Archive for October 4th, 2012

Dear Friends and Family Who Have Loved Us, Served Us, and Prayed for Us This Year,

It’s been about 9 months since we lost our Patrick, and about 7 months since I’ve been able to write. Finally, today I think I can post a note.  Since it’s been so long, I’ll do my best to catch everyone up with our healing process.  This may be the last time I write about it.

For the first two months I felt cocooned inside a very safe bubble of Divine grace. I’ve described it as having an I.V. of grace straight from Heaven into my soul. I still cried every day, often many times a day, but sensed an indescribable closeness of the Lord’s presence, and supernatural comfort – that peace that passes all understanding.

During those two months our house was a revolving door of love, with meal after meal, hug after hug, prayers galore, and our mailbox and inboxes filled with notes of compassion. If you sent a note or gift that we haven’t acknowledged, please don’t be shy about letting me know. We want to express our thanks to everyone who reached out to us.  (I haven’t had the wherewithal to write the scholarship thank yous yet, but hope to soon.)  We will never forget the way so many of you served us, prayed for us, fed us and comforted us. Truly, we were taken care of in a way that glorified God, and we’ve learned much about expressing compassion from you.

In February, after the meals ended and the visits slowed, it seems my dosage of that heavenly I.V. got lowered, much like pain meds wear off after surgery.  All the pain I’d been sheltered from slowly crept in, and I began to ache, heart and soul.

I can hardly explain how fragile I was from February to August. To give you a very small glimpse of what life looked like, I wasn’t able to look at Patrick’s senior picture or graduation picture.  If I absentmindedly caught a glimpse of that sweet smile, I would usually stop, drop and sob. Eventually, I stopped dusting those pictures altogether just to keep myself from going into another cycle of sobbing.  After a while one gets very tired of sobbing.

I couldn’t handle anything official regarding his affairs because I couldn’t bring myself to form the words that had to be said to the person on the other end of the line.  I could barely type them.  I thank the Lord for our adult children who handled everything for us.

One day I decided to delete videos off my camera to gain space, and unexpectedly played a video taken a month before the accident. There he was, so alive and so happy, as though nothing had happened.  And for three seconds, he was here. I was pierced afresh, turned it off, couldn’t breathe, and cried for days.

Twice while running errands I caught a glimpse of a tall young man with his lanky gait, and couldn’t stop staring – until he turned, and I saw a stranger’s face.  And then I couldn’t stop crying.  My head knew those guys weren’t Patrick before they turned, but my eyes bypassed my brain, and shot a message straight to my heart, and I couldn’t stop it from leaping and then crashing.

I’ve learned that waterproof mascara isn’t, not even the expensive brands, and I’ve attended more events makeup-less than I’d ever have thought I could.  Normally, I wouldn’t leave the house without at least mascara.

I couldn’t meet friends for coffee because the look of pure compassion in their eyes was utterly overwhelming to me.  I couldn’t attend my moms’ group, which I’ve had the honor of leading for over 12 years, because I felt I might collapse and cry in all of their arms as soon as I felt their collective compassion.  When I finally made myself attend in May, I felt like I had arrived in my hospital gown, and my goal was to get through the meeting without falling apart or running away.

Friends drove 4 hours round trip to treat me to lunch and present me with a necklace inscribed with Patrick’s name.  When they handed it to me, I burst into tears, and could not even look at it.

I’ve learned that when people love you, they carry part of your pain.  They hurt because you hurt. And it hurts to know that your pain hurts them, but you are completely without resources to help them in their pain.  You barely have enough resources to tend to your own.  And the only way they’ll stop hurting for you – is when you stop hurting.

Bill and I have both been constantly comforted by the children, and they comfort one another.  Having our Sanguiney-Joel around has kept us totally engaged (big smile here because he is very fun and highly verbal).  And frequent dinners and fellowship with the rest of the children have brought real comfort.

