Like most parents who have buried a child, a line is drawn through my life.
April 12, 2014 changed everything.
Whenever I hear a date or a memory drifts across my mind, I think, “that was so many days, months or years BEFORE or AFTER Dominic left us”. I can plot events on a calendar like I’m making a history timeline.
Put this one here and that one there. It seems so simple and straightforward
But daily life is much more complex.
I live in a world where “before” and “after” run together in a mighty torrent. And I can’t control the way they mix and churn.
These past few days I’ve been pet sitting for my eldest son, James Michael, and my daughter-in-law while both are out of town for work training.
They just moved from North Carolina to Florida and are still unpacking.
So while I’m here I’ve been helping to put things away and clear the boxes. I decided that working in the office was a good place to start-I figured I couldn’t do much damage by putting books on shelves and pens in cups.
None of these things belonged to Dominic.
But as I opened the boxes I was flooded with memories.
I found a scrapbook my daughter made for JM’s high school graduation-filled with photos of my three boys-years upon years of adventures, goofy faces, travel and achievement.
Another box held my son’s old Bible with a couple of church bulletins tucked inside. I was tossed back to the time when we all sat in the same pew, strong voices blending in worship, hands together in service-when I could not have imagined we would be one less-I only dreamed then of adding to the family, not taking away.
There was the graduation program from Auburn School of Veterinary Medicine.
Just weeks after burying Dominic we were celebrating the culmination of four years’ hard work. It was supposed to be a rip-roaring party, but it was a quiet dinner instead.
And then onto the mementos marking James Michael’s transitions since then: from single to married; from sheriff’s deputy to Air Force captain; from West Virginia to North Carolina to Florida.
All important events that were missing Dominic.
Celebrations and achievements that were a bit smaller because we are fewer.
Even as nostalgia swept over me, excitement also filled my heart because James Michael and his wife were beginning a new chapter.
I was happy to be helpful.
Encouraged that I could be of use in this season where many times I feel useless.
And I thought about rivers-rivers of time, of memories, of experience and of dreams.
Confluence: a coming or flowing together, meeting, or gathering at one point, especially of two rivers of equal strength.
This is where I find myself right now-swimming, drifting, sometimes drowning in the rivers
of “what was”
and “what is yet to be”
as they join in the “right now”.