It's "too much"
I was watching one of my favorite medical TV shows last night, and a few of the scenes featured a young couple who had to deal with delivering a baby far too early and then having to make the decision of taking all measures to keep the little (less than 1 pound) baby boy alive; or, let him go peacefully and in comfort. The young mother said to her husband “it’s too much”.
How many times since my son’s death have I said aloud to no one in particular (except maybe God): “it’s too much”. Even though I try to fight the good fight, keep my chin up, spin my thoughts in the best way possible, follow all the advice and suggestions, actively engage in my mourning process, and practice self-care, there are days when the pain and the heaviness of this loss are JUST TOO MUCH.
And that’s when I wonder: what was God thinking when he expected mothers to manage this? And since I know I’m not going to get the answer to that question dropped down on my head, I stop and switch direction. Because I believe with all my heart that God doesn’t work that way. I may not know exactly how he DOES work, but I believe I know some things about how He doesn’t work…and I also know that His ways are far above what I can think or imagine, so I leave that thought process alone. Because no, that question doesn’t serve me.
But my anxiety leaks out in other ways. And I think to myself “HOW in the world do women get to the other side of this? HOW do they bear it?” Because it really is just too much. And yet I know that women have been losing children and grandchildren since the beginning of time. And they continue to lose them. And they will lose them in the future. And HOW do they make it through?
Heavily. Shakily. Stoically. Bravely. Ghostly. At a great price.
I experienced just a slight example of this great price yesterday afternoon. Against my better judgment, I went to a spankin’ brand new super-sized grocery store. On the weekend, with a specific shopping list no less. (What was I thinking?) And as I wandered in a daze through a maze of aisles filled with packaged food and families, I searched for the pasta. Moments later, I was standing still, in the middle of the store, puzzling through what I was doing and where I was going and what in the world was I looking for. It was frightening to say the least.
"Oh, wait, yes, pasta”, I finally resolved. A split-second later, I found myself facing a section of canning jars and “putting up” paraphernalia and my heart sunk in the fastest and strangest way because no no no my life is not as lovely and simple as shopping for canning jars and making jam on this peaceful weekend afternoon. And it’s never going to be that innocent and sweet ever again. And I swear it all happened so fast and so furiously and the truth of the matter is that I never really had any desire to can in the first place - but the whole experience sent me spinning. Then, finally… while staring at the myriad of pasta options, heart pounding, starting to freak out more than a little, I almost left my cart and made a run for it.
Panic at the grocery store.
That kind of stuff didn’t happen before my son Chad died. Not to that extent. Not to the extent that I now worry about almost every move my only surviving son Nick makes in his life, fearful that I could lose him. Not to the extent that I have moments of thinking I really-honestly-truly-may-very-well-be having a heart attack and then I have to talk, pray, shake myself off that ledge. Not to the extent that I question my sanity sometimes.
Yes, it’s just too much.
It’s a secret and hidden club and I don’t like it very much to be honest. A club I never wanted to join. It’s one where you lose your kid and, years later, you still freak out at the grocery store and seriously you deserve a damn medal. You make it through your days and you survive them and some of them are pretty good and you laugh sometimes and you find joy and slowly you transform into another person. And it’s okay. Because you don’t transform in order to forget. You transform in order to endure.
And then the “just too much” becomes manageable. I believe.