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Thursday, January 23, 2014

When a mama walks her memory of tears . . .

Yesterday marked the beginning of the end. 17 years ago, Daniel went into a coma. His last words to me were, "Mommy, I just wanna go home."

Words can't describe the agony of what life was like for us at that time. And who would have thought that 17 years later, the disbelief of what he went through and what we went through would still cause me an intense pain. I feel I have been punched right in my heart.

The word shouts at me: Why?

Why didn't I cuddle him then? How could I have been so naive? The doctor and nurses couldn't find a pulse. I should have picked him off that bed in the cancer clinic that day and spent time hugging him and telling him how much I loved him and how I would miss him.

But I was naive. I didn't know.

I walked with them as they wheeled him into the ER. At six months pregnant, I tried to keep up. I was confident that they would be able to help him as they had over the eight months since his diagnosis.

How foolish I was.

I feel the sadness of that day and the days that followed. My veins are like ice. I can barely type. The enormity of that journey paralyzes me. I want to push those days aside, but I know that with each revisiting of them at this time of year that leads up to his February 2nd death, I learn something new.

His death continues to teach me.

So I take my own advice and write him a letter. The words come slowly, but they do appear on the computer screen.

Dear Daniel,

I was clueless.

I didn't know that you would ever leave me. It was not an option, so I didn't dwell on death. I believed you'd live. I believed you'd spring back up and be okay. Any boy who can climb up a bunk bed at age three, fall off and be undaunted should be able to defy anything.

I could kick myself for my trust that God would heal you.

That last sentence sounds sacrilegious.

But I won't delete it because it's true.

Yet, if I had let death be part of my thinking, would I have been any better off?

What would it have been like to live with the fear of death ever since your diagnosis?

I lived with hope and belief.

Should I kick myself for that?

Can I look at who I was then with the seasoned knowledge that I have now? Is that fair to that woman of 36?

Guilt. Regret. Remorse. If only . . .

I hope you know that if my love could have saved you, it would have.

But it was not enough.

You are home with Jesus now. Some place I hear is magnificent but my earthly mind is too little to comprehend Heaven.

On earth, you will always live in my heart.

Every year I go on a pilgrimage as I remember the days leading up to your death. It is my path of tears. Sometimes, I push aside the remorse, and just let myself bask in the person you were----energetic, beautiful, tender, lively, humorous, generous, and you and I both know it----downright exasperating at times.

Remember the time you poured baby lotion and glitter glue over a piece of paper and then opened a small box of Cheerios and stuck them to the paper? What a work of art! I should have kept it for the hospital wall of patient masterpieces.

We were all so weary living your cancer with you. But we were always hopeful.

Even when you breathed your last in my arms, I believed you would rise up.

We didn't call you Wild Boy for nothing.

I vision you, if you could, coming over to me to wrap arms around me and tell me, "Mommy, I love you. No regrets."

And perhaps that is what I will focus on today.



Bri said...

Thank you, dear Alice, for writing as you do. I am also at the 17-year mark, as you know, since Ethan's death that cold January 1997. I continue to be amazed at our similar journeys and I love you like a sister. This is hard going for us both but we are continuing to put one foot in front of the other, even when it feels impossible. Thank you again. Love, Brina

alice wisler said...

Thank you, my sweet friend! The gifts of grief---there are many, and you are one of them for me!

Sheila said...

I am from the grief support group and saw this post. I cant imagine the loss of a child. I just lost my dad Dec 1, 2013 and it is more than i can bear. But with gods help i will go on someone like you have done. Thanks for this wonderful post.

alice wisler said...

So sorry for your loss, Sheila. Thank you for reading and commenting here.

Dan, Betty & Sarah Bryl said...

Will be thinking of you as February 2nd approaches. Daniel always reminds me of that perfect child with that beautiful smile. With all the pictures and words from you I really feel like I know him. God took him to young but he is now in God's arms along with so many other angels. Take care sweetie.....we <3 you!!

alice wisler said...

Love you, too, Dan and Betty! And he would have loved both of you!

Karen Bowles said...

Alice, Thank you again and again for bearing your soul and for being truthful about your feelings. You have given the rest of us bereaved parents the courage to live and write from the heart. Sending love to you and your beautiful Daniel.

Marjorie Hill said...

My heart aches for you as you go through this tough time. I know the pain of separation caused by death but not through the loss of a child. My beloved has been gone since Christmas long and so short at the same time. It's winter now but spring always comes.

alice wisler said...

Thanks, Karen and Marjorie. Marjorie, I know you grief is fresh with the death of your husband. Hugs to you!

SusanB said...

Hi Alice, it's tough to move on from the coulda, shoulda, wouldas we drag around with us, the regrets that are so hard to let go of. I appreciate your honesty in your writing because the same thoughts are crossing someone's mind. It's good to be validated in this grieving craziness.

Janis Cox said...

Just to know a little more of you - a sad part, but still a part of who you are. May the Lord flow His Spirit on you during this time and may you feel His love and His passion for you.

Lori said...


Your words always touch my heart and bring tears to my eyes because it is like you are writing my feelings. We have the 17 year mark coming up on Feb 9 and like you said we still grieve and it never "gets better". Our journeys have been so similar - you with your Daniel and me with Benjamin. They were the sane age and died within a week of each other. You were 6 months pregnant...I had just had a baby the week before Benjamin died.

It is so hard not to second guess ourselves and do the if onlys...I do it too.....but it never brings them back.

Thank you for sharing your feelings with us through your words. It helps knowing their are sadly all too many people walking this same journey. (((Hugs)))) to you across the miles.


alice wisler said...

Thank you, each one, for your comments here. I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog.

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