Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Tides of Emotion Keep Coming

I've been avoiding dealing with this all week. I didn't want to interrupt a series on graduation or Leif's drawings, but I think the real reason was that I wasn't ready to write about it. We've had a sad week. I don't know what started it for Peter, but for me it was a news report about a toddler who stopped breathing after an allergic reaction to a medication. The parents were frantically rushing the child to a hospital when the saw a police officer and stopped to ask for help. The officer used CPR to save the child.

Normally a story like that would be heartwarming, but I was flooded with emotion, sadness. Why couldn't someone save my Leif, or the thousands of other people that are dying from anything but old age? Why couldn't *I* save my son?

I know that is a foolish thing to think, but I think it. I wanted to save him. I worried about him for years, prayed for him for years, not asking for anything unreasonable, just "give him a good life, give him something good to hang onto." My prayers were never answered. The worst loss happened.

People who are spared from some tragedy, or saved from death, talk about how their prayers were answered. Or is it just luck and coincidence? Why are some prayers worth answering and not others? There doesn't seem to be an discernible pattern to me. Just imagine people in a war, how many of them must be praying for their safety and that of their loved ones, but people still die, prayers or not.

One of my friends who lost a son to suicide with a gun four years ago says that he never knows what will suddenly set off a flood of emotions and bring tears to his eyes, that something as simple as seeing young people perform at church will make him remember his son performing and bring it on. I've found he's right. Just watching the news and seeing the report about that toddler made me sad. I should have been happy for the family, but no, I was just unhappy that my son wasn't here.

The week dragged on. I had been a lot better the week before and I didn't see why the toddler story was still affecting me like that. I should have been happy anticipating seeing Peter Anthony next week. Peter was feeling down, too, but it wasn't the toddler story affecting him. I couldn't figure out what was eating away at us.

Then last night it struck me. I knew I had found the reason when I really cried hard. It was precisely because Peter A. is coming, because it brings home the fact that Leif ISN'T coming, that he will never be coming.

It was a sad night, but I seem to have gotten past it now and can look forward to seeing Peter A., be thankful for my wonderful son without feeling the loss of his brother so sharply.

Before this, I never really understood why women who have lost children have a hard time being around children, but now I understand.

Before this, I always thought counting my blessings would keep me on an even keel and help me to realize, not just intellectually, but emotionally, how fortunate I am in so many ways. However, in this past week and past year, I have come to realize that no matter how many times I count my blessings, and realize them and am grateful for them, they don't take away the loss and hurt that comes back in waves from time to time. It's like someone who has everything else they always had but loses their sight. They can be immensely grateful for all they have, but those things don't take away the tremendous loss.

I thought that after a year things would get easier, a lot easier than they have.

And yet, there are days when the sadness subsides.

And we have our Peter Anthony to see. How we look forward to that.

This photo of Leif was taken in Japan in the fall of 1982, featuring his brand new front teeth.

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