Friday, October 21, 2016

Bleeding Out

The baby and I wait in the high school parking lot as school lets out. Upperclassmen head to their cars. Several of Jack's friends hop in together and pull away. One has a beard.

Our windows are down because the A/C is broken, and for some reason it's 80 degrees in late October. When the crying starts, everyone can hear it. I feel a bit like a freak. I'm the lady with the dead son and the new baby who is doing everything she can not to embarrass her living teenager in the high school lot. I stand outside the car in my too-short shorts and grungy t-shirt, and try to entertain him.

Little guy has been sick all week and has been a big ball of misery and need. Really, he's been sick on and off for a month, and his discomfort and our lack of sleep is wearing us down. Margaret sleeps on the floor of the basement to get away from the noise, and Tim and I take turns walking and suctioning and comforting.

We don't want Margaret to feel like she can't ask for help, like this ride, just because we have a baby now, so Andrew and I wait.

I try not to play the game of should's. Jack should be driving Margaret home! This should be his senior year! There should be more noise in our house, but not necessarily of the crying variety!

It's all so very disappointing.

It's not like I haven't known disappointment, with the early loss of my mother, and the surrendering of so many plans. One of the greatest disappointments of my adult life was not being able to purchase my family home when Tim and I got married. The timing and numbers just didn't work out. I was supporting Tim on my teacher's salary while he finished law school. Within just two years, we could have afforded the mortgage and then some, raising our kids across the street from the elementary school, just a short walk from the community pool. I so wanted to hang on to that drafty old house with the tin roof, and build a family in what I considered the best place on earth to grow up.

It's hard not to think that if we had somehow managed to buy that house, Jack would have lived. The kids would be at a different high school across town right now. And I wouldn't be sweating it out in this parking lot.

The crying continues. Is that poop oozing up Andrew's onesie? I free him from his carseat to change him on the front seat. As I do, I feel something on my leg. The irony is not lost on me that as I change his diaper-- and the poop that somehow ends up on his neck and his hair-- that I've just started my period, and have no way of taking care of my own personal hygiene.

Once you start guessing about the little things and the big, the questions get more cosmic than earthy like diapers and blood.  If a soul is meant to live here just a limited time before going on to the next phase, if our days are truly numbered in His book, would it have mattered if we'd lived across town on our own little acre, away from the storm, away from the creek? Or, would Jack's soul have crash landed into his destiny and found another way?

I don't know.

But I do know that I am at my best when I am grateful. Grateful for the time I did get to spend in the house that built me. Grateful for the chubby baby born out of sorrow, beating so many odds already in his life. Grateful for 12 years with Jack's physical presence, and grateful for the knowledge that our relationship continues. Grateful the the upperclassmen eventually empty the lot and I can hold and bounce Andrew, now clad in nothing but a diaper, until Margaret appears. And grateful for a teenager, who probably had a lot of her own stuff to deal with during this long day, who sees my wet eyes behind my sunglasses, and offers to bring Andrew into the house when we get home, so I can go to the bathroom in peace.

29 comments:

Momobug said...

<3 to you, Anna

Suzanne Viggiano said...

You have such a beautiful soul. This post is so touching, so honest, so real. May God continue to bless you and keep you filled with Gratitude.

Anonymous said...

Gratitude. I get the reminder often from your writings to be thankful for my joys. It really does amplify them and make my stresses and disappointments seem small.

Angie said...

Oh, yes. Yes, I get this. The "What ifs" and "If onlys." And, like you, it is only when I start praising more and giving thanks that the cloud of sorrow lifts a bit to let a ray of light in. This journey is not easy, but we press on for the sake of our boys who would be gobsmacked at how strong their mothers are, though we certainly don't feel it most days. Much love and ((hugs)), dear friend.

Anonymous said...

Your pain is tangible as I read this, and I am sending prayers from Texas. Jack has a purpose far greater than any of us still in this earth. In the times that you miss him the most, try to hold on to the fact that he is living perfectly while we are all here with earthly pain and sin. You will see him again, in Jesus' holy name.

TheNextMartha said...

Sending you a part of my heart in hopes that it helps yours. <3

Sharon in Indy said...

Crying with you. I know "disappointment" isn't a big enough word, but that's when my heart dropped. Saying extra prayers for you as I sit here. <3

Brandee Shafer said...

