Among the Blessed by Randall Stone
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There is nothing like spending a Friday night, relaxing in from the the television with my daughter, watching programing that hits a little to close for comfort.
First was an episode of "SuperNanny," which included the story of a recent widow, struggling to meet the needs of her young children while grieving the loss of her husband. The widow talked about how she had waited so long to finally meet someone to share her life with, only for him to be taken away so quickly by cancer.
When the show had started I had already taken out my laptop, wanting to write my daily post. The story unfolding on the screen took away my concentration, leaving me feeling a bit stunned by the parallels to my own life. I could sense my daughter's awareness of how this might affect me, and eventually she asked if I was okay. I let her know that I was fine, then began thinking how odd that this was my reality. I realized that for most television viewers, this was a story that would evoke such sympathy for an experience they could only imagine having to live through. They would be thanking their lucky stars for being so blessed. I suppose I was thanking my lucky stars that I am not alone in this.
Next up was 20/20, which spent an hour on the topic of childhood mental illness. They showed how this illness tormented the children who were struck by this disease. They also did a excellent job at highlighting how this disease takes it's toll on the entire family. One particular story showed how the siblings of the mentally ill child often become the target of the sibling's rage. They interviewed one young girl who had been choked by her older sister, and who yearned for a normal life. The older sister was going in and out of hospitals as a result of this type of behavior.
Again, more parallels to my experience as a parent than I would prefer to have. My oldest son suffers from mental illness, and has needed to live outside our home for many years in order to protect my other children from his rage. I sat there watching the parents of the children featured, as they struggled to find balance within their family. It was painful to watch, yet I stayed with it so that in some small way I was bearing witness to their realities. These parents must deal with the chaos that mental illness brings into a family, while also grieving the loss of hopes and dreams they once had for their child.
Everything that I watched in this programing was something I have also endured. Yet, today I have a new found hope in that my son is experiencing a stability never truly expected. I brought him home three weeks ago, ready to help him transition back into our home full time. At this time he is rising to the challenge. And, although my other children and I are pleased with his progress, we know that stability is not something we can count on.
In my recent experience of life, I know that nothing can be taken for granted. Life, or stability, is not ours for the keeping. It is only ours for the moment, so cherish every moment of it.
Six months ago, on this night, I was lying next to Michael, cherishing every moment, knowing that at any minute, he could be gone. I started writing this post at 11:15 pm, yet at this moment it is 12:05 am. Six months ago at 12:05 am I had exactly 6 hours left with my husband. In 6 hours he was to die. In 6 hours he was to leave this earth, and leave me mourning his departure. In these 6 hours I watched him. In these 6 hours I stroked his face, and kissed his mouth. In these 6 hours I told him how much I loved him. In these 6 hours I told him not to worry, that I would be okay. In these 6 hours I thanked him for his love.
If I step back, and look at myself, and my life, I too feel sympathy for what I see. I sympathize with Dan for all he has had to endure. I think to myself, why him? Why does he have to endure such a heavy burden? I then thank my lucky stars for being so blessed.
The reality is, that is me. That is my life. I have experienced these tragedies, and these losses.
By taking this third person perspective I am able to step outside of my grief long enough to recognize the blessings that come with such experiences. As a family, my children and I have been to hell and back. We have a lot of frequent flyer miles, and will likely collect a few more along the way. Yet, we also have a greater capacity to see beyond the moment. We have learned that this roller coaster ride of a life is worth it's ups and downs. I have learned that the struggle has worth. My life with Michael has worth. Our short time together, in time, will eventually out weigh the grieving time without him. I will feel blessed for having him in my life more than I currently feel angry that he was taken away. I hope this makes sense. I am not there yet, but I know myself, and I can trust my experience.