Everyone loves a good story. People gobble up tales of those who overcome adversity. You see it on magazine covers, hear it in the "feel good" stories on the news. Some sort of difficulty is faced and overcome, the person learns a lesson, grows, and is changed for the better. I often listen to Christian talk radio in the car. It seems recently the programs have all featured people who've had bad things happen, but who are now able to share how God saw them through, a neat package of adversity tied up with a big bright bow.
Three weeks before Mark died I spoke at a women's retreat. I told the women about the times I faced adversity and how I grew with God's help. I told the story of my husband's mom coming to live with us, how we felt it was the right thing to do, but how it was very difficult to carry out on a daily basis. I told them how things started off great, then went sour, but how my attitude changed and I came to appreciate her. I was also able to tell about John's birth, how hearing the words "Down syndrome" knocked the wind out of me, and how I felt God revealed to me the blessing John is. I challenged the women to seek God and trust in him. Happy, happy. Adversity overcome. Yada, yada, yada. It all feels like a cruel joke now.
The morning of the retreat as we gathered, a murmur went through the group when one woman came through the door. "I'm surprised to see her here," someone said. When I asked why, I was told her adult son had taken his life that week. I knew I had nothing to offer that woman. All my happy talk about overcoming adversity couldn't touch what she was going through. As I spoke I specifically avoided making eye contact with her. What did it feel like to lose a child? What did it feel like to lose a child to suicide? Little did I know what lay ahead for me.
So here I am nearly 17 months after my own son's death, February conveniently including a 29th this year so I could properly count the month. I am stuck in my adversity and see no way out. I wrote before about hanging onto my faith, and I'm trying, I really am, but I'm angry at God. I don't think I'll ever be able to talk about this event with a positive twist. Could I tell a nice group of women at a retreat on a Saturday morning that I cuss like a sailor, that I use the f-word freely, that without it I feel unable to properly express my continued bewilderment and incredulity? Would any nice Christian want to hear from a woman who's abrasive and coarse?
There's nothing happy here, no positive twist. There's only broken and frustrated and sad with the ache of missing, missing, missing.