Saturday, November 28, 2009

Playing By The Numbers

I was thinking about how I would describe it all using a numerical scale. 1 = life is very, very good and happiness and contentment and delight abound. 20 = as bad as it can get and yet you are somehow still alive.

First year of seminary = 1, sometimes migrating down to 2 or 3.

The first days and weeks after Josh died: 20.

The first months back at school, through the winter and spring: mostly around 17-19. I mostly remember thinking that I had landed on some new planet, uninhabited by anyone who spoke my language.

Summer Hebrew: 17/18 slowly making way for 15/16. It was at the end of July that I said to my professor's wife that I had discovered that people can, in fact, live with this degree of pain.

Since then: a pretty steady 15. (Oh, except for that attempt at a silent retreat: a solid and relentless 19.)

In the last few days: some plunges down to 17. It takes my breath away: how quickly the smallest of memories can turn the world dark.

I think I can do 15. It's the 18s and 19s that loom on the holiday horizon that scare me.

And this year: I'm an intern. In a church. Last year we pretty much skipped Christmas altogether. This year there are four whole Advent Sundays ahead of me.

Tonight I ran into a couple I met recently who have also lost a son to suicide ~ this will be their fifth Christmas without him. They are full of energy and smiles and life. They look so ~ so all right. "Are you?" I asked them.

"Oh, no," they said.


Magdalene6127 said...

This is such a helpful reminder-- both to those of us who are pastors, and just to any of us who hope to be sensitive generally.

People are not necessarily as all right as they appear.


giggles said...

Not that what I share will be helpful at all...but .... I saw a woman I had worked with a long time after I stopped working with her and a fairly long time (2-3-4 years) after I had heard that her son had committed suicide at school.... She was shopping with her husband...she looked good and "normal." I expressed my sorrow...and asked her how she was doing...insensitively asking, mind you... (I was young...this incident occurred probably 20 years ago if this is an excuse for my stupidity....) I must have asked "Are you adjusting...? " or something equally gauche... And she looked me straight in the eye and said, "Giggles. You never get over it."

I've not seen her since then...but her words pierced my soul and sent through me a searing hurt that I will never get over.

Gal said...

Appearances can be such a shield of protection... for ourselves and for others. Thinking of you as the Sundays approach.

Karen said...

I like your rating scale. It's helpful. I am only sorry that it goes so very low, and that you feel every step down it's decline. These holidays are in the double digit zone sliding toward the bottom of the scale. Praying that you will have arms of love surrounding you and holding you up.

Heather said...

we're never alright..we just grow accustomed

karen gerstenberger said...

I have been thinking about this recently. I have more energy now than I did in year one or two, but it can still desert me without warning. And I am more engaged in life around me than I was then, but it's not the same engagement that I felt before Katie was sick and passed away.

I recall watching a DVD from, of parents who had more years under their belts, and were not in the first or second year of their tragedy. They looked like the couple you described here. I might look like them sometimes, too...but scratch the surface, and the tears and longing are right there.

I sure hope I haven't said "I can't imagine" to you.