Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Worst Nightmare

Life can be so lovely and then suddenly so unexpectedly cruel. This morning I had been writing about the joy of being at our cozy old house in Ilwaco when technology intruded. I received a message from a friend that the step-son of a mutual friend was killed on his Vespa last night in Tacoma. You’re going along living your life, which is pretty good, and boom!

My greatest nightmare is losing a child. Although I have four of them I cannot imagine my life without any one of them. As it is I carry with me the knowledge that the average life expectancy for a person with Down’s Syndrome is 50 and my daughter is 38. I would be devastated to lose her or any one of my sons. I try not to dwell on it.

Several years ago a cousin of mine lost his middle son through suicide. He was on antidepressants and maybe that’s what caused it and maybe he really didn’t mean it, but suicide is the ultimate F-you to those who love you. My cousin had sense enough to join a parent support group to help him deal with the grief, but he still stops by the cemetery regularly to “talk” to his son. My cousin’s wife dealt with it differently. She closed her son’s bedroom door and there it sits. She wouldn’t go to the support group with my cousin. Maybe she thought that no one could understand the level of her grief. I can imagine it. I don’t know how I would react. I believe I would lose my mind. In some ways my cousin’s wife did.

So a lovely sunny morning at the beach has turned contemplative as messages fly across the ether about what we can do to support this family in their time of grief. When the house is clean and the car packed I will head home to a grieving circle of friends.


Grandma L said...

I believe it truly is the most horrible nightmare that can be imagined. I lost a 12 year old grandson, and a younger sister when I was eight and the years go by and the grief dims a little with years, but it never goes away.

Stephanie Frieze said...

I believe that every significant loss we have is a wound that never entirely heals. My daddy's been gone seven years and I still miss him. And you are right, over time it scabs over. I cannot imagine what I would do if I lost one of my children. No one should have to bury their child.

Scribbit said...

One of our friend's grandchildren was killed last night and I agree--we've been thinking how quickly things can change.

Kim Thompson said...

I read this in a parenting magazine years ago. No matter how you feel, no matter what is going on in your life or in that moment, always greet your child in the morning with the biggest smile you can muster and tell them how happy you are to see them. Do this every day, even as your children age because if your child left you (as you describe Stephanie), they'll have the knowledge and the peace that they were always loved and welcomed into their day.

I took that advice to heart.

Stephanie Frieze said...

Good advice, Kim. I know our family tells each other we love them every time we part or hang up the phone or even on FB. You never know when it's going to be the last time you have the opportunity.

Today at school I went to astornomy with my wheelchair student. We watched a video about deep space threats to life on Earth. I guess an asteroid or a gamma ray could hit us any time or the sun could collapse, but it's the stupid stuff like a traffic accident or being in the wrong place at the wrong time that frightens me.