Our second meeting finds Cathy and I sitting together in the same place, only a few weeks later – this time to record the death of her oldest, Michael. The atmosphere inside, where we face each other, is heavy with the sadness of a mother who feels the responsibility to talk about another unspeakable loss. Where the last story about James seemed to pour out of her, demanding to be told, this one holds back. The heaviness of it hangs in the room. I am moved to begin because I want to understand the differences between the story of one son that so strongly needed to be told, and the story of the other that may still be too sorrowful, too confusing, and too painful to even be totally understood by the mother who lived it. I sense there may be fewer details shared about Michael; that the events surrounding the last half of his life and his death are being protectively cradled within his mother’s heart, still too tender to be trusted to anyone else.
In time Cathy is able to share, in some detail, the loss of her oldest son. She describes the decade following Michael’s suicide as a time of terrible, debilitating grief. Losing him was a devastating blow – one from which Cathy is still recovering. “Michael’s death was one of the hardest because of the lost years.” She speaks of the ache attached to being estranged from her first born during the last years of his life.
Before we’re finished, Cathy takes a moment to think about how her experiences with loss and grief might be helpful to others. She says that even though it never goes away, all those feelings attached to losing a child do get easier over time. “Remember the good stuff,” she advises, and find people who are like minded to share your experiences. Most importantly, according to Cathy, “trust God.” She goes on to quietly share, “I don’t know how people lose their children without the hope that they’re going to see them some day.” She continues by admitting that sometimes she still can’t comprehend they are really gone, but then goes on to state with assurance that there are other times when she can see them . . . up there in heaven, running around on streets of gold, happy and at peace, seeing her mom and dad, her brothers and cousins - all those Cathy has loved and already lost. She ends with what she clearly believes about her two boys: “They’re happy; I know some day I’ll see them again.”
Cathy’s second story is now posted and available at www.janenicoletauthor.com. Please navigate to the menu on my homepage and hover your cursor on the Books tab to find the link to “Parents Tell Their Stories."
Wishing you all peace and grace,