Sunday, September 6, 2015

How My Son's Death Changed Me

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In the last year or so before he died, my father told me more than once that he was tired. He loved me and mom and my son but he was just tired. He said that one night, he would go to sleep and my Grammie would be standing with her hand out and when that time came, he was going to take her hand and go with her. He didn't want me to be sad, he said, because he was ready.

He died in his sleep, peacefully. His heart simply stopped. My fond belief is that when he closed his eyes, Grammie was standing there with her hand out.

My son's most loving supporter throughout his life was my mother, his Grandma. In the same way as my Dad, my dream, hope, fantasy, call it what you will, is that when his heart stopped, Mom was standing there with her hand out. Whether that's the case, I don't know....yet.

Having said all that, my son's death did not turn me toward religion. I am somewhat spiritual but not religious in the traditional sense of the word. I don't claim any particular faith or denomination. I do not have a personal relationship with god. I don't even know if there is a god. I call myself an agnostic in that I don't know the answers and I don't think anyone else does either. The only tenet I try to live by is the Golden Rule, not because I'm afraid of going to hell, but because that what makes me feel good about myself.

I always have to smile a little when I hear or see people speak after they've experienced a tragedy and say things like,  "it was my faith in God that got me through it." It's not true, of course, though they may believe it. People like me, who have no particular faith, survive just the same. It is what people do. They endure the immediacy and gradually, the pain eases, not completely, but enough to be bearable.

So, John's death didn't change my religious views. Instead, what it brought me was a mild feeling of being disconnected, rather as if I'm in a hot air balloon floating slightly above life, more like a watcher than a participant.

There is also a sense of peace, in a way. Life has done its worst. Nothing else that ever happens can compare so there is no longer anything to fear. I don't have to worry anymore because there is no thing or no one to worry about. (Don't take this to mean there aren't still people I care a great deal about). John's theme song should have been, "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For". He struggled to find where he fit in and never did. I pray (yes, I do - you can be uncertain and still pray) that he's found those answers.

I'm not depressed although sometimes when I least expect it, the realization that he is gone punches me in the gut. I expect that will always be the case though it may happen less often as time goes on.

I still love NASCAR. Go, Jimmie Johnson! I still love reading - thank you, Andrew Vachss and Diana Gabaldon and so many more. I love the Outlander series and can't wait for the new season to start - Sam Heughn as Jamie - yes! I still love music - rock and roll, country, blues, blue grass, David Garrett's classical violin. I love throwing money down the slot machines at a casino. I love admiring my flowers and playing with my pets and traveling and sharing good times with my friends.

I still care passionately about politics....but it is in a different way, a more detached way, one step removed. I will always debate on Facebook and certainly I'll always vote for who I think will do best for America but it is less personal for me now with the awareness that it is up to others to decide and there is nothing I can do but watch from my hot air balloon.

It isn't my children and grand-children and great-grandchildren who will pay the price or reap the benefits of what mankind finally decides to do with his earth.

The answers are out there....somewhere....but not yet.



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