bojangles, only he knows).  He was playing golf later in the afternoon.  And now he was running late.  While I will never know for certain (in this life anyway), I choose to believe that Brian never looked to the left just before he pulled out.  I pray that he didn’t see what was about to happen; I simply cannot stand the thought that the last thing he felt in this world was fear.  I know my son.  I know he was worried about running late for lunch (he didn’t want to disappoint Sunny, and frankly he couldn’t wait to see her), and I think he was embarrassed about the mailbox.  I can see this scenario unfolding in my mind, as clear as if I had been there watching this horrendous thing take place.  Brian pulls up behind Brad to the stop sign at Blue Heron; he glances left toward his destination (I-485-he can drive faster that way and make up some time); he hangs up with Brad (who is giving him crap about the mailbox); he looks to the right then down at his phone (he is right handed) to make another call; he suddenly realizes that Brad has pulled out, and so he just goes…and just that fast…    

Brian’s car was hit directly in the driver’s door, the impact of which spun it around 180 degrees; it was immediately hit again by another vehicle in almost the exact same location on the passenger side.  Brad heard it happen, stopped his car, and somehow managed to gather himself enough to call his father, then John (the call had already been made to 911).  We were caught completely off guard…    

The fact that our son died in the car we purchased for him, exactly one week after we handed over the keys, is a bitter pill to swallow.  As a parent, taking that huge step, allowing this rite of passage, was so incredibly difficult.  Honestly, I fought against Brian driving, not for months, but for years!  Looking back, did we make the right decision?  Other parents do this very thing, take this leap of faith, every single day without experiencing this outcome.  

I wonder if I should have held onto my hard-core resistance about the car longer; after all, he broke a major house rule just a few weeks earlier, knowing full well that the punishment would be no car until summers’ end.  On the other hand, he was going to be eighteen in the fall.  John wonders if he should have waited for a Civic with a stick shift; that way Brian would have had to focus entirely on driving, not on the radio, not on his cell phone, and not on dipping (the icky Skoal stuff that teenage boys enjoy).  And yet, we were the first to inquire (out of more than twenty people) about the 2000 Honda Civic on Craig’s List; the owner was offering it in the order of inquiry received.  John also wonders if he should have forced him to practice left turns more often; let’s face it, left turns are scary for anyone with a thimbleful of common sense.  But would that extra experience really have helped on this particular day?  We both question our judgment in allowing him to drive to work in Pineville.  Brian’s friend Brad also drove to the job that day; he could have hitched a ride, just as he had done in the past.  Brad was not only a more experienced driver, he was driving a larger, more substantial vehicle.  How do you tell your child that he cannot drive his own car due to your uneasiness over the hazards of traffic in certain parts of town?  

I think it is inevitable to go to that place while searching for some reasonable explanation, that dark murky corner where pain and anger unite and fester.  You desperately need to make someone responsible for messing up your life, for ruining your plans, and taking away your control.  Who is to blame?  You start with the bloodshot eyes in the mirror…   

“Control?  Not Anymore”

blog post photo

  It is hard for me to accept the lack of control that permeates my world.  I previously held the mistaken notion that I had my life together…routine, scheduled, orderly…  Some chaos, sure…we had three children living at home, two in the middle of their terrible teen fussy ‘all about me’ phases, but at least I knew and understood what was going on.  Now everything is just a big fat mess, a tangled mass of confused thoughts and actions, ensnarled and twisted like old strands of Christmas lights.  Nothing is normal; those of us left behind are adrift…  I live in a house full of strangers, not even knowing myself these days.  Dealing with the unpredictability is wearing me out…  

We always insisted on eating supper together.  It used to be the best time of the day…now it is the absolute worst.  Throw all of us together, add in everyone’s individual emotional distress and the outcome is not pretty…  Beth and Grace cannot stand to be in the same room with each other; they are fighting over who Brian loved best.  Try telling them that they both had seasons in the sun with him…wasted breath.  Meanwhile John intermittently lectures them both, harping on the same old things, topping it off with a new layer of demands and urgency, ultimately pushing them both away with his words.  I am floundering around, exhausted by constantly refereeing such stupid, pointless arguments every single night…  

My days are spent frantically running around, trying to monitor Grace (who doesn’t want my attention by the way), taking her to various appointments and counseling.  I am troubled by her ongoing stubborn refusal to acknowledge that anything is different; she just sprints away, furious, any time I try to talk to her.  Not sleeping, denial, staying away from home and from us, a crowd in tow when she is home…  She attempts to fool me by playing along for a while, participating in swim meets, eating dinner, and then bolting the minute I’m distracted…  

It is even harder to know with Beth; she has pulled away completely.  She cannot bring herself to work and yet she goes out with friends, drowning her sorrows and being carefully reckless (at least that’s what they promise).  When home she spends hours on the computer and locked away into herself, physically present but mentally gone.  I have insisted that she at least see a doctor, but really, how much leverage do I have with her?  She is a grown woman, after all…    

John…anger is beginning to trickle out, not in his actions but in his words…  I struggle with what to say to him…my words are just words, no matter how well intended.   What can I say that is meaningful and will not solicit a terse reply?  I try to remind him of what Brian would want, which may someday be a comfort but as for now…he lets me know in no uncertain terms that he is NOT comforted…  I give up and simply reach out to hold him close, knowing it is woefully inadequate, but it is all that I have…  

I have another internal conflict; I feel like I have been taking advantage of our friends.  It seems strange to have someone do things for us, bringing over meals; after all, it has been almost two weeks.  We should be able to manage fixing dinner for ourselves or so you would think, but honestly, I don’t feel like doing anything.  When I mentioned this concern to Sue, she shared something she took away from the book “90 Minutes in Heaven”.  People who are used to ‘doing’ have a hard time allowing others the opportunity to do anything for them.  The thought process of the ‘doer’ (namely me) is that they don’t want to cause anyone trouble, extra work or be a burden.  It is actually a very selfish point of view; by denying others the opportunity to ‘do’ anything, they are denied the chance to minister and experience the joy of giving.  Refusing these acts of kindness, this comfort our friends want to offer, would be wrong.  This is an important life lesson for me; I agree with her, and I vow to break this habit.  I will learn to let others help us in whatever way they can; after all, would I do any less for them?  I will graciously accept these gifts of the heart… 

That’s it…I’ve had it…  I’m going to do what legions of women do when their life no longer works.  I don’t recognize myself anyway, so why not?  I’m going to get my hair done…at least I won’t have to find a pink shirt to wear for a while.  Others mourn in black, I choose pink…  Those who know me will know what it means; those who don’t really don’t matter anyway…

  Comments