My second child and oldest son, Brandon, died June 2, 2012 of an aggressive poorly differentiated squamous cell cancer that first revealed itself in his right maxillary sinus. He was 38 years young. His death occurred one and a half months short of his second anniversary to a beautiful and amazing woman. He died 15 minutes before his baby daughter's first half birthday of six months. I will share more of my extraordinarily ordinary son, who I miss beyond all measure, as time goes on.
I've been told that I should "journal" my feelings, so I've chosen to keep an online journal - better known as a blog. I'm an introvert who is choosing to lay my feelings out there. I'm not sure exactly why, but I think I'll feel more accountable to myself and, perhaps, to anyone who bothers to read this if I journal in a public forum. The sorrow of this loss defies description, but I guess I will try to describe how it feels to me. And if you choose to follow my sorrowfull journey, you may find there are times you disagree a little or a lot with some of my posts. Too bad - this is my journey through the black hole of a grief I WANT to last the rest of my time on this earth (this life).
A bit about my choice of title. As a Catholic, I grew up with Mary, the mother of Jesus, being there for me. She has always been someone I could relate to as a girl, and then as a woman and mother. When I was pregnant with our monozygotic (identical) twin sons and worried they'd arrive too early in a time when "too early" was a much later week of gestation, it was to Mary I went because, as a mother, she could understand my concerns. (They continued to incubate until almost 41 weeks!) Ditto when I thought the home birth of our fifth and last child was likely to be canceled because she'd shifted from vertex (head down) to breech at full term. I talked to Mary while doing a breech tilt, figuring that if anyone could understand my reasons for wanting the calm and quiet of giving birth at home, it would be someone who calmly and quietly gave birth in a stable. (Our youngest shifted back to a head-down position within hours and was born in the comfort of her own home.)
But as I watched my beautiful (inside and out) son's condition deteriorate during May, I cannot tell you how many times I thought of Mary, THE Mother of Sorrows. This Mary completely understands the pain of watching her baby suffer and grow weaker by the hour. It is THE Sorrowful Mother I need to walk with me now.
A bit about my choice of image. Two and a half months before Brandon's sixteenth birthday, his best friend died suddenly related to the consequences of a genetic condition no one knew he had. Several weeks after this wonderful young man's death, I attended a Lenten service at a basilica where my husband's high school principal now served as bishop. After the service, we walked around this beautiful cathedral. In a side corridor I came upon a pieta statue of Mary cradling her dead adult son, Jesus. I cried. I could not stop thinking of Brandon's friend and the pain his mother was experiencing and would continue to do so. (I knew and know that both of his parents were grieving, just as my husband also grieves for his son, but this is a sorrowfull mother's blog.) Since then an image of a pieta always brings thoughts of the too many mothers I know who are dealing with the death of a child.
So only a photo of a painting or sculpture of a pieta depicting THE Sorrowful Mother and her Son would do as the image for this blog. I searched and searched to find find a photo that captured the face of grief that fits most closely with how I feel inside and often outside. (There is more to this particular story, but I'll save "the rest of the story" for another time.)
This blog is not about a particular religion; I'm simply explaining how I got here. I don't think a grieving mother has to be Catholic to identify with the woman, Mary, in this William Adolphe Bouguereau's 1876 Pieta painting, as she holds the body of the son she loves more than words can ever express. (This work of art is in the public domain.)
You're welcome to share this pain - and joy - with me. Visit here or not - it's up to you. If you're a sorrowfull mother too, please feel free to share your thoughts, feelings, experiences - and your baby (no matter the age at death) - by sending a blog post to me via email.