I was indulging in a bit of vanity tonight. Yes, I admit it. I like to Google myself from time to time (that's not indecent yet, is it?) just to see if there are any new and/or curious associations with my name.
Nothing new (except about the panel I sat on at the second annual Bloggers Summit held at Marquette University Law School. F'real.). And nothing curious (please note that "Jizz on My Glasses" is a link to Dasha Kelly the porn star, not me -- although ... never mind).
Deep in the Google pages (turns out I'm Googlerific!) I came across a video clip I'd not seen in long while. By design, for certain. It's a segment produced by Wisconsin Public Television about my son's death and the initiative we launched in his memory. (Chase was born with complex heart defects and died at four months waiting for a heart donor: http://video.yahoo.com/video/play?vid=1093209557)
Tears slicked my face. I didn't deny their silent ride this time -- down my cheeks, hanging under my chin and jaw, free falling into a fast-enveloping sorrow.
I miss Chase everyday, and I realize that I’ve been impatiently waiting for the ache to fade into a shadowed memory, like the scar on my shoulder that once was a grotesque snarl of scab and skin. Now, it's just a carmel kiss reminder of the day my sister's body intersected with my bike (hey, that's my story ...).
In the months after Chase's death, I used Tear Mass and Meltdown Magnitude as my measures of "healing." The more successive steps I braved without wanting to burrow beneath my bed and with every passing week that didn't involve me apologizing for gobbling all the Kleenex ... I was getting there.
Clearly, I was barely half-assing this grieving thing. And, of course, I was the only one who didn't realize it.
Last summer, my mental calendar dinged a reminder for me to switch on the planning machine for the Slumber Party (http://www.chasesgift.com/photo1.htm). But ... I didn't have it in me. I could only consider its planning details because of the lovely folks who were already rolling up their sleeves to volunteer again (Tiffany, Deaduri, Patrice, Jennifer, FreeBird ... thank you!) I even had our attorney begin the paperwork for a non-profit; contacted organ donor networks, volunteers and Children's Hospital in Dallas to begin discussions on satellite events. Columbus and Iowa City, too.
But I didn't. have it. in me.
I couldn't explain it, but I couldn't shake the quicksand. "Well, it was a great cause and obviously helped you heal..." I was told this in two or three separate conversation and felt naseous each time. Had I really coiled friends, family and strangers into some pathetically public manifestation of my private grief? Oh, dear God, how gauche. I was aiming for "channeling," not broadcast therapy.
Then I stumbled across this video clip. It forced me to acknowledge the hollowed eyes and flattened smile that everyone else saw during the year (or more?) following our loss. It sparked memories of the warmest version of these tears, the ones that tumbled after witnessing such a positive outcome of these soul-shredding events. It allowed me to more accurately benchmark my "healing." I'm still not done. Maybe I never will. In fact, it was ridiculous -- and classically Dasha -- to believe I could task manage the death of my only son.
Someone compared grieving to learning to live with a limp. I accept, now, that I may need custom stilettos. I don’t feel obligated to be politely OK.” And I don't feel guilty (anymore) about our Slumber Party being an important community initiative as much as it is a self-serving effort to justify whatever God's reasons were for taking Chase from me. I need that. I can say that now. That I still need something. Soothing. Purpose. Tears.
And they fall again. Freely. Dangling and swinging before releasing their weight into an abyss. I don't feel driven to follow them anymore. Or ignore them. Let them fall, whenever they fall … for however many years of my life they choose to visit me.
For the right now, however, I don't feel like the scheming charlatan anymore. I'm a mother who's restitched herself and, from time to time, doesn't now what to do with her tears. Next year, I'll once again put on my hat as an organizer. Through Chase’s Gift, we’ll encourage people far and wide to become organ donors and raise research dollars for the detection and prevention of congenital heart disease.
(And it's okay, too, if I don't make this my 24/7 passion.)
Whew. That felt pretty good. I think I can go back to article I was working on before taking this tearful detour. First, though, let me go see what this other Dasha Kelly don' gone and put on that man's glasses ...