I wondered how I'd feel today. It's been six years since Mother's Day exploded on May 8th. Each year, I've had a bit of a respite from that horrific anniversary of my 33 year-old son's death and Mother's Day celebration. The past few years I took some solace in the fact that this day sanctified as the day for honoring mothers didn't fall on May 8th every year. For some reason I assumed it would take 7 years for it to fall on the 8th again. I thought I had one more year before facing it. I was wrong.
It's not the first time. It won't be the last. No one really expects the inconceivable to occur. At least, not to them. Inconceivable happens to others. Others are have tornadoes, floods, and fires destroy their homes. Others lose their children. Others. Not us.
We all live in a world of preconceived complacency--we think each day will unfold in a fitted form. We blindly plan our lives without a thought to the unforeseen. Routine is our security blanket. Change is most often a threat...any deviation from the typical normal schedule creates temporary panic. Extreme change stops us dead in our tracks. That was made clear on September 11 in 2001. Planes stopped flying. Flights were canceled. Marriages ended. Wedding plans changed. America inhaled horror and forgot to exhale. The impenetrable was penetrated. Security was breached and government was paralyzed until we caught our breath.
Such is similar when one gets the news on Mother's Day that their own child is dead. We cannot breathe. We can't even imagine breath without the inclusion of our child's heartbeat, laughter, and smile. But we do breathe. Eventually the horror fades, the inconceivable settles in, and reality breeds another norm, another typical, another routine of sorts.
Others talk about closure when people die. Closure buries their dead. Closure shuts the door on funeral home visits. Closure slams the coffin lid shut. Closure throws away the key. Closure stops reading the book; the story ends. Closure decides where 33 years of memories are stored, where clothes hang, where memorabilia is placed. When someone we love dies -- someone as big as life itself -- the box is too big to close. The door won't shut. The key is never lost. Especially when the one who dies is a child. There is no closure. The book writes itself, chapters are still written. The character lives on in the hearts of those who carry his memory as they walk on in life. Questions linger. Thoughts probe the heart. Each answer provokes emotions. Each thought stirs a memory. Each memory opens another door, unlocks a feeling, stirs a dormant pain or fills a need.
For me it was my son. This year he'd turn 40. I wonder if he'd still be planning to go shark fishing in the Pacific Ocean? By now, he'd probably be chasing whales.
I'd love to hear what he'd say and think as he bragged about his beautiful daughters.
I'd love to see the adoration and pride sparkle in his eyes as they walk into the room.
I'd love to watch him play with his little nieces, and grand-nephews and grand-niece. I can see him growl and run from them as he plays hide-and-seek.
He'd so enjoy his niece's husband, his nephews' life choices. Instead, I imagine what he'd still be doing.
He'd still be taking risks beyond appropriate for his age.
He'd still be bouncing on trampolines, riding bikes, and bungie jumping.
He'd still be stopping on roadsides and picking wildflowers for his daughters.
He'd still be calling and leaving silly phone messages in foreign dialects.
He'd still be playing pranks on new friends and probably still be trying to get in touch with old friends.
He'd still be trying to play softball, golfing, and encouraging everyone on the team.
He'd still be tiling other people's houses, McDonald's, What-a-Burgers, and anyone else to whom he'd given a business card.
He'd still be wearing his scripture embroidered cap that said "His death gives me life". Romans 5:9,10.
And most likely, he'd still be planning to do something for Mother's Day.
I wouldn't be feeling guilty because I was in too much physical pain to make a new floral blanket for his grave. I wouldn't be standing in the cemetery feeling like the chapter of my book would never end happily ever after on earth again. Nor will I hear my children rise up to call me blessed.
No, there is no closure today.
But then, closure is highly overrated in my book. I rather like to think of Chad in terms of the seed that falls to earth and dies and produces a hundred-fold to live on and on and on. When I think of him, my heart beats a bit stronger, my perseverance finds another way, my hope looks forward to a day when we will see each other face to face and he places my hand in the hand of Jesus, the One who makes eternal life possible to those who believe. When the inconceivable falls on Mother's Day, you cry, you die to the way things once were and live on and celebrate the way things are, and dream of the perfect way things will be...eventually for an eternity.