Death is so hard. So is life. Reading this, I felt your overwhelm and sorrow, also your fight for gratitude and peace. You are a woman of dignity for fighting for these things on a day like the one you wrote out...or on any day, having lost one of your children. I can't imagine and do not want to, but I am praying for you, just now. Thank you for sharing your life so openly.

Anonymous said...

This was a beautifully written blog post about where you are right now. My forties looked different than your do but I can still relate to the feelings you're feeling. Some days we feel our losses more acutely, other days they take on another perspective and we feel grateful. Life is a sometimes an excruciating mix of both/and. I did want to comment on your "what-ifs". My daughter was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when she was a baby. She suffered. We all did. So much. And I got caught up in the "what-ifs"--what if she'd been diagnosed at birth, or at six months, rather than at twelve? What if her pediatrician had been more observant early on? I went on and on (and did) until I disappeared down a hole that threatened to swallow me. It's a struggle. But I guess after all these years I have felt in a profound way that God didn't want cancer for my child any more than I did. He didn't plan this journey for her; it happened. Because we live in a broken world. But God can bring joy and healing--God can work all things for good. (Romans 8:28) What a relief that is.

I look forward to reading your posts. Thank you.

Claire Plante (now Claire Weech) said...

Dearest Anna,

I'm blown away by this post and can't think of anything to write that even approximates my feelings. So I will just send love, and hugs, and wishes for peace and gratitude in your heart. I wish I wasn't downtown at work - I would love to drive Margaret home!!

xoxoxo
Claire

Jennie Goutet said...

Hi dear, dear, dear friend. I was just thinking of you today, and Jack. I was reflecting on my children's age (Juliet 12 and Gabriel nearly 11) and that it was at this age - and your loss struck me in a fresh way. And yes, there's gratitude because there are so many good things, but ... I can't say anything very coherent but I loved the beauty and the pain in what you wrote.

Fadra N said...

I think of you so often and marvel that you have the strength that you do. Even dealing with moments of weakness shows your incredible strength, even if you don't see it.

Jen said...

This is so beautiful. Those "what ifs" and "should haves" follow us all, no matter how big or small our trials and sorrows. I can't imagine how heavy the weight of your "what ifs" are to carry around all the time. I love that you are finding gratitude among the sorrow. Love to you and your sweet family, and prayers that you will all continue to heal and find strength.

Unknown said...

Many thanks for your brutal honesty and strength to carry on. Life is sometimes really a messy, complicated place. God's grace to you, your husband and your three children. I wish we were next door neighbors. XXOO

Celeste M said...

Your writing is so raw and real, I feel like I know you, yet I don't know your pain. I know of loss of parents, but nothing as hard as the loss of a child. I pray Andrew gets rid of his cold and your house can feel some peace. {hugs}

Anonymous said...

Ah, you have done it again - channeled what is holy. Thank you. And thank you for meeting your calling in this way. Your words heal and help others.

I too have had some life challenges, not anything like what you have, and have found that gratitude is the way forward when things are unimaginably difficult and dark. One thing I am grateful for is you.

NanaDiana said...

You wound it right around to the right place in the end of it all...sorrow and sadness all rolled right into that little bundle of light and love...not a replacement--certainly not that--but a reaffirming of what is good in life. Blessings- xo Diana

Bev said...

I can totally relate! I can honestly tell you though that because of all the hard stuff in my own life. I was sexually abused by my dad during my growing up years. I left home and moved in with the first guy I met. I ended up pregnant at 18 and he took me for an abortion. I had no idea what one was. He then told me he was married. I left him and married the next man I met. He turned out to be an alcoholic who cheated on me many times. I left him and took our 2 young daughters. Struggled through debilitating anxiety attacks as a single mom in a strange country and being 24 years old. I came to know the Lord around this time. I met my husband and had our daughter. I have now been married to my husband for 24 years - I have been involved in children's jail ministry for 12 years. I have led hundreds of people to Jesus. One of my daughters from my first husband has struggled with substance abuse and is currently in a 14 month treatment center. She overdosed twice. We are raising her son( our grandson) he is now 8 and we are adopting him. Our youngest daughter has just gone off to college
And we had 2 months of an empty nest. We have been raising our grandson for the last 4 years. I wouldn't trade my life for a perfect life because it has taught me that life is precious and that to be refined you have to go through the fire. My relationship with the Lord is strong deep and I know I am loved. His plans for my life and my kids lives are what I want. His plans are to make us more like Him. So whatever it takes to rid me of my desires and my wants and give me His desires. This life is a vapor. Be thankful for the cup that you have been poured. I count my blessings every day. Life is hard and then you die. I pray every day that I would know Christ more every day than the day before. All my girls love the Lord. They all are compassionate and care about others. I forgave my dad and He gave His life to the Lord as well as all of my family in England. Forgiveness is such a gift. Love never fails and heals.
We will not understand all that happens on earth but one day it will all make sense. Trust Him - He loves us all!
God bless you and your beautiful family !!

