Thursday, October 16, 2008

Here and Eternity

How many children do you have?

An ordinary, run-of-the-mill, small talk question, repeated over and over again as a natural part of daily life, bearing the potential for endlessly rolling waves of pain.

At my niece's wedding two weeks ago, my brother introduced me to friends. "This is my sister and these are her children." No No No, I wanted to scream. These are TWO of my children. These are TWO-THIRDS of my children.

But. One does not sink onto the floor and wail at a wedding reception.

My son . . . one of my sons . . . my surviving son . . . says that he catches himself constantly. So many of his stories begin with the words, "My brother and I . . .". But as he begins to speak he realizes that he does not want to go there, not with new acquaintances. He especially does not want to field the questions that have always been addressed to him as a twin.

Who am I, without all of my children? I could describe myself in any number of ways, but what do I care? There is only one irrevocable part of my identity, and it has been shattered almost beyond recognition.

And so. Tomorrow the Quiet Husband and I head for Oregon to visit The Lovely Daughter. Gregarious Son goes to New York City for a much needed break with friends. And Chicago Son is somewhere else. With us but not with us.

We have always been a travelling family. We have all spent a lot of time separated from one another, often across two continents. But cell phones and emails and airplanes and our love for each other shortened the distances.

It doesn't work like that anymore. I am always in two places now. In this world, with two of my children. And somewhere else, where my heart is full of the one who is not here at all.

24 comments:

Kathryn J said...

I am crying. There are so many hurtful places - in innocent questions and difficult answers, in the piecing together of then and now... There are no words.

All of you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Carol said...

So many new realities filled with so much pain. I hope that your time with the LD in Oregon is good for each of you. And that NY is an equally therapeutic diversion for the GS. You continue in my thoughts and prayers.

Sarah S-D said...

blessings on your family in your travels, all of them.

you remain in my heart.

Stushie said...

Michael Bentine, a British comedian whom I loved dearly, wrote a book about his feelings when he also lost his son in an airplane crash. He expressed the somewhere else that you are experiencing as "The Door Marked Summer." That is also the title of the book.

He wrote the following from the book
"In my life I have found myself facing many doors. Some I have opened, only to shut them in terror.
Others have opened for me, and I have seen much sorrow and pain. Some I have not had the courage to open."
-Michael Bentine, The Door Marked Summer

Jan said...

(((GG))) Prayers and love.

Diane said...

((((GG)))))

sunflowerkat321 said...

{{{{{{Robin}}}}}

My heart is broken for you.

Please travel safely. I hope you find some comfort in your time with your daughter.

Ellyn said...

Prayer offered.

Quotidian Grace said...

My brother and sister-in-law lost their nine year old daughter after a devastating four year battle with neuroblastoma. They have two other children and I know they also continue to struggle with the answer to this question.

((GG))

"PS" (a.k.a. purple) said...

It really is like living in two different worlds.

Teri said...

((((GG))))

Shalom said...

I read once, in preparing for a funeral sermon, a writer who mused about the fact that we have no word for a parent who has lost a child. "We have 'widow,' for the loss of a husband," he wrote, "and 'widower' for the loss of a wife, but the loss of a child is such a disruption in the pattern of life that we have never created a word for it." (Wish I could remember the author's name.)

Many prayers for you and your family.

RevDrKate said...

Just about every time I've been to your blog since his death my eye has been drawn to the sidebar where I read again your "Who?" and each time my heart aches for you as I think about the three of them who are so much the heart of you, and how there is this now...where there are two here on this earth and one is not...and all any of us here can offer you is our love and prayers and feeble words of comfort and that cannot ever, ever be enough....

LawAndGospel said...

Each day new challenges without solutions. I continue to lift you and all of yours in prayer, and blessings for your travels. ((0))

Cynthia said...

I'm in tears and prayers, surrounding you as much as possible with my love.

Presbyterian Gal said...

Love, prayers and blessings to you and your family.

((((GG))))

Michelle said...

I remember those innocent questions -especially on forms. They were like a hairshirt. Twenty years later I still sometimes find myself steering conversations away from that part of my history.

And I've noticed that a colleague who lost an adult son many years ago, firmly replies "5" to the question of how many children he has.

Prayers still...

emmapeelDallas said...

(((((Robin)))))

Thinking of you.

Kathryn J said...

I was just rereading this post. I can't believe it has been six weeks - it still feels very raw.

Theresa Williams said...

(((hug)))

Lisa :-] said...

Dammit, Robin...I wish we could have connected while you were out here. But I hope you had a restorative time out here with the lovely daughter. And perhaps our beautiful Pacific Ocean (oh, yes, it IS ours... ;) ) acted as a bit of balm...

Love you...

Katherine E. said...

(((GG))) a heart hug...

Kievas said...

I still don't have words, but hope that time will bring healing.

Mary Beth said...

Praying, now and always.