Please use this blog to help us remember Joshua Lee Anderson, who made the tragic and fatal decision to take his life on Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Please post any memories or thoughts you may have in the comments.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day #2 - May 9, 2010

Last year, the days leading up to Mother's day, which was two months after Josh's death, was worse than the actual day. This year, the opposite is true. I knew the day was approaching, but did not feel anything, one way or the other. We made plans to meet my parents at Josh's grave site and then take them to a nice Mother's Day brunch.

Then, last night, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was watching Star Trek and thinking that Josh would've really like the movie. In fact, I think the trailers were out in the weeks prior to his death. I began wishing for the "good old days", when we would watch movies together. He would stretch out next to me on the bed or on the floor, with the dogs curled up beside him. My wishing became a yearning, a longing, a desire so strong that I could "see" him next to me. Then the knowledge that it would never be brought on pain similar to the first days after his death - sharp, overwhelming, deep and intense.

I haven't felt much lately, but now realize that it doesn't mean the pain isn't there. It is ever present, flowing underneath the consciousness and at different times, will come to the surface and release, like a geyser, enveloping and drowning me in emotion. Then the feelings subside, replaced by a numbness - most likely the body's way to protect itself as one could not possibly cope with feeling such grief every day, for months on end. But this kind of numbness has its price too.

Despite Josh's death, life goes on and I am swept in its current. Apart from the geyser-like burst of emotions just described, I mainly feel a deep hollowness inside, a black hole or void that is in the shape of my son, filling every cell in my body. An anesthetizing emptiness - one that erases the enjoyment of life or even the desire for a fulfilled life.

I can relate so much to this poor father's words, describing what it was like to come back to an empty home, after the sudden death of his 19-year old son.

We had to face the empty house, the place where he died, by ourselves. The engine was still running as I turned to my wife and said, "All I have to do is reach up to the visor and press the garage door button and we can lean back in our car seats, hold hands, close our eyes and die together."

"Yes," she said. "I know its very tempting. But we could never do that to Andy. But if we didn't have him...." She didn't finish her sentence but we both knew how tempting and easy it would be to slip out of our pain. We both wanted to die and felt it would have been a wonderful gift if somehow we had a legitimate way to leave the world.

This feeling continued for nearly five years. We were not seriously suicidal, but we had no desire to live either. It's hard to admit, but it's a feeling shared by countless bereaved parents.
Dennis Apple wrote Life After The Death of My Son: What I'm Learning, seventeen years after his otherwise healthy son died from complications due to mono.

I recently went to a Pink Ribbon luncheon, an annual event raising money for breast cancer. The key note speaker was a women who was diagnosed with a virulent form of breast cancer while a young wife and mother, barely in her 30's. She became a warrior, fighting for her life which meant subjecting her body to untested medical treatment, basically becoming a human lab rat. And despite all odds, she has won the fight and has been cancer free for over ten years. Her story was motivating, I am sure, for all the women in that room currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

"What if that happened to me - post Josh?" Would I become a warrior and do anything and everything to live? Or would I lie down in submission and allow the cancer to do it's work? Being brutally honest, I don't have the energy or the desire to fight for life. While I would not do anything to deliberately put myself at death's doorstep, if the opportunity presented itself, I wouldn't fight it because I really don't care what happens to me now. I think this is what Apple means when he says, "we had no desire to live". I am indifferent to life, apathetic and uncaring.

And then I get a Mother's Day card from my 22-year old daughter that says:

You'll never know
how many times your voice
on the other end of the line
has helped me get through a bad day....

....or how often I'll remember
some little piece of wisdom
you gave me
months before,
even though it seemed
like I wasn't listening
at the time.

You'll never know
how much it means to me
to share my feelings
with the one person
who probably knows me
better than anyone,
and who has become
such a wonderful friend.

I love you, Mom

Knowing what a hard day this would be for me since none of the kids would be here, she arranged for her friends who live in DC to hand deliver a beautiful flower arrangement to me - in her stead. It is a wonderful gesture of love and when I called to say "thank you", her parting words were, "Remember Mom, there are three other kids who love you very much."

So because of my three surviving children, if I were faced with the choice of life or death, maybe I could find the will and desire to live. For them.

God Bless


Roxanne said...

On this Mother's Day as with each day that has "happy" in it all I can think of is the pain you are feeling. I wish so much to have wise words to help in some small way to easy this pain.

I am glad we were able to talk on the phone and shed tears together.

How special that Lauren had her friends bring you the flowers and that she send such a beautiful card.

Your children love and need you sooo much. Each one is so special and a testiment of your love.

I have a song in my is called "Testify to Love" it says, "For as long as I shall live I will tesify to love, I will be the voice in the silence when words are not enough. With every breath I take I will give thanks to God above and testify to love.

I love you...and my thoughts and prayers are right there with you.
Love, Roxanne

Nadine Templer said...

Oh, Sue! Your post moved me to tears. I will be in DC for a few weeks starting June 18th. I'll call you; I'd love to see you.

Joe said...

Hey Mrs. Anderson. I just sat down and did my final exam for one of my classes. The following is the song we had to analyze and answer questions on. I couldn't help but think of you and Mr. Anderson. I hope you both are holding up. "There's another side to all this pain."

Don’t You Know How?
-Kyle Jacor (2003)

I don’t know quite how to put this
But tryin’ to be all right is goin’ wrong
You keep hopin’ we’ll get better
But baby, we ain’t got that long

The sun goes down ’round here so early
It’s dark the whole night through
You keep lookin’ to me for answers
But that just makes it too easy to not look at you

On his angel’s smile we soared free
We got above all this mud
But now’s our turn to hit bottom
Gravity is poundin’ in our blood

And time is already slidin’ sideways
Ain’t no new evasions left
We’re diggin’ a hole ’neath all the roots
And all this unsaid stuff is makin’ us deaf

The autumn colors, too intense
Screamin’ yellows, bloody reds waitin’ to fall
The blanketin’ snow way too innocent
Just makes us listen for his call

Ev’rythin’ feedin’ on ev’rythin’ else
Selfish schemin’ cruel as death
Anything good just makes us resent
That God lets evil bloom but denies him breath

Look to the sky you just cry “Why?”
Look beyond, always somethin’ too right or wrong
Look to your feet, you know he’s locked beneath
Can’t close our eyes, memory’s way too strong

Hard to find comfort anywhere
So you just stare and twist your hair
Me, I’m pretendin’ to be strong
But ev’ry new moment’s already gone

Baby, I had that dream again
The one where I cannot turn my head
Jesus and our boy waitin’ by our broken gate
Sayin’ “See? We told you, we ain’t dead”

The whole world was chewin’ on their necks
Spittin’ their blood right down the drain
But our boy grinned “Dad, don’t you know how to understand
What’s on the other side of all this pain?
Yeah, there’s another side
To all this pain.”