Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hope

Estranged.... what does this word mean? Webster has the definition as a verb: alienate, disaffect, wean. To cause one to break a bond of affection or loyalty. Wean? I guess that would fulfill the meaning of the word, but still seems strange in that context.

I have been estranged from family members from time to time in my life. Sometimes life is easier when not dealing with what would seem to be overwhelming issues. Better to put them on the back burner, so to speak, and let it go until you feel ready to deal. My mother was one of those family members that I often needed to distance myself from. She was critical and hard to talk to. I loved her and I know that she loved me, but we seldom saw eye to eye. I could agree to disagree, but she was unable to let anything just lie. She would keep any unpleasant item alive for as long as possible. It was all or none at all with Mother. My Dad was always loyal to his wife and I can admire that trait in him; even if it meant that he was also absent in my life when she was. During our last estrangement Mother died. Grief is a funny thing, though. It knows no estrangement. No matter who was right any chance of atonement was lost.

I mourned the loss of my mother and reconnected with my Dad. I have somewhere in my belongings a letter I wrote to her after she died. I know that sounds silly, but the letter was for me as much as it was for her. I would like to think that she was looking over my shoulder as I wrote it. I suppose I will know one day.

My oldest child died last Sunday. He was 39. He was alone by all accounts. I learned of his death only yesterday. We were estranged. I can only hope that he was at peace when he passed on. I was not listed as his next of kin. His sister is/was and she is the one who notified me. I am more stunned by his death than I thought I would be. The world he chose to live in was one that would ensure death at a young age.

As I lay in bed last night I tried to conjure images of the child I had nurtured. I also wondered what role I played in his choices that led to his death. No getting around that age old guilt a mother always feels when her child does something wrong. I am not taking the blame for what his life was, just wondering about my part, no matter how big or small the role.

I will not see him in death. I will remember him alive, as he looked the last time I saw him. No, I think I will remember that teenager on his first date to a dance. He wanted to wear a white sports coat. Very Miami Vice. I went with him shopping and we ended up at the fabric store. I made it for him. I seem to work quite well under pressure as I only had that evening and the next day to complete my assignment. I did and he was quite handsome. Somewhere I have a picture of him with his date. It was shortly after this event that he went to live with his "real dad". He changed dramatically afterwards.

Perhaps that was the turning point in his life, I will never know for sure. I have learned that even before this change in his life he was displaying behaviour that I would not have approved of. Nature or nurture? Who really knows these answers?

Today I am sad. I feel a little helpless, as if I should be doing something. Don't know what, though. In my heart I know that nothing I could have said or done would have changed the outcome for him. I hope he realized that I loved him even when I didn't like him. I hope that he knows that I am shedding tears of grief for him. I hope. Hope is all we have.

26 comments:

ellen abbott said...

Oh Kathy, how awful. My heart goes out to you. I used to believe in nuture over nature, until I had kids. Now I fully believe that nature is dominant. We do as much as we can...we love, guide, instruct, shelter, protect, support but no amount of nurture can overcome a nature determined to be what it is. That kind of change has to come from within. You did not fail him. He failed himself.

I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to lose a child, even one from whom you are estranged.

Be at peace. He knows, if not before, then now that you loved and grieve.

Anonymous said...

Oh Kathy I am so sorry for your loss. I wish you peace.

Kathryn said...

I am sad with you/for you. My relationship with my mother sounds a bit like what you described.

I am praying for you & hope you are able to continue to hold on to hope. I love the story of the white jacket. My hope is that he knows of your deep love & the joy he had that night.

I am so sorry.

Cathy said...

Hello Kathy
Thats a hard one to answer - Nature v Nurture. So many ingredients we never know how the cake will turn out do we.
What is it about Mothers and Daughters - I also wrote and spoke to my Mother after she was gone.
Thinking of you
Cathy

SJT said...

My heart goes out to you Kathy. Just for the simple fact that loss of a loved one, no matter what the situation, is always difficult.

lifein3dee said...

My deepest condolences. Losing a child is one of the most painful things a mother could experience.

It's "easy" for us to sit here and say, but try not to play the "what if" game. Nothing good ever comes of it. He made decisions in his life that led him down a road away from you. That's not something you could have helped.

I'm sure that he knows you loved him, and are grieving for him.

Sending hugs across the miles....

Kathy G said...

I'm so sorry. Know that you are in my thoughts.

When someone you love chooses a path that will lead to heartache it's so hard to watch them do it, but I'm sure you've learned that we have no control over anyone else's actions.

SkippyMom said...

I am so, so, sorry. I have no words, except to say I can empathize.

Hugs to you.

Carol said...

