Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ask a DB Dad: Why does God have big, clumsy feet?

**Note: I've been dancing around getting this written for what seems like an eternity, my apologies to any of you who may have been waiting for it.

Sometimes the "grace of God" ain't so graceful...

off topic observation: usage of the word ain't to create a playful tone. Is that indirectly mocking those that use ain't in normal speech?

which reminds me that I need to re-teach some students that in (or just n) is not the correct spelling of and.

moving on...

Being in the unfortunate position of having a dead child, one quickly discovers that most people have no idea what to say to you. In that case, they turn to religion. Okay, so perhaps that is a gross generalization, but living in the upper portion of the Bible b elt it is a pretty good one. So let's keep in mind that I know a lot of what I am saying is based on generalization because otherwise I'm going to be here all day covering a gazillion bases.

It was what should have been Joel's first holiday season; obviously, we were a little down. You'll find holidays are just another part of the year where you spend extra time remembering your child, which just makes everyone else not remembering sting so much more. (for more on this subject, read every DB blog out there)
I was actually a little hopeful when we received a package, a gift for our first son, from a family member.

I'll save the family issues for now, but its worth noting that this family member has suffered a loss as well; a miscarriage. Of course, at the time, the family directive I received was to not speak of it. When news of Joel's death hit the wire, this person was one of the first to call and she offered to talk since she'd been through something similar. We really appreciated that, even though we never took her up on the offer; we just weren't ready to talk to someone just yet.
So yeah, the package. Included was a card; a religious card. Now I never received any Muslim words of comfort, or Jewish or Hindi (at least I don't think so...) so I can't say what kind of stuff they might say, but I know Christianity is always good for throwing out some quotes without a whole lot of thought for how they'll be read (how did it take me this long to get to my thesis??).

Of the card in question, it is long gone at the time I'm finally writing this, so an exact quote I cannot give. The basic idea, however, was letting the Lord take our earthly sorrows, although I occasionally remember it as "small, earthly troubles". Thing is, we only had one earthly sorrow, which we didn't find to be small at all, we certainly didn't consider it merely 'earthly', and, to be perfectly honest, we already had a bit of a bone to pick with the guy that was supposed to make it better!

I know what the sentiment was, but the words, they just weren't right. Kind of like, "you're child is in the arms of Jesus" Well thanks Jesus, but I'd prefer to be holding him; I'm not keen on strangers holding my baby, and no offense, but they didn't have a lot of Purell in Nazareth, so if you would be so kind...

"God works in mysterious ways" What? like Batman? Sorry, even Batman wouldn't kill my baby.

Now it isn't that I'm some angry Atheist or just mad at God or something. In fact, I understand and believe that religion can be quite a comfort. The thing is, religion is just like the rest of the world: it can be good or bad, depending on how you use it.

I certainly like to believe that everyone who misspoke or did something to add salt to our wound had the best of intentions. However, it is undeniable, and probably unavoidable, that there are a great and many things that occur once you enter the DB-parent club that send the message, "hurry up and get the fuck over it." Or there are the dismissive items, like the card in the gift. My apologies to Anonymous, but sometimes the thought just doesn't count; sometimes shitty gifts/words are just plain shitty.

Some of the people who comforted us most did not throw scripture at us, they simply "walked the walk" and acted like good Christians, which, believe it or not, is the same way a good Muslim, Jew, Hindi (...I think), or any other religion (Pastafarians included) would behave: they were nice to us. The real 'grace' came from the kindness of the people we were around. Those that found ways to comfort us and show their care sometimes by doing nothing more than acknowledging our pain and offering to be there, or just being respectful.

One may choose to believe that scripture is the absolute Word of God, and they have that right, but words are still words, with multiple definitions, connotations, interpretations and other -ations. So if you find yourself in the unenviable position of needing to comfort a grieving parent, maybe, just maybe, it is better to follow the instructions instead of trying to hand them out.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Quest: epilogue

A little something a friend did for us.
A bright and lively reminder of our boy.

Chronicling our efforts to get back in the baby-making game both emotionally and physically (read: vasectomy reversal tag) after Joel's death. It is an odd and difficult thing processing this completely unplanned path. I've read plenty of personal accounts from other DB parents who have taken that step. No one ever regrets it (no shit. really, Sherlock?) but everyone has their own way of coming to terms with that quirky reality of "this is the child I'm having because my other child died".

I've covered all that before and I feel like I summed myself up pretty well in The Road. Personally, I felt like that post was the perfect end to The Quest, but I felt like it needed a couple more notes before we 'move on'(hence "epilogue").

First of all, as lame and superficial as it is, you've probably noticed a new layout and color scheme. Fact is, the old layout was, well, bringing me down. I felt obligated to write something quasi-deep and solemn. Okay, so maybe the blog layout wasn't really behind how I had twisted the purpose of the blog in my head, but it certainly reflected and encouraged it!

Joel certainly has some powerfully difficult memories attached to him, but pretty early on I decided that was not how I would remember him. He would be celebrated, and I would do my best to extend the joy and excitement he brought us, while, you know, still being fucking sad.

Somewhere along the way I got turned around, feeling a bit like the joy of ending our Quest was counter-intuitive to what this blog "should be": a shrine to Joel. But the gnashing of teeth, tearing of clothes and wallowing in ash Old Testament style was in no way honoring him. Life honors Joel. Love honors Joel. And in the end, I started the blog on a promise to him that I'd be productive, that I'd keep writing, for better or worse (yeah, yeah, I've already acknowledged that a blog is a real lame-ass way to "be productive", but Michaelangelo I ain't).

So, a new layout, and a little less focus on "am I accurately reflecting the shit storm that is my soul in the wake of my son's death", and, more importantly, a new baby.

Prepare for the cute.

A little hairy...and a little like Kevin Spacey (not a bad thing).

Thanks to Valarie for the pics.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

I like to think I always took the time to let my father (and my mother) know how much I appreciated all he did for me growing up. He really was a good dad.

So now, when I don't call or write, I hope he knows it isn't because I don't appreciate how I wast raised and who raised me, or that I've forgotten all those things. It is just that those things don't buy you a free pass.

I try to keep that in mind as I raise my boys. I am not infallible. I am not the wisest. I can apologize.

To all the men out there who inspire the young fellas to try and grow up to be decent human beings, you deserve a nod today.

To the fathers of my life: thank you for everything.

And to my fellows who hold a candle for the children that left us too soon: you know what fatherhood is, you live it every day; this is your day too. You are not forgotten and neither are your children.

Now let's all go eat some meat, have a beer and do lots of other stereotypical guy stuff in honor of ourselves.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I got a bracelet

She did all the difficult stuff, so I'll just let her tell you. :)