Tuesday, February 15, 2005

As I mentioned below, the focus of this blog has changed considerably. It has evolved from being a chronicle of the ups and downs of a premature baby to an accounting of the grief felt by his parents after losing him. As with almost everything having to do with Will, I have learned much about the grieving process. Yes, I have felt grief before with the death of a loved one or a friend, but nothing like this. Mary and I were talking about this last night -- Valentine's Day dinner conversation, as a matter of fact -- and I was trying to explain that I felt two different kinds of grief. Finally, after stumbling around it for a bit, I hit upon it. First is the day-to-day feeling of loss, that constant feeling of not having Will as a physical presence in my life any more. As painful as that is, I can deal with that. It's almost like a more concentrated version of what I felt every day when I was at work or the couple of times I was sick and couldn't make it in to the hospital to see him. I really wanted to be with him rather than where I was, but knew I could see him again soon.

The more difficult grief, then, is what follows. It is more long-term, the knowledge that I can't go see him soon. Not now, not ever. These really are two separate things for me. Right now I'm not with Will, and that hurts. But taking a moment to realize that it's always going to be like this, that I'll never see him again... that hurts almost beyond compare. Still, as I said below, in a strange way I embrace that, because to not feel that would seem to be losing him all over again.

The other thing I have learned from Will is patience. While driving to work today I was stopped at a light and pulled out my cell phone to check my work voice mail -- I wanted to see what awaited me when I arrived. As I was scrolling through to find the number, I saw many familiar numbers in my "recently called list." I haven't used the phone much the past three weeks, so most of the numbers were from calls made while Will was alive. I stopped on one that had been the number directly into Will's room and I was just paralyzed for a moment. Meanwhile, the light had turned green and a guy coming the other way and wanting to turn was gesturing angrily for me to get a move on. I wondered if he would be so impatient if he had known why I had paused; would he apologize and quietly move on? Probably. Why didn't he think about what I might be going through, I wondered. Why was this jerk in such a hurry? I began to think myself superior, because I was someone who was thinking about others, concerned about how my actions affected other people.

But I wasn't. Not really. Maybe this guy was in a hurry because he was himself trying to get to the hospital to see someone. I remembered one of Will's final days. We had spent the night with Will because he was not doing well, and I raced home at one point to take a quick shower and pick up some things for yet another night sleeping in Will's room. Everyone, it seemed, was conspiring to slow me down. The parking attendant didn't like my parking pass, so I had to go talk to someone at the parking office. There was a long line in that office when I arrived. Once I'd negotiated my way out of the ramp, it seemed everyone was content to drive several miles per hour below the speed limit. "My son is dying!" I shouted as I tried to weave in and out of traffic, wondering why people weren't more mindful of those in a hurry around them. Yet here I was this morning, a month later, feeling more enlightened but still really only thinking about my own problems.

So, maybe it is premature to say that Will taught me patience. He is teaching me patience. It is as if I have a new lens through which to look at life --there was before-Will and now, after-Will -- and I am continually amazed at what a difference that makes.


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