So many things raced through my mind in the first five minutes of hearing the news:
Oh, God! Is it true? (I have to authenticate his identity);
How do I tell everyone? (I have to make phone calls);
What do you do when your child dies? (I have no idea how to plan a funeral);
Of course, that doesn’t touch the FEELINGS flooding my heart.
I don’t really have words for that, even now.
But as the days of crazy activity and people everywhere gave way to the weeks and months of silent sorrow, all I wanted to do was to give up and give in.
What was the point of carrying on if it meant carrying this weight of sadness until I was also in the grave?
At first, my motivation was to help my husband and children through these crisis moments. My training gave me tools to give them words and ways to frame the pain. Hours of home “therapy” drained me but also gave me a sense of purpose and direction.
It was a couple of months into this journey when I faced my first test: I suffer from a gastrointestinal condition that predisposes me to catastrophic GI bleeds. Combined with the medications I take for RA, I woke one morning to find I was losing large amounts of blood.
It was nearly welcome news.
As weakness overtook my body, I could feel the lure of simply drifting away into eternity. I was tempted to lie down on the bed and allow my heart rate to decrease, my blood pressure to dive and my soul to break free from this body of death.
But I didn’t-because I could not knowingly add to my family’s heartache.
No one was home so I drove myself to the emergency room and was admitted to the ICU. Several days and units of blood later I came home, restored to life but not unburdened of grief.
And so it goes. Each day brings its own temptations.
I will be honest: I am still motivated more strongly by love of my family than a sense of mission or purpose this side of burying Dominic.
Perhaps that is sin. I don’t know.
But for right now, that’s enough.
Every day, even almost three years later, I wake up and must choose to go on.
I’m not suicidal!
I’m willing to stick around. But I am no longer afraid to die.
I can say, like Paul, “To live is Christ, to die is gain”.