Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Sometimes I look around at my life as someone might watch a movie or read a book.  Turn to the middle and try to make sense of what is going on, turn on the film 30 minutes into it and try to piece the story line together.  I feel an observer more than a participant, watcher rather than watched.

Life  seems so normal sometimes and yet very surreal.  My family is wonderful, we have a comfortable house, things we need, friends, a community.  We live a charmed life.  But for that one happening.

It seems like it should have wrecked everything, left us in devastation, requiring years of psychotherapy or counseling.  I remind myself that it happened and that was that.  There is no changing it.  It seems obvious that that children die each day.  Could I have or should I have expected it not to be in our family?  While it seemed a far chance, enough to ignore, at one time, it is no longer that way.  We see life as exceedingly fragile now, so much so that days of ease and beauty are juxtaposed against knowing that it is, as a fact, temporary.

This could be seen as pessimistic fatalism, but the actual effect has been one of appreciation in light of the contrast.  Life seems far more precious and wonderful in light of it's fragility.  Things of once great importance have faded into minor daily distractions.

I sometimes ask myself, how can I, as a parent of a dead child, continue with life, continue to live life, really live?

Almost sixteen months after Henry's death, I find myself hovering in and out of awareness of him.  My thoughts often settle on him when things slow, but when things are busy and moving, I can laugh, converse, interact - sharply aware that these are temporary.  It doesn't make them less important or valuable, but quite the contrary.  Forgetting momentarily then recalling the reality of it all, the impermanence of it all - and accepting that as simply true - allows deep, full breaths of the now.

When longer periods of time pass when I have suppressed the memory of him in order to function, it can suddenly come upon me, unsuspecting and flood into my head, debilitating me, even just for a moment.  It's at times like these that I realize that forgetting for a bit is surviving.  It's coping.  It's normal and OK.  I'm actually thankful for it's reprieve.

And when I occasionally permit myself to visit the memories of Henry, really submerse myself in them, it's overwhelming.  For moments it feels like dying, hopelessness.  But I know that is temporary as well...because then I forget again.

So I seem to have made several new companions in the wake of grief.  I'm learning that they're not altogether unwelcome either.  Forgetting, Acceptance, Pain, Memory, Appreciation, Impermanence.  They have their merits as well as their faults.