Before and After...

February 18, 2009

there are things that happen in our lives that will change us forever.  Your life will forever be defined by before and after.  I know this all too well, my life before; having my son Ryan, my life after; losing him.  and so on with the other loses in my life.  they forever changed me, I can look back at pictures and define the time by this was before losing dad or after losing Ryan, etc.  I think when something shocks your life so abruptly you are forever changed...

And so while reading this book Broken Open that my Aunt recommended to me, I came upon a chapter where a father described his life after losing his child in the same scenario,  before and after.  The words brought me to tears as they rang so true with all the emotions that I've carried through these before and after times in my life, and I wanted to share them here.  Maybe you have these same defining moments in your life, or you know someone going through these, it can really open your eyes and change your life.  And so it seemed fitting that in in the month of February, the month where I lost both my son and my father, that I share this with others...

Here are several excepts from the after portion of his story:

the agony of the days that followed shocked me to the core.  I had never dared to dream of such darkness.  i clung to my friends and family as we plummeted into the depths of despair.  The awful pain of having to tell my wife and children of Eric's death will live in my heart for the rest of my days.

the days began and ended with sounds of sorrow.  The time between troubled bouts of sleep was filled with previously unimagined tasks of sadness.  We walked as if in a terrible dream, praying to be awakened from the reality of it all.  In those weeks and months, our minds reeled and recoiled from the horror.

And we awoke, each of us, in our own time.
In hindsight, my life "before" was about quantity and velocity.  Bigger jobs, larger houses, more things... quicker, sooner, now.  I justified my lifestyle as a way to be the best provider I could be for my family.  It came at a price, and yet I paid it.

My delusions of control were destroyed on the day Eric died.  My family fell apart.  None of us knew we had been living life on the surface of a bubble until it popped.

We tried to learn it from the books.  they helped.  But we learned that the lessons of grief, like music or medicine or art or parenting or marriage, must be lived to be fully understood.  And so began our journey through the "awful grace of God"

At one point in history, mankind believed that the world was a flat table, and that those foolhardy enough to venture too near the edge would fall off into a terrible world of fierce sea monsters and destruction upon the rocks.  They were right.  Eric's death pitched us headlong off our daily plane of existence into the darkness to be wrecked upon the rocks.  For weeks and months, we roiled and thrashed in pain, submerged in agnony, not sensing light or knowing what direction to turn.  We fought to hang on to each other.  Lifelines tossed to us from above were not recognized or were purposefully ignored.  Each of us prayed at times to simply drown and be done with it.  Were it not for friends and family  - who flung themelseves into our brokenness, to hold our heads above the water - we may well have drowned in our sorrow.

this place of hopelessness and fear is real.  not a cute little allegory.  some people never leave that place and are broken on the rocks. Some people stop fighting and slip into the depths.  We came to understand that, although we do not have control, we do have a choice.  God or Spirit or creator wants us to go down into the dark waters, but also wants us to come up to the light.  God will not force us to do so.  We are free.  We are made so, and it is our great gift.  We can choose darkness, fear, addiction, and despair.  We can choose light, hope, meaning and joy.

In our sleep, pain, which cannot forget,
falls drop by drop upon the heart,
until, in our own despair, against our will
comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.
--Aeschylus

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