Today I had the opportunity to go for coffee, which turned into lunch, with Mary Jane. She’s invited me when we’d popped in to see her last Wednesday while we were up at the lab. All week I looked forward to the time we would have together and hoped beyond hope that she wouldn’t forget. Amazingly enough it was wonderful – if you can call crying and reliving pain wonderful! But it was, in that it was good to connect with her again.
Mary Jane had the advantage of knowing Bernadette during her illness but today I heard Mary Jane’s story and learned more of her son Brad. It was an exchange of sorrow and yet it was a time of encouragement. We talked for over three hours. Now I have a terrible headache and it’s probably from controlling the tears that flowed so easily every time I’d mention Bernadette’s name. The tears would come but I couldn’t allow myself to reach that point of release, being in a public place and all, so I had to fight them back and keep moving forward. It was exhausting but still good.
The reason I feel like I’m flying high even with a brutal headache is that our sharing was the first time in six months where I could share with someone who really understood, she didn’t have to try and imagine the horror and pain, she’d lived it even more and for a lot longer. That Scripture passage continues to come to mind, “And God said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone.'” And it’s true, we were not created to be alone, God immediately gave man ‘a helpmate’. The literal sense of helpmate may be a spouse like Adam and Eve, but there are other helpmates that God sends us when we need them. And if there was ever a time when we/I need a helpmate it is now. And that’s not to say that my/our friends haven’t done their best to be of help, it’s not that at all, they have and we appreciate it more than we can say. But they’re like someone who is trying to scratch my back but no matter how hard I try to direct them to the itch, they can’t find it. Only someone with the same itch can find it because only they know exactly where it is. Only someone suffering the same pain of losing a child can really reach that spot that hurts because they know all too well what that pain is and how much it hurts. I would never ever want any of my friends to experience this pain, God willing, but at the same time I feel like there is this new part of me that I can’t really share with them and right now it is all consuming so I feel very much alone. Lunch with Mary Jane was soothing for that loneliness. Not only that but Mary Jane is such an incredible person, period, and I knew that from our dealings with her when she came to help with Bernadette.
Just as we were about to go our separate ways something incredible happened. We both said that we’d give absolutely everything we have to have our children back, everything – except ……… our other children, it was taken for granted that they never factored into the equation. And that’s when I understood in a tiny way the magnitude of God’s love in that He gave everything He had to have us back and His Son did factor into the equation. He didn’t withhold His Son for our return! Then tonight at Mass the Gospel reading was John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life.” Like many other very familiar passages that I’ve taken for granted over the years, as I heard the words they took on new depth of meaning and I said to myself, ‘I now understand that love like never before.’