Kathy, Prayers and hugs, I send both. We all come into this world alone and leave it alone. We all make choices, some choices are good, others, well, not so good. We cannot live others lives, and they cannot live ours. NO ONE JUDGES us harder than ourselves. No one should judge us at all, except our Maker, if you believe in one. I pray that you shall come to a place of peace.

Nancy said...

I am so very sorry. For your estrangement and your loss. :-(

Marit said...

I am so sorry for your loss!

Deez said...

Kathy, I have never read your blog before but was bounced here from another blog I do read. I just want to say that with kids you have very little time to instill in them good values and then all you can do is hope they follow your advice once they decide they know everything. We were all the same way and every day we have choices to make. We don't always make the right ones but in the end they are all our own choices and belong to nobody else. My greatest sympathy goes out to your family for your loss...

Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I understand the emotions you are experiencing. You want to remember that sweet boy you raised and it's hard to think of the life he chose to live, the life that ultimately took him from you much too soon.

I agree with Ellen's comments and that we can only do the best that we can, and leave the rest to God.

So, be in peace knowing that you loved him and that you did the best you could. We cannot choose the paths our children take, but we can pray for them as they take it.

I have two sisters who are estranged and I worry that one or the other will die before they have the "right" opportunity to make peace (they've had opportunities but they've not been right for both of them - only one). My mom's siblings have gone from time-to-time with periods of estrangement. In fact, when my dad died four years ago they weren't speaking to one of my mom's brothers. I called to tell him of my father's death and that broke the stronghold of estrangement and he's been back among the remaining siblings since. He's the only brother my mom has left (three have passed) and she needed him back in her life so I'm glad he returned.

lindalee said...

Hello Kathy, like Deez, I came by way of another blog. I am so sorry for your loss. Please accept a big hug and my sincere condolences.

Meggie said...

Kathy, I really feel for you. It sounds so familiar. My son, however, lived, and although altered forever, seems to be happy, finally.

Living on the Spit said...

We have more in common than you will ever know...I understand and I am here for you if you ever need to talk.

You are very loved.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Dear God, what a thing to have happen. I can't add any more wisdom than what the others have said here. I hope you are able to come to terms with this but grief is a hard task master, biting you when you least expect it. Warmest hugs to you.

Colette said...

I'm sorry for your loss.

Pat said...

Kathy - Sorry I'm late in commenting. I was so surprised to read this - we were just talking about him, be it ever so briefly. I know you have the mom guilt thing going, but, please don't. We all do the best we can and then push them out of the nest. We pray, cross our fingers, give them many chances, and, sometimes, they still screw up. I, too, have a son like that. Hopefully he seems to have improved the last couple of years. But, as parents, we can only do so much. I am so sorry for your loss. I'm sure your son died knowing your true feelings for him. If not at that moment, then, later in heaven, for isn't it said that God welcomes all his people into his kingdom? Take care, my friend. I hope for better days ahead for you. Here's a hug from me.

Sunny said...

Kathy, I'm so terribly sorry to read about the loss of your son. Please know that you are in my thoughts.
Sunny

momcat said...

I'm very very sorry for your loss. He was your firstborn child and I know you must have wanted more for him in life.

Alix said...

Dear sweet Kathy... I am so very very sorry for your loss. Your oldest son, the loss of time through the estrangement, so many things. And yet I understand how these things go. Had a taste of it myself rather unexpectedly on Friday. Nothing as devastating as your loss, but something that rocked my world a little bit and has been on my mind ever since.

I've been involved with my share of estrangements... hasn't everyone. They all have one thing in common: sadness.

I'm sorry you are in pain and must grieve with what ifs swirling around in your head. With no real closure. That's why I hope you take comfort in the afterlife and know you will get your chance someday and all will be as it should be.

My heart and thoughts and prayers are with you sweetie.

deborahjcolburn said...

I hope I can get this comment posted...you have so many caring followers...it's comforting to know there are so many people out here that care about you. You know you are in my thoughts and prayers.

SkippyMom said...

I just wanted to add that I mentioned you today but I didn't link to you because, well...I thought it was too intrusive.

I do want you to know you have been in my thoughts and prayers all week and I wish there was more I could do.

You have my contact info - please feel free to get in touch if you need anything. I am right here.

Hugs to you my friend.

Karen said...

I found your blog through a link elsewhere... Kathy, you have my heartfelt condolences. Many things you said struck a familiar chord with me; the bad lifestyle choices, and the difficult feelings between parent and child when things get in the way. THEY KNOW, under all the muck, that they are loved, and your son knows it now, very much, without a doubt. I'll be praying for you and your family.

Vodka Mom said...

If he didn't know then, he surely knows now.....


and my prayers are with you.