When the boys were young, we had a rocking horse in our living room. It was the type of rocking horse that was on springs; so it had a pretty good “bounce.” One morning, while I stayed in bed, pretending to actually sleep, Sjon-Paul went to play. Within a few minutes, he started yelling.
“Help, Mama. Help me!”
It was the kind of cry that this mama knew was not life-threatening, but I still came quickly. Upon walking into the living room, I found Sjon-Paul hanging upside-down from the back of the horse. Somehow, he had bucked himself off of the horse, and his shorty-pajamas had gotten caught.
In the very beginning, in the hours after Brandon’s death, I remember thinking and even saying out loud, “I’m not doing this right.” Beneath the tears and gut-wrenching, mind-numbing grief, there was this voice reminding me that Christians are supposed to grieve differently.
In the days after Brandon’s death, as we greeted visitors at the funeral home and prepared for the funeral service, I was very conscious that I wanted to be a witness and a testimony even during this time of tragedy. And in the months following, I kept reminding myself of these things.
I was holding on tight as this horse called Grief gave me a run for my money. As September drew nearer, the bucking got harder. Eventually, I felt like I had been catapulted head over heels. I didn’t write much. I cried more. I even revisited the site of the accident on the one-year anniversary, by myself, in the dark.
By the light of my phone, I searched the ground around the tree. I thought maybe God might let me find the watch Brandon was wearing the night he died, the one “like Pa’s” that he got for Christmas the year before, the one we never recovered from the accident. I thought that maybe, just maybe, finding that watch would make me feel better.
Wouldn’t it be a great story if I could tell you that, after a year, I found it?
But I didn’t.
All I found were more broken, plastic pieces from his car, still littered all over the ground.
So, the one-year anniversary of my son’s death came and went.
And here I am, very much the same and very much different.
This experience, this grief, isn’t going away. It isn’t a bad dream, and there isn’t going to be some new revelation that makes it easier to understand the series of events that led to his death.
I don’t have a lot of options. I can hang here, looking at the world upside down through misty eyes. Or, l can accept the Lord’s help, allow Him to set me right-side up, and, like Sjon-Paul, climb back up and get in the saddle again.