It transported me to the moments and days after Jack's accident and the profound disbelief and disorientation we experienced as our minds struggled to grasp what had happened.
It got me thinking about sudden death versus the long goodbye. It does no good comparing them and wondering if one is better or worse. They both suck.
But I still thought about them.
In sudden death, I think perhaps it takes longer to get used to the fact that this is not just a bad dream, whereas with a slow descent there may have been time to start to process that death was coming. I bet the end is a shock regardless.
There's a lot of pain and sadness that accompanies the fight to keep someone you love alive. Even one week after Jack's death, I was already conscious of the fact that we had never had to go to a hospital with him, never had to step foot in an ER or ICU, never had to make decisions about artificial means to keep him alive. Instead, he was here, then the police in our family room were telling us he was gone.
While I yearned for the chance to say goodbye, to make sure I told him, once again, that I loved him and that nothing between us was left unsaid, I felt the relief of never having to convince him that procedures and treatments that were scary or painful could make him better. That he'd have to stay out of school and away from his friends to avoid germs. That his body was failing but his spirit was strong. I didn't have to lose Jack by degrees the way too many parents do, with the losses piling up day by day until a small body can't take it any more.
I pondered whether the "Wham, Bam, He's gone Ma'am" aspect of Jack's death was part of a plan to spare us because Tim and I were so ill-equipped to deal with complications. Second opinions. Research. We are both the youngest children in our families of origin and we tend to get hopeless and exhausted, daunted by even the smallest of tasks.
I used to joke that no one in our marriage was able to return pants. Or deal with customer service reps. So I wonder how we would have held up if faced with insurance companies and treatment plans and specialists if Jack had had cancer rather than being in an accident. Would we have done a good job caring for him? I like to think we would do what parents do, despite the fear and exhaustion. Fight for our kids. Buoy them up when we have nothing left in our own reserves. But I don't know. So maybe God was sparing us that, most likely not.
I will say I think that whole, "God only gives us what we can handle" thing is a bunch of crap. Do we really think moms and dads with kids with cancer want to hear the flawed logic that their kid is enduring so much because Mom and Dad are just so darn strong?!? No way.
Our family got the shock of sending a perfectly healthy child out to play and having him never come home. Yet Jack didn't have to know he would die young. We never had to look in those huge brown eyes and say to him, "Jack, it's okay to let go." I guess I'm grateful for that.
But comparing is useless.
Death is death and there is ALWAYS something so wrong about a child dying, whether from an accident, murder, or a terrible disease.
I have dear friends who are involved with the following organizations. The first two come alongside families whose children are fighting cancer, by providing practical and financial help. The third funds research to find cures for Childhood Cancers. Perhaps you would be able to support them today!