It’s the third one since our son Mike took his own life and joined the Communion of Saints. Tonight Bill and I will attend Mass and we will cry. We’ll cry especially with our brothers and sisters who have lost a loved one during the past year, but also with each other and all those who continue to come to this beautiful service, year after year, to remember their own cherished dead. I think that as time goes by it becomes a bit easier, but I’m not sure.
I doubt that there is anyone who might read this who has wondered where I’ve been for the past few years, but if so, now you know. I’ve been caring for, and grieving for, a very ill young man who was eventually no longer able to bear his terrible pain, both physical and psychic. He was my youngest child, a beautiful baby, boy and man. Our lives gained so much joy from his presence. Still, light and darkness seem to follow each other in this world, and now I know how deeply the darkness can seem to blot out the light. The tiniest pinpoint I had left, I called trust. Eventually, enough light snuck in that I began to see hope. But that was later …….
Heartfelt words about loss posted by several faith-filled writers have given me much solace in the time since Mike left us, particularly Frederick Buechner, Lexi Berendt, Mo Minahan and Jan Richardson. This gives me hope that my words might do the same for someone else. Some day, I will talk more about what happened: to Mike, to us, to our world, to my faith and mostly to my heart. But for tonight I will simply send a poem I wrote a while back, shortly after the day we always expected to be Mike’s thirty first birthday, two and a half years after he died.
The Thing with Feathers
“Don’t pray for me. Pray for him
The wise ones knew I had it backwards.
Willing to trade my soul for yours –
I still wanted control.
What happens to the dead?
Is it even possible to reject life?
“I am praying for safe passage,” you wrote.
To what? To where? What were you thinking?
You took nothing but my blithe beliefs:
That the nest was safe;
That prayers are answered.
Nothing but yourself, that is.
Lost in the pain
I want to say you took my hope.
But that’s not true.
Shelter me under your wings, oh God.
(My gratitude to Emily Dickinson)