Another Punch in the Gut
First, I have to say that my wienie dog is special. He just licked wet paint off a coffee table I’m refinishing.
Second, this morning brought an inevitable punch in the gut I knew would come at some point. Just didn’t expect it this soon.
I had a doctor’s appointment. No big deal. I showed up and was escorted to the room with the genetic counselor to whom I was referred to investigate whether or not I may have a genetic marker for certain cancers. It’s not anything alarming, just a proactive measure. BTW, doesn’t appear to be any apparent reason for concern.
So she started interviewing me about family history. When I discovered she would be asking about each of my kids, I knew this was not going to go well. Chase…"He’s 31 and in great health.” Chance…"He’s 27 and in great health.” Chandler…
Trembling lip. Tears. Why do they have to make me say it? “He passed away January 1. He was 25. I never dreamed I would have to say this.”
I’ve filled out countless medical intake forms for myself and my kids. Even for Chip once when he was sick as a dog and consented to let me accompany him to the doctor. I’ve never had a visceral response to the interrogation — verbal, digital, or written. Today was different.
New game. New rules.
I cried because that’s what I had to do. It was the right thing in that moment. People need to know that my son — my amazing, athletic, passionate, strong, generous, kind son — isn’t on this planet any more. But I HATE telling them. It makes it so very real.
Which takes me back to the reality that I — WE — cannot possibly process deep loss all at once. It comes in waves, in pieces, in moments of profound despair. But if we feel it, lean into it, then let ourselves move on and be in THIS moment with our lives NOW, we can engage in a healthy process of gradual assimilation. We take in what we can take in as it comes, but NO MORE. MORE is too much.
My heart hurts for EVERY parent who has lost a child. For every person who has lost a loved one really, but losing a child creates a very unique emptiness. As my sweet husband said, it’s a feeling of being “lost.” If you have lost a child, I am so very, very sorry. We are doing the best we can do, right?
There is something every day. Every day.
So for tomorrow, I’m putting in my room service request — “NO punches in the gut.”
And yet, if they come, by the grace of God and the strong arms of friends and family holding me up, I will not fold and fall to the mat. I will move forward because…