Friday, April 20, 2012

Death Five Years Ago


Five years ago, I had just begun writing about my feelings in a public forum. Having recently separated from an abusive marriage, I was stretching my new found wings of transparency. Today I went looking for this particular blog. It was off on some obscure site where I had forgotten my password and had to recover it.

Found it.

It was good to read it, to remember how bad I felt then, and to gratefully realize how much the pain has eased since. As I turned and walked away from my parents' grave in the woods that day, it was as if I turned my back on their legacy of death and judgment. One step at a time, I've been getting farther away from the darkness and pain, leaving it behind, and walking toward life and light. And while there are still days when the sun goes behind the clouds and the shadows gather over my life with painful familiarity, I still know; I'm out of the woods. If I wait, the sun will come out again.

And it always does.

Blogged May 3rd, 2007 : On the same day as the campus shooting tragedy in Virginia last month, I was grieving my own loss. The first images I saw broadcast from Virginia Tech were on the TV in lobby of the second-rate hotel I was checking into, a few hours after burying my mother and my step-dad. I really didn't want to hear about any more shooting right then.

My step-dad had been in the advanced stages of cancer. My mother was blind. They were both in a lot of physical and emotional pain. I would have like to have been a comfort to them, but they had cut me out of their lives years before. The last time I saw them was Thanksgiving of last year. Previous to that, it had been four years since we had seen each other. I went to see them, knowing I wouldn't be welcome, to tell them I loved them. I had no way of knowing it was the last time I would see them alive. Although it was painful to go and feel their rejection of me afresh, I am glad I went. I am glad I got to tell my mother I loved her one more time.

The next time I came, it was for their funeral. They didn't make it easy for me, even in death, to deal with the choices they made. Their last wishes were difficult to carry out. No coffins, no embalming, just a rough burial on their own land. As I stood looking down at the white cardboard boxes with their names and social security numbers printed on the outside down in the muddy hole dug by a backhoe in the middle of the woods, I felt like it couldn't actually be real. I broke down. It was one of the most awful moments of my life.

My mom's body was in that hole, next to the body of the man who shot her in the head with a shot-gun before shooting himself, a few yards from where it all happened. I felt myself slipping into shock.

I'm still not fully recovered. Maybe I never will be, in the deepest sense of the word. The mark this kind of thing leaves on one's soul is permenant, I think. I'm dealing with the finality of our lack of reconciliation in this life, all wrapped up in the horror of their violent death.

One of the last things I said to the two of them at the end of my Thanksgiving visit, was that I was looking forward to the day we were all together in heaven, and all the issues that had kept us apart were a thing of the past. They didn't comment. But that is something I can hang onto. They were pretty extreme in some of their thinking, but I do believe they were saved by grace through faith the same way I am.

I do believe I will see them again, and this time, they will be glad to see me. It would mean a lot to me for my mother to be glad to see me. I can't remember what that felt like.

By then, I should have forgiven my step-dad, and perhaps I'll be glad to see him too.