Archive for A Mother’s Grief

July 22, 2003

// February 26th, 2010 // 1 Comment » // A Mother's Grief

As I sit at his bedside and watch him struggle to breathe I want to thank you, God, for my firstborn son.

Thank you for the joy I felt at seeing this scrawny, red, beautiful baby at just seconds old. Thank you for his laughter as a young boy — deep, deep from the core of his being. Laughter that bubbled up and overflowed onto all those around him. Thank you for his precocious speech at two years old, ready to carry on an enjoyable conversation with anyone he could, no matter their age. My friends would say, “That kid’s a trip” — high praise for a youngster in the 70s.

Thank you for his high spirits, though they sometimes brought him trouble as he reached his teens. Thank you for his physical abilities, his great co-ordination, and his first motorcycle at eight years old. Thank you for mud thrown from those motorcycle wheels plastering him from his sneakers to his grinning face, mud that turned his bright-blond hair brown. Thank you for his third grade teacher, Mr.Ozust, who understood him and his counselor, Dr. Lapidus, who helped him to understand himself.

Thank you for his sense of adventure and his ability to share it with others, like his little sister Amy. One beautiful autumn morning when he was nine and she was five he taught her a lesson about trust. As they passed through the ten acre field on their way to school, they saw in their path ahead the large California pepper tree with branches so dense you couldn’t see through them as they swept the ground in the breeze. As Steve and Amy approached the familiar tree he told her that today he wants her to go around on the left of the tree and he would go on the right telling her, “I’ll see you on the other side, I promise!” She was afraid and didn’t want to separate from the safety she felt with her big brother. The two sides of the tree seemed so far apart in her young mind. As she timidly reached the far side of the tree I can imagine her little girl joy and relief when she found him waiting there for her. He taught her a lesson that day about trust and faith. He was there for her even while she couldn’t see him during her long trek around the giant tree.

Thank you for the deep, loving bond between him and his only brother, Nick. Together these two were fun incarnate, spreading laughter wherever they went. Thank you for his loving concern and advice for Janiece, patiently and privately counseling her, trying to help her avoid some of the same mistakes he had made as a teen. She listened and learned.

Thank you for the way he would take Robyn, his baby sister – eighteen his junior, out shopping with him, together exploring the deepest recesses of their favorite thrift stores. And for the short time they had to play at the beach together at their joint hobby, body-surfing, after serendipitously on one of those forays finding wet suits that fit each of them . Then last December his head wound interrupted the fun and they had to hang up their wet suits.

Thank you that he added so much to our family, giving us his wife Annette to hold his place, and Lori, his ex, as a lifelong friend and family member. And for introducing Amy to her soul-mate, Jeremy.

Thank you for his children, each reminding me of their father’s youth in different ways. Nicholas and his bike and his adventurousness (always taking the more difficult path) and Christopher’s sweet disposition and his laugh, so much like his dad’s.

Thank you for his bad example and thank you more for his good examples. Early in his adult life he ran from You, from the burdens he thought You would place on him. But he grew and he found You and found the freedom that can come only through You. And now Lord, please forgive him for any wrongs and bless him with peace. Please accept him into Your rest.

Thank you, God, for my firstborn son.

July 19, 2003 10:00 PM

// February 22nd, 2010 // No Comments » // A Mother's Grief

My family all came down from Lakewood and Buena Park today for what will, in all likelihood, be their last visit with Steve. Steve’s strength seems to be failing him more rapidly since he came home from the hospital last week.

It was an extremely difficult day for all of us and Steve maintained the subdued demeanor he’s had since getting the news from the doctor that he has only three to six months of his life left.

We spent most of today day chatting with each other out front around the shaded picnic table where Steve spends most of his time. But at one point I found myself utterly overwhelmed with the seeming finality of this visit and I sneaked away to the back yard for a few minutes of solitude. My brother Tim found me there, leaning against the pepper tree, tears brimming in his eyes.

My family has always been close and Steve and Tim grew up together more like close cousins than uncle and nephew. There is the same six year age difference between them as there is between Steve and his brother, Nick.

After taking a moment to collect himself, Tim asked me, “How do I do it? How do I tell him goodbye?” I told him to just come out with it. Steve’s a straightforward guy. He doesn’t want us pussyfooting around.

But I was bluffing. I’ve known for twenty-eight years that I would outlive my son and I still don’t know how to say goodbye.

July 19, 2003 ~ 9:30 AM

// February 19th, 2010 // 2 Comments » // A Mother's Grief

I want to write my tale and see the words melt into the paper and disappear. I want to write it and then tear the words into tiny shreds and ignite the pieces and watch the smoke drift away carrying the tale with it. Go to sleep. Dream. Awaken to a new day where all of my family, each member, is in radiant health.

Instead, my denial is kicked, buffeted aside by painful reality. By visits from hospice. By the doctor’s words, “We can’t put the train back on the track.” “Have you given any thought to which mortuary you’ll want to use?” “Does he have any unfinished business?” Durable power of attorney?
Our son is dying/dieing/ I can’t even spell it!!! It just doesn’t look right to me on the paper. Dying. Die-ing. Steve’s body can no longer compensate. The diabetes has ravaged his once strong body and there is no more to be done but “make him comfortable”.

At a certain well defined moment during four of my pregnancies I experiences a sudden transformation from being pregnant to–“I’m having a baby!!!” I remember when it happened with Steve. I was almost eight months and  putting away freshly laundered baby clothes. As I held up a size newborn t-shirt  I could suddenly see and feel the real baby that would inhabit this tiny shirt. My Baby. With Robyn, my fifth and last baby, it didn’t happened until I looked down on the bed the second she was born. I think that’s what it will be like with Steve’s passing. I know that he will die soon – weeks, maybe months, maybe days. But I don’t feel it. I don’t see it. It must be denial even though I know it’s going to happen.

Three nights ago his death seemed imminent. He was unconscious, breathing sporadically, and his temperature had spiked to 104. Even the Hospice nurse who had dropped in for a routine visit thought the time was near. Jae and Robyn were home. Nick,  Marisa (his wife) and Amy came right over when I called. When Amy saw what was happening to her brother she called her husband. Jeremy immediately left the Saddleback Worship Conference he was attending this week. By the time he arrived 45 minutes later
Steve had managed to rouse himself from the stupor of impending death and was outside taking in the cool night air smokinga cigarette.
Not one to rush, Jeremy strode to the . When he saw us around the picnic table he looked at Steve. “Dude! You’re supose to be dead!”
“I needed a smoke before I went” Steve replied with his distinctive yet now mirthless chuckle.

Maybe that’s why it doesn’t feel real. He has had so many brushes with death and turned around.

All I know is that we are all in God’s hands and when Steve’s time comes, He will be with us.