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Reason














It's today.
August 23rd.
Two years.
Two achingly long years.
Two blink-of-an-eye years.

It's different this year.
Not better.
But different.

The blistering heat of August is absent.
The mornings are cool and misty.
The evenings have a nip of September.

Football has started.
Even that seems different.
More subdued, less intense somehow.

Like Kathy said,
I'm learning to move around this awkward piece of furniture that somehow arrived in my life. It's still there. Always will be. But I don't have to slam my shin into it continually just to prove that I can still feel something.

Grief is like a burden.
One we always carry.
We don't get to put it down,
but with time,
we learn better how to hold it.

Grief in the beginning is like being torn open.
Your heart is raw and exposed.
Even kindness burns.
But somehow, some day,
you begin to knit yourself
back together,
into something that resembles
a person,
whole,
in one piece.

To do that,
I've had to weave this
missing of Dave
into the fabric of my being.

The scar it leaves is part
of who I am now.

The last two years
meant learning to live in
an alien world.
It's a landscape that exists in my heart.
It's impossible to explain.
Some call it a wasteland,
a vacant lot,
like being consumed with fever,
only cold,
so cold.

For me,
it was a lot like drowning.
Surrounded by water.
Learning how to breathe again.
Without Dave,
I didn't know how to breathe,
how to be alive
without him.

So one step at a time,
I breathed in,
brought the icy waters
into myself.
And breathed out,
indigo ink,
no oxygen,
no relief,
no life.

While I wasn't dead,
I didn't recognize myself.
I stood looking in the mirror,
hand outstretched
to trace the jawline
of the stranger
who looked back.
"Who are you?"
"I am you. I am not you."

I'm reading a book called, "Everything happens for a reason." I bought it because I wanted to argue with it. I wanted to fight with it. I wanted to find what I believe.

Tall order, it seems.

Does everything happen for a reason?
I guess I don't know everything.
Yet.
I also guess
like everything else,
it depends on what you mean by reason.

Reason:
justification
basis
excuse
explanation
logic
motive
sanity
sense
judgement

The word reason is both rational and rationale.
It's comforting to think that our world makes sense. That things happen in accordance with a master plan of some sort, that events are not random and senseless, that Someone is in control, that what happens to us has meaning.

That becomes harder when it hits closer to home. When addressing an event in someone's life that is painful, these ideas start to sound a little trite. "It's all for the best." Someone actually said to me, "Just think how Dave's death will be an example of living in Christ to so many." To which I could only think...."And him LIVING in Christ wasn't a good example?" See what I mean? Globally, it tends to work, personally, it kinda falls apart for me. Like the card Mindy got me today..."Do you ever feel like your guardian angel just went out for a smoke?" Yeah, actually, sometimes I do.

But mostly not. And even in the hardest of things, there is meaning to be found. Let me give you an example. 18 years ago, for 25 days, Dave and I were lucky enough to be parents to Kyle Douglas. 25 magical, beautiful, spiritual days. And then Kyle died and we were plunged into that netherworld of grief, that place where you must not only confront death, but make friends with it, and walk hand-in-hand with the fact of earthly death.

Sidebar: Of course, there is eternal life and everlasting hope in Jesus, but I'm talking this side of heaven, which is all I can really speak to. There is solace in the eternal, but it does NOT, NOT erase the pain of the temporary.

When Kyle died, I had a lot of people offer me reasons. "Oh, he was spared so much suffering, all those operations he would have had to have." "It's for the best." "You'll have another." "You're young." "Be glad you only had him 25 days, that way you didn't have a chance to get too attached." Sigh.

No reason could suffice. Ever. Ever.

