Posts tagged grief

Fresh Flowers on the Grave

 

 

Image courtesy of Unsplash.

 

I walked up the hill as I so often did. My 15-year-old son rested there with a black obsidian stone that we had ordered from Africa standing guard. Many people had left mementos over the 7 ½ years since that night of hell when we lost him. There were tiny figurines, glass etchings, a link of chains with the number of people who were supposed to be in our family, notes, items from his favorite ball teams. Then, along with Christmas ornaments and coins, we kept a vase of artificial flowers.

Ironically, I often found black widow spiders on the flowers or near the stone. Since I study arachnids, it was like a special message from me-one that spoke of the anger we both felt from the loss of his life through mistakes and excuses. When I looked at other graves in the large cemetery, I found only one other place with a black widow spider-my mother’s grave.

As I walked up the hill on this early summer day, I noticed a new container of flowers sitting in front of the stone. They were light orange with delicate leaves dancing in the breeze. As I reached the grave, I realized that the flowers were fresh. It was unusual to find fresh flowers on a grave that was not a new grave because they do not last long in the heat and wind.

I knelt down to look at a small note attached to the vase that held the flowers. On the front , I could see a set of fading initials-it had rained the night before and I couldn’t read them. As I turned the little note over, I saw a delicate pink heart. I smiled. He never got the chance to experience true love, but after all these years, someone still loved him, thought of him. Without coming to a conclusion about who the flowers were from, I smiled, ran my fingers across his name as I always did and knelt down by the stone, whispering, “I love you.”

I was reminded of something my grandfather used to tell me. “As long as someone loves you, and remembers what you loved and dreamed, you will never be forgotten.” The scent of fresh flowers wafted in the air. For just a moment, I was with him and this time, we were not alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Night Sky

She sat in the dim light of the moon and stars, looking – no- pondering the thoughts that entered her mind as she thought of the memories that the scene brought to her.

It was a summer night at the beach. She and her father had brought towels and laid in the sand, listening to the thunder of the waves and the sharp wind It made talking nearly impossible. They had simply, quietly taken in the majesty of the night sky against the backdrop of the wild yet calming ocean.

She was fifteen and her mother had died of cancer three months before. In what he had thought was a futile effort to help her heal, her dad had brought her to the place. It had been her favorite place to spend with her mom. His friends had thought that he was crazy, opening that wound and watching it bleed, but he knew better, had experienced something much like it in his young years.

She felt his strong hand grip hers and hold it gently as tears flowed down her cheeks and rolled onto the towel. He let her lie there until she sat up and picked up the box. In it were her mother’s ashes. He stood up and grabbed her hand to help her stand.

He took the box and they walked hand in hand to the edge of the water where the tide was going out. He lifted the lid from the box and they each gently took a small portion of ashes, strewing them into the waves.

“I love you, mom,” she whispered. “Julie, you were my life’s great love.” Dad said quietly as he, too scattered some ashes. Dad handed her the box and she let out a pain-filled poignant yell as she twirled and let the rest of the ashes float away in the waves as they tickled her toes.

She ran into her father’s arms and sobbed. He spoke not a word. Soon, they were walking down the shore with the midnight stars sparkling above them.

No, it didn’t heal her pain, but it allowed he to share it with the only other person who was hurting as much as she was. Forever, this would be a sacred place. One that they would visit often, maybe light a candle and sit and cry.

Her father knew that sharing grief was even more important than sharing joy. Even though the ashes and the ocean brought back his own grief of his father’s death in Viet Nam, he remembered how his mom had put aside her pain to let him have a time, a place to remember him and their days together.

They walked into thee darkness together, a cloud covering up the fullness of the moon.

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Not Close Enough

For 27 years I prayed when I felt God talking to me. Felt He was saying what he wanted me to do and that he would keep my kids safe and me healthy, if I obeyed. I tried, with all I had and believed, even though kt was hard because nothing ever worked out for me. On a regular day, after a year of fear and worry, feeling like things were just not right, my son ran up a baseball field, collapsed and died before a ridiculously slow ambulance came. It must have gone to the wrong ball park-there was a fire station within sight of the ball field.

He died, over the next few months I began to get sick. I got Cushings Disease, Scoliosis, heart failure, a mitral heart valve. The stress on my family made life so hard. No one understood my pain, physical or mental.

I believed, I tried, I lost. It is hard to have faith in the sun coming up now. I really felt promised, if I had patience, worked hard. Why did my son pay the price. Life has always been a struggle. No, it is a lie. All the good, my kids and grand kids are precious, but the hole in my heart, literally and physically will never heal. Wrong is wrong, no matter where is comes from.

