When you are going through an ordeal, the last thing you think about is the other side of it and what you might learn from it. Time brings clarity. Time brings healing. But time will never bring back the way things were. Time is the passage way through the tears cried, the anger – expressed – the mourning of what is lost. And through this time, we either harden and become bitter, or we grow. That is why I love the song, “Less Like Scars” by Sara Groves.
|Less Like Scars by Sara Groves
Less like tearing, more like building;
|And I feel You here and You’re picking up the pieces; Forever faithful;
It seemed out of my hands, a bad situation; But You are able
And in Your hands the pain and hurt Look less like scars and more like character.
I recently read a book that my grief therapist, Rita, suggested I read, “Good Grief,” by Lolly Winston. She thought I would get a lot out of it – and enjoy it. In this novel, Sophie tells her story. She lost her husband, of only three years, to cancer. You go along with her through the stages of grief. I LOVED it. Especially the part where her mother-in-law insists on helping her pack up her husband’s belongings to give away to Good-Will. When they show up the next week, when the mother-in-law isn’t there, she has them take her living room furniture instead because she wasn’t ready to let go of what was left of her husband.
Rita was right! My big take away? The death of a loved one is not something you “get over.” You go through it. Things will never be the same. You survive. I will never be the same. And that’s okay, I don’t want to be the same. I embrace the change.
At this point, as I encounter other people dying – other people who have a parent die – I find myself envying them. Sounds weird, huh? I envy them knowing their loved one was going to die. I envy the time they had to say good-bye. I envy the quickness of the death. I envy the relationship they had with the loved one. I grieve these things as well asking, Why did my dad’s death have to happen the way it did? And then I look back and see how I’ve grown – not that it justifies what happened. My growth will never justify death. Death sucks!
I am a different person as a result of my experience. I like who I am. And the experience of my dad having an operation that only in hindsight we see he should never have had; his 134 days of suffering and not healing; not knowing if he would heal or die or when; knowing the insurance was dictating his hospital stay and care; praying that he would heal; finding out afterwards what exactly an advanced directive was and it was too late for him to sign one; praying that he would die and stop suffering; worrying about finances if he does pull through; not knowing what questions to ask a doctor with very, very poor communication skills – blaming dad’s weak lungs on his lack of healing; witnessing a turnover of nurses so details of care get lost in the passing of the baton making his condition even worse; seeing my dad suffer to the point of losing his mind; the list goes on and on and on and on – this experience has brought out who I am. All of that stuff was out of my hands. I became my mother’s protector, I would not allow dad’s death to take her too – as if I had any say in that.
I became the communicator. I became the leader. Through his time in ICU, I realized my part in the dysfunction of my relationship with my dad. I confessed it in prayer with my mom in the ICU with dad. He died April 13, 2011.
Through this ordeal, I have a bond with my mother unlike I ever had. I can SEE her. I KNOW her. And she knows me. This is priceless to me. I lost my dad along with the close relationship we never had. And I’m not ever going to “get over it.” But, I am growing through it. And I miss him dearly.