Saturday, April 24, 2010

Life is just so hard

Two years ago, when Josh and Jameson had first come home, Josh was recruited to a competitive soccer league. He met a boy. His name was Alec. He was Josh's first real friend. It didn't matter that Josh barely spoke English. It didn't matter that he was shy and scared of his shadow. It didn't matter that he looked different than the rest of the team. They played soccer together, and this boy helped envelope Josh into the fold of the team.

Through the odd six degrees of separation that divide our family and the Simonson family, who met our kids before we did, and were instrumental in our adoption of Josh and Jameson, we met their neighbors... Alec's parents.

Alec's dad, Scott was recently diagnosed with malignant melanoma. Scott was an avid Mizzou fan, and when I say avid, I mean completely obsessed and crazed fan... Mizzou is my grad school, so I totally agree with his compulsion. He was also the friendliest, most talkative person I've ever known. A few months ago, sitting in his living room, he told us, "I'm gonna beat this. I plan on beating this."

We sat Josh down a few days ago and told him that Alec's dad wasn't doing well and might not make it. Incredulously Josh said, "You mean he might die????" If you know my son, you will know that he is a bit of an onion... we are constantly peeling back his layers to reveal his true self and feelings. What I took from the interaction was "parents aren't supposed to die in America." This isn't supposed to happen. Not here. Not where health care is available and medicine is advanced. Parents aren't supposed to die when their kids are still young.

Two days ago, I received a phone call that Scott had passed away. We sat Josh down to tell him. He was very quiet. He tends to hold his stuff in. He has seen so much. He has experienced so much. So much more than we will ever probably know. I grabbed him and hugged him and wouldn't let go. I could feel the swallow. I know because I'm familiar with the swallow. It's a technique us tough people use to keep from out and out sobbing. For the first time ever, I let go before he did.

We told him that if anyone understood how Alec was feeling, it would be him. We gave him a choice and told him that it would be OK to share with Alec about his past. We told him he might be able to help him through it. It might help both of them. Josh and Alec have been so close. I hope he find in him a friend he can confide in about his own grief and loss or finds someone he can confide in. Even if that's not me. It's still OK. He knows I love him. He knows we're a family and we're in it to win it. We're not going anywhere.

It is so hard to wrap my mind around Josh and Jameson's grief and loss. It so far outweighs my own and I am often times so overwhelmed by it. We go through life doing OK and basically ignoring the elephant in the room until something like this occurs and it brings it all back up to the forefront.

Every once in awhile, I am struck up side the head with how hard life is. It's hard here. It's hard in Africa. It's hard in the morning. It's hard in the evening. It's hard for everyone.

I do know that the last time I talked to Scott, he told me he knew Jesus loved him, and he was OK with where he was going if he didn't beat it. And that gives me comfort. And so today, while we grieve for Alec and his family, we celebrate a job well done for my fellow Mizzou fan Scott.

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1 comment:

Family of Six: Going To Ethiopia said...

Gina, I went to a grief conference yesterday and heard a perspective I haven't before. It resonated with me and I'll share...

Tom Attig asked the audience how many of us brought all who loved us and all we loved to the conference. Friends. Family. Neighbors. People near. People far. Anyone holding a place in our heart.

Nobody raised their hand.

He asked if we were still able to love those people even though we were not currently together.

Of course.

He asked if they stop loving us the moment we are not together.

Of course not.

He said the same holds true in death and he calls it love in separation. It is possible to hold love for someone whether you are with them, whether you are not, whether they are living, whether they have passed.

He asked us to close our eyes and imagine a time with someone we love who has died. In the memory, what are you doing together? What are they wearing? Where are they? What does their face look like; their hands; their body?

He suggests saying something to them. Imagine them receiving what you say. Spend as much time in that memory as you want. When you are ready, open your eyes.

Think about the meaning of that memory. Why might it have purpose in the present?

Share your experience with someone you trust. Or, journal about it. Or, just tuck it away.

Via memories, we have those we have lost accessible whenever we want. They are not gone, they are just separated from us. For now. Our love for them is alive and real, and current.

Love is lasting, even in separation.