After Three Years

Written on 7/18/17:

I will always love Michael .  I will always miss Michael.  But I don’t want to always mourn Michael.
These were my thoughts as this third anniversary approached.  You would think after three years you would have cried all the tears you would cry.
On the 18th I reread the CaringBridge entry from that day three years ago.   It was the day Michael asked me if we could go to Bravo’s for lunch.  That he would just get out of the bed and we would go to lunch.   When I told him he couldn’t go he was disappointed.  His friends thought he was kidding.  The doctors did too – they even laughed about it.  But he didn’t think it was funny.  And later that day his vitals began to drop.  The entry on the 19th talks about him being stable, but that he wasn’t making progress.  And it was just the day after, on the 20th, that he told me he wanted to stop all the treatment.
So as I look back on the timeline — that he was discouraged on the 18th and decided to stop treatment on the 20th — it makes me wonder.  Did I hurt his feelings by not encouraging him on the 18th?  Could I have someway picked him up emotionally and encouraged him?  Was I just too tired?  Did I not try hard enough?  If I had been more encouraging on that day, would he have fought longer?
Did I not encourage him enough?  Did I not show him that I believed in him enough?  God and Michael both know I would have never done anything to deliberately hurt his feelings.  But was I just too tired and being selfish to not indulge him in some way?
You would think that after three years these ideas would have been settled in my mind.  And I thought they were.
But to read back over these things again brings a new wave of questions.  And with the questions come the tears.  The gentle tears.  And then the continual tears.  And then the sobs of sorrow and regret and “what ifs”.
You would think after three years I wouldn’t react this way.
You would think …
The entry above was written earlier this week.  The thought that I could have hurt Michael’s feelings on that day still leaves me feeling crushed.  I know he would forgive me.  So I try to not hold onto the possibility.
Somehow I was under the impression that each year would get easier.  But it seems like the third anniversary is harder than the second.
 Check list for the third anniversary:
           New flowers for the cemetery
           Check on each of the kids
           Friends to get through the day
           Lots of Kleenex
           Book trip to Africa for next summer
           Learn that mourning doesn’t have a schedule
I will always love Michael .  I will always miss Michael.  But I don’t want to always mourn Michael.

The Evolution of Children

I don’t know what it’s like in a home with a single child.  All my experience has been with multiple children, both in my upbringing and in my own parenting.  I can remember, as a child, times that I played well with my brother and sisters, and times they got on my nerves.  Years passed and we each grew, started our own families, and made our own careers. You just seem to get busy managing your own life, but squeeze out the obligatory holiday gatherings to catch up with one another (even though you live in the same town).  And then as you grow older, your parents pass away and you realize that your siblings are all that’s left of your original family. That awareness tends to make you draw back together, to appreciate the time together and recognize that you won’t have very many more years like this.

This awareness also makes me look at my own children.  I can remember bringing each of them home and the older ones being excited for that new baby in the house.  Infants and immobile babies are pretty easy to get along with.  As they grew older there were the usual skirmishes over toys and territory — the things parents get to referee on a daily basis.

Because of the age differences in my children, our household was a combination of teens with children, and then college students with teens.  Most of these years seemed to be a combination of barely tolerating each other and being embarrassed by each other.  The boundaries often were blurred by who got what privileges and who wasn’t being treated fairly.  And sometimes it seemed the only times they were cordially existing in the same room was when Michael or I declared an immediate peace treaty for family dinners or vacations.

Before you know it they are grown individuals, making their own decisions on when to come and go, and who they will spend their time with.  They choose to look elsewhere for those close relationships.  Oh, they come home when they’re summoned.  But gatherings can be marked by hurt feelings.  Maybe somebody’s too sensitive.  Maybe somebody else isn’t sensitive enough.  Words are said.  Jabs are taken.  And you wonder if they’ll ever really like each other again.

And then something happens as time passes.  Maybe they, too, realize that one day they will only have each other from their original family.  Maybe they begin to appreciate how quickly the years will pass.  And you learn that they are texting each other, even though mom didn’t start the group text conversation.  You find out that they FaceTime each other and laugh and have meaningful conversations without being prompted.  You see them change their plans and drive hours just to spend time with each other.  You see them cancel other activities so they can be together to eat and laugh and play cards and silly games.  You see them help each other and encourage each other.  You see them pray for one another.

And then you think … maybe they really do like each other after all.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.

                      3 John 1:4

And because we often find ourselves all in the same place only about once a year…