Related

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sunday evening, Ted and I were invited to his cousin's house for dinner.  They live in the hills of Tarzana.  It was a beautiful evening.  They have a lovely home with a spectacular view.  We really enjoyed connecting to and spending time with them.  We talked a lot about our children....their Liora and our Max.  There was so much that they went through that we could relate to.  All of the stuff you've already heard about: the insensitive comments, the feelings of isolation, the need to shut off from the rest of the world, the inability to work and be social.  Miriam's least favorite comment is also one of mine: "You are so strong, I could never do what you are doing".  Like we have a choice.  They said it took them about three years to find their footing again.

What was really nice to see is that they are happy today.  Of course they miss their daughter and she is in everything they do.  But, they are happy.  They travel, spend time with their other daughter and their grandchildren.  They have friends.  Not that this should be surprising, but in a way it is.  I know that people eventually figure out a way to live without their children who've passed but it doesn't seem possible from the place that I am in now.  I am still in the darkness.  I feel like so much of a tortured soul, I can't imagine ever pulling out of this pit.  It is so deep.

They put together a very nice slide show of their recent visit to Israel.  We loved what a wonderful tribute Liora's Forest is to her life and how much peace it has brought to them.  Liora's forest is right outside of Tsfat, where she studied many years ago.  Tsfat is a beautiful and mystical city in Israel's northern region.  Jay and Miriam have made so many friends in Israel through the years through their connection to Liora and her forest - the forest ranger who was in charge of the site, Liora's homestay family, old friends of friends of Liora's from when she studied there and others.  They are treated like family by everyone.  They even attended a birthday party for the son of one of their ranger friends in the forest.  It is wonderful that Liora's Forest seems to get so much use.  Maxie won't have his own forest in the same way but we know that the Carmel forest as a whole will be well used. and it makes up happy to know that Maxie's trees will be scattered throughout.

On the way home, Ted and I were talking about our lives and where we are and where we might be one day.  I felt somewhat hopeful.  Then, suddenly, Ted got really really quiet.  He curled up in a ball in the front seat.  He stopped engaging in the conversation entirely.  "What's wrong baby?  Did you just get really overwhelmed?", I asked.  "Ya", he replied.  Then a few seconds later he added, "You didn't notice it on the way in either".  "What?", I asked.  "The hospital", he said.  We had just passed right by the exit on the freeway to the hospital where our Maxie died.  I didn't notice.  The air got heavy.  I suddenly felt suffocated (actually, I feel totally suffocated just writing about this).  The rest of the drive home was quiet.  The memory of Maxie lying in his hospital bed dying, killing every cell in my body.

Hope is a wonderful break from the reality of our lives.  Hope is what has the ability to pull us up out of the pit for moments of fresh air.  Hope is out there somewhere - we have to believe it.  Unfortunately, right now, reality is still so much larger than our hope and I imagine that it how is will be for some time.

9 comments:

rebecca Patrick-Howard said...

The little pieces that do shine through, though...they're really something. I'm glad you saw some.

"You are so strong, I could never do what you are doing"
I talked to my friend A about this the other day. (We hate it, too.)

My take on it: like they somehow love their children more and would instantly die from THEIR grief whereas I must not love mine as much since I am still alive...

A's take on it: They don't want him to tell them how he's really doing. It's a comment meant to sway any further discussion about his grief. They want him to be strong and be doing well so that they don't have to hear about it.

Either way, it's a weird comment. I don't like it. People react differently and have different coping methods. Doesn't make them stronger or weaker-just different.

It sounds like you and Ted had a nice evening. I would like to see both of your forests one day.

maxiesmommy said...

However it is intended, because I truly believe it is well-meaning, I tend to feel the way you do. Like, somehow they love their child more and so they wouldn't be able to go on. I have literally prayed and begged to die of a broken heart. I am astounded that I am in such good health. We don't get to be the master's of our own well-being or our children's (as you know all too well). I loved my child more than I have ever loved another in my whole life and yet, he is gone. Then, I always hear "Well, it says a lot that you even get out of bed each day" and the truth is: I DON'T!

rebecca Patrick-Howard said...

I have found that those who have actually said that to me are the ones that don't know what they're talking about. They see a tiny little part of me and then just assume that I must be doing great because I'm upright or whatever. They didn't see the past 5 days that I spent in bed. That's what A said, too. He said, "Yeah, I look strong! They don't see me every night when I cry myself to sleep. Or when I pray to die, too. Or when I forget to eat."

We are a country that esteems those that we believe to be "strong."We still view showing emotions as weak. If a person is battling cancer and doesn't complain, that person is applauded and looked up to. If a person loses a child and shows a brave face, they're lauded as a great role model. If they cry, show anger, and outwardly show any part of their grief then they're told then they need to move on or seek help. The expectations are totally unrealistic. I hate it.

maxiesmommy said...

I could go back and forth all day with you :) I have to say...once in a while I want to say "YA! I am effing strong. Stronger than you will ever have to be in your whole life! And, when I hear people complaining about complete nonsense, I feel stronger, knowing that the stuff that puts their whole world into a tailspin (like traffic for example, or a tough deal to close, or a bad day at work) will never bring me down again.

Lindsay Pickering said...

I know I have said to you that you are strong, and I want to apologize for that and explain to you that I was referring to you being able to express your feelings so beautifully everyday and be so raw and real about your pain. I'm sure it is not easy, as I could imagine the emotions are constantly welling up in your heart and eyes as you type. I guess what I was trying to convey is that I am so proud to have you as my friend.

Tiffany Torres said...

a yr and a half later and i still have not passed by the hospital where our boy was. thinking about it makes me sick to my stomach. i have so far been able to avoid it. even through the birth of our baby girl. since we had a birth center birth with her as well, we had to travel 45 mins away. again avoiding the hospital. but my trips to/from the birth center made me pass right in front of the funeral home that he was at. and every time i could feel my heart sink.

maxiesmommy said...

Of course I know that. Most everyone has told me I am strong at one point or another. I am like an open wound getting cut over and over, just as a scar starts to form. So, like it or not, I am getting stronger. I think it is the implication that somehow this happened to me because I am strong (someone told me at the shiva that "God only gives us what we can handle"). I don't like when "You are strong" is followed by, "I could NEVER handle that". Bottom line is, I liked my life better when I wasn't seen as strong. I thought I was strong then. Listen, you are strong too. But, nobody wants to be. We'd much rather be our less strong, happy, old selves. I would take empathy over the strange "strong" comment any day of the week. Lucky for me, I have a truly empathetic friend in you!!!!

Becca said...

"You're so strong!" is also my most hated phrase (I heard it a lot in relation to my son's developmental issues). I think the worst is when they follow it with "I could never do that" because to me it's just a way of creating distance between them and me. It puts up a wall. It's not supportive. It's not a compliment. But, I know I used the phrase in the past, before I had it used on me and realized how bad it sucked. And I think I meant well when I said it....so there's that? I dunno.

I'm sorry you have to deal with people's insensitive comments on top of your overwhelming grief in losing Max. But I'm glad you have people in your life who can be supportive on this awful journey (much as I don't want ANYone to have ever outlived their child).

Keeping you in the light...

Jayden's Mommy said...

My husband has had the reaction.... And it just like you described a wound that keeps getting cut deeper and deeper. Most of the time I don't know what to do and say... Everything just gets quite. I hate the phrase.... You are so strong... But I know I have used in the past I never knew how much it can hurt until now. I'm reminded everytime that because I'm strong this happen to me.

Blog Design by Nudge Media Design | Powered by Blogger