Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Seasons in the Sun

This past week was one filled with tragedy. Friday night, one of the eight graders that attend the school where I work was killed. While attending a party of a friend, he jumped into a swimming pool. No one is sure as to what caused him to become unconcious. CPR was unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead on arrival at a nearby hospital. Sunday morning at two a.m., my sister-in-law was killed, and I will use the word killed, by cancer. The cancer had spread from her lungs, to her brain, and then to her heart. So much sadness in just one week.

How do you get over that kind of grief?

As a mother, I can not even imagine. It would be akin to drowning, but instead of dying, you kept conciousness while struggling to reach the top and break through to the surface. With eyes open, you can see life passing by, but there is nothing you can do to be part of it. I can not imagine what the boy's mother is experiencing. She lost her husband five years ago, and now, her son. How do you find the courage to go on and be a mother to her surviving children? How can your heart keep beating when it is in so much pain? How do you go on?

My brother met Vicky while working at a friend's restraunt. He had been divorced for several years, and was definately not much of a success in entering the free world. Crazy insane, opinionated, woman hating, God dissin man that he was, Vicky seemed perfect for him. She calmed his stormy sea, righted his wrong, and turned a blind eye to his rants and raves. She, in all clicheness, completed him, even saved him from his own self destruction. Dramatic, I know, but true. They were together for nearly a decade when Vicky was diagnosed with Lung Cancer. It was only a small spot, and they were sure they had gotten it all with radiation and chemo. Both of them were positive. However, it came back, and this time it spread throughout, and with speed. Vicky died within two weeks of being admitted into the hospital. My brothe...my brother is only going through the motions. Their children are all adults with lives of their own. He goes home to an empty house. The lights are off when he drives up. His bed is empty and cold. No one joins him on the porch for coffee. No one listens to his cornball jokes. He is alone. And no matter what kind of support we give him, we can't make his heart whole. Without the responsibility of taking care of his children, how will he go on? How can he get past this pain, and he is in pain. This woman saved him from himself, but he couldn't do anything to save her. And trust me, he will see it like that. That is how he is. Such enormous pain.

One of my favorite lines in poetry is "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may." I know that is reference to deflowering as many nubile virgins as possible, but to me it also means to get as much from life before death comes knocking at your door.

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time, by Robert Herrick

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.


  1. I'm so sorry for your loss, the poem was fitting when thinking of death. I appreciate so much your comments on my blog. ((hugs))

  2. That brought tears to my eyes. I'm so sorry for those people touched by tragedy. Sometimes it's easy to take for granted this gift of life and family we are given. Thank you for the reminder.

  3. Oh, Lord, Alex. That was overwhelming. I am so sorry for your losses and for the losses of those around you. Your tribute was lovely. Their losses are indeed unimaginable.

  4. I weep for your brother and his tragic loss. (no I really do) I am so sorry for the loss of his love. No words can console him at this time, and I am so sorry for that as well. Truly only time will heal. Which is completely lousy if you ask me.

    I am also so sad to hear about the young man that passed. How strange and how sad.

    A very big (and teary) hug to you and your family.

  5. Words can't express how sorry I am for you, and for brother and the mother of this young boy. I don't think any parent can imagine the death of a child, it's just so hard to put into perspective of what is right and what is good.
    My prayers are with you Alex, I know this is a difficult time.

  6. As a wife in love with my soulmate, I don't think I could bear the cold emptiness you described for your brother.

    As a mother, I couldn't imagine the loss of a child so suddenly and in such a freaky way. We had a student a few years ago, playing on lunch benches, jumping from seat to seat... he slipped and hit his throat on the table. He crushed his windpipe and quickly suffocated. At school.

    I will keep you,your family and your community in my prayers. Hugs.

  7. I feel terrible for the mother who has lost her son; I cannot even begin to imagine the pain that brings. I am sorry for your family's loss as well. I know the pain your brother is feeling; I lost my significant other in 2007. He battled his illness for 4 short months before we lost him. I would like to say it gets better, but I'd be lying. I don't think it ever gets better, just easier as time goes by.

  8. Oh Alex this is all so terrible. It is always so hard to hear about the untimely passing a young person. My heart goes out to his mother and your community. How cruelly unfair that she lost her husband as well.

    My sympathy as well on the loss of your sister-in-law. What a horrible blow. She sounds like a very special person. You've described your brother's new "aloneness" so poignantly. I will keep you family in my thouhts.

  9. Oh, so sad. I'm sorry to hear about your sister-in-law and the young student. It's always hard for me to hear about young people dying.

  10. Dear kind Alex, my heart goes out to you during such a tragic time.

    I wish I could wrap you, your brother, your school in one big giant hug and take away the pain for even a nanosecond.

    I know in my most wretched moments of grief, I've felt so exposed and vulnerable. How loved ones "hung in" there with me as I walked the first year after losing a beloved still amazes me.

    Such simple acts as just loving me, holding me, whispering gentle words to me, resting a hand on my head got through waves of pain. All that compassion seeped in, somehow, and by the grace of God, I moved through the grief, never leaving it totally behind, but able to make a kind of peace with it.

    Thank you for sharing your story and the lovely tribute; it sure is a reminder to me to treasure what time I have with my loved ones and to simply be present for those in pain.

    Keeping you and yours in my thoughts, in my prayers, and close to my heart. May you be gentle with yourself as you make your own journey of grief.

  11. I wanted to say something, but can only come up with...
    I am sorry for the tragic losses around you. Treasure every moment.

  12. I am so, so sorry. It's amazing how fast life can change...what a beautiful poem

  13. Thank you for sharing with us. Letting it out is the first step to healing.

  14. Heartbreaking. Prayers going out to all involved! I simply can't imagine that kind of pain. Losing my son or my soul mate.

  15. Oh my gosh, how awful.

    I can't even imagine.

    My husband lost his father to a heart attack and I couldn't even begin to imagine the pain that he must've felt.

  16. Thanks for stopping by and helping me celebrate my sits day today! I had ginormous fun.

  17. Alex, I am so sorry for the loss of your sister-in-law and to hear about that boy. So sad. Words fail me.

  18. I AM JUST SO SO SO SO SINCERELY sorry. Please know you're all in my heart, thoughts and prayers. Sending strength your way at mock speed.

  19. It's sad to hear about these losses. Funny words are simple. It's empathy that is difficult to express.

  20. I thought I had cried all I could cry ..I was wrong . That peom was beautiful . So sorry !

  21. I feel your pain on this one. My brother lost his wife to depression and ultimately suicide almost three years ago. He is still down. He has turned to drugs. (Although I think he is past that now.) It is so terrible. You can find the link to Shelley on my side bar if you want to go there.

    My mom's best friend's boy was hit by a car and killed when he was about three years old, and years later her second son and his wife were murdered. Horrific.