Missing my dead son on a Thursday night.

I’m watching my other son play an intense video game with amazing graphics. And we are discussing plans for Christmas… and the kinds of purchases we will be making within the budget we have.

I am upset that my substitute did not show up today… so that my students didn’t work on their projects… and at least two teachers were inconvenienced by having to watch them. We have so little time before the end of the quarter next week.

I am upset that it seems to me that black lives apparently matter less in my country than others… a fact obvious to me, but inexplicable to a large number of my friends. I’d like to discuss racism and privilege… but it is difficult and frustrating and seems to strain friendships.

I am upset that my country chose to torture people… dozens of them admittedly innocent… and that even now some Americans think it was an okay thing to do.

I wonder if political discussions… arguments… conflicts on facebook or ROTW.net aren’t a substitute for something else. An outlet for anger or frustration… That also puts a strain on friendships.

But none of those things are why I was crying while driving west on the 10 freeway this morning. Crying… even though the songs were upbeat and vapid. Crying- even though the traffic was fairly light.

I’ve been thinking about writing in the blog for a few days… about the difference between the first year of grieving and the second. Some people say the second year is worse and I could see how that is true. But for me, I am a much more functional human this year than last. And that makes a difference. I’m cussing less. And feel less angry. The stronger emotion tends to be sadness and loss.

That first year was a mess. It was raw and painful… and I felt sick all the time. Exhausted. Confused. More angry. More of everything. Numb sometimes. And I am glad I had friends. Glad for my family. Glad for my faith. And glad I had resources to write and paint… to walk… to take a road trip… or to take every single sick day I had saved up.

I was thinking about theology and guilt, and earning salvation through works… legalism… And about grace and the sovereignty of God. I even talked to Pete Tasaka… who is not only an administrator attending the same training today, but a pastor. And we were in agreement on the topic of grace. And I was thinking about some of the people I met on TCF network… people that are hurting… many wracked by grief and regret over the loss of their child.

I think what is difficult in the second year is that you can’t say the same things and expect the same response. There is a fatigue that sets in with compassion. And it gets worse if you look like you are fishing for it. That is another reason to be thankful for my mother and my sisters and brothers… and for my Lifequest family. And for my co-workers. Yeah… it is the holidays.

I should be anticipating Ethan’s trip south. Spending some time… having him help me weld the railing for the LA House. But Ethan is dead. So it isn’t going to happen. And every memory of every Christmas past will have that little jagged edge…..

Is it easier? I think so. But it isn’t easy.

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