Monday, January 09, 2006

We're All Swimming to the Other Side

This evening on my drive home, I heard that a 28-year-old reporter has been kidnapped in Iraq. She was freelancing for the Christian Science Monitor, and has been in the country for three years.

When he was 25, Congressman John Lewis led the march on Selma.

My accomplishments by age 25? Well, there was the time I drank so much tequila a threw up in a bathtub. (I sat next to John Lewis once, though, so I got that going for me. The whole time I thought, “Wow. I am so not worthy.” I managed not to blurt the tequila thing to him, much to my relief.)

What will Lumpyhead accomplish by the time he’s 25? Will he go to graduate school? Will he be starting his career, settling into a city far away from me? Will he have met someone special by then? Will I like her? Him?

Will he still be alive?

During my first month at Yale in the fall of 1989, I met John and we became an item. We were together until June 29, 1995, when he died in his sleep. It was 19 days after his 24th birthday, and I woke up next to him.

I still keep in contact with John’s family; his mother was in the room when Lumpyhead was born. Bump has always accepted that Doc and Nana V are part of my family, and I’m grateful that they have kept me close.

It was a horrible thing to go through, losing someone I planned to spend the rest of my life with. Now that I’m a mother, it’s hard for me to imagine the experience from Nana V’s point of view. In the time soon after John’s death, I read that losing a spouse is like losing a limb, and losing a child is like losing a lung. It was hard for me to imagine anyone suffering worse than I was suffering, but maybe it’s unfair to think of something so difficult in degrees. Like when it’s cold in Minnesota, it doesn’t really matter if the temperature is -2 or -20, it still smacks you in the face and makes it hard to breathe. Two below doesn’t feel balmy compared to twenty below.

Like all moms, I wish the best for Lumpyhead. As a widow, I recognize the fleeting nature of the time we’re given here, and I treasure every minute I have with him. I don’t really have a point to this post, I guess, other than to appreciate all the people who have passed into and out of my life. I am enriched by those who are no longer with me, and I’m eagerly awaiting those I have yet to meet.

1 comment:

Heather said...

I read this post a long time ago, and didn't comment because what can you say? It is just so sad.

We just read your post about the softies, and Brian was asking me about you. I told him about this post and he gasped and teared up. "That is the saddest thing," he said.

I'm not sure that I have a point, just that we are both so amazed that you survived it, and so happy for you that you found Bump and now have Lumphead.