In my last post I described how I relive my son’s last Friday and Saturday on this earth every Friday and Saturday. The reliving is painful physically as well as emotionally. It is called “heartache” or having a “broken heart” for good reason. Don’t think I would trade a moment of being with Brandon for those two days, however, any more than I would trade the privilege of being his mother even if doing so meant I could have been spared this current pain. This pain IS worth any amount of time I had with the baby/child/man I often referred to as a “honey,” since he was born knowing you catch more flies with honey. (Yes, I also have a “vinegar” or two, but my lips are sealed. However, the vinegar[s] have taught me equally important and joyful life lessons. Each is so integral in my world.)
It was truly a gift to share his last days with him -- to be able to tell him over and over how much I love him, how much I would miss him, how much I want him to haunt me. To be able to say such things, wipe his face, moisten his radiation-dry mouth, stroke his arm and hug him were gifts to each of us – his wife, his father, his two brothers, his two sisters and me – from him. (I think he “stayed” until he felt certain that anyone who needed to see him and say good-bye had the chance to do so.) His wife and I were lucky enough to hear that his sense of humor was intact when soon after he’d said, “Done,” his best friend called and promised he’d always watch over Brandon’s wife and daughter. In a weak voice, Brandon joked, “You’d better not hit on my wife!” He said nothing further for almost 15 hours. The entire family was with him when he said his last words, about eight hours before he died. His 15-year-old nephew, and godson, (our grandson) had come in to say good-bye. “Hi, Uncle Brandon, it’s Konrad. I love you.” And Brandon, who had appeared to be sleeping or in a coma for several hours, replied, “Love ya.” Not bad for one’s last words said aloud. What a special gift – 24 hours of time – our family was given to shower our love on someone so special to us and share his last breath as he and his body parted ways.
On September 11, 2001, almost 3,000 individuals who were special to many others thought they were beginning one more ordinary day. Of these, 246 “regular” special persons boarded four airplanes that were to take them across the country for business, vacation, family time, homecoming, etc. None of these innocents could have imagined these planes would take them into buildings or a Pennsylvania field. In New York City, among the thousands who entered the World Trade Center’s north and south “Twin Towers” to begin their workdays, 1,985 special persons did not know they would never return home that evening or any other. Also, 411 emergency services workers were going about their usual business. Did any imagine that today would be the day he or she would lose the life willingly put on the line day after day for others? At the Pentagon just outside of Washington, D.C., another 125 special individuals were also beginning the routines of a typical Tuesday at work most likely thinking of none of this. It was just a “normal” day.
By noon EDT on September 11, 2001, 2,977 special individuals were dead, and too many mothers were abruptly pushed into the pit of unimaginable grief and left to face the death of someone who’d started life within their bodies. Too many spouses/partners/significant others were suddenly without their special other. Too many children were left without the special love of a second parent. Too many siblings lost a special sister or brother. Too many relatives lost someone who had a special place in their extended family. Too many friends lost a forever buddy. Too few of those left behind got to say good-bye via cell phone or were left with a good-bye on an answering machine. None of the grieving got to shower these special persons with love during a last instant, minute or hour, and none got to share their loved one's last breath. And because they weren’t there, how many wonder about the fear and pain their special person went through before dying?
What I relive can be raw and painful; what they relive must be torture.
From the National September 11 Memorial and Museum