July 10, 2020
The Deafening Silence When the Lights Go Out
Andrew and Gideon were 16 months apart in age. Andrew was the social child; Gideon was the stubborn child. When you put them both together, I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the words "Andrew, stop" or "Gideon, that's not how you do it." or "Mama!" or "I'm tellin' Deddy!" from their bedroom.
My boys were rambunctious, and they were full of life. We had lop-eared rabbits, chickens, dogs, cats, iguanas, hedgehogs... you name it. If it moved, we probably had one at some time or another. Oh the sounds and smells from their little childhood. I would not take anything for it.
Trips to the ER were not uncommon in our home, especially when they had games like "how to catch a BB in your ear" going on... Or... "Let's see how fast I can run across broken glass." And there were those days I thought I'd be admitted to a mental hospital for a complete meltdown. Like, "Let me stick my head out the camper box window while my mom drives off from the mailbox." OR... "Let's run across the roof of the house so our neighbors will give our mama a heart attack while she's sleeping in." But looking back, those were the fun days.
I'll never forget a few days after Andrew's death, Ray and I stood at our kitchen window sobbing together as we looked out a saw a single little boy bouncing a basketball on the ground all alone. The thud of the ball sounding like the pounding in our hearts. We could not fix this. Gideon's best friend and brother was gone in a moment. Gideon, at only 8 years old, was left alone to grow up. Our hearts were crushed.
You will never know how you will miss sounds until they are gone. Gideon now has 4 boys (ages 5, 2, and 3 months for the twins). Talk about some sounds coming from his home. But I pray he never grows too tired or weary in hearing those sounds, for I remember all too well what happens when you can no longer hear them.
Dealing with the silence after the loss of a child is difficult. The unwanted solitude can become almost unbearable. I did the best I could to cope, but I'll not lie to you. The silence is probably one of the hardest things I've had to overcome.
Never to hear, "Mama, Gideon did so-n-so" again... Never to hear, "Mama I love you" again... Yeah, those moments of quiet... They will get you! Take your breath. But I try to limit them. I do my best to fill the void.
One of my outlets was school work as I have mentioned earlier. I also wrote a few plays back in the day for churches. Ray and I threw ourselves into ministry, and I tried to help Gideon cope the best I knew how to do it. I have regrets, and I wish I had been a better mom for Gideon during his grief. But I sure tried my best to let my baby boy know how much I loved him too.
Twenty-two years later, and I've learned to be okay with those quiet moments. I can sit and think about Andrew now without sobbing every time. I am perfectly okay to spend the evening home with Ray and me sitting in our recliners watching a Hallmark movie, knowing full well the outcome in the first five minutes...
I love when Gideon and his family come and spend the night even though they live only a few miles from me. Sleeping on 3 inches of bed with two growing grandsons is actually the best "non" sleep in the world to me. I wouldn't trade it for anything. Cooking a meal with two rotten boys wanting to put their hands in all my stuff... those are the fun times. It drives Ray insane, but I love it.
Balance... I have learned I need the noises of a bustling family, but I also love the solitude of sitting by myself at my computer creating a test, working on curriculum, or just writing my heart out.
For the grieving parents today, I offer these thoughts:
1. I know the silence is deafening at first, and you will hate it. But eventually it will become less threatening, and one day you will finally embrace it as well. Until then, I pray for you.
2. During the silence, find yourself. Fall in love with yourself. I know that this may seem uncanny, but the Bible says to "Love your neighbor as yourself." Healthy self-love is important. You have to love your own life in order to help others.
3. You don't have to drown in the silence. Make some noise if you must. Find new things to do with your regrouped family. Have an adventure. Make some memories. Fill your life full of singing (even if you can't sing like me).
Death brings the most final silence to our souls.
It is a chiasm we cannot cross until it is our journey to make.
We long to hear from those who have made it through.
We call out... their voices do not return...
But wait... There are other voices calling out to you.
Listen... the silence subsides.
Listen... the laughter breaks through.
Listen... there is still more life to live.
And as you listen again... the silence fades into the misty night... and the sun rays warm your heart again.
Much love to you all!
To Be Continued!