There's no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

For Cathy

Dear Cathy in Missouri,

Thank you for the insightful and loving comments that you left on my previous post. I clicked on your username in order to find a link to email you, but it wouldn't allow it. So, I am glad to just respond to you here and hope that you read this post. Maybe it will help someone else as well.

There is so much wisdom and truth in the excerpt that you included in your first comment...from the book, "Seven choices...". After I read it, I felt such a rush of relief and peace. It sums up what I would love to say, but feel that I lack when I try to put it into words. For this reason I read, read, read and read about others who have suffered such a great loss. I gain the connection that I need to get me through the day. When I read that someone is feeling the exact same way that I am, I can reclaim a small bit of my sanity. Thank you for including that means more to me than you know. Because it is so true...there is nothing that will ever make the death of a child okay. Ever.

As for your second comment...this has been an area that I struggle with constantly. I would expect that most people who are dealing with such sorrow are feeling the same way as well. How do we deal with those who are not suffering as we are? I have to say that, even though it is a living nightmare to be where we is no easy task to be on the other side either.

The fact is that it is a lose-lose situation. I spend almost every minute of every day thinking about my precious Mark...about how I found him in the water...about how I miss his smell and his laugh and his mischievous nature...about how he looked lying in the casket...about him being buried...about how I should have a little 4 year old son running around the house and giving me hugs and kisses. I could go on and on. And, it isn't as though I just think about these things. They all evoke the same pain as when it all first happened. It is torture and it doesn't seem to be alleviated by any of my pleads and prayers to God. That isn't to say that He doesn't hear me or that He doesn't may just be that the pain is all a part of the refining process that I am in. The fact is, there is absolutely no possible way that anyone who hasn't been in this situation could even begin to understand how all-consuming it is. Every minute of every day. Emotionally draining with no end in sight. Just a lifetime of the same.

So, what am I to actually expect of others? I can't expect them to actually understand how awful this all is. Only to be in the situation itself would one understand. However, almost everyone that I have talked to since Mark died has the absolute best intentions possible. In fact, I can't think of anyone yet who has intentionally tried to say or do anything hurtful to me. Have people said things that hurt? Yes! But, as much as it hurts, it was coming from a pure heart...I truly believe that. I believe that most people know that there really isn't anything to say that will make it better, but their words are an attempt to convey the love that they feel for me. Even when someone makes a comment about how it will all be okay and that Mark is in heaven and everything is wonderful and we should be so happy to think about seeing him again one day...well, that is all fine and good except that they didn't lose their child. I try to deal with them by telling myself that they wouldn't say those things if they were in my shoes, but that they are still trying to help. It also helps for me to try and remember what I used to "believe" before Mark died. There are times that I know I would be thinking some of the same things that others think of me...however misguided and ignorant. It is like someone trying to tell you how to take care of your pet fish by telling you what they do for their pet hamster. (I know, terrible analogy...I couldn't think of anything else.)

It is normal for people to want to move on and for them to want us to "get over it" and live again. They do, essentially, want to "fix" us so that they can have their old friend or relative back. The person that they used to know. Most days, I try to function as everyone expects because I have 4 other children who need that as well. Truthfully, I could sit and cry all day, every day because it just hurts that badly, but I wouldn't be a mother to my girls that way. I suppose it is all a big act...just pretending as though everything is okay and that time is healing, even though it isn't. There just isn't a good alternative since the world didn't stop for everyone else like it did for us. My husband still has to go to work and I still have to do all of the "mom" things that need to be done. I love my girls every ounce as much as I love Mark and they deserve all that we can give. Some days it is more than others.

To be completely honest, before my son died, I was probably one of the worst comforters ever! I felt such hurt for someone who lost their loved one, but I never knew the right words to say. In fact, I probably said some extremely stupid things to several people who were hurting. I wish that I could change that. I have learned that listening is the best that anyone can do. I have been blessed with several friends and family members that are willing to listen anytime I need to let it all out. I call on them less and less because it is just the same old pain, just a different day and I don't want to continue to burden them...but I know that they are there nonetheless.

From your comment, I do get the idea that maybe there has been someone who has said hurtful things to you regarding your faith...thinking that you are lacking faith because of sorrow. Absolutely ridiculous! And, I don't know exactly what I would say to someone if they said that to me, but I hope that if they ever do, that they say it on one of my "better" days so that I can say something that I don't regret later. For me, the knowledge that I will see my Mark again doesn't alleviate the suffering, the emptiness and the sorrow...but it is the absolute only comfort that I have. It is the only truth that I can hold on to that will get me through the day. Everything else is lost...he is not here...he never will be here again and I still can't believe that it is true...that a loss so great and an emptiness so overwhelming has overtaken my life and yet, I am still supposed to carry on. It really is absurd. My other alternative would be to check myself in to the psych ward in the hospital and live out my days. At times, I have considered it seriously, but I am confident in the fact that God wants more from me than that. Otherwise, He wouldn't have allowed this all to happen. I don't know how I am going to get through tomorrow, or the next day, or the next...but I know that even if I live for another 60 years with this pain in my heart, God has a plan. It may just not be the life that I would have chosen for myself. I have accepted that a life full of suffering may be the life God wants for me. I try and remind myself that I have so much to be thankful for as well.

I don't know if any of my ranting helped at all. The bottom line is that there are no answers. We can only do the best that we know how from moment to moment and believe that everyone that loves us is trying their best too. We are all imperfect people living in an imperfect and sinful world. Come quickly Lord Jesus.




  1. Oh, Angie! I never, ever thought you would have the opportunity to answer my question so thoroughly - and so well. What I mean is: THANK YOU. The tears are coming as I write, but they are good tears.

    "Come quickly Lord Jesus," indeed - and until then, connections like this with other Christians are a foretaste of the Heaven I am (we are!) longing for so much.

    I will comment more later, but wanted to thank you, thank you, thank you for writing. Your from-the-heart, "lived out in the furnace of affliction" wisdom is worth...too much to put in words.

    "Ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers." Eph. 1:15-16

    Mark, if I long this much for your Mommy to be able to hold you again, only the Lord Himself can carry the weight of the longing she feels every moment. Father, make a way where there is no way.

    I do thank God for you and what you share here. You are being prayed for tonight.

    On Christ the Solid Rock we stand, all other ground is sinking sand,

    Cathy in Missouri
    pouzel (at) juno (dot) com

  2. On-going illness keeps me from being a very good correspondent, but not from thinking about you a lot.

    August is almost here; obviously, I don't have to tell you. I often think about what you said about wanting to "fast forward" to September. That is so right. I find myself dreading August on your behalf.

    Just wanted you to know that you are not forgotten. I do pray for you and I will - but just as much, I ache with you and am mourning Mark's death. I hate that he is not running through your house this month. I hate it.

    I heard a pastor talk about burying his young son, standing over the grave and saying to himself over and over, "This is not the final plan." We know that, but it doesn't make the current plan bearable, either. It gives us hope for the future, but it does not erase the now.

    Daily thinking of you, Angie, Mark's Mommy.

    With love for you and your family,

    Cathy in Missouri