April 24, 2007

Sometimes when a person dies the surviving family breaks apart. Grief, guilt, denial, fear, blame – all the boulders that separate people, even crush them. It happens easily, often quickly, and lasts for generations.

In our case, the legacy Alex provided was, ironically, one that might have saved him from suicide. I won’t dwell on the what-ifs but in thinking about how different – and better – our family relationships are because of the work we had to do, Alex brought us together and continues to quietly hold those connections.

 Why am I resisting this writing? Why do I keep thinking about just taking a nap? Why do my words feel so shallow today, so made up? What is the barrier to my inside thoughts?

 Maybe I am so tired because of the re-lived grief I have felt all week from Virginia Tech.

From listening to Karin’s reactions to that and later hearing her pain as she described the suicide of the young teen in Huntersville. Taking on the agony and desperation of the mother driving from work to reach her son before it was too late, talking to him on the phone the whole time and hearing the deafening gun shot. Karin wants to sit with the family, to embrace them, to care for them.

 And I wonder, in my inner thoughts, would I have wanted to be on the phone with Alex. Is it worse to have discovered him on the third day? The timing of the disconnection – the rendering of that bond – is there a better way? A good way? A preferred way?

 If they are infants, is it true you don’t have the pain of all the memories, of milestones reached in childhood, or years marked by birthday celebrations with family, friends, neighbors – the horns and balloons.

 No, that is NOT true because I have always related to my children, even when they were in my womb, on several planes simultaneously:

 the past, my life before they became part of my knowing;

 the present, feeling the kicks, the rolling knees, the hiccups pre-natally and then the birth, the sleep-deprived days and nights, all the daily events as they happened no matter how long or short.

 And, of course, the future: rocking them in my arms, stroking their sweet face and imagining, in Alex’s case, what kind of man he would grow to be.

  Even now I picture him in those imaginary family settings at Christmas dinners or at the horse shows. And I grieve for what might have been. And so it is when others’ children die: a deeper sadness than just observing how difficult it must be for those mothers. That profound knowing, that gaping hole, that struggle between going on and being strong versus

 just sitting down.

~Dottye Currin