Saturday, May 09, 2009

April Wasn’t My Best Month

Coming into April 2009, I had no idea what I would be facing, or I would have dug my heels in and did my best to stop the clock. Not that that would have been possible. We field the ball as it’s hit to us and truth be known, if I would have been warned it would be a bad month, I most likely would have girded myself up and took it on the chin; my usual modus operandi.

I see myself as a realist who accepts the world as it literally is and deals with it accordingly. So, all things considered I have to accept April 2009 for what it is both good and bad, sad and happy, awful in it’s wounding of spirit and soul, but beautiful in the incredible support, compassion and love shown to me and mine in this desperate time of mourning and loss over our son’s untimely demise.

Coming to grips with the loss of Nicholas has been the hardest mountain I’ve ever climbed, but climb I must. My own survival depends on it and the lanyard that dangles from my harness allows my bride, daughter, brothers, and sister, Mom and Dad, along with many friends and loved ones to get a grip and the traction they need to make the climb with me.

I am “the Dad” and by definition must lead, regardless of the amount of hardship inflicted upon my family. I am allowed and encouraged to mourn and the incredible volume of loving support has been beyond my deepest imagination, but in the end I must climb and climb I will.

There are many more beautiful sights up this mountain path for us to see and enjoy and I aim to see them with my friends and family at my side. Nick had many friends, many of which are estranged from their parent(s), or missing one or both through like tragedies. I want to be there to help guide them when they need someone.

In April 2009 I became painfully aware of how many people are silently suffering due to personal loss. Many friends and yes, strangers told me stories of loved ones passing and I then realized how common it is for people to carry this awful weight on their shoulders.

When personal loss intrudes into our life, the thought will cross your mind that it is peculiar to you and yours and those immediately impacted – alone, but this is so far from the truth, I can’t even comprehend it. “No man is an island…” is part of a quote by John Donne, an English clergyman back in the 1500’s and one I often quoted to my Army son, who incidentally silently and privately suffered from PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the combat he was involved in, in Iraq.

I didn’t understand his aversion to crowds and often attempted to get him to mingle. I would tell him he owed it to everyone to share his life, but he would withdraw and often disappear from gatherings and I would shake my head. It wasn’t until after his death that I realized it was a behavior pattern he had learned from me.

I should have been preaching to myself, as I was actually the guilty party. When over 600 people came to his funeral I saw for the first time how truly important people are and how we are all part of something greater than ourselves. No one is an island and our friends and family reflect everything we do and say and when they hurt from personal loss, their friends and family hurt also. It starts a rippling effect that can last for years and often does.

No, April 2009 wasn’t all bad and I reckon as time moves on, I’ll see it as more of a spiritual awakening and blessing than I can realize while I’m in its wake.


Laurie M said...

I was looking for a picture of a muffin and your blog popped up...who knows why - oh you must have a little dog named Muffin. I saw the picture of your beautiful son and it spurred me to read your article. I am sorry for your loss. I can't imagine the sorrow you feel, but I just wanted you to know that all the way across the web to BC Canada I felt a bit of your pain. I have recently come across this quote and it gives me hope. You may have already heard it.

Love is immortal, and death is only an horizon, and an horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight. - By Rossiter W. Raymond (1840 – 1918)

Natalie said...

Beautiful, Bert. And the photo you chose seems to tell a story without words...

I'm so very glad the support you've received has made you feel you're not alone with your burden.

Don't go this trip alone :)

Anonymous said...

I was stunned when I read your column this morning, and disappointed in myself for not having known about the loss of your son.
I know that I too would have been there to show our support. We are community and though we all have our journeys and paths that we take each day, we must honor the lives of those that touch our hearts and souls, especially our children.
I am certain that you have been the recipient of many wise words, and blessings from the many you have touched in your works, especially during this difficult time.
I cannot add more words of comfort other than to tell you that my prayers are with you and your "bride" and for your hearts to heal and that you continue on your journey even stronger. God bless you and may Nicholas rest in peace.

Hilda & Arthur Martinez

Anonymous said...

Mr. Marshall,

You don't know me, but I read your column faithfully and followed you on Baytown Talk when it was still online. I read your column today with tears in my eyes and an ache in my heart. I know the feeling, all too well, of losing a son and I am so truly sorry for the loss of your beautiful son, Nick. I hate that you are now a member of this horrible "club" to which I, and many, many others, belong.

I know advice is the last thing you want, but if you ever decide that you want to talk about losing Nick, Compassionate Friends is a wonderful organization full of caring, loving people who are all going through the same thing you are. You can find them on the internet.

I just wanted to let you know that you and your family are in my thoughts, my prayers, and my heart. I wish there was something I could say or do to help with the pain, but I know there's not. Just know that you have so many people thinking of and praying for you.

Your friend,


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