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Sunday, June 28, 2009
Our daughter Stephanie has a job she has had all through college. She is very fond of many of the ladies who work there. This week, one of my daughter's friends at work lost her grandson. Her grandson Tim was about 22, and for some reason, likely a car breakdown, ran across the interstate highway in broad daylight. Sadly, he was hit by a car and killed instantly.
Since everyone where Stephanie worked was so supportive and came to Daniel's funeral, (or the "Celebration of his Life" as we called it) I felt it was really important for at least Stephanie and I to attend this one as well. This would be the first funeral any of us had attended since Daniel's passing, if of course you do not count the funeral we had on the farm for Daniel's 15 year old German Shepherd Jake, who passed this winter. Attending this funeral was going to be harder than we thought.
The visitation was held at the very same funeral home in which Daniel's funeral occured, seven months ago. In addition, many of the same people attended. I also wore a similar dress and shoes. It was different in a number of ways though. First of all, when we entered, there was no board stating that the funeral was for Daniel. Instead, there was a name I did not know. Secondly, the woman who looked totally in shock and whose friends were there to comfort her, was not me. It was very cold both outside and in the funeral home when we had Daniel's funeral, but this time, it was hot both outside and inside. The casket, which looked just like the one we chose, was draped differently, with a fishing pole, and a sign which said, "Gone Fishin'". There were also two well done picture collages of their lovely son at both ends of the room. He had many friends and a sister who resembled him. He had been a gorgeous boy. Stephanie's friend, his grandmother seemed happy we'd come.
The funeral directors were very gracious to Stephanie and I, as they remembered us well. At least six times we saw friends who said, "We've GOT to stop meeting like this". Somehow it seemed longer than seven months ago, and sometimes it seems like yesterday, but it's never ok.
I did have a chance to talk to the young man's mother. I told her who I was, and I told her about losing Daniel seven months ago. She was concerned about ME. I told her that God would always be there with her, and that her son would find a way to tell her that he is ok, still aware,and home safe in a manner that she will understand and in a way only he would do. She replied that she thought he was there at the funeral at that moment.
I did also hear from Daniel, but very briefly when he made a joke about one of the funeral directors.
Afterward, I took Stephanie to Daniel's favorite music cafe where we listened to live music and had a drink. (I'm afraid it's diet soda with my juvenile diabetic daughter and myself.) Daniel wasn't there. I could not feel him there. He must have had better things to do in Heaven.
Today, it is seven months to the day since Daniel's departure and about eight months from my father's. I miss them both immensely, we all do. I am so sad when I think that this journey is just beginning for another mother and for another family.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Some days are still so very difficult. I try to stay very busy and I try to do whatever Daniel would want me to do. He would unquestionably want me to take care of his animals, his Dad, and also his brothers and sister. Consistent with this plan, I took my son Matthew out driving today so that he can put more time in before getting his license. (My husband and I do not license our kids before 18) I also took my daughter to Charlottesville to several shops that she and I like to visit on occasion. One of those shops is a lovely antique shop where we have bought lovely things in the past often more reasonably than elsewhere.
While we were there the shop owner asked us how we were doing, remembering that Daniel had passed unexpectedly just seven months or so ago. We told her that we were continuing as best we could. One of the ladies who was shopping told us something interesting. She had always been embarrassed when she was a child, by her father's loud Irish tenor voice which he used quite worshipfully in church every Sunday. She used to ask him to quiet down because "everyone could hear" especially when she was a teen. After he died, she was in church one day, and the hymn began, and there it was, she heard his resounding Irish tenor voice belting out the hymn, just as she had always remembered. She believes that her father was sending a message that he is indeed alright. She told us that we could expect one too. I told her that I believe that we already have. I also thanked her for sharing such a beautiful story.
Stephanie and I had a lovely day. We had lunch out, went to some art and framing shops, an antique shop, and ultimately our favorite expensive grocer for a couple of items.
