Monday, March 17, 2014

More than just a memory.

Last weekend, Sunday afternoon, the four of us attended a remembrance service of all the individuals who were part of our hospice care team and died in 2013. We first sat in the pews of the church listening to music coming from the harp that was being plucked ever so carefully on the front steps, just in front of the alter. I looked through the bulletin that I was handed as I entered. It was titled, "Service of Remembrance". The front of the bulletin had a whispy picture of a hand holding a wand, as if it was orchestrating the one small being standing alone amongst the clouds. I flipped through its pages, partly wondering what kind of service this would be until I got to the list of names. Then I saw his name, my son -- Wyatt DeStephano. Tears flooded my eyes quickly as I blinked them back. I watched as Jilly circled his name and drew pictures around it with the pencil that she held in her hand. As the service started I found myself unable to focus entirely on what was being said. Scriptures from the Bible were read, songs were played, hymns were sung. We read responsively pieces that spoke of remembering our loved ones. I tried to blink away as many tears until I couldn't any longer and they fell freely from my eyes and further down my face. It didn't take long. Seeing his name took all the strength from me. Seeing my sons name in print as just another person to remember. Just another person who died last year. As if he's only a memory now.

But he's so much more than a memory. He's so much more than just another name in a list of deaths from the year.  He's so much more than another individual taken care of by a Hospice company. He's so much more than a sick child that died or his disease that killed him.

He's so much more. 

I looked around the room at the other families, most who were years older than ourselves. Wives or Husbands who lost their spouses, or grown adults who lost a parent. Then there was us. The parents whose child died and the two young girls who watched their Brother die. It didn't feel like we necessarily "fit" in this crowd. Much like we feel in our day to day lives. Feeling alone, but together. We're not really alone in any of this...we've never been. But there is such a void in our home and in our family that it feels very lonely. Empty, even. Like Jilly has explained in the last months, it feels like there is a big hole in the middle of her or as if her heart is empty. Bryan and I are living out many parents worst nightmare, the loss of their child. My family sat beside me in the church, but we weren't whole. I don't know that I will ever get used to only seeing four of us.

Reality is not kind nor soft when it shows up. It certainly has its way.

The people attending the service were grieving the loss of their loved ones, just as we are our son. I could relate to their feelings and their pain, but there was a part of me that felt I couldn't quite entirely. There was a part of me that wanted to get up and walk away from all that was happening in the church that afternoon. I know I'm supposed to look back fondly on the memories we have with Wyatt and I do. I do, so often! But sitting in that sanctuary with families who were grieving the loss of their much older spouses, loved ones and/or parents, I couldn't help but recognize all the memories that were supposed to be. All the memories we didn't get the chance to see, to experience or to have because Wyatt didn't get the chance to grow up. In that moment, I could see all the life that was taken from him. As I sat in that pew in the sanctuary on Sunday afternoon, all the life that had been taken from the four of us was all around. His dreams of friends, sports, school dances, graduation, a girlfriend, college, of getting married. Dreams of what he wanted to be when he grew up. Wyatt dreamed of a life. Maybe it wasn't the life that God had created for him, but it was the life that he and we looked forward to.

I was, admittedly, feeling so different than the families sitting in the church with us that day. While I can't imagine what it feels like to lose a spouse or a parent, we lost our child. Our son never got a chance to grow up. We didn't get the chance to watch him live a life like he dreamed. And now his name is printed among others as a person to only be remembered, yet he will always be so much more than just a memory to us.  
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