Monday, March 23, 2009

A Parent Should Not Outlive Their Child.

These words were whispered into my friend’s ear yesterday afternoon. About an hour earlier I had received a phone call, a similar call to the one David had gotten a few hours before that. The call every parent fears – an event we don’t even dare envision much less prepare for.

Although I am fortunate to have many friends, there are just a handful I label “best.” Of those few and excluding Joan there are two that I consider the closest of my confidants. In fact only the closest of my family members have known me longer. Ironically (if you are familiar with the Bible or the Torah) their names are Jonathan and David.

Even more ironic is that both of their fathers were Southern Baptist preachers. David’s dad baptized me when I was 11. Several years later Jonathan’s officiated over my first wedding. If you don’t consider those friendships along the lines of blood brothers then surely you have not sung “There’s Power in the Blood” in a cramped southern church on some steaming hot Sunday morning in July.

I know these two men almost as much as I do my own brothers. We have laughed together, loved together, fought together (and I might add each other). Their families are my family and mine theirs. Without sounding morose I also know without a shadow of a doubt that should I leave this Earth before them their collective hands will be four of the last that touch my casket before I am placed into the ground.

I know their hopes, their dreams, their strengths and weaknesses, their positives and negatives. We climbed literal mountains together and camped in some of the darkest most frightening valleys a man could encounter. Inevitably that means we have shared tears together – some joyful and now…some filled with such sorrow that one would eagerly embrace death as an alternative to the endless salty drizzle that falls from one’s cheek.

Over the most recent years David in particular has taught me that exceptional parenting does not corner the market when it comes to suffering and tragedy. I have begun blog posts about his plight many times over the past three years only to decide that then was not a good time or that other circumstances within in our own journey took precedence. Actually I have written about him on several occasions – all of which are reminders to me what a very special father he is. I hear all kinds of accolades about my parenting skills because of Ben. All I do is shake my head and think about Dave.

Although tragedy comes in many different variations it has one common denominator. It is not unlike a bunch of electrically charged ions floating around in the upper atmosphere lining up in such a way that they strike the ground with such speed and power that the landscape is permanently changed. Why it happened, how it happened, even what happened are questions that first come to mind. When those are not easily answered we survey the changed landscape and face more difficult questions like how do we move on or can we move on or…do I even want to move on.

Over the next few days I will be examining this most recent tragedy to occur within my inner circle of friends. I will look over these questions and search for answers. So far in the beginnings of this examination I have found a reason to finally reveal how David became a single father in his mid-40s due to his ex-wife’s drug addictions. And this “test” will take place as I help my friend, my blood brother, my family, and myself say goodbye to his oldest child, his 18-year-old daughter Jessie from a most likely alcohol & drug overdose.

14 comments:

Father Muskrat said...

wow...how awful. glad you're there for him, and i'm very sorry to hear about this.

Tom said...

Absolutely moving commentary. I'm moved to tears.

I never met Jessie, and I can only imagine what the tragic death of a child would be like.

I can only offer prayers that somehow some solace and understanding be found and that David and his family.

Lucy and Ethel said...

Please read today's post at http://www.halfpastkissintime.com/2009/03/how-can-you-mend.html .

She is also dealing with the loss of a friend's teenager (17) due to drugs.

You're right - parents aren't supposed to outlive their children....

Hugs and prayers to David and his family.

Lucy

Vodka Mom said...

My heart aches for his family, friends and their community. May they find solace in each other's arms and prayers.

May she rest in peace.

Maggie, Dammit said...

Oh, no. Oh no. I am so sorry. You are so right, a parent should never outlive their child. I am so very sorry.

Mrs4444 said...

I know the heartbreak of watching your best friend lose a child. It's only been four months for my dear Molly. It's been so hard, being helpless to impact the depths of her grief. We all know it will get better, but the pain right now is so great. Ryan died of an accidental heroin overdose. I guess my only advice right now is to encourage others to remember that this man's daughter was about so many more things than drugs or alcohol. So sad for you and your friend...

P.S. I'm confused, though. Did the girl die with her mother, or had her mother passed in some other incident?

kimmyk said...

sorry to hear about your friend and the loss to your families.

it's such a horrible time to be a teenager anymore. i dont understand what goes through their minds that's so different than what we went through as teens. but i know it's so much more.

my heart aches as a mother.

Elizabeth said...

Oh, how awful and terrible. Your tribute to your friend is both moving and heroic, considering your own journey. I will say a quiet prayer for your friends, their daughter and all those whose lives are affected by this tragedy. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post.

Leightongirl said...

I'm so sorry.

Loralee Choate said...

It's a hell that is just as bad as you imagine-only worse.

I'm glad that you are there for them...It is not an easy road to walk down and support will be needed in many, many ways.

I'm so sorry for everyone.

flutter said...

God, my heart.

Their hearts...it is just too much.

gypsygrrl said...

sending you and your family so much love in this tragic loss... david will be in my prayers, as well as everyone who will be grieving with him...

xo,
gypsy

iVegasFamily said...

that's heart breaking. Thank you for sharing such a thought provoking post.

Kyla said...

I'm so sorry. So sorry.