Yesterday morning was the first morning in over a month and a half that I woke up feeling joyful. As I laid there in the moment contemplating whatever pleasant thought I had awakened to, I found myself surprised by the way I was feeling. But, I knew that it could not last. In fact, I have found that most "good" days (by which I really mean "tolerable") are followed by rather horrific ones.
A couple of nights earlier I saw Jonathan's door open, and found I Pam inside beginning the process of cleaning his room out. Jonathan had only taken the essentials to his new apartment, and his room was still full of things. Some of those things had lingered far longer than they should have, and now were destined for donation somewhere or even the trash. But mixed in were a number of possessions that carried special meaning and value to him.
As I pawed through his closet, I came across a wooden box I had made in junior high school. The top of the box was decorated with mementos from my days in Boy Scouts, including a souvenir from the 1973 Jamboree. Once upon a time that box held some of my own boyhood treasures. But somewhere along the way Jonathan had decided that he liked the box and asked if he could have it. I was glad he wanted it, and happy to give it to him.
As I opened the lid I discovered that the box now held Jonathan's boyhood treasures. I doubt there was anything in the box with any intrinsic value, but clearly everything in it had some special significance to him. Among his treasures was a necklace his "Papa" had bought in Africa, a souvenir coin from Stonehenge he had gotten on a family trip a long time ago, two ribbons he had been awarded from some type of musical performance, and an Oscar Meyer Wennie Whistle that came from who knows where.
And then there was the watch. It was, I am sure, relatively inexpensive -- a Seiko with a gold exterior and black lizard band. But it was a watch I had worn for many years (I believe during and after law school) and which he had worn too. As he grew older and his taste in watches changed, he stopped wearing it. But apparently it was sufficiently important to him to make it inside the box.
As I thought back to the origin and significance of each of the treasures, as I thought back to the times and places that each represented, my stomach turned. I began to gag violently, and I ran out of the room fearing that I was about to be sick.
This is, at least for now, the new normal. We talk about Jonathan frequently, we celebrate his life and we thank God for the time He gave us with him. But it is impossible to think of Jonathan without contemplating the magnitude of our loss. The pain of losing him is so vastly different from anything I have experienced in my life. I pray Pam, Christian, Dani and myself never have to endure this type of pain again.
In the next few days Christian and our "adopted" son Tommy will be leaving for India for about ten weeks. We really want the boys to move forward with their lives, and hope this adventure will be a nice diversion and change from the pain of the last month and a half. But, that does not mean that seeing them go will be easy.
We will miss them terribly. But like it or not we will also worry about them more than we might have once upon a time.
One of the things that changed for us on February 2, 2014, is that we stopped being the family that bad things just don't happen to. Like most parents, Pam and I worried about our kids but never really thought something like this could happen to us. If you are a parent, maybe you are the same way.
So, if you are continuing this journey with us -- at least in prayer -- please pray for Christian and Tommy and their safe travel and return from India. And, please pray that Pam and I handle their departure well.
Some people have told me that they have focused a lot more on their own families since Jonathan's passing, and I am glad for that. In fact, I hope that this tragedy will cause many people to refocus their priorities in life. Above everything else, I hope that people will be drawn to, or closer to, God because of our loss.