I dedicate this post to those of you who may have experienced similar traumatic circumstances and to our family and friends who hurt along with us.
Yesterday morning, I went into the room where the boys used to sleep together. Even though there were two beds in the room, Isaac and David slept together on a twin bed during those last several months, with me sandwiched in-between as we sang and prayed together before going to sleep. If I remember correctly, it was Isaac who wanted to sleep next to his little brother since he enjoyed the comfort of being next to him.
In that room’s closet is memorabilia from Isaac’s life – his creations, toys, writings and other items packed in boxes and containers. I opened the closet door and pulled down a box from the top shelf. Some of you may be familiar with that box – the one that the funeral director gives to you after the service and reception. Inside this box (among other items) is: the registration book signed by those who attended Isaac’s services; some pamphlets and bookmarks containing two beautiful poems and details about Isaac’s services and his obituary; and that document that certifies his death and its cause. As I read through his obituary again and looked at his smiling face, I opened the door to another closet – the one to my memory.
I remembered the services, where people greeted us and commented about how well we seemed to be doing, all the while we’re just numb and in shock. (Am I really burying my son? Is this real because it seems like a dream?) I remember the painful quiet after everyone was gone, going home with all the flowers, the left-over food (what a blessing) and we start to try to live our new life, taking baby steps, crawling and stumbling backwards all the way.
Then I rewind a little farther back, to the day when we were sitting in the conference room at the funeral home, surrounded by family and planning our son’s funeral service. (What?) We have to select a casket style and color, write an obituary, select a pamphlet design and poem insert, etc., etc. (Did this really happen?)
So I rewind some more, to that day – the day that everything changed. I remember driving away from our home after Isaac was transported in an ambulance to a nearby field, where the rescue helicopter would be landing shortly. We drove for almost an hour to the medical center, calling our relatives and friends along the way. All the while, I’m expecting him to live (my heart is racing as I write this). I wonder if there were angels around us, because I don’t know how we made it there safely. I remember pulling in to the parking lot at the same time that the helicopter was landing. (Shouldn’t it have been here already?) From a distance, we watched them wheel Isaac from the helicopter through the emergency doors and I was still assuming that he was going to be alright.
I remember waiting…then the chaplain walks back with me. I remember the double doors opening and there he lays – the sounds, the bright lights, what seems like dozens of people, and the lead doctor explaining how they wanted me to see that they were doing all they could but they couldn’t revive him. I see the flat line on the monitor (What? He was going to be OK – I’m shaking now as I write). I have to go back and tell my family. Then, Brenda and I are back in that room, all quiet now, Isaac disconnected from the machines, most of the people gone. We sit there and hold his lifeless body and struggle for the words to say goodbye to the son that we didn’t get to say goodbye to. And then – what’s this? – people are forming a circle around and PRAYING over us – here in THIS place? It was the beginning of God sending his messengers to minister comfort and truth to us. We go back out, tell our extended family who has come and our pastor and his wife that Isaac is gone. I remember my nephew putting his arm around his cousin, my daughter, to comfort her as she tries to comprehend losing her big brother and best friend. I see our two youngest children playing, not even sure that they understand what is happening. We make some more phone calls. This goes on for a while. Then we go home – to the silence, and we lay in bed and cannot sleep because out hearts and minds are racing. Then, when we are at our lowest, the devil sends his lying troops, speaking into our minds, trying to get us to doubt God, our salvation, our parenting abilities, etc., etc. (Where’s God? You can’t trust Him. This doesn’t happen to His children. Your prayers don’t matter – He didn’t protect Isaac.)
The next day is the dreariest, rainiest day that I can remember. We sit around in silence, while visitors come. Then another night and the condemning thoughts get louder. We are awake and don’t know what to do, so we call our faithful pastor and wife who come over around 3AM to minister truth and comfort to us for hours. But the cycle continues…
Then I rewind some more, to the moment it happened, but I won’t write about that.
(When these thoughts come, they tend to speak in the second person. I seem to be an observer watching these events happening to – me. I have to intentionally translate them to the first person when I type them. I wonder if this is because it is still difficult to comprehend the reality of what happened. Sometimes, it all seems like a dream. But writing down these thoughts helps me to comprehend the reality of my life as a bereaved parent.)
So (after I pull out a bookmark to put in my Bible), I put the lid back on the box, place the box back in the closet and close the closet door. Just inches separate me from the memorabilia of Isaac’s life. Yet, I find it difficult to close the other closet door – the one in my mind. Perhaps it needs to stay open because if I close it then I don’t let the pain out. And if I keep stuffing the pain back in the closet, then it wants to come out in other, less fruitful ways (anger). So I leave it open, so that the pain can be released and I can be healed and free.
Either I’m more aware or there are more people these days facing very difficult trials and circumstances.
I pray that you experience God’s healing and freedom, my dear reader.