Does that mean Kyle's death was meaningless? Not at all. When Kenny was diagnosed with autism, and we were walking like zombies through a grief that had no definition, no certainty and no closure, when Kenny screamed for hours at a time or laughed at things that weren't there or stayed up night after night...I remember feeling so overwhelmed with gratitude. Yes, gratitude. Never once did I look at that child, that little boy with the blonde curls and the kaliedescope eyes, and think, "Why me?!" Every day, every single day, when we woke in the morning, light streaming in the window, I would put my hand on his little chest and feel that heart beating so solidly. I knew it could be worse. Far worse.

Meaning, yes.
Reason....not so much.

I search for meaning, for reason in Dave's death.
I find much in his life.
In his courage as a cancer survivor.
In his character as a teacher.
In his enthusiasm as a coach.
In his passion as a musician.
In his loyalty as a friend.
In his humility as a servant of God.
In his honor as a son.
In his caring as a brother.
In his humor as an uncle.
In his love as a husband.
In his tenderness as a father.

I have yet to find anything that might be considered better because of his death. Anything that gives reason.
Not A reason, but reason, sense, justice.

Meaning...well...I'm trying.
I know that Dave's death was not meaningless.
I know that his death impacted many people.
I believe that there are far more ripples from this rock than I will ever know about.

Because some have been kind enough to share how the ripples in the water touched them, there are things I do know. I know that there are women who, because of Dave's death, because they heard my anguish, stopped themselves from sniping at their husband because he left a wet towel on the floor or put the diaper on backwards or bought the wrong kind of tomatoes. That instead, they took a breath and realized that they were blessed to have him still here, still breathing.

I know that there were people who were afraid to show their feelings for fear of being thought weak, who learned through Dave's example what true strength and courage looked like, and how God shines though our weakness.

I know that there were people unable to reach out and make meaningful connections with the people that they loved most, who watched Dave and I and realized that the depth of our hurt is but a reflection of the depth of our love...mirror images...two sides of the same coin...and that you must risk in order to love, but that love is worth any price...and guarding your heart is lonely. That love is not a feeling, it's a decision.

I know that there were people who were afraid of death, who learned, like the 14 year old narrator in "The Secret Life of Bees" that "anyone who thinks dying is the worst thing don't know much about life," and took courage from the light shining through Dave, even...and maybe especially...at the end.

I know that there were people with no spiritual beliefs who saw Dave's death and longed for the certainty and serenity he showed. I also know there were people with strong beliefs whose faith was shaken to the core by Dave's death and confronted questions they didn't know weren't answered.

I know that there were people who learned how to listen, how to fully be there and how to say something when they didn't know what to say. That reaching out matters.

I know that there were people who learned how to humbly accept help and see it as a sign of love, not a sign of weakness.

How to laugh, really laugh, in the worst of times.
How to listen to music with your whole heart.
How to talk with no words.
How to make a game out of washing dishes.
How to Dave-hug...or at least close.
How to cheer for their team.
How to smile with their eyes.
That hope sustains.
That love never dies.

And I know I learned more than all of these people combined.
Thank you for that, Dave.
And for everything else.

I love you always, Shell

AND PS. It would STILL be better if you were here.



We went to the Rock today.
24 white roses.
One for each month
we have lived
without Dave here.
730 days we have
gotten out of bed,
taken one step forward,
kept breathing.


Thank you to those who sent their thoughts today...
Bryan Stroud & family...always faithful.
Dee, always Dee.
Tami...hugs back.
Alex... :-).
Mom who called...and is coming!
My sis, who's loaning me her kids.
DadBob & JudyMom who brought flowers and hugs.
Mindy who brought coffee and kids and love.
Bob who called.
And Cindy.
Ginger from across the country
and Missy from across town.
Kathy from Iowa, Jacob's mum who signed on CaringBridge.
Kara, living without Butch.
Cathy, city mouse, who sent a card.
Mike, who just crossed two years without his daughter.
Will & crew, whose words touched my heart in a way I can't explain.
Sue, the first to remember and sent:

"From the wings of a darkened night, small lights of hope are born."