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What You Could Be

What You Could Be

I look at him, same age as you,

when death snatched you out of the blue.

He’s just 15, but teachers say,

that he will make it big one day.

I touch your photo, hold it too,

each time I pass, your place, your room.

It looks just like it did that day

when Hell took you and life away.

I see him grow, a brilliant smile,

when he creates, he dreams, compiles.

The things I wish that you could see.

I wonder, Babe, what you could be?

It’s just so wrong that you aren’t here.

I see your face, your eyes, your fear.

Still, no one knows, but you and me,

The truth about what you could be.

I pray the day will not be long,

When something might take up the wrong.

And somehow just, please let me see.

The beauty of what you could be.

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Apathy- Haibun Challenge

I lost a precious, healthy 15-year-old while he was playing ball seven years ago. At first there were the disgusting “grief addicts” who actually came to my door and introduced themselves, all to give their “condolences”. I got critically ill because of his death, and felt that everyone was already “over” feeling sorry for my family. Life went on for everyone but me, even in my family, and I understand, I really do, but it still hurt-it hurts today when no one remembers the day and I feel like I am dying.

Some of my kids had just married, some married soon after, I’m now expecting my 7th grandchild when I had none when I lost my son. I lived, after finally convincing doctors that it wasn’t “just grief” (grief is a “JUST??”By that time, they told me I had three weeks to live. I have continued to be ill, Suffer from the results of misdiagnosis, (which, along with inadequate slow medical care, cost my son his life).

I live in pain, physical and emotional. Apathy is real, but I am afraid it is true that we cannot bear the burden for everyone-perhaps a select few. The agony of it would kill us. Even temporary condolence, even an occasional, “I remember” is nice. I suppose that is all we can expect.

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Don’t Forget those who have Lost Children!

Ok, it has been seven years since my precious son suddenly ran toward me, collapsed on the ball field as I got to him and never regained consciousness. It has been seven years since who ever called 911 did not stay on the line or give proper directions. Seven years ago, I stood stunned as someone who called themselves a nurse ran up, but never did anything a nurse would do. He would be 22 in a few weeks.

The Fire Department was in sight of the Ball Park, so I know that they did not get the call or proper directions. The first responders in this area-the Fire Department are lightning fast and wonderfully trained. I know they did not get directions that we were in the ball park right below them. If they had, my son would not be dead. It was 10-12 minutes until an ambulance came from town and I was forced to watch my beautiful healthy son dying. In the ambulance , they were defibrillating him. In the hospital, they worked on him an hour.

His life was lost for negligence, my life, health, faith and future were ruined. My family will never stop suffering. Few light candles on his memorial site anymore, The mementos of his grave have slowed down. He is still dead, for nothing. I have almost died five times. Please do not forget those who have lost children. They never forget-you shouldn’t either.

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A Tale of Two Famiies

John and Robert had gone to the same high school. They had known each other since they were in 3rd grade. Though they had not seen each other in years they enjoyed talking at their 25th year High School Reunion.

John married Sarah when they were young, they had raised three beautiful children. He was a Fireman, his wife, an office worker. Robert was a lawyer, his wife, Susan, had stayed stayed home with their three kids, the first born when she was 26.

John and Sarah lived in a modest house a few blocks from the main road that went through their end of town. They spent a lot of time together, hiking, camping, playing ball. Robert and Susan lived in a big house on the mountain. Their kids went to private school, they traveled all over the world, belonged to the country club.

As the men started to talk, John noticed that Robert was fighting tears. John whispered to him, “Are you okay?” Robert shook his head “No.” and lead John away from the crowd. Five months ago, Robert and Susan had lost their 12 year old son. He was swimming in their pool and started having trouble breathing. They had quickly called 911, but it was 10 minutes before an ambulance arrived. The 911 caller wasn’t familiar with the location of the new road way up on the mountain in the wealthy suburb. In their fear, Susan had not made directions clear. She failed to stay on the phone with the 911 operator. By the time the ambulance arrived, their son was in cardiac arrest. An hour later, the doctor at the hospital came out and told Robert and Susan that they had done all they could, but their son hadn’t made it. It took an autopsy to find out that their son had an undiagnosed heart problem.