It was a lovely day, though sadly punctuated by the loss of both Farrah Fawcett, an expected passing, and by Michael Jackson, an unexpected one. I have prayed for both of their families.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Today while headed for the post office, I stopped at a neighbor's yard sale. I don't need anything, but I love to look, and sometimes I touch base with a neighbor. I hadn't seen these folks in awhile. They own a farm and a rural tow truck business. We like to use them because they are particularly careful and tow everything on a flatbed truck. They are also fairly reasonable, given the costs of today. They will also pick up a car for you if you buy one on Ebay and need it brought here from, say, Massachusetts or something.
The first thing that they asked me is how are we doing and did anyone figure out what happened to Daniel ? I went over the story again, and of course it was disturbing to them that there weren't better answers than that. I didn't think that in the couple of times they had towed something from the area, to our farm that they had ever met Daniel, but I was wrong. The woman described Daniel perfectly both physically and in terms of his personality. She talked about how very articulate and bright he was and how he loved his animals and told her about them. She raises lots of different types of animals also, and so this stuck in her mind.
Daniel, it's amazing to me that someone who lived 12 1/2 years and who spent a lot of time homeschooling, computer gaming, with siblings, and homeschool gatherings, and with farm animals and pets knew so many people and touched so many lives. It was a life well lived and well loved, my son. I am so proud of you, and I always will be. I will try to behave so that you are always proud of me. I love you.
As you may remember, the last thing Daniel and I spoke about before his passing was a cat. We spent the prior day, Thanksgiving with my eldest son Adam's fiancee and her family, and they had a remarkable cat named MacIntosh, which they call Mackie. Mackie had been rescued by Adam's fiancee's sister and myself from the inner workings of a new car at the Post Office. I had been unsuccessful and Adam came with tools and the owner of the car was gracious enough to let him remove and reattach parts in order to save the little cat. Despite his cat allergy, Daniel became quite attached to MacIntosh and took Claritin in order to play with him. Of course, I had to turn down Daniel's request for his own cat. He accepted this, due to his allergies, and a moment later, he went into the bathroom, and passed away.
Yes, those of you who attended Daniel's "Celebration of Life" saw a cat in a carrier politely and seriously enduring his funeral, and that was MacIntosh.
A couple of weeks ago, a friend of Daniel's and mine, gave us a kitten. It is a cat that resembles MacIntosh a great deal. This cat will be raised as "Daniel's cat" and will be loved and cared for. Eventually, when his full life is complete, he will pass and become Daniel's very own cat. Meanwhile, "Daniel's cat" is bringing great joy here. He is named MacIntosh II, or "Tosh" for short. This cat is similar, though not identical to MacIntosh the First in appearance, and I think is a bit more active and perhaps more of a mouser.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
There are days when I am glad he is spared things like a "first break up",
or losing a job, or not getting into a college he wanted to. I am relieved on
his behalf that he will never pay exorbitant car insurance,have a serious car
accident, know the pain of a divorce, lose a child to stillbirth, miscarriage,
lose his faith for a time, or the loss of a child afterward. He will never race
a child to a hospital emergency room, just praying that child will survive in
true desperation. Most days though, I am so sorry that he won't eat those
wonderful birthday cakes that were to come, get a college scholarship, marry a
sweet Japanese girl who follows him and thinks he's the brightest man on Earth,and
have her gently feed him wedding cake at their wedding, or buy his first home.
But what do I know ? In terms of the entire world, there are many people Daniel's age who pass to Heaven. Maybe eventually, he will find a love more heavenly than ever could have been possible on Earth. Who knows what joys our Heavenly Father has reserved for him, and for all of our sons,daughters, or any other beloved ones who departed from us early?