Sandy said...

I, too wonder if things would be different under different circumstances or are we all here for the assigned time?......so many questions. But like you, gratitude is what brings me back to life and helps me wake up another day. Hugs to you!

Jessica said...

I have a Margaret, too, (maybe I've mentioned that before?), but she's only 7. This truly made me weep for your whole family, Andrew included. A new baby is hard. It's work. Your whole family is giving it's all and I wish desperately that you didn't have to - not because Andrew shouldn't exist, but because Jack should be there, too. I see how hard you're trying. You, and Tim, and Margaret.

Chris Carter said...

Every time you write about Jack, I begin to cry. I feel your grief through your words, and I feel your gratitude too. BOTH grab my heart so hard, each time.

What a day, huh? I can picture you in it- IN IT- just wanting to give up, give in- and I can only imagine how many times you have had hard moments like this. I have loved your heart from the moment I read the first page page of your book- and I continue to be utterly inspired by you every day since.

You are strong. You are beautiful. You are faithful. You are amazing.

Wray's said...

I love it when you write about Jack. I never read any of your post without thinking of him. I also, don't think I have ever commented on someone else's blog that I don't know :)

You are such a gifted writer. Grief is a profound thing. I read recently that it's not something that needs to be healed. It's an on-going, ever-changing, ebb and flow of longing, missing and rest in Jesus arms - Who ultimately carries us and shadows us when nothing else makes sense and the burden feels too heavy.

Anna, thank you. For being honest, so so real and letting us in on your world. I read Rare Bird a couple years ago. I'll never forget Jack.
"How blessed are those who dwell in Your house, they are ever praising You" Psalm 84:4

Estelle said...

Thank you for your truth which resonates so deep in my bones. You speak the word of many grieving, unbecoming and becoming mother but also of anyone who's had 'what ifs'. Deep bows to you ����

Anonymous said...

Anna, you are a profoundly gifted writer. I am always astounded by your prose. Love and thanks from San Luis Obispo, CA.

Debby@Just Breathe said...

I wish my words could flow like yours do. My mind definitely works like yours does but I can't get it work on paper so to speak. I believe I am at my best when I am grateful too and putting our trust in God is how we are able to make it in this crazy world we live in filled with joy and sorrow. xoxo

connie kennedy said...

Oh Anna! Thank you for sharing this. I was just talking to my husband David the other day about Jack. I hadn't even been reading the blog at the time, but you were on my mind. I said how angry I felt about him being taken away from you all. I am a Christian too - but neverthless these feelings are felt and although there are no real answers, what we do know is that our Heavenly Father not only understands and knows our deepest thoughts and feelings, but comforts us and gives us strength to keep on. I gave your book to my friend who lost her grandson in a fire last year, which she in turn passed on to her daughter. Keep the writing going - it is so raw, honest and hopeful. Also, before you know it, baby Andrew will be running around and these early snots and colds and upset tummies will, relatively speaking, be a thing of the past - thank goodness!!

www.robinbotie.com said...

Anna, this is beautiful. Yes, it's all about being grateful. Too true. Cheers!

Kendra HeadlessMom said...

A beard! That's crazy.

My friend Ann told me about this post and I'm so glad that she did. I would have hated to miss this. Some of your best writing comes from raw emotion and real life. We all have real life, you know. Different circumstances but still real. You face it with such beauty and gratitude and grace. Grace. We all need it, and bless Margaret for seeing the need! ;-)

I miss you, my friend, and pray for you regularly. You're a blessing to me, even across all of the miles and years!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you for including all of the gross parts of reality along with all of the happy parts. I guarantee you that the moms in the pick-up line who seem to have it all together DON'T. Some definitely have it together more than others, but others just hide their problems well. (Obviously, a fussy baby with a dirty diaper and a period surprise make it a little harder to appear together, but what can you do?) On a light note, here's to every girl who's ever been caught by the surprise disaster of a period's arrival with nothing to do but wait until she can remedy the problem! (Happened to me in high school and once at work in my 20s...ugh) Love and blessings to you and your family!