I attended a going away lunch in honor of Jackie Barksdale who is leaving Florida Baptist Children’s Homes after 23 years. There have been changes recently that resulted in Jackie’s need to leave, but she wishes things were such that she could have stayed.
As part of the luncheon, they showed a video of pictures of many of the children and families whose lives have been touched by Jackie through the years. Jackie was the person at Florida Baptist who first believed in the possibility of Christopher and I becoming a family. As a result, there were several pictures of Christopher in the presentation. It was touching, but very painful.
Afterwards, Mileya (who had prepared the video) asked if it was okay . . . the way she included Christopher was okay; she had considered leaving him out thinking it would be too difficult to see, just (nearly) eight months after his death. It was so touching to see how a presentation that reflected how precious he was to Jackie (and the FBCH family), but it was so very sad.
I was pleased with how I handled it. I was very honest with how painful it was, but quickly reminded people that pain isn’t bad. Yes, I was very sad, but sad isn’t bad either. Pain and sad just are realities after the death of a child. I’ve decided that they can’t be avoided. The problem is that people would rather not think about the pain and sadness that is my reality. In the book Shattered Dreams, Larry Crabb recounts a story of a man whose wife had recently died overheard his friends talking about how he is doing. They commented that he was doing “great”. He felt that he had to always be doing great because that is what he has to tell people so that they can be comfortable. He said that he is tired of doing “great”.
I’m not as kind as that man. I am not doing great and I won’t tell you that I am. The best I’ll give you is that “all things considered, I’m doing okay.” Today, I told people that I was sad and that it was painful. They just have to deal with it. After all, I don’t have a choice; why should they?
Of course I am just kidding myself to think that I could hide it if I tried. The tears were flowing freely. This is kind of new for me. I’ve done a good job at not letting people see my tears. No more. I have to deal with it; those around me will just have to deal with it. After all, I don’t have a choice, why should they? I don’t want people to see me hurting, but I would be doing a disservice to myself and to Christopher if I was able to “act” like this is an overwhelmingly sad and painful time.