I have been thinking about our recent visit to the hospital and the myriad of feelings, emotions and memories it unleashed. What came up was the general dislike of hospitals (the anxiety, fear and dread they stir up) and the memories of my husband's hospitalizations (as well as all the other ones we have encountered over the years). Then there was sadness over realizing that life has gone on over the past five years and there hasn't been much opportunity for incorporating memories of my husband into our lives (we have not observed his birthday or date of death with a special tribute). Although just yesterday I asked my son what his Dad would have told him about his wanting to quit the sport he is currently involved in, references like this have just come fewer and farther between. It is not that we have intentionally forgotten our loved one, it is just that current life with all its complexities involves most of our focus and effort. We don't have much free time to fondly reminisce. Along that line, I was discouraged to realize on Saturday night that details of my husband's illness have faded and no longer hold the intensity or importance they once did. And there was also the realization of how much my sons' lives have been changed (for the better and worse) having lost their father during childhood.
As I have pondered and processed all of this I have compared myself and my sons to other mothers and teens who have not faced as many losses in their lives. What do these individuals think and feel as they enter the sliding glass doors of the hospital? Surely not the hodgepodge of confusion, grief, anger, regret, pain and resentment that my sons and I are hit with. It is like having been forced to wear another pair of glasses the rest of our lives - to belong to a "club" so few others belong to and cannot even begin to understand. My sons and I are forever changed by the death of my husband and when we approach any situation it is through a different perspective and insight. In a way, this adds to our burden because we have to deal with and manage more baggage than others. Unfair and difficult, to be sure. But it became our reality that night five years ago when we were given the new labels of "widow" and "fatherless child."
Today I am thankful:
1. That we have heat, running water and a washing machine/dryer (I would not have made a good pioneer).
2. That a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a glass of cold milk can go a long way in making someone feeling down, a little better.
3. That despite the hardships, my boys and I have survived and we continue to do so. And that we can proudly add the label "survivor" to our list of life credits.