A Mothers Pain
We lived across the street from a single mother who had purchased a Ninja street bike for her son's birthday. I don't know how old he was, exactly, but he was somewhere between 18 and 20. Not long after his birthday, he was coming home one night, doing well over the posted speed limit of 65, with no helmet, when he lost control of the bike and crashed it. He didn't survive. The mother was, of course, devastated. I didn't know at the time how much pain she was in, (no one who hasn't lost a child can know how that feels), but everyone in the neighborhood felt a great sorrow for that family. She had always been a drinker and her son's death pushed her over the edge. She sat in her house and drank her days away. Her other two teenaged sons basically had the run of the house, because she was always so drunk that she didn't know what they were doing, or if she did, she didn't care. Teenagers came and went in all hours of the night, and the drinking and partying over there never seemed to stop. It was disruptive to the neighborhood, but we all looked the other way because we knew that she had lost her son and her boys had lost a brother. Finally, one night the police showed up at about 3:00 a.m. and raided the house. They hauled off all of the under aged drinkers and they hauled her off, too, for allowing it. Apparently one of the neighbors sympathy had run low and they had decided that enough was enough, although, to my knowledge, no one ever admitted to making that call. Things quieted down over there after that. The kids stayed away, but she was still drunk every time you saw her, which wasn't often. She just stayed inside, drinking her life away. I could never understand how she could just give up on life like that, especially when she still had two boys that needed her.
Years later, when our son died at 19, I began to understand. There is nothing on this earth worse than loosing a child. It's not the same as loosing a parent or grandparent. I have lost both, and though those losses saddened me, the pain eased with time. I still miss them and think of them often, but only occasionally now do those thoughts bring tears to my eyes as though the wound were fresh. Michael has been gone for 10 months now, almost a year, and still when I think of him my face becomes wet with the tears of a thousand voices crying out inside my heart. And I think of him often: every time I hear a song that he liked, for music was something that we shared; every time I look at the dog that he loved so much, but still, left behind; every time that I sit down to write, because Mike was my biggest fan and always read my writings before anyone else; every time that we go to Lake DeWeese, or Hillside, or Hayden campground, because he loved the mountains and he would run through the forest with his brother, playing Ninja, or spies, or army. His face is a constant reminder in the photographs that are all over our house, as is all of his belongings, which we just can't bear to put away.
Now I understand how that woman could let go of everything and drown her life in a bottle of booze. After Mike's death, I could have easily gone down the same path. For the first few weeks I found myself turning to the bottle of tequilla under the kitchen sink just to be able to deal with all the details of funeral arrangements, life insurance claims and doing what I had to get through each day. The grief was so overwhelming that I took more time off from work because I wasn't ready to face my coworkers or the people I take care of in my job as a Certified Nurses Aide in a long term care facility. To be honest, I didn't want to go back to work at all. I just wanted to stay home and avoid everyone, even family and friends who were concerned about my well being, but I had too many of them that just wouldn't allow me to pull away. My husband and fourteen year old son, who were also suffering from the loss of Michael, were the only things that made me realize that I had to knock down the wall that I had been building around me and rejoin the world of the living. It was a difficult thing to do. At first, I would break out in tears at any time, whether at home, at work, or even shopping at Wal-mart. Most people that knew about Mike understood, although some of the Wal-mart shoppers gave me some odd looks. As time went on, it got a little easier and I could at least keep myself composed in public.
It has been ten months now and it still isn't really any easier. I still miss my darling son during almost every waking moment of every day. Everyone expects to outlive their children. When your child passes on before you, everything feels so wrong and out of place. I never knew that anything could hurt so much. I continue to write because I know that Mike would want me to, although a lot of what I write now is focused on him. I continue to live because I know that he would want that, too, and I have a husband and another son that still need me.
I can't imagine what it would be like to go through this without a husband to lean on and share my grief with. I can only imagine how alone that woman across the street must have felt. I wonder if she had anyone that she could have turned to. Apparently, she had no one that knew how to reach her, but I wonder if there was anyone that even tried. I think about her a lot lately. I wonder if she's still sitting inside her house, drinking herself into oblivion while the world goes on without her. I was angry with God for taking my son, for allowing him to die, but now I find that I am thankful to that same God for giving me so many others that care.