Sometimes like a flood, it overruns the banks, but that happens less and less. I think I look normal on the outside most of the time now. I smile and nod, and go through the paces of life. Every once in a while, something triggers me badly. I shut down when that happen, stop talking, pull inside like a turtle into its shell. That is almost a reflex now to any badly worded or insensitive comment. The pain in those moments is acute, like a knife cutting through my soul, and I just brace to dull the pain so I won't react back. I push away anything I can't handle now. Self-protection has become an unwelcome but necessary habit.
Being back on Maui is wonderful and difficult. I pick up a variety of impressions when I am here around familiar people. Most people have just embraced us with warmth and love without asking questions. They seem to understand that there are no easy answers and none needed. I'm grateful for that. These people seem to understand that we are different now and just need to be accepted and held.
A few are impatient with our process--the vibe is indifferent or worse, "get over it already". This is most disturbing to me and I avoid these people determinedly. I don't know why people want us to get over the loss of our son. I can't fathom why that's important to them. We function, we pay our bills, we obey the laws, so what's the problem? I think some of them are simply revealing their own uncomfortability with the messiness of life. They don't want to deal with any human suffering that doesn't have a quick and clean solution. And obviously, they've never been laid so low they couldn't function. Not yet, anyway.
One of our younger friends asked me on Sunday, "Are you over your grief now?". I wasn't offended by his question--it was innocent and honest. My answer, equally honest, was this: "No, we aren't over it. We miss our son every moment, and this is more difficult than anything you can imagine from the outside looking in. It is more difficult than I could ever know before I went through it and it still shocks me."
He is a devoted father himself, and he dotes on his young children. I thought later that I should have explained it to him this way: "You know how your life changed forever the moment your son was born? Nothing was ever the same again. That's exactly how completely your life changes when your child leaves. It is an equally powerful, monumental experience--only sad instead of happy. "
Perhaps he would connect with that.
Yesterday, as we walked along the beach, we passed a stranger who stopped us and introduced herself. She attends our Maui church, but we'd never met. She said she recognized us from our pictures on this blog. She thanked us for our blog and then explained why. Two of her closest friends have lost children this year, and one was widowed, and she told us that she had referred them all to our blog where they had found comfort. Hmmm. Good, good. Another friend who came to Maui after we left, had herself lost, within a few years, first her parents and then a sister who was murdered by a boyfriend. Aaargh. Unbearable deep pain. She told me she turns to our blog for comfort when she is filled with her own grief. Hmmm, good. Again.
I've heard a few other similar comments in the past ten days, and they've all touched my heart deeply. It's a fellowship of mourners that I embrace and with which I humbly and openly link myself. We need people who understand and are there with us. So I am again thankful that I have written of my pain, despite the pressure to "move on", because people need a place to go to feel it, think it, integrate it. I am renewing my commitment to continue blending the irreconcilable joys and sorrows of life on my blog. All mourners are learning a new way to live, and we need others, their ideas and example. If I can do that for someone coming behind me, then I feel privileged.
He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.