Thursday, February 5, 2015

Adjustment

We sit around the large table in the title office, signing papers to refinance our house. Our mortgage broker is a friend from church, and the head of the title company is a friend and parent from Jack and Margaret's old school. The last time we were all around this table together was years ago when we refinanced our old house. A lifetime ago. Before the accident. Before we changed houses in an attempt for Tim and me to put on our own oxygen masks even though we knew it would be difficult for Margaret to leave. Before our tragedy dragged these families into a dark place with us.

What light banter was there that other day?

Surely it was about our kids, all around the same age, at that point approaching tween-dom and teen-dom. Today, I'm just trying to get in and get out so I can cry in my car. I ask my friend how his new house is, and he happily tells me of his kids' friends in and out all day. It sounds so much like our past, but nothing like our present. I know every family has a story, and no one is free from hardship and despair. It does me no good to wish we could switch lives, switch families, switch futures. But oh how I wish we could just go back to that other year, that other time around the table.

Afterward, I go to the grocery store, purposely taking one of those mini carts, pissed that our food for the week will probably fit in it, 2 pathetic yogurts here, 3 lonely grapefruits there. I haven't felt this sad and angry in a while.

But then I smile broadly at an old man at the freezer case, wondering if he needs some human contact today. He is grimacing. It would be difficult not to notice his sturdy shoes, white socks, and bare legs under his trench coat. It's 30 degrees and windy outside. "Well," I tell myself, "at least I'm still putting on pants." Not that it seems right to feel better just because someone's backstory (which I've somehow spun between the ice cream and the frozen peas) could possibly be as bad as mine. And, for all I know, he's going to jump in his sports car with his 40 year old wife and head off to play racquetball in a few minutes. Perhaps I'm making his story sadder than it is. But when I look down at my dress, navy tights, and boots I think, "Getting dressed is something. You did something. You are doing something."

A few aisles over I see a mom and grandma calling out in Spanish to a child who has disappeared from view. Their voices are mildly irritated and not at all panicked. I feel it too, that calm that it will be all right, that he is just over looking at cereal or cheap racecars or the deep bin of discount DVD's. I linger until they are reunited, his hand grasped firmly in his Abuela's. I smile at his chubby little face. This makes me feel better too, that I can still rejoice in the good, in a happy ending, even though it's not ours.

I think of Margaret at school, how on just a few hours of sleep because of our late flight home from FL, she'll have to interact and learn, be surrounded by 800 people, come home and do homework, and then go to soccer in the cold. Here I am praising myself for getting dressed and buying grapefruit and she is doing 1000 more things than I am today. I'm so proud of her. And Tim at his office, playing catch-up after time away, buried under papers, using his brain on complicated equations that would baffle me. I'm proud of him, too.

I head home to clean a little, do laundry, make appointments, and play catch-up in my own way. I still feel fragile and weepy. It could be because my period started. Or it could just be a burst of grief. Or perhaps it's the emotional release of having gone on another vacation without Jack-- of mini-golf, warm sunshine, and sand under our feet-- that would have seemed impossible just a short time ago, but that we did and we enjoyed.

I don't know, but I let myself cry and be proud of myself, too.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Crying with/for you today. I requested Rare Bird at my library and can't wait to read it. You are so inspirational. Hugs.

Noah's Mom said...

Oh Anna, my heart aches and breaks when you are sad. 😂💔 I wish I could cheer you up. Thinking of you, and of Jack...and wondering what the next "God Wink" from Jack will be! Sending hugs & Love to you and your family.❤️

Susan from Michigan said...

We are so hard on ourselves, Anna. You are functioning, getting dressed and buying groceries. Some days that is quite a lot. I hate this new "normal" with two grandchildren instead of three. My wonderful 12 year old grandson died in June. Our first Christmas, first everything without him. His 7 year old sister recently said "I want to phone Luke and tell him to come home now". We weep but should also be proud that we are somehow shoveling the snow, making appointments and buying the groceries. Blessings to you. Your wonderful writings help so much.

Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg said...

The other day I burst into tears at the loss of my mom,taken from me far too soon. She died in 1986 and it's been years since I have felt the loss so deeply. I do not know the pain of losing a child and I cannot even pretend to know what that would be like. I have lost a brother and father to suicide, a mother to cancer, and several friends and other relatives. There is a sweetness in grief that comes after awhile and I know it comes from God. I think we have a lifetime of healing to do. I admire you so much and I was just talking about your book to someone yesterday, even though I read it many, many months ago. It was wonderful. God bless!

