No one wakes up one day and just “is”. We become, over time, as our innate nature interacts with the world around us. First our parents and siblings influence us and then school, friends, life experience either gently molds us or pounds us into shape.
Often we get so used to our own way of doing and being we never give it much thought. It’s just “how we are”. We work around our faults and try to use our strengths to our advantage.
Most of us are pretty good at it.
Then something earth shattering comes along and suddenly the cracks are exposed and we haven’t the energy to cover them over.
It was one of the things I shared with Dominic since both of us were Political Science majors and had aspirations of a legal career.
In recent years I’ve found it healthier to eschew most newscasts and instead selectively choose printed news stories based on interest, relevance and headlines.
Yesterday I was blindsided by what seemed innocuous enough, “Gas Prices Expected to Rise in Wake of Cyber-attack on Pipeline”. Curiosity led me to click and read the article.
Everything was just fine until I read this line, “Gas prices will soon reach levels not seen since 2014.” That’s when it hit me.
So. much. life. has been lived between Dominic’s leaving and this moment.
Of course I’m always aware to some degree that time is passing and he is drifting further and further behind relative to my family’s everyday experience. But I’m not often required to stop, take stock and really count the days and ways he hasn’t been part of all the things that fit between his last breath and my most recent one.
2014. My goodness that’s working it’s way to a decade!
And when you consider that college degrees are (ideally!) completed in four years, babies are in the womb for nine months before making an appearance, jobs can be won and lost in a week and retirement declared in thirty days-well, seven plus years is a very, very long time.
Sweet Ryker has only been part of our lives for just over two years.
My mama joined Dominic in heaven eighteen months ago.
The pandemic has forced uncomfortable changes and choices for more than twelve months.
My husband’s official retirement date was half a year ago.
And that’s just a few of the bigger changes since Dom left for Heaven!
I am thankful (didn’t think I’d ever really mean that) to have survived and, in many ways, thrived, since burying one of my children.
It’s been hard.
But I don’t want to rush my precious family into further grief and pain.
Even so I’m prone to sit, bewildered, that time refuses to stand still in light of the giant loss we’ve all suffered.
And sometimes even headlines remind my heart of that.
I happened to be traveling recently and saw that Anderson Cooper, son of Gloria Vanderbilt, has filmed a documentary about his mother titled Nothing Left Unsaid. I don’t know much about him or the film, but the title immediately struck a chord in my heart.
I am learning so much through grieving my son.
I am learning by hard experience that we may not have tomorrow.
And I am learning that what weighs most heavily on my heart is not the things I said or did but the things I didn’t say or didn’t do.
But of all the factors that promote healing, there is NO SUBSTITUTE for time–not in the physical world of surgery and broken bones and deep wounds and not in the inner world of emotional pain and brokenness and sorrow.
I first shared this post three years ago when I was approaching the four year milestone of Dominic’s leaving for Heaven.
By that time most folks who knew me when he died had relegated that part of my story to some ancient past that surely I was over by now. I’d met others who had no clue my heart skipped a beat on a regular basis because one of my children was buried in the churchyard down the road.
And even the closest ones-the ones I thought would understand forever-were sometimes impatient with my ongoing refusal to leave Dominic behind and be “healed” of my grief.
What I long for more than anything as the seventh anniversary of his departure draws near is simply this: Let me be me, whatever that looks like.
Don’t try to fit my journey into your mold.
Even in the very first hours after the news, my brain began instructing my heart, “Now, try to be brave. Try not to disappoint people. Try to say the right thing, do the right thing and be the example you should be.”