Yesterday, I saw a child lying on the ground during recess. I stopped walking past and waited. Children are swirling around him playing, does anyone see what I see?
My first thought is to rush towards him to his aide. He could be having a seizure or passed out or fell down from the gap in the suspension bridge and not breathing. Why isn't anyone rushing towards him?
He moves and I exhale and realize not all children laying still are like mine.
This happens constantly. I can jump into adrenaline powered, get to business, take no prisoners mode like I went to school for it. I majored in Emergency Action Response. Well, I really majored in Art, but this feels more real than a paintbrush can do in this moment.
It haunts me.
I see disaster around every corner. I see all the sharp corners, backless barstools, possible tripping hazards and potential life altering scenarios. Every moment of every day, I have to choose to ignore the arrows pointing towards these death traps. I am also constantly aware that at any moment, life could be completely changed by ones of these named things or something that I haven't possibly considered. But I know it's there.
Trauma just waiting to happen.
I was not like this before I had my own child who required 24 hour care. Yes, I was over protective and a helicopter parent but only because I was so incredibly enamored with my son that I wanted to participate in every single moment. Not because I thought we would only have 3 1/2 years of "normal" bliss with him.
I wish I could say that I revel in our sweet memories more than the bad but that just isn't true. Those last two years of his life and the intense state of emergency that we lived in, are always looming in the background of my mind.
I ignore it. I push it back. I tell myself that I am fine and that my second child is not my first child. That what happened to his brother won't happen to him.
I tell myself that when I see children doing things that are extremely dangerous and their parents think its no big deal, that I am over reacting and to chill out.
But I fear for them and what could possibly happen. I seriously have to turn the other way so as not to experience the rush of traumatic possibility that could unfold at any moment.
I know I didn't cause my child's immune system to attack his brain. I know it was something that just happened based on his genetic makeup. But it is still so hard not to put blame on other things that could have contributed.
If you have lost a child or loved one, than I am assuming you go through these scenarios too. Especially if you lost them suddenly. I know that most people don't understand and think that I am crazy and hyper sensitive.
The most reassuring thing that I have heard over this past year after my son passed away, was that I could be experiencing Post Traumatic Stress. PTSD is something that is triggered by a terrifying event that can lead to anxiety, flashbacks and nightmares. Um, yes but no way, not me.
Of course, at first, I thought this was ridiculous. Isn't this what soldiers have after war? I haven't been to war. But then the more I processed this, it was exactly what I was experiencing.
A delayed response from my youngest child would have me whipping the car to the side of the road to grab the oxygen to help him out of whatever was allowing him not to respond. A child laying still on the floor at church would have me rushing towards him to help open his airway.
Any moment that I was remotely close to what I experienced, would trigger a memory from the past two years and have my blood pumping and me up and moving.
I can not tell you how many times I check on my youngest throughout the night to make sure he is breathing. It doesn't even tax me to wake up to go do this.
I have shaken him awake in the car thinking something was wrong with him only to have him look at me like ... Um, hello..what are you doing? ...Sleeping here. . My bad bro, go back to sleep.
It has lessened over the past few months, not for lack of anxiety on my part but for realizing that if something is wrong with my child or someone else, that I probably won't be able to stop it anyways.
I remember when I was brought home by the police in 8th grade for sneaking out to meet boys in the middle of the night. Yes, so lame. My friend that I did this with is now a pastor so, let's cut the middle school kids some slack. Like, totally ground them but don't count them out.
For months after, I would immediately have that sinking feeling everytime I saw police lights thus transporting me back to that night in 1995 where I thought for sure, my life was over.
Little did I know , that is probably a common reaction to police lights. So you can relate a little, okay? It freaks you out!
This happens with any of these triggers that put me back into the two years of trying to keep my oldest son alive. Hospitals, Funerals, Pain Medications, Seizures, seeing the word seizures, Hospice, G Tubes, All therapies, Kids laying on the ground in unusual circumstances, weird long gazes, someone being slow to respond to a question, blue lips, hands in any type of contorted shaped, etc... The list is so long and each dimension of each word has its own catalog of memories that I was either too busy to recall until now or didn't realize that actually happened until I see it playing over in my mind.
This is not debilitating but it is something I am trying to work through. Something I try to not let control me. But sometimes I just give into it and remember. Sometimes remembering the reality of what we went through makes it more real.
It is pretty easy to pretend like it didn't happen, for a little while. Then the enormity of the fact that my oldest son is not breathing on earth anymore crushes me with more weight than I think my body can physically push back against.
It doesn't get easier to realize that he isn't here but I know that one day, I will be with him again. And that does provide comfort. I love this quote from John Piper, "Your misery, in the path of obedience, is producing a peculiar glory." I feel like that is a gut check quote. Be miserable, feel it but be obedient . Make this misery matter. Make it about God and not all the things that I feel.
I am trying so hard to do this. I am trying to learn to live it with and make it purposeful and not be overwhelmed with him being gone. Though, some days it is all just too much and I check out of the world for a few days. I watch Netflix, I eat ice cream and I just allow myself to be sad. Then I pull it together, put it on the shelf and try to deal with all the grief that comes my way during each day. I seriously sing, Shane & Shane's song, in my head when I get to this point,
"Though You slay me, yet I will praise You
Though You take from me, I will bless Your name
Though You ruin me, still I will worship
Sing a song to the One who's all I need"
We sang this song at his funeral. I love the song and the words and the way it makes me feel. This is also one of those deep triggers, I cannot listen to this song without crying out to God in my pain but it's one of those memories that I need to remember it was all real.
So please excuse me if I rush towards your child on the playground to start CPR if they are just playing hide and seek. It's just me. The crazy mom that is just trying to get through each day without reacting to every trigger of loss around her. And to my sweet sisters in loss, I'm here pushing through with you.