Beth Marshsll said...

Anna- thank you for this. I love the way your honesty gives people permission to feel what we're feeling; and do what we need to do- whether it's to laugh or cry. The image of the old man's 40 yr old wife in the sports car made me laugh out loud. I'm still smiling from a recent post about your dog eating the fortune cookies. :-)

Theresa O said...

Aww, so sorry to hear you are having a rough day. My heart hurts for you. But good for you in looking and finding positive! And Jack was there with you on vacation. Not the way any of us would wish for you, but wow, what wonders of the ocean will do for you, and that experience of the dolphins!! Keep your chin up! We all love you!! xoxo

Kate Coveny Hood said...

You have accomplished SO MUCH in just a few short years. I've always been proud to call you my friend.

LowLevelRebel said...

Oh, but I feel this. My mother and my grandfather died within weeks of each other in December and this idea that getting dressed and being present is a "good day" is so hard to adjust to. The bar feels way too low - buit then what does that say when there are days I can't even reach that?

Groceries, vacations, everything imbued with meaning and thought it didn't have before. Thanks for talking about the hard things.

andrea said...

Hi Anna, I've never posted but this entry was just so beautifully expressed--it was touching. I love your perspective and your honesty. Thanks for sharing so much with us. I'm proud of you too.

Stimey said...

This post says so much. It really spoke to me in a lot of ways. I send you love today when you are especially in need of it.

Hands Free Mama said...

Something to be proud of is the fact that you continue to share your heart, your struggles, your joys even when it's hard, even when you feel like turning inward. And the way that you share, the words that you share, touch us all in our own place of weary and wonder as if somehow you just know.

Grateful for you and every word that you share.

Michele said...

You are doing more than just putting your pants on. You are helping dozens of others put their pants on, too. And that is a big thing.

Mary in CA said...

I'm holding back tears at work right now. Thank you for being so open. I really feel that you sharing your strength is helping me and so many others. I had a flash of grief and longing this morning for the sister in law I lost two Septembers ago. It's amazing how it can hit so swiftly and the ache is so fierce. My heart aches for your Margaret who reminds me so much of my Autumn, also grieving that aunt that was her number one, still moving forward and navigating life in such amazing ways.
Thank you.

Riham said...

Damascus was showered with hell today, I tried to follow the news via facebook posts some friends shared. I came across a post by a lady I know: "So sorry for your loss, I heard Fadi (her son) say to you that this is better... it's horrible that death in my country has become better than life for young men" the boy killed today was a teenager

Yesterday the whole world watched photos or the video of ISIS burning the Jordanian pilot to death (in a different area in Syria to the north of the capital)at night I saw him in my dream, on a stretcher as doctors tried to save his life!!!

My comment might sound irrelevant, but what I'm trying to say is that YOU'RE A HERO ANNA, when you said you can still rejoice in the good your words jumped out from the screen... so much sadness in our stories, so much grief around the world... we're all aching in one way or another, but "to rejoice in the good" is always a choice... thank you for teaching me that it's possible, I believe you, your life is a living testimony that this is possible... please keep writing, keep being yourself, I love you, when you cry and when you rejoice in the good...

Jennifer said...

You are such a beautiful, heartbreaking writer. I have no words except this. We are mothers. Your mother's heart is broken and my mother heart breaks for you.

cynthiasolc said...

Yes, be proud of the small things. Your love for Jack is still growing just as the love for Margaret and your husband. That love, even if it's just getting dressed and grocery shopping on this one day, well - that love is something to be proud of!

Sending many of God's blessings your way!

Peta said...

So proud of you too.

Marilyn in Vienna said...

I just typed out an entire comment and it disappeared. I don't want to repeat myself in case it shows up for you. I think your blog is a ministry in itself. We met a couple of times at bookstore at my church. I think your blog and your book are great. Bless you, your family and your ministry
Now, I think some time back know you were looking for are pattern for knee warmers. I have are crochet pattern for leg warmers that could just be made shorter. Between daughters and grandaughter I've made 8 pair. I'd be glad to share.

Andrea Mowery said...

Even though the world has shifted considerably, we must keep moving. That part is cruel, but you're right - you have every reason to be proud of yourself. Love love. xoxo

Anonymous said...

