Friday, April 25, 2014

Why Spring Can Make You Sad

Spring. Buds, blooms, color. Thick coats of yellow stuff. Pollen. It's invaded, giving me a headache right between my eyes. Tears come at unexpected intervals.

But I love the flowers and warm weather, so it has to be more than allergies that make me sad this spring. Spring comes in full force in North Carolina. It starts with daffodils at the end of February, and by April, central North Carolina is a decorated beauty queen.

Yet sometimes that can be too much color at once. It's not just color, it's other things. Oh, it's always other things when it comes to the death of a child.

It's Easter----that special holy day that sometimes falls at the end of April instead of in March (March is when nature is just easing away from winter and not as colorful). But when Easter falls on April 20th as it did this year, well, that's almost too much to take in.

The dogwood and azaleas show off their gorgeous flowers and my mind sails back to memories of laughter, eggs, and a three-year-old boy with a mouth covered in chocolate and hands equally as stained. It's Easter 1996. Who knew it would be his last Easter egg hunt, his last Easter to ask about angels pushing away the stone at Jesus' tomb?

Grief is part of my life now. Grief became a resident when Daniel took his last little breath. I hate it when people think you can get over it. Grief follows me everywhere now, although not as obvious as it once was. Sometimes it wears a camouflage cloak or hides in the shadows. I think it's been tamed, like a domesticated kitten. But when spring is at its finest and the smell of wisteria is in the air, grief lurks like a wild animal. It claws at my heart strings. It makes me have to go out and buy another box of tissues.

We didn't know he had cancer during our festivities that Easter of '96. It was a month later when the swelling in the left side of his neck would have a name other than, "Maybe allergies."

We were naive and innocent back then. We didn't have a clue that spring could be just as harsh on the heart as winter.

Now I know that spring, in spite of all her stylish beauty, can fill a mind with ugly reminders of a cancer diagnosis. How I wish that cancer had not knocked on our door that spring.

I like to remember Daniel at age four as an energetic kid. I like to look at photos of him with hair and smiles. But the truth is, cancer stole all that at the end. Daniel was a bloated child, unconscious, comatose, and covered in bed sores when I held him last.

Some memories I have to swing at, push them away.

Some memories are more sad than sad.

This Easter I cried. I sat in church as the choir sang and something happened. For the first time since Daniel's death, I felt comforted by those words people are always trying to comfort you with: "You'll see him again in Heaven." All of the times before when people had tried to comfort me with, "You'll see him again," I struggled because I wanted him here with me now. I also believed that my life with him as my little son had ended; there would be no more of me being his mother, watching him grow, teaching him how to read or how to ride a bike. Did people not realize that? Were people too ignorant to grasp that family reunions where families will recreate the life from earth in the heavenly places isn't going to be?

But there in that pew, I thought, it won't be a repeat of earth, but at least I will see him. And Daniel and I will be two people among billions of others, all free from pain and tears, all in new bodies.

So I sat in the pew trying not to let the tears soak my dress, thinking about meeting Daniel as an older person, as an equal. In Heaven. And the choir sang that Jesus is risen.

It's a mixed up life we bereaved parents live. It's joy at having had our child, but it's a big ball of sorrow right in the gut at losing him. Joy and sorrow. And grief. You have to know that grief is not a bad thing. It is an inevitable resident after the death of a child. And being sad at spring doesn't mean you can't enjoy an iris blooming in your garden. It just makes you more in tune with how life works and how love is.

And sometimes you have to take a break from all the color.

~ Alice J. Wisler 2014 ~ For more about living through grief and loss and love, read Getting Out of Bed in the Morning: Reflections of Comfort in Heartache..


Anne Payne said...

Yes. Yes to everything you said.

alice wisler said...

Thanks for reading, Anne. So good to hear from you!

Pat Bland Durmon said...

Alice, I work with a grief group in a nursing home. All of this fits. And it's the iris that reminds me of my own mother. The difficulty this spring started on Good Friday. I think I just let it in, let it overwhelm me. Helped me to let the sad out. Still, I love the iris, dogwoods, daffodils. All of it, life and goodness. . . but the grief comes. And it's okay. Thanks for your confirmation. It rings true for me.

alice wisler said...

Thank you, Pat.

Susan HeadInMyHands said...

Sadder than sad. It's hard to believe how far down the heart can sink. Each time I think of Nicholas and the suffering he went through and the rest of my life without him in it my heart twists inside my chest, then I think of God and I realize I'll see Nick again.

alice wisler said...

Susan, it is so sad to have to live our days without our children. Thinking of you and your broken heart. Thanks for reading and for your comment.