Maybe some of those babies who die from abuse here on Earth, are raised by
someone like Daniel, whose love and compassion were even unlimited when he was
here. In the grand scheme of things, I am just a toddler in God's world. I am
learning and walking, and crying with a limited understanding of the world
around me, but most especially of the the world to come.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
I still talk to Daniel. I did this morning, and when I fell back to sleep I
had a dream. Daniel and Matthew were walking together in summer along a road
ahead of me. I was slower and walked behind. At one point Daniel picked a path
to the left with tall cornfields and forest and Matthew picked another path. As
they both left, I called to them to stay together, to keep each other safe, but
they had already chosen different paths. Daniel called to me and said it would
be alright, and that we would all meet up at home again later. I woke up and
realized that once again, he is giving me dreams so that I understand better and
accept better what is happening. We will indeed meet up again later at home,
after all of us have finished our work, and that work will take each of us on
Thursday, June 4, 2009
I don't know whether I had this dream because I had recently posted a picture of Daniel as a younger child here, or not, but last night at around 4 am, I dreamt that Daniel came to me looking about six years old. He asked me if I wanted to play a game with him. We both knew as we looked at each other than he was not this age, but we continued anyway. I told him I would love to. He took out a Game boy unit, the kind that was around when he was about 6 or 7, and he sat on my lap and played. I did not know how to play and he tried to teach me. I was grateful for the time spent with me, but this play ended quickly. I don't know yet whether this is a message of some type or simply a way of giving me some extra time doing some things we did not get a chance to do. There will always be things we did not get a chance to do, or things of which we did not do enough.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Daniel at about four
I have heard from many parents that they somehow felt differently toward a child who eventually dies. Many of them relate a feeling that he or she was somehow more fragile, or time limited in some way. Some actually had premonitions of what might happen to them.
I have declined to comment until now, because I have not been sure about Daniel in this regard.
Certainly, I was concerned for him, and for that matter, all of my children, because my father was dying, and passed 31 days before Daniel did. I felt a desire to spend time with Daniel, the youngest, and to be close to him, and we did go out several times and I had occasion to spoil him a little. I had a subconcious feeling that we needed to be close, but my conscious feelings were that he was ok, otherwise I would have run him to our world class medical center west of here in a heartbeat.
Just after his passing I felt a lot of guilt. Some nurse I am ! I thought. I missed something really big to have my child die in front of me and be powerless to stop whatever process it was.
However, in the six months which have passed, several autopsy teams have tried to pin down what happened from brain, blood, liver and organ samples they have kept. We know a number of things from autopsy, but none of these things should have caused his death. We are left with, "Well if you can't find what killed him, maybe he's still alive" (Irrational, yes, I know) The pathologists are as confused as we are. Most world specialists the team consulted, think that the pineal cyst (in his brain) which did not rupture or bleed was not large enough to have caused his death. He did not have Reye's syndrome (which apparently rare cases who did NOT have aspirin can still occur) They are currently considering something called dysautonomia which they feel could have been activated by a virus. They still cling to the theory that Daniel had a lethal arrhythmia---cause unknown. His heart had no signs of coronary artery disease, even though many children in the US, do. All of his toxicology and labs have been negative, although some labs indicate he had a viral syndrome that none of us knew about. Certainly, if the doctors can't tell what took him, then I may not have been able to detect much beforehand !
We also found a video on Daniel's computer recently which showed Dan and his brothers doing a comical rap song about a week before he died. They had planned to upload this to Youtube. Daniel looked the picture of health and absolutely radiant and animated in the video. We have decided not to post this anywhere.
Daniel was happily focused on a future where when he was old enough he would go to the university (probably a little early). He wanted to study something called Kinetic Studies and produce animations for entertainment and educational purposes. He was already very good at this. He also accepted that he would someday be someones husband and someones father.
I do remember though, many years ago, I used to ask all my children when they were very small, 3 or 4, what they would be when they grew up. (It was a way of growing their imaginations.) Daniel was extremely bright and had quite a sense of humor and would answer my questions differently each time. (Sometimes he would say he wanted to be "the pastry chef" so he could taste everything) One time though, I remember asking asking him what he would do for a living. He answered, "Absolutely nothing". I said to him well, you'll have to do something to support yourself when you grow up, and get married and have children. He said somewhat happily, "Oh, I'm not going to do that. I am going to stay with you, always." It upset me, even at that moment, and I told him that I would not live forever, and that he would have to build a life independently of me when he grew up. He said he didn't need to, and that he would be with me, wherever I was, always. Of course, his comments all changed when the same questions were asked of him later.
Whether Daniel as a very young child had a special perspective on his purpose for being here.....eating strawberries, loving his Mom, Dad, brothers, sister, animals, and showing God's love to others or whether he was simply a young child tired of his mother's silly questions about the future, I will never really know.
I know God was very generous in sending this remarkable soul to me as my youngest son. My conscious mind never expected to lose such a vibrant, active and happy soul.