Grief and hope after five months

I am having such a hard time getting back to all the writing projects I used to think were so important. And yet I still think writing has something to so with my mission in life, so I still do it every day. I just can’t seem to squeeze out much I want to share with the public. I used to write about books nearly every day, and in fact, I am still reading quite a lot, but my books and my life seem to melt into a blurry puddle and I cannot seem to extract a clear enough thought to shape into words.

I go about my life, going to the office, grocery shopping, cleaning house…. but when I sit down to do my life’s work, writing, I find that my spirit has melted into a lump of grief, all smooshed into a gray ball that is trying to find its way to the light. As you see I am doing a lousy job of expressing this in words and even if I could, who would want to read it? What good are words when it comes to knowing the truth? The truth is beyond words. Words can only capture the general direction of it.

The world seems so full of heartbreak now that grief is as common as breathing. Yesterday I read about a 21-year-old guy killed in a car crash on Route 58 near my house and I thought about his parents and said a prayer for them. I dread the thought of the horror they are now going through. The guy’s crashed car ended up hanging from a tree off the highway. Every day someone is facing the loss of a child, the regret, the guilt over every harsh work, every argument, every time you didn’t give them enough attention, every time you could have spent with them but chose to do something else, like pay a bill or go to work, or God forbid, do something just for yourself like read a book or go out with your girlfriends.

Blessed are the oblivious. I wonder at how oblivious I once was to the grief that permeates this world. How can this be given that I had lost all four of my grandparents, my own parents, and my in-law parents? But all of them departed with life in the right order: grandparents first and then parents. I was supposed to be next.

Sometimes an acquaintance would lose a child and I would think how horrible that would be, in fact unthinkable. So unthinkable I didn’t think about it, at least not in terms of such a think happening to me. We all witness death practically every day on the news and in the movies and on TV. We get used to seeing death as a remote fact that happens to other people on glass screens and cannot touch us. When it happens to someone we know it hits home and makes us think; but in a week or so, or 24 hours, we file that thought and continue on in our belief in our own immunity. We are so practiced in putting death in the glass box, a sanitized wall between us and the messy blood and grief of it.

It is now just over five months since Jesse’s death. Not long enough to recover from the mere shock when I see all those hundreds of photographs of his radiant face, usually such an innocent and trusting face. Not long enough to get my mind around the fact that though Jesse still exists, that particular life in the photographs is over.

When he was barely four he asked me if he was going to die. I told him everything that lives will die but he did not ave to worry about that for a long long time. “But what if some people don’t want to die?” he asked, starting to cry. “It’s just like going from one world to another,” I said.

And I am convinced that is the truth. But why are we so blocked out from that other world into which we so easily slip when we leave our body? What is it about these bodies that makes us so blind to the eternal reality? According to the many near death experiences I have read, the minute we leave our bodies, we see the expanded reality and what is going on in this world too. It’s like our physical body is a locked room with the shades drawn.

Here is what I think I understand about it. There is very little we actually understand about the nature of reality, either in this world or the next, but it seems there is an element of choice. Just as I might decided to concentrate my pen on a single piece of notebook paper or limit my attention to a single book I have committed my attention to living this material life with its full set of natural laws as a resident of this material body. The body is  the bottom line of the contract. When the body can no longer house the spirit, our contract with this world ends.

Our bodies and minds come with certain limitations, and some souls live in bodies with more limitations than others. When the spirit leaves the body it also leaves the limitations. Jesse’s brain had some issues with the processing and organizing of information, issues that he struggles with most of his life. He did an amazing job of compensating and overcoming his limitations.

He researched ADD and knew his condition well. He found workarounds, many natural and lifestyle oriented, but also found that certain drugs seemed to help him function better. He wanted to be a productive person so he used the drugs, and as far as everyone knew, used them carefully with close attention to safe dosages. But apparently he make a mistake with drug combinations and this led to his early death. There is recent research that says people diagnosed with adult ADD have a greatly increased risk of premature death. I did not know this until afterwards.

I believe that when Jesse left his body he experienced freedom from his information processing issues. I believe he found that his full intelligence was free to explore, understand, experiment, understand, and do whatever project or mission God had in store for him. That’s what I truly believe he is doing right now – his next project, one perfectly suited to a soul with his curiosity, desire for adventure, and intellectual abilities.

