On Longing, Love and Lessons

Love and Longing….it takes your breath away….in the quiet, the void left in Ben’s absence is palpable….

I’ve internally debated whether to write about the grief of tragically losing a child. Do I just stick to public awareness and facts? History? Solutions? The generic, clean parts – stay away from the messy, complicated reality? Yesterday, though, I realized that the love and longing is integral to the reason this is so important to others…to why we need to raise public awareness of the truth of these types of tragedies. This is so complex, and we want to do all that we can to ensure that other parents do not needlessly have to feel this feeling – this longing that takes your breath away. My mother paraphrased a concept from Corinthians this morning, as we were discussing the amazing things our friends were doing for us during this time…she said, “Lindsey, just accept their offers and help, they are broken and grieving too – I truly believe by comforting others, we ourselves are comforted.” There may be many others who, though not in the same circumstances, may have lost a child and speaking of grief and hope…it may in some way be helpful to them. And if the Gift of Ben can do that…I myself am comforted.

The weekends are hardest.  The reason? We have always valued family time. The weekends are our haven, we spend every waking minute with our children, they go with us everywhere. All of our usual family spots, just driving down certain roads. In the quiet, I feel his absence. Sitting at an often-frequented restaurant yesterday, I couldn’t stop my mind from seeing him where he used to sit at our table, his mannerisms…I began missing him physically, as if I could reach out and touch the space he used to occupy and in that way, feel his skin, see his smile, hear his laughter again. Watching a friend snuggle with her son yesterday, it took my breath away. What would that have been like with Ben? When children pass, you miss not only who they were but who they were to become. I found myself on the doorstep of a close friend’s house yesterday, not able to control the tears – the well of tears runs dry, only to be replenished time and time again. We sat and talked. The “Why?” The “What are the chances…the particulars of that day, that lead to this tragic result?”

The day after Ben’s passing, it was July 8th, I remember grappling with the shock and attempting to intellectualize something which could not be understood in human terms, saying (maybe screaming) to my parents – “Is God trying to teach us some lesson? Are we being punished? Does He think he needs to teach us to slow down, to cherish time with our children, to put them first? Because he picked the wrong family! We already do that, we’ve made those choices. Its not a lesson I need to be taught!!” Its true. When I worked as an attorney in NYC, we decided Kyle would be a stay-at-home dad (“Mr. Mom,” our friends joked)...to be there for the girls. Long before I got pregnant with Ben, I knew I wanted to change jobs – I just needed more time to be a mother, see the plays, the soccer games, snuggles at night, drop offs in the morning at school, surprise pick-ups for a “mommy-daughter date” at our local coffee shop after school on Fridays. When I was about seven weeks pregnant, I found a local job that would allow for even more work-life balance and I jumped at the opportunity and, when Ben was about 6 months old, Kyle found a local job as well. God had lead us to a peaceful place in our lives, where we could work to support our family, but 5 minutes from our home, we spent hour upon hour with our children – they were, and still are, our priority. So, on July 8th, as I struggled with the “Why?” I was simply lost…and still am.

 Yesterday, as I sat in my friend’s living room, talking, crying, we contemplated that maybe its not about “us”…me and Kyle or the girls. Maybe it was just about Ben.  She witnessed the moment at the beach (mentioned in my blog yesterday, What is Grief?) and saw my reaction to hearing Ben’s name, which caused my gut to feel for a second that he was still there with me. She said “I was across the beach, when [your friend] spoke. I saw it and felt it in my chest. It took your breath away.” We spoke of the fact that as mothers, humans, we refer to “losing” someone and the grief and longing, but, that our children are their own souls too, on their own journey, not simply something we “have” and “lose.” That we are spiritual beings in human form, as she stated, “a soul has passed through you, touched you – the longing is natural.”

In the quiet of this weekend, I have found no answers yet, but only continued my journey of longing and searching. Maybe there are no answers to be found, as the search is just an attempt to comprehend that which cannot be understood by the human mind, and quite possibly, the Gift of Ben always will be just that – an unknown surprise, waiting to be unraveled.