I am in Erie, PA, visiting my cousin. A little while ago, we were headed to be when my cousin told me to look outside, “it’s white.” While we peacefully watched “quality” Sunday night TV, the world outside changed. It had snowed. Everything is now different and it will be more different by morning.
It has been eleven months since Christopher died and I still have a hard time believing it. It has not even been three months since my cousin’s thirty-year-old son was killed by a drunk driver. On the way to Erie, from my dad’s house in Wooster, OH, I stopped and visited the mother of one of my brother’s friends; her 17 year old granddaughter committed suicide last week. I’ve previously mentioned my friend whose four year old died in a day care fire. The list goes on.
I don’t know that I ever knew anyone when they had a child die. I’ve learned since Christopher’s death that it isn’t an uncommon experience and I, in fact, know several people who have had a child die. I’ve been told that we are not wired to have to bury a child; we expect our parents to precede us in death, but never a child. If that is true, then why am I walking with so many through this horific experience?
When I look back to that night in December, if can remember the same numbness I feel tonight. There is an inability to really feel all that has happened; I still cannot believe that Christopher has left this world. I take great comfort in knowing that we will be reunited, but that does little good tonight.
The last time I was here with my cousin Linda, Christopher was with me. He, her then 14 year old son and 10 year old grandson went sledding with Christopher. When we left Cleveland for Erie in the morning, there was no snow, but by noon, there was plenty on which to fly down the local hills. Tonight is one of those nights. If Christopher were here, I have no doubt that he would, even now, be outside romping.
But he’s not. Neither are Kevin, Grace, Megan, Ryan, Taylor, Steven, and the list goes on. I am sorry, but this just isn’t right. Or is it. It sure feels wrong, I can tell you that.
We were laughing earlier today about our sons in heaven laughing at the two of us telling stories. Another of Linda’s sons (she has five sons, a daughter, five granddaughters, and a grandson – she is much older that I), laughed and decided that the boys were probably saying, “I told you my mom was crazier than yours!” Jay may well be right.
I shared Steven Curtis Chapman’s song, “With Hope” with Linda today. Then I realized that I have this all wrong. I am so blessed to have the hope of heaven. I cry, I ache, I hurt, but I somehow do all this with a sense of hope. It isn’t a hope that I can always feel, but it is always there.
You know, it is night, and it is cold, here in Erie, but somewhere out there, the Sun is burning hot and bright. I don’t feel it now, but it still is; my feelings have nothing to do with that reality. I don’t feel like any loss of a child is “right”, but it still is. God is good and He loves me. In the past eleven months, that has been my hope. Do I feel it, not often, but I have to remember, my feelings have nothing to do with that reality.