I went to a viewing yesterday for a dear coworker’s son who was tragically killed last week. No matter who you are, you cannot escape the heart wrenching grip of the loss of a child. At the viewing I saw many of my coworkers; after 10 years many of them feel way more like friends and family rather than just people I know from work. It’s not an accident; the company I work for is a family and fosters a family like culture. One friend, who is a regular reader of my blog, asked me if I would write something about the event. I said yes but was anxious thinking about that; I’m not great as a write on demand person and quite frankly the topic frightens me. I also tread lightly on others plights, forever aware of the minefield of potential hurt feelings. This friend that asked me to write, well she is super special, so I could never say no to her.
The viewing of a deceased person is unfamiliar to me, I am Jewish, and we have funerals swiftly. The grieving and sharing is done through the Shiva process after the burial. At the viewing I did go up and pay my respects. I only stayed a short time, there were tons of people and felt I should move on to allow others to pay their respects too. I felt burning in my throat and tears welling up. I got into my car and the radio was on from when I had turned the car off. I am a frequent listener of the Beatles Channel on Sirius XM and when the car turned on John Lennon was singing Beautiful Boy. (You really can’t make this stuff up). I sat in the car for a few minutes to feel the enormity of the moment. This song, as a mother of two boys, makes me cry happy tears most of the time, but this time the tears poured out in some uncontrolled mess. After a few dark moments, I collected myself and drove away.
In my thoughts before bed I was thinking about how something as profound as losing your son not only changes you as a mom and changes the lives of all of the people who loved your son, but changes your life story. Every time you meet someone new and they ask you, do you have kids? Or you are just talking to someone and they ask, how’s the family? You see the story you have written of your life is forever different, forever tainted by this tragic alteration of your landscape. I also know that those of us that see her will always feel this each time; it just stays with you, a parent’s ultimate fear and nightmare. I know for me a day does not go by where I don’t say the word autism. I am not comparing in any way, it’s just by way of illustration. Unexpected variations from societal norms cannot be shoved away. Autism is woven into the fabric of my being; it is as much a part of me as it is for Bryan. When I learned this I took it in tried it on and it became part of my life story.
When I saw her yesterday and hugged her I wished I could say something or do something that would make it better in some way knowing full well that is a moronic thought. The good news is that she is so loved that you could barely get near the place and my hope is that the collective outpouring of love and support could provide some grain or modicum of relief.