Monday, March 7, 2011

The Peace that Passes Understanding

Rick’s family likes to spend Memorial Day at the Knights of Columbus.  They decided to get together.  We drove over by ourselves and met the everyone there.  The boys and I got out of the car and started to walk up the hill to find them; we were carrying lawn chairs, a blanket and a small cooler. 

The K of C  has a pool to the left and a huge building to the right with grass going up the hill.  At the top of the hill to the right they have the barbecue tent set up for this occasion; it was quite a spread.  When we were climbing the hill with our things to join the family, I looked up and saw Rick and my heart stopped. He was walking across the hill from the tent toward the pool.  He had his baseball cap on.  I could see his beard, glasses; it was him.  My mind was playing tricks on my head  It was his brother, Paul, who looked so much like Rick.

I didn’t tell anyone what I had seen and just kept walking.  It freaked me out to get that emotional jolt. I frequently woke in the morning and forgot that Rick was gone.  I put my hand out to touch him in bed and he wasn't there. It was like the dream I would have about my grandmother or grandfather; when I would wake, I wasn't sure it was real or a dream.  The mind is a weird thing.  It was in those moments that I would have to picture Rick, lying on the table in the hospital after he died with his ear turning blue. This was the image in my memory that would convince me that I knew he was dead.

People do say the most incredible things to the grieved.  I tried to remember that no matter what they said to me it was delivered with the best intentions.  Such was the case of Jack’s two teachers.  I knew that they wanted me to know they had also suffered great loss and I am sure they did.  However, each person is on a separate path and may not be comforted by stories of your loss.

A friend of Rick’s mom came up to me during the picnic and said, “Jane, how are you doing?” I replied that we were doing okay.  “Jane, my husband, Harry died 17 years ago and it hurts as much today as it did the day he died.  I just stood speechless looking at her.  “Thanks,”  I said.  In her heart of hearts, I am sure she thought she was trying help. However, I couldn’t help but think that this help was not helping.  

About a month after Rick died, the boys were sitting at the kitchen table and Jack made an announcement.  “Mom, I feel so much better!” “Jack, I’m so happy for you.” I replied.  It was the day he turned the corner on his deep grief.  He was still dealing with it but this was significant for him.

 It reminded me of that song, “I’ve Got That Joy, Joy, Joy down in my heart.”  The verse that includes, “I’ve got that peace that passes understanding, down in my heart, down in my heart, down in my heart I’ve got that peace that passes understanding down in my heart and I want to give it all to you.”  I wanted to take his peace but it was going to be a long time for me to reach it.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the reminder that when I offer my condolences I need to remember that my path of grief or recovery is not the same as theirs. All I can say is, "I'm sorry".

    Thank you for having the courage to share your journey with us.