After the nightmare: Continuing on with a new kind of life

I have written most of it by hand: the story of the day we found out Jesse had died in his sleep, the moments before, the day before, and the week before, Sunday July 31st, when I had the last long conversation I would ever have with my son in this life. I wrote about the strange things that happened — my premonitions and such. But I have not been able to re-type that story. It makes my breath stop now. A few days ago I was able to write it out and it helped a little. Today I am not even able to read it.

Eventually perhaps I will share the story here, maybe in bits and pieces. You don’t have to read it. It is mostly for me and perhaps the few people who want or need to know how it all happened. I still have trouble getting my mind around the fact –the fact that my worst nightmare has really happened. And yet my worst nightmare could have been worse. He died in his sleep, as surprised by the event as we were.

I believe it was a gentle death. I have to believe that. It seems as if he just sort of slipped away. I have to believe, and do in fact believe, the experience was exponentially more positive for him than it was for us. He experienced love and joy beyond what I can now imagine, though eventually I will try to imagine it, and we only loss and horror.

The horror of it is what struck me today. Though I firmly believe in life after death, that the essence of a human being lives on and that we do not lose who we truly are, the death of the body is a horror and is of evil. Even Jesus wept when Lazarus died and even he sweat blood in anticipation of his own horrific death. And Jesus knew more surely than anyone about the life of the soul and the eventual resurrection of the body. Death is not right and it should not happen. Heaven is the reality where things are right and as they should be. Therefore there can be no death in heaven and there must be correction of all things that are evil, especially the ultimate evil, death. I believed this before my son died but now the belief is absolutely essential to my ability to continue living.

To “continue living” means something different to me now than it did prior to August 8th. I have always loved the verse that says “Seek first the kingdom of God….” but wasn’t clear on all it meant. It was a lovely thought but mostly theoretical. Now seeking the kingdom of heaven is my lifeline to….life. The only life is the real life, the kind Jesus talked about when he offered the living water to the Samaritan woman at the well. Life can no longer refer merely to the physical one that is supposed to end when you are “threescore and ten and if by reason of strength fourscore.” Not when my son’s physical life was onescore and three. True life for me has to mean the life Jesse now continues to live.

I find my only refuge from the pain is in deep prayer and meditation. There I do find comfort. But I am still only just learning to do this effectively. When I get “there”, though I do find great comfort, I have the sense that I have only dipped my toe into the living water – that there is much more life to be had. Sometime I will try to write about that too, for those who might be interested.


After death: Dealing with the details

There are many things you have to deal with when someone close to you dies. Jesse’s life was short and included but little baggage, and yet there is still aftermath. For example the Portsmouth cops took Jesse’s computer and cell phone and won’t give them back, at least not so far. The detective says they have to finish the “investigation.” Even though we nor he have any reason to think there was a crime committed. It seems to be part of the procedure when a young person is found dead for no obvious reason. I sent the detective an email this morning to check on the status:

Hello Detective Clinton,

I hope your investigations are going well. If the FBI is somehow able to crack into my son Jesse’s computer please tell them there is some artwork on there we would like to retrieve. He did a lot of amazing digital art, and I am told by his friends that some of it should be on that computer. Whatever they do, please tell them not to destroy or damage any files.

We are going to be starting a foundation that sells prints of Jesse’s art to raise money to help the working poor of Portsmouth and Suffolk. We have lots of physical artwork, but he did even more digital art.

Let us know when we can come pick up the items you took.

Thank you,

Carol Apple

The day I wrote my son’s obituary

Just before 1:00 pm on August 8th I found out my 23-year old son was dead. The next day my husband and I met with a funeral director and planned his funeral. I then went home, sat in a chair for hours and eventually wrote this obituary. Today is two weeks and two days after I wrote that obituary and I am still shell shocked. On this blog I will write the story of my son and how it is that his life ended four months before he would have been 24. I will do this because I am a writer and because my son was a good person who deserves to be honored and remembered. I will also do it because I need to find some way to face the rest of my life without Jesse.

I have some notions about how the rest of my life might be worth something, and all of my ideas begin in the realm of the spiritual. I cannot break the spiritual connection with my child, so I have no choice but to go where he is. Though I still walk around for the time in my material body, part of each day my mind goes to the realm of God, where my son is in the presence of Jesus Christ. I know of no other way to go on living on earth as more than an empty shell. Some people might cope with the death of their child in different ways, but I can only tell you about my way.