For unbloggable reasons, it's been a rough week. One after another after another, those "not ever" and "never again" moments have hit me, relentlessly and repeatedly.
I am surprised to discover that in many ways the fifth year is worse than the second, and the third, and the fourth. I guess that each year another level of reality settles in, and in some ways the desire to live backwards rather than forward becomes increasingly intense.
What's the beautiful and the good? That there are other mothers, that we can turn to one another and talk among ourselves. Of course, that's neither beautiful nor good, since we have found one another because our children have died.
My friend Karen writes the following today:
"No one else can understand the landscape through which we walk - the vulnerability, the longing, the daily ache of missing our child, the frequent reminders, the life-long series of “no, not ever” and “never-again,” the unseen hazards that lie in wait for us like buried land mines. Panic attacks, PTSD, memory triggers, the excruciating, debilitating pain of trauma-recall (like a punch to the gut) which we experience in the grocery store, on vacation, while driving a car, listening to the radio, surfing the internet – anytime, anywhere - these are not a part of the average person's daily life. You may work with us or socialize with us, but unless you are one of us, you cannot possibly truly know how we feel, and we hope that you never do, for your sake.
Because of this, please consider us and our idiosyncrasies with a bit of extra compassion, for you do not know what we are seeing and experiencing. We may be standing right in front of you, yet not present with you at all. Though looking at you, we may have dropped through an invisible trap-door to the past, and be re-living the moment of our child’s diagnosis, or his death in our arms, handling her ashes, or that telephone call – the one which gave us the news which ended our life as we knew it. That phone call which started us on our journey, down the path which no parent wants to take."
Sometimes these friends of mine, these extraordinarily gifted and gracious women who do so much for so many, come across in their blogs as if they are on top of the world, healed and energetic and productive and happy. And then I remember the seventies-something couple in my intern church, their son lost to suicide seven years previous, who were such lovely people and so engaged in the life of the church and the community, and how I asked them one day, "Are you really ok?" -- and I recall the tone in which they said, in unison, "Oh, no . . . no, we're not ok . . . we're not ok at all." And so I am not surprised when my friends reflect on the feelings underlying the public faces.
One of my friends says that it takes skill, to live in the world as we do, and that we are learning. I suppose, as Mary Oliver says, we go "practicing."