You inspire me Anna. I'm having a hard time right now. Just moved to a new state with my husband and I have no friends. I'm unemployed and frantically looking for work but the days feel endless and lonely. I try to make lists and check off little accomplishments. Thank you for the reminder to keep on keeping on.

Leigh Ann said...

Hugs to you, friend. I love that you wondered if the man needed some human interaction. You're so kind.

Sherri said...

I think it's good to do both: to be proud of yourself and to cry. And I love that in the midst of all these feelings, you are noticing others around you, and wondering what they need. Hugs to you, my friend...xo

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing yourself with us. Although my grief is not for a child, I can see myself and friends in things and moments you write about. Your family is never far from my thoughts Anna.

Alison said...

I am proud of YOU, Anna. Your heart is so great and true. xoxo

Molly said...

Oh, crying now. This was beautifully written. And so so painful.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

((Hugs)) You are my guiding light. I am so sorry for your grief and tragic loss yet you are the light at the end of the tunnel that so many people need to see. I am so very proud and in aw of you.

Steph said...

You should be very proud of yourself, you NY Times best-selling author, loving mother & wife, etc. Please be kind to yourself (and I'll try to do the same:) Wishing you peace and love.

My Inner Chick said...

"Getting dressed is something. You did something. You are doing something."***

I just love love love you.

Hugs from MN.

Kristie said...

Anna---I know your pain and grief all too well. We lost our 17 year old daughter, Rose in an accident very similar to Jack,18 months ago. You are doing amazing! It's not easy but you are moving forward. Some days are definitely more difficult than others...it's part of the process. It stinks! It is miserable! At times it feels unbearable. But then there are the good moments, the good days. You are an amazingly strong woman! Thank you so much for sharing your story in your book. It meant the world to know that I am not alone in my crazy thoughts. Hugs to you.

Alexandra Rosas said...

It's so hard. I remember a therapist saying to me, "Look at yourself without being yourself. Do you SEE what you do?" I loved her in that moment. Love to your, my friend.

SouthMainMuse said...

Reality after a break is always hard. I'm so very sorry this time was so very difficult. My loss is nothing like yours but I too get angry at this new reality with my children as they mature and wrestle with demons they still can't fully confront. Your transparency is helping so many. Try to find peace in than for now.

Anonymous said...

"Here I am praising myself for getting dressed and buying grapefruit"

hahahaha! this made me laugh out loud, though it was also very poignant. sometimes I am (sort of) proud of getting up and getting dressed too and I've suffered a tiny fraction of the loss that you have. so yes, you have total permission to be proud.

i think we teach our kids (inadvertently) about some upward trajectory of life -- success after success, with manageable setbacks. this is a FICTION. not just for some people, but for EVERYONE. we love that myth SO MUCH but it adds to the suffering in the end. i wonder how we, as a culture, as parents, can give our children a different paradigm. not one of an ever-upward trajectory of success (which makes us all feel like failures by the end), but of simple openness in the moment-to-moment experience of the present moment, which is to say, to God.

Princess Kate said...

I feel your sadness through your words. Hugs and love from me to you.

Sherri Newman said...

Exactly! So true! Sending you hugs...I'm very proud of you! Love you girl!

keri ducy said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and I look forward to knowing more about you and your family. I'm sorry for the death of your son. My son died 18 weeks ago, he was missing for s few days before we found his car. Today I have found your blog and another beautiful lady's blog by the name of Ramsey. I was just tellingGod, u know I haven't had a chance to reach out to a mom who has lost a child unexpectedly.... And today just through facebook I've been able to connect to two. For that I'm tankful. Blessings, Keri Ducy

Eliza said...

I love you Anna!!!

Michelle DeRusha said...

Such a beautiful, honest post, Anna. I think you did awesome that day. And not only did you get dressed and make it to the grocery store, you also made me laugh (at the old half-dressed man's expense, but hey, I'll take what I can get). Love you.

Stacie from Illinois said...

Oh, wow. I just found your site and read your most recent post. I lost my 16 year old daughter almost 3 years ago - a car accident. I have felt the weepy fatigue that you describe when grief (which never really leaves) comes roaring in again. I have felt that some days, all I can manage is to get up. Maybe it is the long, cold, winter here. Maybe it is the reality of losing a child. It is a lonely place to be sometimes. I wish you peace.