Sunday, March 25, 2012

How am I doing now compared to then?

Looking back to something I wrote 6 weeks after Casey died--

At times it is unfathomable to me that I will never see, hear or hold Casey again or that all of the things we looked forward to sharing with Casey will not occur. Prior to all of this we were as happy as we had ever been as a family and there was a sweet, serene rhythm or cadence to life. That was shattered and has not returned for me but we are doing better as we try to find our way in a world without Casey. One day I can look in her room and smile when seeing her brown bear that she has had since she was a year old and the next day I fall apart and need to cling to “brown bear” . I never really understood what the “pain” of grieving was about until now. I also get the sense that I am “different” now in the eyes of friends and family for having suffered what everyone refers to as the greatest loss imaginable. I know many of them are thanking God it was not their child and while I don’t wish it had been anyone else’s child I certainly wish it had not been mine. The fraternity of parents who have lost children is larger than I ever could have imagined and the paths of recovery of those who have taken the time to contact me are so very very different. There are those who need to tell me that it will never get better for as long as I live -two parents told me that during the visitation. I was startled and then angry at them. I do not accept that now and did not then but I share their grief and hope that perhaps they can get better as I know I will. I do think that what I first thought were so poorly timed and almost cruel comments did help focus me into thinking about the choice I had going forward after losing Casey. I intend to lead as happy and productive a life as I can for my wife, son and myself as well as all those who knew and loved Casey. Had Casey not been born I would have counted myself incredibly blessed with my life, family and friends. I still have all of that and had the blessing of Casey for 21 wonderful years and the promise that many will remember Casey and act in ways to improve our world because of her.

I am appreciating life, thinking that I can deal with anything, more spiritual and on a different and better path, but I am filled with emotion as I think back to how swwet life was with all of us-all 4 of us and what will never be for Casey and us.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Speaking with our loved ones before their death

Yesterday I attended an event marking the first anniversary of Owen Brezitski's death. Owen was 8 and was killed while walking with his family in a crosswalk in the Harrisburg, PA area. The driver was a teen who hit the gas instead of the brake. Owen's mother spoke about the last conversation that she had with her son. She told him how proud she was of him, how she so admired him for many of his attributes and all who heard her speak could feel the love that she had for him. She also said how thankful she was that Owen knew how she felt about him. As I listened in tears I recalled the last conversation that I had with Casey in which she told me she was happy. It has made my mourning easier knowing, that in addition to living a very full 21 years of life and positively affecting so many others,that Casey was happy. I was struck by the "coincidence" of parents, immediately before their children's deaths, being given the gift of a deeply meaningful conversation with their children. It is something we can hold on to as we think of all the things that will never come to pass for us as parents and for our children. As life goes on and I become more open to others I am feeling as time goes on that the coincidences are not coincidental. As I do grief counseling with families whose loved ones have died in hospice I see that despite the advance knowledge of impending death, many families do not have that meaningful conversation before their loved one dies. How fortunate we were for this gift.