People have asked me if there are triggers that cause me to really feel the pain of my loss. I wonder if knowing what they are would be helpful. If I knew, would I avoid the trigger? I don't think that would be healthy. And what would it do for someone else to know what the triggers are? Would they try to keep me from encountering them? I've been crying so much this past month that those triggers have been difficult to identify. But I have identified three.
The first trigger has to do with when people show kindness to Lucas. This has happened on many occasions. His cousin, Robert, from Elk Grove was playing Transformers with him on the day of the burial and funeral service. The next day, Lucas asked me if he could play with Robert again. So Robert and his family (my cousin Bryan's family) came over for a few hours. Upon leaving to go back home, Robert decided that he wanted to give Lucas one of his Transformers named "Blackout". It was such a beautiful gesture of kindness. I was moved to tears. On another occasion, Midi's cousins were over for dinner. As the evening drew to a close, they told me of their plans to watch over Lucas throughout his childhood and into his young adult life. I was moved to tears. Many others have showered Lucas with love in many forms.
I think that there are two reasons why others' kindness to Lucas triggers tears. First is that kindness is of God. It is a beautiful thing to give to one who does not have the automatic reaction of reciprocity. Even more beautiful to give to one who cannot pay you back. Secondly, kindness to Lucas, especially provision for his future, makes me sad because it triggers thoughts of Nathan. I think of how Nathan's life was cut short and how we were all robbed of his future. I know that I must learn how to celebrate Lucas and all of his accomplishments and milestones without it triggering thoughts of how Nathan did not have a chance to reach those same milestones. I don't want Lucas to feel that he is incomplete in any way or to feel guilty because he is here and Nathan is not. This is something that I must reflect on much more.
The second thing that triggers grief for me is when I see others around me grieving their own sense of loss. Midi and Nathan were loved by so many. Everyone around me is hurting. That is not to say that I don't want others to cry or express grief when they are around me. Like I said before, we walk through this together. It is healthy for us to grieve together. It feels especially painful when I see Lucas suffering. While I am glad that he is expressing his grief from time to time and not bottling it inside, it still hurts me so much to see my boy suffering.
The third trigger is visual images of Midi and Nathan. I have so many pictures of them, especially of Nathan. My computer wallpaper is a photo of Lucas and Nathan wrestling and laughing. My cell phone's wallpaper is a photo of the boys playing. My house is filled with family photos, baby photos, vacation photos, wedding photos...pictures of happiness. And though I haven't returned to work yet, my walls at work are covered with pictures of my sons. Every year I had a T.A. make a photo collage of Lucas and Nathan for me. I have three beautiful collages of them in my classroom. One showing them from birth to 1, another showing them from 1 to 2, and the other showing them from 2 to 3. I cherish all of these photos.
Today at Fountain of Life, we celebrated our 1 year anniversary as a church. It was a wonderful time of celebration, but it was also a very difficult time for me. At the end of the service, we watched a video which highlighted the most important moments in our young church. We celebrated our family center. We celebrated our outreach. We celebrated those who have come to faith this year. We celebrated our different ministries and all the people that they have blessed. Then we mourned together as we remembered Midi and Nathan. It was the first time since the tragedy that I have seen video of them. Video is so much harder than just photos. Video captures movement and expressions. It is a much closer image of life. I saw my little boy Nathan playing baseball with me. I saw him moving. I saw the sun on his face. I saw him standing with his brother. And I saw my beautiful Midi teaching my children and other children about God. Oh how I miss them!
Midi and I bought a video recorder when the boys were born. I have many tapes, mostly of Lucas and Nathan growing up. I don't think I am ready to watch these. But I know that they are a treasure. Someday I will watch them. It's just too painful right now.