Bob Dylan once sang, “They tell me everything is gonna be all right/ But I don’t know what ‘all right’ even means.”
It’s an apropos sentiment, I’ve discovered over the past 10 months.
Someone once said, “time heals all wounds.” Whoever said it must have never been wounded because time may diminish many feelings, but when it comes to my son, it hurts as much today as it did the day he died.
You see, it’s been more than 10 months since my son died. Not a day passes where he is not at the top of my mind.
Whether it’s a mundane task like going to work, something fun like cooking out on the grill or something truly enjoyable like meandering along a country highway in British Columbia, I can’t help but wonder how big he would he would be, what words he’d be learning (only appropriate ones longer than four letters, of course) or what trouble he would be causing.
It’s a feeling I wish no one would ever have to face.
I realize I cannot change the past. I cannot undo the mistakes the doctors made. I cannot make politicians who pretend to care about people actually show concern. I cannot make the medical industry in this county begin to make sense or better respond to patients’ needs.
I’ve learned a lot about myself. I’ve come to realize that when I’m in a professional meeting, I have to either sit there and take the conversations about kids — even the ones involving parents complaining about what a drag their kids are — or look rude and excuse myself.
I’ve written I don’t know how many stories about the horrible things people — sometimes parents — do to kids. As someone who consumes an inordinate amount of news, some days I can’t stand to read a single headline.
Some days, it is a lot to take.
Unfortunately, I’ve upset some by missing family celebrations. But, I know there are some situations I cannot put myself in, and I’ve learned I cannot help people who can’t or won’t understand.
I’ve made countless people I just met immediately feel awkward when making small talk they ask whether I have kids. I know they don’t mean anything by it. They don’t know.
At first, I didn’t know what to say; now I just state the facts. It is uncomfortable for some.
It’s not that I want to make people feel bad. I don’t. But, I’m not going to pretend like what happened didn’t happen.
In times like these, you gain levity about the things that matter the most. You pick up clarity on who your real friends are. You find solace in the simple notes, the brief checks and the meaningless texts you receive from those who really care.
Conversely, I know some people do not have it in them to address the proverbial elephant in the room. Some people want to pretend there are no such things as tragedies in life.
I wish that was true. I wish tragedies only existed in a Shakespeare play.
I didn’t ask for this. I certainly don’t want this. But, this is now a part of my story and who I am.
As Bob Dylan also sang, “I don’t cheat on myself / I don’t run and hide / Hide from the feelings / That are buried inside.”
Some days are better than others.
I hope someone can learn from this tragedy. The hospital won’t. Politicians won’t.
I am going to take 10 months going on a lifetime worth of learnings and put that to good use. Maybe I can help. Even if it’s one person, it will be worth the effort.
This is without a doubt the biggest challenge I’ve ever faced. But, I’m up for the task.
Stay tuned for a big announcement.