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.
If you haven’t watched the body of someone you love lowered into the ground while holding your breath and praying, praying, praying that somehow, some way this isn’t real then maybe you can’t imagine what it feels like not to be spared.
Me? It doesn’t take but a single breath to go from “everything is alright” to “my world is shattered”. I feel every. single. death. added to the tally coronavirus or mass shooting or tornado destruction leaves behind.
So what do we do if we aren’t rescued? What do we cling to if our family isn’t spared?
What if all the prayers lifted on behalf of ones I love don’t stop death from claiming them?
When Jesus entered Jerusalem He was hailed as a hero. But when He didn’t perform as expected He was cast aside.
Will I choose to believe even when it’s hard?
So what if I’m not rescued?
What if my family isn’t spared?
What if all the faithful prayers lifted on behalf of ones I love don’t stop death from claiming them?
Will I still believe?
Will I still trust that God is a loving Father who is in control and working all things together for His glory and my good?
Imagine being used to the modern convenience of electricity at the flip of a switch and then being suddenly plunged into darkness and disconnection.
Unprepared-no matches, no alternative fuel sources, no extra warm clothes for winter days and nights-just plucked from the world you knew and dropped into a world you didn’t.
That’s what it felt like when Dominic ran ahead to Heaven. No warning, no chance to think through what life might be like, what changes I would have to accommodate, how I would need to face the days, weeks, months and years of his absence.
I wrote this post four years ago when we were in the midst of a divisive political cycle.
I was both saddened and wearied by all the rancor and hateful speech on social media platforms. I was horrified that people who had been spared the awful pain of losing a close loved one to death were willing to sacrifice that same relationship over differing political positions.
I really didn’t think it could get worse but it has. So I’m sharing again.
Please, please, please people!!! There is only one thing sadder than suddenly and unexpectedly losing someone and that is losing them while you are estranged. Death is not kind. It comes for us all.
You cannot reconcile with someone who’s no longer here.
Do not hurt people in your life because you’ve hitched your wagon to a particular cause or candidate or party.
Don’t play politics with your personal relationships.
Don’t call people names that can’t be taken back, hurt feelings that may never heal or draw lines that make division permanent.
My world was rocked to its foundation the moment I heard the words,“He was killed in a motorcycle accident”.
The worst thing I could imagine had come true.
There was no protection from it happening again, no guarantee that THISunbearable pain would be the ONLYunbearable pain I would have to carry.
I think my body chemistry was instantly transformed that morning to include rapid heartbeats, shallow breathing and a horrible creepy tension that climbs my spine and clenches its claws tightly at the base of my skull.
It would surprise my mama most of all that on this day I’m at a loss for words.
I regularly embarrassed her with my non-stop commentary as a child. I told stories about what I heard and saw (and what my young mind THOUGHT it heard or saw) to anyone who would listen.
But I realize now there are moments too sacred, wounds too deep, experiences too precious for words.
Either you are there and share it-or you’re not-and can’t imagine.
This is one of those times.
Dominic would be thirty years old today if he had lived.
He’d be several years out of law school, on some path toward making his mark in the world, maybe (?) married, perhaps even a dad but definitely, positively here and part of our lives.
To be honest, I wouldn’t even care what his life looked like right now as long as it wasLIFE.
Something very few people know and even fewer would note is that on Dominic’s birth day, the doctor who delivered him had just the day before become a bereaved parent himself. His daughter left this world by her own hand.
Another C-section, Dominic was lifted up next to my face by this sweet and vulnerable man while the tears poured down my face. I was crying for HIM not for me. I was undone that he had shown up and delivered my child while his own laid lifeless wherever they had taken her.
I thought I understood then.
But I had no clue.
I understand now.
Sometimes you show up and do what you need to because it’s the only way for a heart to survive.Sometimes you walk on because standing still leaves too much time for the horror to take root and overwhelm you.
I miss Dominic.
I miss the future we would have had togetherand the family we would have been if death hadn’t invaded our reality.
I would literally give anything other than the life of one I love for Dominic to be alive right now.
But it’s not an option.
So I’ll spend his birthday thinking about what we had, lamenting what we will never have, rejoicing that his faith is made sight and I’ll cry.
Because a mama’s arms are made for holding her child, not holding his memory.
I try hard not to imply that MY child loss experience is representative of EVERY child loss experience.
Because, as we all know, every parent’s journey (even parents of the same child) is utterly, incontrovertibly unique.
My son was killed suddenly in an accident. Other parents I know have stories of prolonged illness. Some feared it coming as his or her child struggled with addiction and dangerous choices. And still others bear the added burden of suicide in child loss.