Monday, April 26, 2010

Fly

Last week I had to go to two different visitations for women who were at one time a part of my life and have now passed away. Tammy was in her early fifties, had always suffered from very serious diabetes, had already lost a leg to the disease, and was recently on kidney dialysis as well. She went into surgery to try to clear out a blockage in her remaining leg, coded on the table (they believe she was very weakened from the dialysis) and never recovered.

Tammy was a neighbor of ours when I was younger, and her son and I drove to school together every day my sophomore year. I had more or less lost touch with him, especially after he moved to Australia, but he's back in the States now and married. It was really good to see him and catch up, but man, it was under such awful circumstances. His poor dad seemed really a wreck. My friend John was their only child, so now it's just him and his dad.

The second visitation was for a girl who was only twenty five and died
of complications from a staph infection. Staci had been part of a small group from our church that met at our house for about two years. She married a youth pastor a couple of years ago and began attending his church, so I had kind of lost touch with her, as well. She had always had heart problems, and was frequently in and out of the hospital, so they have no idea when she contracted the infection. She went into the hospital a few weeks ago complaining of severe flu-like symptoms, worsened and was taken to a different hospital, where they ran blood tests and discovered the staph. By that time it was in her bloodstream, though, and even though they got the infection under control, it had done too much damage to her organs. She basically just shut down within about a week, and passed away.

Staci's visitation was much harder, understandably. Such a young woman, only married two years, The place was packed with all her family, her two sisters, both pregnant, all the kids from the youth group who had gotten close to her. The walls were covered with pictures and letters her nieces and nephews had sent to her in the hospital. And of course there was her poor husband, who just looked shell shocked and lost. He kept looking around, seeming confused, as though waiting for someone to come and take him out of there. Well, looking for her, I suppose.

So... I've mentioned that the hormones are kind of running rampant lately. By the time I got up through the line and was a few people back from the casket (open, which I kind of hate) I was a total mess and working to hold it together. The woman in front of me was obviously an old friend of Staci's mom and was hugging her and crying. The mom held her tightly for a few minutes, then stepped back and sort of abruptly pulled herself together. She turned to the casket and patted her daughter's arm, murmuring calmly to her friend, "It's all right; she's all better now." Then with a great, tender dignity she straightened her child's sleeve and brushed a piece of lint from the fabric. Her husband broke down beside her, but she had seemed to gather some kind of resolve in this maternal gesture, even now, and was very steady by the time I got to her.

I of course was a complete and utter mess. As I had been watching her, I just kept thinking, That was her baby, right there. She nursed her at two AM, she took care of her and worried about her when she was sick, she helped her prepare to walk down the aisle as a bride. How can she stand it? How can she not feel like she's burying her own heart?

I felt so bad for crying in front of this mother who was being so strong, but she was very kind. I hurried out of there as soon as I could, then sat in my car in the parking lot and sobbed. Sometimes it's so scary having children. Well, loving anyone at all, really. It's so very dangerous. You might as well just expect it: at some point, you are going to get your heart broken. It's worth it, yes, but at times it feels like just barely.

Anyways, I haven't been able to get either of those women out of my mind. They both struggled physically all their lives, but seemed so happy, so close to their families, so full of life. I am happy that they aren't in pain any longer, but I feel so badly for the pain their loved ones are feeling. This Jars of Clay song came up on my ipod the other day, and it made me ache for them, especially Staci's husband. For all of us, I guess- for every person who has had to say goodbye too soon.


Be still,
Let your hand melt into mine.
The part of me that breathes when you breathe is losing time.
I can't find the words to say I'll never say goodbye.

I'll fly with you through the night so you know I'm not letting go,
I'm not letting go.
My tears like rain fill up the sky,
Oh my love, I'm not letting go,
I won't let you go.

I saw the host of silent angels waiting on their own,
Knowing that all the promises of faith
Come alive when you see home,
Hold still and let your hand melt into mine.

And I'll fly with you through the night so you know I'm not letting go,
I'm not letting go.
My tears like rain fill up the sky,
Oh my love, I'm not letting go,
I won't let you go.

Shed your heart
And your breath
And your pain and fly.
Now you're alive.

13 comments:

Jess said...

Oh, this is so sad for these women and all the people who loved them. Their families are in my thoughts.

artemisia said...

I am so sorry.

Swistle said...

The other day I needed to give Rob permission to cross a busy road with a friend, and I was WEEPING with stress. Since then I've been in a "WHAT HAVE I DONE??" panic, because I CAN'T have anything happen to any of them, and yet statistically it's QUITE LIKELY.

Jana said...

I'm so sorry.....

Fine For Now said...

So sad. Loosing a child I can only imagine to be the hardest thing a mother would have to deal with.

I watch my grandmother struugle constantly with the death of my 45 year old uncle two years ago, it never gets easier, no matter what age the child is..

Katy said...

So sad, but what got me was when you said, "loving anyone at all is so very dangerous." That's a thought that keeps me up at night sometimes.

Shelly Overlook said...

I cannot imagine getting out of bed if I lost my child.

How sad to lose these women so young.

d e v a n said...

I'm crying right now. Just the thought of losing any of my children at any age is debilitating. How awful for them. :( They (and you) are in my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for your loss. The lyrics from Chris Rice seems to always comfort me. Hope they do the same for you.


Was it a million miles to heaven
Too far to hear my lonely song
Or is it just my imagination I hear you humming along
I only hold you in my dreams now
I wake up with cold and empty arms
Lord help me get through this long night without you
And soon as the morning comes
Soon as the morning comes

Save me a seat at the breakfast table
Save me a dance around the Milky Way
And save me a thousand years to whisper in your ears
All I’ve wanted to say
Save me a smile and an angel’s feather
Save me a walk down the streets of gold
And baby, we’ll change our minds just like old times
And maybe we’ll just fly away
Or maybe we’ll stay

My lucky doll, you’re in heaven before me
You were my taste of heaven here
Remember we loved to talk about it, we couldn’t wait to get there
So you go on and find your way around now
But remember I’m here missing you
Do me a favor and say hey to Jesus
And tell him I’m missing him too
Tell him I’m missing him too

Then save me a seat at the breakfast table
Save me a dance around the Milky Way
And save me a thousand years to whisper in your ears
All I’ve wanted to say
Save me a smile and an angel’s feather
Save me a walk down the streets of gold
And baby, we’ll change our minds just like old times
And maybe we’ll just fly away
Or maybe we’ll stay

Marie Green said...

I really don't understand death, and I get really emotional at these kinds of things, as well.

Mommy Daisy said...

Wow, that is tough. Reading this I realize that I probably knew Staci. I had no idea that she passed away. But it's been years since I've seen her, and obviously I had no idea what she'd been up to lately. So sad.

Shelly said...

Oh, so sad. My heart goes out to their families.

Astarte said...

What terrible losses, and to happen in the same week. I'm so sad for them, and you. I hope you're coping OK now.

I had to go to the funeral of a neighbor who died in a car accident after an ice storm when I was pregnant with Patrick. He and his wife had a child Josie's age, and all I could imagine was how she was going to grow up and not remember her daddy. His wife moved away with their daughter shortly after to be close to her family, and I haven't seen them since, but I still think about them, and the girl, wondering how they are.

That's a beautiful song. I'm going to look it up on itunes.