Moms Columns & Blogs

Archive-January-Part 7-Happy Father's Day & Anger

“Happy Father’s Day?”

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Blissful slumber, a worthy sleep continues to remain beyond my grasp, reminiscent of that time long, long ago when our children were small, the twilight state where you close your eyes to rest but remain poised on the cusp of wakefulness, listening for the slightest whisper of irregularity.  This is precisely the problem…the rhythm of my life has been altered, I no longer recognize the background noise of our home…therefore I’m unable to rest, constantly on guard, waiting…  

Today is June 15th, Father’s day.  I have no idea what I did with my dad’s card; my parents are still here until midday, then back to Columbia for work.  I bought the card two Thursdays ago at Concord Mills...we had some time to waste, waiting to close the deal on Brian’s car…  I guess it has vanished into the vast wasteland with many other things over these last few days.  How can I possibly say the words “Happy Father’s Day” to my husband?  He is at war with himself; torn between his desire to curl up in misery’s dark corner of despair and our family’s desperate need for him to be the towering pillar of strength.  Happy…he feels no joy, pleasure or satisfaction...  Father…no longer complete, our son is lost…  Day…three of life without Brian…  

The girls are still polar opposites: one seems icy calm, an avalanche waiting to slide; the other is radiating heat, a volcano dormant no more.  My mind is fractured: before and since, fact versus fiction, here but gone, self-reliant as opposed to utterly helpless, altered states of awareness occurring simultaneously.  How can I help them when I am so far gone?  

I sit on the side steps facing our driveway, trying to comprehend the devastating change that has transpired, wondering how we will ever manage to live again.  I glance across the road, to the space between the houses…in my mind I can see Brian making his way home from the golf course, cutting between our neighbor’s homes…always sunburned, usually hungry, ready to recount his round of the day…  John wanders out to join me.  As we ponder the scene before us, John asks if we could go to check on Brian.  “Of course,” is my instant answer.  He quickly follows up with a loaded question: “Can we take my motorcycle?”  He knows the magnitude of the request…the single biggest fight in our marriage occurred over his purchase of said bike.  As I peer into his red-rimmed eyes, I understand that his query is about more than our mode of transportation.  Deep breath, another deep breath, and I agree to do it, his way, his ride.  

I throw on some jeans, strap on his extra helmet, and off we go.  For years I have resented this “toy” of his, due to my own fear…fear of what it represented: the risk taking, the danger of what could happen to him, and by consequence to us.  The conflict between my beliefs and my words is suddenly crystal clear.  Losing Brian is something I never even considered; if I truly believe in God’s bigger plan, then I can no longer be afraid of what “could” happen, case in point - this motorcycle.  If it is our time, then what does it matter if John and I are together on his bike or in our car?  Or sitting on the couch?  I’m not suggesting an attitude of recklessness or unnecessary risk taking, but why be afraid?  Really, what is there to fear?  The absolute worst thing to happen in our lives, every parent’s nightmare, has already occurred.    

By climbing onto that bike behind John, I take the next step in becoming my son’s living legacy, being fearless.  It is my public proclamation that I am letting it go, this useless worry of what might happen.  This ride is symbolic of unconditional understanding and unity between us as well; no matter what, we are in this together. 

“Anger”

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The obligatory three day window of mourning has passed and this world continues to spin on its axis, as we stumble about, barely able to maintain our balance, wobbling from side to side.  According to John’s desk calendar, this is just another Monday morning in June; today, however, is the fourth day of our new life, if you can call this that.    

Once again I find myself staring blindly across the road, wondering if the proximity that was once so desirable will now be stifling.  I conclude that our return to the golf course must be together; why not now, today, this minute?  It is closed, so we should be able to wander through this land of memories freely, reminiscing, undisturbed.  The fact remains that we joined here for John and Brian to play golf together; I sense the longer we delay our return, the harder it will be to overcome the hurdle of what is not possible now.  We stroll at a leisurely pace, pausing many times along the way, John recounting for me times they shared together here, unremarkable, common, priceless…  

I feel as if I should be doing something but have no idea of what it could be.  My sister Betsy and her friend Katie have our household in order (to the extent possible), attending to the basics in an effort to ease my load.  We are fortunate that they are here, pushing us to eat, bathe, dress, breathe; life has resumed all around us and the simple effort of brushing our teeth is exhausting.  I feel the walls shrinking, closing in on me; I have to get out of here or I am going to start screaming, ranting, ripping my hair out...a total collapse of reasonable conduct.  I love my home, my family, but I am drowning under the combined weight of our sorrow.    

My cell phone rings and I do not recognize the number.  It is the claims investigator from our insurance company.  My mind cannot process what he is saying initially…my perception is that he is speaking lightning fast…  He begins by explaining that he is calling about the accident that occurred on June 12 (as if there could be any other reason); he informs me of claims pending against our policy (it is just after 10 a.m., Monday, June 16th).  I believe he mistakes my indignation for surprise; he mentions that he tried to wait an appropriate time period before calling.  My mind erupts…my internal pressure cooker has redlined, cannot be held back…  What exactly IS an appropriate length of time in this situation?  Does he know that our son died in this accident a mere four days ago…less than ninety-six hours prior to the moment of THIS conversation?  The only information we have is what the newspaper reported, and what Brad told us following the accident, with no official statement from anyone of authority.  Will they be completing an investigation themselves?  The accident happened just up the road from his office; will he look into it personally?  We do not even know where Brian’s car was taken…  I scramble to find something to write on…desperately scribbling information on the back of my checkbook, sitting in my car…crying hot tears of frustration, struggling to regain some self control as the call ends.  I feel sick…nauseous…is this a joke?  We just buried Brian Saturday, already claims are filed?????  For all I know they were made on Friday; don’t they realize that a person, OUR SON, DIED, regardless of fault!!!!!  The logical, intellectual side of me understands that life must and does go on; my other half is a shrieking maniac bellowing “I have NO LIFE to lead now; how can you be so selfish and indifferent to our loss, our pain??!”  Lord, please help me; I cannot stand this, what has happened to us…this burden is too much…  

I look up, suddenly aware that I have arrived at the office, needing to handle a few things.  It is so difficult to concentrate (what a mess I’m the mess rein it in focus TG).  I must respond to certain emails, make some queries, and delegate what I can…a struggle to keep it together.  Concerned coworkers keep stopping in, asking why I’m here…I cannot answer as I’m not really sure myself.  Before I finish my tasks, I’m asked, “When will things return to normal?”  I find myself in an incompatible state of mind once more… Normal…just exactly what do YOU consider NORMAL??  I am sure the intent of the question was not as cold as it sounded, and I get it…there is a business to operate, things that must be done.  I checked emails intermittently on Friday, today is Monday.  I came in here, trying my best to perform at some level.  I think I am doing more that most people could or would be capable of at this point (so get out of my face this is all that I have to give); feel free to do what you must if this is not enough, we are trying…   

Ironic…I fled my home this morning to escape sadness only to confront a different emotion…madness…I must get home before I explode; this rage is frightening, sweeping over me like a firestorm, fueled by the unwanted winds of change that have blown my life apart.  In retrospect I should have stayed home today like John, giving in to the heavy grey fog of disbelief.  I cannot remember driving anywhere at all and everyone I encounter is simply upsetting me…Lord, I cannot do this alone, I need your help more than ever…

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