A gentle reminder to go on living

A guest blog by Andrew Padden…

Finally, I have a platform to complain, vent, accuse, and generally make my thoughts known on how wrong everything is. The only problem
with that is that I find myself with little to complain about. I have a wonderful wife and two great kids. I get along well with my parents and in-laws. I’m good at my job and like my neighbors.

Now, I can hear you saying, “Hey chubby, that all sounds great, and I am happy for you, but this fairyland tone is causing my migraine to return.”

Don’t get me wrong. I could search for things to complain about. My dog won’t obey me and has since trained my kids not to obey me. There
is a petition circulating in my neighborhood requesting that my truck be banned from the streets during daylight hours. Then, of course, there are the real things I could complain about: the pending war with Iraq and/or North Korea, the drought, the economic recession and so on.

And last, but certainly not least, my infant son dying three months ago.

 

To be honest, not much else has mattered after my son died. I miss him terribly, but I don’t feel right complaining. I’ve always been told that life wasn’t fair. Until my son’s death, I hadn’t experienced how unfair it could be.

I have always been the happy-go-lucky, loud-talking, fun-loving, self-deprecating sharp wit (or is that half-wit?). I’m the jolly fat man who is quick with a joke and quicker with a beer. The happy Daddy, ready to wrestle, play trucks or Barbie. I’m a lot like Santa – only not as
organized or as generous.

Or I should say, I was. What surprised me and helped my shattered heart was the generosity and compassion shown by almost everyone I knew. The support my wife and I received enabled us to hold our lives together for each other and for our other children. The kind word or open ear goes a long way when recovering from something like this.

It’s a long process, recovering from the death of anyone you love, but it is longer when it is a child. It’s a journey that we are just beginning, and one that will never end. I know that it will get easier – because it can’t get any harder.

I often go to my son’s grave during my lunch hour from work. I read him the sports page, stressing the current plight of the Avalanche, hoping for some divine intervention. During one of these sessions, I was sitting on the ground, leaning against the tree that shades his grave. I was complaining aloud how unfair it was for a father and son to be separated by six feet of earth.

I was most of the way through my diatribe when a bird pooped on my shoulder. I didn’t look up because I wasn’t sure if the bird was done yet, but I did scramble to my feet, cursing and threatening. As I stood there griping and wiping, I thought to myself that this was a sign. Not immediately, mind you. I mean, lightning bolts and thunderclaps are traditional signs from the afterlife. Bird poop generally doesn’t have any existential
significance.

However, the bird bombing was a message from my son. I can see you, rolling your eyes and thinking, this is the guy that keeps Madam Cleo in business – but I believe. It was my son’s way of telling me to get back to being myself.

It’s all right to mourn and grieve; in fact, it is a must. There is no timetable for grieving. But I need to wipe it off and get back to work.

I’m not so quick to com plain about it anymore. Nothing can change the fact that he is gone. If I’m not going to complain about my son dying, I shouldn’t be complaining about anything else.

Because of my Irish blood and poet’s heart, it won’t surprise anyone when I raise a glass to toast my angel on occasion. But no longer will I complain about my loss – because I carry him in my heart and in my head.

Besides, there are many large geese in the cemetery, and I don’t need my son to send m e a bigger message.

 

Andrew Padden (aopaddy@yahoo.com) is a sales rep in Denver who is happily married and the proud father of two great kids and an angel.

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    • Ann Mingo
    • September 26th, 2011

    Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful.

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