Grace in, grace out.  This is the mantra I’ve breathed all year. And for 7 months I’ve kept myself busy in this house that now feels too big, spring cleaning and deep cleaning each room, and tackling our yards and gardens with great diligence.  All in an effort to keep my mind and hands busy.  And because I needed to be alone.  I never felt like God left me; I knew He was here.  But I needed to be apart from people.

We have three floor-to-ceiling windows in our family room dressed with dark chocolate, heavy wooden blinds.  My ritual each morning on my way to the coffee maker is to open those blinds to the tip-top, letting the early morning rays of sun come flooding in.  Our black lab always races me to the windows, confident that today is the day a crazed burglar will finally appear, and he will prove himself my protector.  Alas, each morning it’s still school children and mommies with strollers who glance in at my drooling, wagging, barking dog.   When I get the last set of blinds opened, the cat jumps gracefully to the ledge, seats herself importantly and stares out, welcoming another day of silent condemnation on everyone and everything in the world.  After all that satisfying judgment, she falls happily asleep.

Before I open the blinds, the family room feels private.  Not gloomy, but necessarily and appropriately private.  The world outside has been closed off, shut out until the night has passed.  I think that’s how I’ve felt for 7 months. Like the blinds to my soul were pulled down, in a need to guard my privacy and my grieving until the night had passed.

I wish I could say I was an Elizabeth Elliot or a Beth Moore, and that I’d spent those months memorizing Scripture, or in hours of meditation and prayer.  Or as one friend puts it, listening to my “self-talk” truth.  No, I just weeded gardens and cried, shampooed carpets and cried, polished wood floors, transplanted flowers, vacuumed under couches, washed curtains, painted rooms, dusted blinds, deep cleaned toilets, tubs, ovens and cabinets – and cried and cried and cried.  And cried.  And I have only been able to camp in the New Testament whenever I read, where difficult things happen to God’s people, as opposed to the Old, where the ground only swallowed up the disobedient ones.  I truly believe I was upheld and carried by grace and the prayers of friends and family.

And then came Wednesday, August 29th.  I was running errands in Bill’s truck, when, in the middle of traffic, and for no reason I can understand, something super far down inside me said, “It’s okay. You can go on living now.”  No, I didn’t hear those words, but I felt that message.  Was it the Lord speaking to my heart or soul?  Was it something inside my head telling myself it was okay to move on?  Was it that I had completed a certain number of days appointed for me to grieve?  I don’t know.  I know very little about God these days except that He is still absolute love and still absolutely sovereign.  I do know that a sorrow that had been gripping my entire person for 7 months had just disappeared.  On Newberry Road, between 55th Terrace and 62nd Street.  And it felt right.  And good.  Like the blinds of my soul had been lifted, and light was creeping in, and the world outside was no longer off limits.  It felt like the night had just passed and morning had come.  And something in me shifted.  Or I let go of something.  Or something let go of me.  And August 29th became my very first “good day” since February.

The next day became Day 2 of “good days in a row,” and I went about my work with hope and purpose.  But, I wasn’t comfortable sharing much about it, lest I crash and make people even sadder.  On Day 3, I said to myself, “Wow, this feels like another ‘good day.’  Maybe whatever happened in traffic that day was really real, really something important.”

On Day 16 I attended my moms’ group.  I was amazed and delighted to walk through the door as I once had, totally unaware of myself and scanning for faces that might need a word of encouragement or a hug.

On Days 27 and 34, I dusted the pictures on the bureau and wall.  And I only cried a little.  That’s when I knew it was time to share.

Today is my 37th good day in a row, and I’m actually writing on this blog.  I know I will eventually stop counting the days, but I will never forget.

I am profoundly grateful (did I say profoundly?  I meant PROFOUNDLY grateful) to everyone who has prayed for us and who have been so patient with me for so long.  I’ve been given the gifts of privacy, respect and space with no strings attached from so many of you, and you can’t know what it means to me.  I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I think the night is over and the blinds are up.  Thank you with all my heart for giving me grace and space to get through the night.

With much love, Mardy

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October 2012


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