Comments

  1. Love you dear country mouse. Love you dear Meyer family. And yes, always, we love you dear Dave.

    Beautiful Chelle, so beautiful.

    Cath
    www.lessonsfromlou.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. The world would always be a better place with Dave in it.
    2 years.
    I wish I was a wordsmith. Someone who had the gift of saying the right thing at the right time. Someone who had a gift of words like yourself. Unfortuantly am not.
    All I know is that my heart aches still for you and your family, because yes the world would be a better place with Dave in it.
    I have a beautiful picture that Jean McMenney made for me. "Love is not a feeling it's a decision." Dave Meyer. It hangs in my kitchen.
    Thank you for sharing all you have shared with us over the last two years, for making yourself open to us and sharing. Michelle, stay strong for those beautiful kiddos. You and Dave are still raising them- though you via earth and Dave via heaven. Love ya, Sherri

    ReplyDelete
  3. Chelle
    We love you in the days of deepest sadness, we love you in the days your are struggling, we love you the days you are treading water, we love you are your ok days and we love you on days filled with joy. We just plain love you chelle.
    Sue

    ReplyDelete
  4. The Mouat Clan8/24/2007 7:06 AM

    Shell,
    As always you seem to hit every nail on the head. Grief is something you just learn how to carry...what a great line, so true. Yet through it all I think it can give us the ability to hug tighter, love deeper and offer a warm shoulder of understanding. Though there are times when I think I would trade those things to not have the grief (or the reason for the grief)...It is hard to handle all the emotions of the roller-coaster. Dave and I wrote a song together about 10 years ago with that theme. It was called the ride. The last chorus goes:

    "Life's a roller-coaster, up and down it goes. Faster and farther and sometimes it's hard just to hang on to your hope. But the trip with the ones you love is worth the pain and the rain. Your wife and your boys are your pride and your joy and you never give that away.

    And if they gave me all the gold in the world for those rocky years of my life, I'd turn that gold in and do it over again it was worth the ride. I'd turn that gold in just to hear my best friend tell me, it was worth the ride."

    There are days when I feel like I'd take the gold if it meant having things back the way they were or the way I'd like them to be. But if it meant losing the good along with the bad I'd have to turn it down. That's what Dave and I talked about as we wrote and played that song. We sang it at conspiracy of Hope that year (97-98). I remember because we had Tiff Buissink in our block as a frosh and it was the first of many times we made her cry (in a good way) :o).

    Love you guys so much and can't wait to see you soon!

    Will, Stacy and the boys

    ReplyDelete
  5. Have you read A Grief Observed? I haven't read it in its entirety, but parts of it.

    Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly.

    Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively.

    But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand.

    -- C.S. Lewis


    The world would be a better place with Kyle and Dave in it.

    I have no profound explanations or platitudes, I think my philosophy is that shi* happens for whatever reason, but God will help us through it. We won't ever understand the reason most likely, but then again, we all only have our own small picture of things, we can't possibly see the really big picture.

    Sending big hugs your way.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thinking of you...

    --Patti in NJ

    ReplyDelete
  7. Shelley ~

    I have been thinking about you, but especially....always...the month of August. Your entry was perfect, as always. Thank you for sharing your struggles, your pain, your "break throughs"...they make life real.

    Two years doesn't seem possible and at the same time feels like an eternity. I haven't had to carry grief...someday I know it will be my turn. Thank you for always sharing. There are many of us that are learning from you....I and doubt you realize it.

    I love you!
    Melissa

    ReplyDelete
  8. Michelle, I am so sorry. I came by today and never said a word about 2 years without Dave. I will admit I did not think of it being 2 years on the 23. I think of you and Dave and the kids often and how much I have learned from your family. I have no good excuse, I could make up one but what good would that do. I always enjoy your writting. It is beautiful and as I have said before it always gives me something to think about.
    It was good to see you today and glad your feeling better.
    Again sorry. Kathie

    ReplyDelete

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