Today I did something I’ve wanted to do for six years but was always scared to do, I approached a lady after Mass who lost her son six years ago in a car accident. I remember Joseph playing for her son’s funeral and I remember asking him if it was a hard thing to do as he was pretty much the same age as the boy who died. Turns out this mom was also wishing to approach me but felt just as awkward as I did. It was really nice to talk to her and I’m so glad I made the first move. Turns out she’s very interested in going for coffee with me. It is incredible the compelling urge that draws moms who have lost children together, I feel it and I certainly sensed it in this other woman this morning. It’s hard to explain because it goes far beyond connecting with someone you have something in common with like both having big families or both nursing babies, children the same age, that sort of thing. There is a far deeper connection going on, I’d even go so far as to describe it as a fierce hunger to connect with someone who has gone through the same experience. It’s like suddenly finding yourself in an ‘invisible/unspoken club’ you never ever wanted to join (in fact forced to join against your will) but once you’re ‘in’ you don’t see how you could ever go on without the other members. So far I have to say that every mom I’ve met in this ‘invisible/unspoken club’ has been amazing and I very much look forward to getting to know them better. When I asked the mom this morning how she was doing she gave the exact same answer I give most of the time, “I have my moments.” It’s amazing how much can be conveyed in four little words that can connect two souls who have never spoken before. At the same time my heart sank to think that six years from now I may still be where I am today, having my moments.
The one thing I’ve started to really notice the last couple weeks is all the contradictions that plague me these days. Like wanting to be alone and yet not wanting to be alone. Wanting friends to come visit but not inviting them because I don’t want anyone to come over. Wanting to get out of the house and yet wanting to hide in here forever. Wanting to forget all the painful memories of Bernadette’s illness and yet wanting to remember them so as not to forget her. Wanting to see reminders of her all over the house even though they bring much pain most of the time. The list is endless and seems to encompass every aspect of my life. I have never felt so deeply conflicted and each side is as strong as the other, both hold equal weight. It’s not even like I’m of two minds or my heart is torn between the two, I desire both equally and 100 percent. There really is no winning, no running or hiding from the pain. I guess in a way there is no point in desiring either, just accept everything as it comes.
I also wanted to thank everyone who responded, either by email or comments, and offered their insights into the quotes from C.S. Lewis that I was having trouble understanding. I’m sorry I didn’t respond and say thank you sooner. It’s taking me time to work through everything. Thank you, Fr. Mark, for your reflection. Yes it was very helpful. Two nights ago I finally understood your words, ” I think that C.S.Lewis’ phrase “passionate grief” refers to those situations where the energy of the grievers is directed, over and over, to the grief rather than the one being grieved (although it looks like we are directing our attention to the one we have lost).” For the first time I found myself crying myself to sleep and yet I wasn’t exactly thinking about Bernadette, it was more the entire situation we now find ourselves in. It was totally different. I’ll certainly have to watch for that in the days to come, I have enough to deal with without thattype of ‘passionate grief’!
Sending love and blessings Patti. Thank you for continuing to share your journey with us – please know that your words have such an impact on those who read them – helping many of us look at our own sufferings – allowing us to be honest – enabling us to heal with you – through the pain and sorrow that is part of us all. Jesus carried the ultimate cross, but we also have crosses to bear – painfully drawing us closer to Him – with the help of the Holy Spirit – who provides us with the hope and grace to accept and understand His great love for us. I pray He continues to wrap you in His loving arms…..tight to his chest….so you feel his heart beat…..love….love….love….I am with you always.