 

Looking at a new year without my son in it

I have always loved starting a new year. I love a new beginning, a fresh slate, and was always a resolution maker, even an enthusiastic resolution maker. This new year feels different. I am not so enthusiastic about making resolutions, at least in the old sense. I will try to explain that shortly. This year, 2017, is the first year in 24 years that has not had Jesse in it. He was born December 10th 1992 but was very much present with me the preceding nine months. I had a book called A Child is Born by Lennart Nillson that showed beautiful pictures of how a fetus looks at each stage of development and I studied those pictures, imagining the child within me. I felt enveloped in a bubble of magic throughout my whole pregnancy. Jesse was already there.

Before he was born I spent my whole life with a sense of not really being connected to the world. I felt like a free radical floating around, not clicked in to any culture or system. I got along okay, but felt like an alien trying to pass for a natural inhabitant of the earth. When Jesse was born I lost that sensation for the first time in my life. I was the mother of a child on this earth. I clicked in to the world and worked hard to help my son grow up as a healthy happy member of the human race. I had the underlying fear that he would inherit my alien tendencies and didn’t want him to feel that horrible sense of disconnection and not belonging.

I think maybe he did inherit some of my tendencies, but he was very intelligent and able to find coping mechanisms and was smart about adjusting to his circumstances. When he was young I worked with him on social skills and he was a willing student. I had a sense of what he had to work at and what came naturally to him. What came naturally was sharp intelligence, wonder, the desire to learn and experiment, and a wild urge to build and create. What did not come naturally was complying with arbitrary societal rules and interacting with others just to fit in. But he was willing to work at those things and became quite a friendly helpful person, finding much humor in the human race, and developed a real capacity to care for the wellbeing of others. He was never arrogant. He seemed to have a desire to be pleasing and did not like to stand out in a crowd.

When Jesse died, in a real sense I died too: the “me” who was invested in this earthly life died just as surely as my son died physically. The future I imagined I had in that life was swept away like a sand castle in the surf. How can I say that I am dead to this world, I ask myself, when I have my other beloved son and my husband still living? I know why. It is because Jesse’s death laid bare the truth that we will all die, that this life is a vapor, just as that verse in the Bible says. (“…For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.” James 4:14 (NKJV))

I see now that I was floating in an infinite ocean on a twig, thinking the twig was the whole world and building castles and making complicated plans, all balanced on that twig. Jesse was one of my established anchors around which I built the plans and castles, and then one day that anchor got swept into the vastness of the universe, and my soul followed, looking for him, calling for him, reaching every sinew of mind toward him. Where was he now? What was he now?
swallow
Through prayer and meditation messages came to my mind and I experienced the blessing of knowing that God’s angels had taken him safely to his new home. I am still floating on that old twig, but now I see it for what it is. I cannot build castles on it anymore. All that I build from now on must be for that other place where Jesse is and where the rest of us are destined to join him. But I am shaky and uncertain as to how to do go about it. I suppose that whatever I build must still be built on the twig with the materials available on its tiny surface, yet knowing that it must also somehow prepare me for my departure from the twig. It is the puzzle of being in the kingdom of God and yet still operating in this world, perhaps what is meant by “in the world but not of the world.” Actually I cannot find those words in the Bible but I think John 2:15-17 (NKJV) captures the idea:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

I think this is why I am having so much trouble writing. I believe that writing is what I am called to do – but I have to redirect my purpose and focus. I am feeling my way to working in this new paradigm, this awareness that I am not working for anything in this world but for the promised world where my son has gone ahead of me. So my new year’s resolutions must be different this year. I still might have earthly goals, but they look insignificant in the new perspective of the vast universe I see myself in.

I cannot build my new life around getting my body in shape or publishing a story. Even if I want to publish a story or improve my health, the goal must somehow relate to the bigger picture. How does it bring me closer to God and His truth? How does it serve His purpose for me and those with whom I share my life? How does it glorify God and reflect his love? How does it bring his kingdom to earth as it is in Heaven? So far my only resolution this year is to contemplate how to live and write in such a way. For all I know that may be all I do for the rest of my earthly life, and unless the Spirit directs me to “do” something more, that is good enough for me.