By that time, Robert was fighting tears too. He was a Fireman, an Emergency Medical Technician. When his oldest daughter was 16, she had suffered a seizure while running and playing ball in their yard. While her brother called 911, John had given her treatment for the seizure. He was trained in what to do. It was a close call, their daughter was breathing with snore-like gasps before John got her to respond and breathing again. By the time the ambulance got there, John’s daughter was conscious, resting on a lounge chair. She survived.

It had seemed that Robert and Susan had everything, a big house, socially popular, the perfect life they had dreamed of. John and Sarah had struggled to meet the bills, they lived in a neighborhood of older homes, safe, but nothing fancy.. They didn’t have much time for social activities. They were too tired after work anyway.

This is life. No matter how we try, things don’t always work out as we have planned. Money won’t buy back your child if no one is there to help them, and struggling to pay the bills or living in a small house may make families spend more time together, perhaps become closer.

My situation wasn’t like either of these, but a mixture of both. I was a mostly stay at home mom, my husband a blue collar worker, we had six beautiful healthy kids until one night, our 15 year old collapsed at a ball game without warning. Even though a fire department was in sight of the ball park, the parent who called 911 didn’t give proper directions or stay on the phone with the 911 operator. An ambulance was sent from downtown instead. It was 10-12 minutes before the ambulance arrived because it did not have proper directions. Our son was in cardiac arrest by the time he was loaded in the ambulance. He died because no one at the park knew what to do and help was so slow in arriving. Like the fictional Robert and Susan, our lives were ruined when we lost our son.

Many years ago, when I took a First Aid Course, I was taught not to give CPR if a patient was breathing. That nigh, a person who said they were a nurse came up to help us, but did not seem to know what to do. We lost our son, I lost my health and faith for nothing. There are no words for what our family has gone through.

I have one question, to which everyone of us would give the same answer. Which family would you rather belong to?

Please, listen to me!Get out and learn to do chest compressions, how to use a portable defibrillator, take a First Aid Course. You may save your child, your grandmother, a neighbor, a stranger. Don’t wait until it is too late, thinking that it won’t be you or your family. Contact Parent’s Heart Watch (www.parentsheartwath.com)or the local Red Cross to find out about current First Aid Courses. It could be you that saves a life.

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Dream Chaser

I think about death a lot.

About my son, my mom, my neighbor.

I think about how easy it would be

to not deal with all this crap any more.

As I sit , trying to catch up on emails,

my heart starts to pound, I feel sick, shaking.

I wonder if the death angel has come for me.

It scares me more than I thought it would.

It lasted a long time, sweating, panting.

I miss my son and mom and others.

I wonder where I’d be if I hadn’t stayed here.

I wonder why I had to stay here when my son left.

And I see the dream chaser I made

For my grand kids today and think, “Maybe I know.”

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Stones and Flowers (a poem)

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A few weeks ago I put the audio of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” on my blog. Today, thought the title is much the same, the topic is very different. This one is personal. I hope it touches you as s much as it did me. I wrote it with my father standing with me as we cleaned the kitchen after our big Sunday dinner. To me, the meaning is so prophetic. I was fighting tears as I tried to read it to my dad, who doesn’t hear well. To those who Know: I hope this means something to you. To those who do ot,I hope you never have to understand what each Sunday feels like to me.

The Sound AND Silence

In the sun upon the hill,

among the stones, among the flowers.

There upon a towel, soft,

I will sleep with him for hours.

Gone now, is that Sunday morn,

I wash and cook and clean so long.

Four generations eat with me,

I find my strength is simply gone.

I hear grandchildren laugh and play

by then my body’s racked with pain.

I feel so thankful that they’re here.

I swear that I’ll do it again.

They wave goodbye, and turn from me,

As I close that old back door.

I find that I can hardly see,

Tears are puddling on my floor.

I know inside, that he should be,

Here with us, but soon, I’ll be,

Back to those flowers and the stones

And lay to rest, just him and me.

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The Loss of Hope

 

I dream of you-your face,your smile, how I cherished it

how it made my soul feel alive, even in the worst of times

and then I realize you are gone-never NEVER do I have

the slightest hope of seeing you, touching you again.

 

I wonder how many times I can die-drowning in this pain?

 

And I dream of those still here, yet so far away

wonder if I have any more chance of touching them, loving them

than I do those who lie among the flowers on the hill…

 

Hope-sometimes it dies because life has stolen it

and you don’t know why or how to fix it, even though it could be- somehow

and sometimes it dies when hearts stops beating.

There is no breath, no life, what was is frozen in time,

all that is left is night, darkness, dreams…

 

I wonder, here, alone in the cold and darkness…

which is worse, the death of hope or the death of life

or is there really any difference?

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