Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Grief, Observed

Do you have any of those friends who, even if you haven't seen each other in a decade, you can meet up and feel like nothing at all has changed--your friendship just picks back up where it left off? One of those men to me is a friend named Brian. When I was an engineering intern 12 years ago, Brian and I worked together and we struck up a friendship. I learned a little about drafting, and a lot about living as a Christian in the workplace, from Brian. How he dealt with tragedies taught me a lot about how to be sincere with your emotions and yet still find God's grace in difficult times.

Now, unfortunately, Brian and I are mostly just Facebook friends. But I have followed and prayed along as he lost his father and mother within a matter of a few months. A few days ago, still mourning the passing of his mother, Brian wrote about it on his Facebook wall. It was such a raw and beautiful and painful and Christ-filled reflection that I wanted to share it. Being the open man he is, he of course gave me permission to share.

If you have lost a parent, you should read the below to reflect on their life. If you haven't, you read the below to prepare.

In Brian's words:

"I've had a lot of people ask me in the last few days, 'How are you?' Well, I'm going to try and tell my story and hope that it explains it all. I'm not good at this so if something comes across wrong, blame it on my inability to express myself. 
OK, here goes.
Momma passing was a terrible shock. I knew that with her dementia and that with just her age against her, that she didn't have another 10 or 15 years but I saw no signs that she would go soon. Dad did. Dad knew she wouldn't live long after him. I guess that's because he knew if it were the other way around, that he wouldn't have lived long either.
Mom began fading away several years ago. It was small things at first, and we actually laughed about it then. I guess as more of a way of not accepting it than anything else. But as time wore on, Mom got steadily worse. Then one year ago today, Dad fell and it changed everything. 
Dad went through a lot over the next 7 months and over that time I grieved for him. I know it's odd to think that I grieved a loss that hadn't happened yet, but I did. I knew it was coming and I knew I wasn't ready for it. September...October...November...I watched my hero and best friend waste away. I physically hurt, not to mention the emotional toll. When December 23 got here, I was sure I was ready.
I was not. Losing Daddy was the hardest thing I've ever done...but it didn't just hurt because of me, it hurt because I had to watch Momma let him go. The love of her life was gone and so was that fire in her eyes. 
Momma's mind was gone long before Daddy passed. Dad was good at taking care of her and she listened to him. Everyone told me that Mom listened to me too...but not like Daddy. She leaned on him. Once he was gone, she had no reason to carry on, but knew she had to.
So we spent the next four months and nine days doing our best to do just that. The whole time we were repairing our hearts over the loss of Daddy, we were struggling to take care of someone who couldn't take care of herself any more. Somewhere along the line, I stopped grieving for Daddy and started grieving for Momma. There again, I was grieving for someone I hadn't lost yet.
Again, I knew it was coming but I never expected it to be this soon. Her father, Grandpa Charlie, laid for about 5 years with dementia and I saw no reason that Mom wouldn't do the same. I watched her rapidly descend into a state of living that no one should ever have to be in. She couldn't dress herself. Got lost in the house. Stayed confused. She would look through her purse 30-40 times a day and could NEVER keep up with her handkerchief.
It hurt to watch Momma. When I stayed the weekend with Mom, I would lay awake in bed at night and grieve for her. I cried for her. I begged God for understanding and for Him to show me how to deal with her. I tried to "get in her head" so I could understand how to talk to her and get her to understand us.
It didn't work.
So somewhere along the line I accepted that Momma was gone and that I just had to do the best I could. Then last week came, and Momma was trying to call her sister that passed away several years ago. My heart sank because I knew that was just another step in the process, and I knew the day was coming when she wouldn't know who we were any more.
Then Thursday morning came. Once the initial shock passed, I wasn't sure how to feel.
Momma, just like Daddy, had wasted away in front of my eyes and no longer had a quality of life....but yet, the other side of me screamed uncontrolled inside because she was gone.
I've had a few days now to digest it all and I'm still not sure how I feel. I tell everyone I'm okay, and that's the truth. I am. But how do I mourn someone who was gone a long time ago and is better off now? How do I cry for my Daddy or my Momma when neither of them was really themselves when they passed? I miss my Daddy and my Momma dearly but they were both gone long before they quit breathing, so how do I shed tears?
It's like a war is going on inside me, with a part of me screaming at the other part to "be human" and cry, while the other part is saying, "but they were gone a long time ago." I dunno. I'm not posting this to elicit sympathy or even response to the questions. I guess I'm posting it mostly to get it out of me and "vent" so to speak. 
I can't scream at God because how can I be mad at someone who made them better? And I can't scream at the rest of the family because it's not their fault and they are hurting just as much. So I guess this is my form of screaming. Please forgive me. I ask for all of your prayers while my twisted thoughts continue to try and sort this out. I can't make sense of it, and that is the hardest part I suppose. I love you all. Thank you for being there for us over the past 4 1/2 months. It's been an awful ride...and I'm ready to get off this "train" and just rest for a while. God bless."

Please join me in offering prayers to Brian and his family.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you my brother. I agreed to allow you to post this so that maybe through my grief someone else might find peace. Moments after I posted this originaly on Facebook, God sent me a peace that I cannot understand....but gratefully accept. God Bless you brother.