Life as I know it is divided between life before my son’s death and after. Almost three years later, the person BD (Before Death) and AD (After Death) are two different persons. My humor, habits, even my life-pace are all different. My outlook on life is altered and my looks have changed. My eyes are deeper, my hair is thinner, even my expression is more soulful. I’m more irreverent for life’s conventions and certainly less pretentious for life’s living idols. I see God’s finger print on all things.
After a life-changing event, life is changed down to the very core. I had little time for bullshit BD but now I have no patience for it. AD the lack of patience in my life is balanced by a profound sense of grace.
Life AD is more fragile but that fragility is balanced with more confidence in an ultimate plan for life. Life is more authentic, more emotional. The present more meaningful, and the past more poignant. Goodbyes are now tearful and hellos are joyful. Sometimes hugging is involved.
Introspection is no longer a past-time but a profession. In the present I am caught in a screen play, I view my movie in the omniscient third person but I am not acting. I am acutely aware of players, posers, and pretenders whose feet don’t touch the ground. Untouched by real life, they float through life pretending that blessed means being happy, free from disappointment or turmoil. Fake makes me puke.
BD I was angry, surly, and sarcastic. I pushed my kids to make good grades, good money, and have a good life. I pushed away my life partner and focused on production. I did that, that which no one else could do meant sacrifice. Now sacrifice means God did that which no one else could do. BD social presence was more important than being present and social graces were a contrived struggle.
AD my anger is relegated to a “God-Willing” view on life that is now unforced. My inward focus ends with an outward purpose. I feel so deeply for others who have lost and are lost. I am reminded daily of their struggle. AD I think daily, hourly, moment to moment of all my children. I am closer to them no matter they be in different time zones or a different universe. The difference between life and death is notional. Life is everything.
Unconditional love is a recognizable part of my vocabulary. I understand God’s love for me on a deeper level that goes beyond religion to personal relationship. Immediately AD I thought my life was fragmented, I felt disenfranchised but now I feel my life is a tapestry woven together with one continuous thread beginning and ending in purpose – God’s purpose.
No, I’m not self-actualized, or self-realized, not even selfless. But I am not so selfish, I have a strong self-concept. Now I lack the once neurotic guilt vacillating between not doing enough, settling for mediocrity, or trying too hard. Life is too short for guilt, there is no time for needless worry.
BD quitting was not an option but AD choice is a prerogative. I can change my mind, I can move on, I can finally let it go. Letting it go doesn’t mean forgetting, just the opposite, it means remembering with unfiltered clarity. And clarity often comes with tear-filled eyes.
AD I found forgiveness for others and forgiveness for me. Blessed assurance is no longer a hymn but oxygen breathed in and exhaled to the world. Wanting to die is replaced with wanting to live eternal. Wanting to touch all those who touched me and those who haven’t.
Now I give space for those who look different, think different, live different, and are different. After all, they really are much like me BD; just trying to survive. I trust recognize them and trust them more.
I grew up wondering what catastrophe would befall me. Now I know. And yet I am alive. I survived. And now I didn’t just survive, I am alive more than I was. I feel the sunset, I see the breeze and hear the trees. I know the bug has a home, the rock has purpose, and the rain has meaning.
Life is not a series of random events, not successive approximations, not stages to be mastered. Life is divine inspiration that I either love or hate. I don’t understand it, I accept it. God’s hand is everywhere. Now I get it, this world really did exist before me and will keep going after I am gone. And yet I am significant. I count, never ending, awake or asleep, I matter.
My son Aaron counts, not counted. He matters, not mattered. His life was not short, his life still is. Yesterday, a memory, tomorrow a promise, today is all we ever really have. He is still my son. He is still God’s, always was. He still is. Thank you, son for this lesson. And Thank you God for taking care of our son.