Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day Twenty-Four: Changes

I wrote this hours ago and just haven't been able to bring myself to posting it.  This was extremely hard for me to write and I know it won't be easy for some people to read.  It's been in my heart for so long, though.  ~ajg

My goal as I begin this blog is that it doesn't get too long. I'm sure you're saying, "Wait a minute, all of her blogs are long."  True, but this one could become epic if I'm not careful.   You see, Day 24 of the "30-Day Challenge" is a picture of something you wish you could change.  I have zero problems coming up with an answer.  I have a million problems in that I can think of right at a million things I wish I could change.  To narrow it down, I need to decide how personal I want to make this particular blog.  I admit that there are times I hold back or censor myself to a degree, not to hide anything about me but to spare the feelings of those close to me.  I also find myself sometimes avoiding topics that will be difficult for me to write from an emotional standpoint.  But as I've said before, I write because it's cheaper than therapy, so I need to pour it all out if I expect to get any results or achieve anything remotely resembling catharsis. 

If God or a genie or a magic Mexican jumping bean (what?) told me, "You can change any one thing, past or present," I would deserve a severe beating if I used this opportunity to change something petty (my weight) or selfish (my weight).  Shouldn't I use this opportunity to do something bigger?  Something that would affect thousands or even millions of people?  Stop the wars?  Feed the children?  Cure cancer?  Yes, I should.  And I like to say that I would.  But I wouldn't. To a degree, I would be selfish.  I wouldn't change something that would only help me, but I would ask for changes for those I love.  These aren't changes that would affect the world, but they would affect the world's of people in my life.

There are two people who left this world long before they should have.  I know that by saying that it sounds like I'm trying to play God, but I can live with that.  One of these people I knew for 18 years.  One I never got the chance to even meet.  If I had the chance to bring them back, though, to change the timeline of their life to include at least a few extra years, I would do it without even blinking.

Fourteen years ago, I had just arrived at my dorm room with my mother when we received a call that my uncle--my mother's older brother--had been taken to the hospital.  She immediately left and told me she'd call as soon as she found out what was going on.  Less than an hour later, I learned that my uncle had passed away.  It was the first death I'd ever experienced in my immediate family.   My Uncle Roger was an amazing man who was loved and respected by so many people--his family, his friends, his church, his employees.  He was 53 when he left his world, a full life perhaps by some people's standards.  But there was still so much left for him to see and experience.  My cousins were only in their twenties when it happened, and there have been so many events since then that I wish he had been here to witness.  I especially wish he could have met his two gorgeous granddaughters, my little cousins EG and MK.  They are the most beautiful, vivacious little girls and I know he would have had a ball with them.  I remember how much fun he was when I was a little girl and it saddens me that they won't ever know their grandfather.  I also know how much my mother misses him and how much comfort he would have been for her throughout my grandfather's battle with Alzheimer's.  I know she's struggled in having to make decisions about her parents by herself and there have been so many times she's said, "I wish your uncle Roger was here."   

I know people say God has a plan, but I just can't see how my uncle passing away when he was only 53 is a good  plan in any way.  I know there are people who live much shorter lives, but why couldn't he have had just ten more years?  He is missed so much and I would give anything if he could be here to enjoy all of the milestones of life with this family.

If I could change one more thing, it would be that another life had not been cut short sixteen years ago.  During the summer of 1995, my husband lost his eight-year-old brother, Nick, in an accident.    I've always known that the death of a child is quite possibly the most devastating tragedy that can happen in a family, but having a child of my own has given me a new perspective.  When I hold my little daughter, I can't even allow myself to contemplate the possibility of her being taken from me.  It has made me view John's parents in a different light, especially his mom.  It's not that I think a mother hurts more than a father does, but there is something about carrying a child inside--so close to your heart--for nine months that forms an incredible bond that I can't imagine being severed.  When I see Amelia's Grammy or Pop hold her, it breaks my heart a little each time to think about them holding their own son when he was a baby.  I also hurt for my husband.  Every time we celebrate a milestone, even I feel like something is missing.  Nick should have been there serving as a groomsman.  He should have been laughing with us in Vegas when we celebrated five years.  He should have had the opportunity to hold his little niece when she was born.  I can't help but think about him every time our family gathers and it makes me ache for my husband and our family.  But it also makes me a little angry.  I admit that I have always struggled with accepting God's will and not being resentful.  I don't understand why good people are allowed to suffer while there is so much evil flourishing in the world.  I don't understand why God allows people to hurt the helpless and the innocent.  And I will never understand why God would allow a life to begin and not give it the time it deserves on this earth.  I see the faith my husband's family has and it truly baffles me, but I know that it is this very faith that has carried them through the darkness.  As I discussed in an earlier blog, I have been so fortunate that my life has been fairly charmed (at least in comparison to most people's).  I just can't wrap my mind around how I would survive a real tragedy in my life. 

But I've digressed.  This isn't about my faith or lack thereof in some areas; it's about the people I love and what they've lost.  I so desperately wish I could change that awful day that changed their family forever.  I wish I could give them back their son, brother, grandson, cousin, nephew.  And I wish I could meet Nick and know more of him than just what I've learned through stories and pictures. There's this huge part of my husband's life that I never got to share with him.  For a long time, I struggled to truly grieve with him, but the longer I've been with him and the more I've loved him, I've found myself sometimes grieving even without him.  As the years have passed, I've found myself loving this little boy who I never met, this person who I know would have been a huge part of our lives.   I've never told anyone this, even John.  I've never really known how to put it in words.  I'm not sure I've done the best job now.  But it's been on my heart for so long and I just needed to share it.

A small part of me feels like perhaps it is not my place to write about losses that are so much more personal and painful for other people.  I do not take any of this lightly, though.  I do my share of joking around when I write, but some things are sacred and the last thing I want to do is seem disrespectful.  To my loved ones reading this, please know that my very last intention is to hurt you in any way.  I just want you to know that I love you and that I would give anything to take your pain away. 


Cilla said...

Nick was such an adorable little boy...when Gary and Kim got married I was the jr bridesmaid and Nick was the ring bearer...he had this little outfit that was all white and it made his red hair look even MORE red...if that's even possible...I don't understand it either...but I'm sure your entire family will appreciate this blog more than you know, and it's so sweet that you care so much...a lot of people wouldn't, and that's sad. <3

mom said...

Thank you for this sweet memory of Roger and Nick. They are both missed terribly.

John said...

Thank you for writing a beautiful blog. Even though this summer will be 16 years since the tragedy, there are times I feel the pain as strong as it was that day. I appreciate your love and empathy. I am grateful that I can turn to my family for love and support.

Mom said...

Thank you for your beautiful blog about Nick. I was so touched by your feelings. The pain of losing a chiild is one that never goes away. Your heart is forever broken. My faith is what got me through the dark times and still does.
Amelia... is like a my ray of sunshine. From the first tiny cry, my heart was filled with joy and overwhelming love. I love all my family so much!!

Yvette said...

Ok, so I am crying! That was beautiful . Although I'm sure it was hard for some to read, I'm also sure that they were quite moved by what they were reading. I'm amazed by what you write and amazed that I'm able to call you my friend. Love you!

Jonathan Hickey said...

I think you picked the right things to change.