Remember every STOP: Denial. Anger. Depression. Survival. Acceptance.
So, here’s the first stop.
Which means, “This is a nightmare I’m going to wake up out of, and Ryan will still be here.” Don’t be shocked at that. None of us are prepared to entertain the thought, “it never happened” for very long. You’ve thought it, now feel it. Nobody knows how long each Stop lasts.
Maybe, for some of us, the rest of our life.
For instance, we build a home at the next Stop(the Anger Stop) because we ’re still mad at God, or someone else.
Of course, we are!
Don’t deny your anger!
The church often tells those of us in grief, “don’t be mad at God!”
I say, “Be as mad as you need to be. God can take it.”
So, spend as much time as you need there.
You might even find you need to return to this Stop again and again.
It’s OK. You’re the engineer.
There will always be the opportunity to move forward or return to this Stop.
God built that into our Journey together.
So maybe you’ve left the Anger Stop for now, and Depression has set in. (Mine lasted twelve years.)
You’re on the pills longer than you wanted.
Don’t stew over the length of your stay.
Just survive. It is enough just to survive.
Stop at the Survival Stop. There’s a red light there. Stop. Don’t run it.
And remember God doesn’t take shortcuts, so stick as close to Him as you can.
Where you are right now is not necessarily your ultimate destination.
And if you need to invent a world where tragedy doesn’t happen, invent the world.
Or, reinvent your world.
I’m wondering where you see yourself on “The Grief Train?”
I told you we were going to get thru this together. And here’s how.
When I was a little girl, there was a miniature train at the park. And you would board the train and it might have a Putt-Putt Golf Stop, a Botanical Garden Stop, or a Horseback Riding Stop where you can get off for a while.
Now I’m building my own railroad, with a miniature train called “The Grief Train.” And every Stop comes from the ride of my own life.
Here are the Stops this train will make:
Acceptance (You will notice I never get to the “Acceptance” Stop.)
I cannot accept Ryan’s death. But that’s just me.
On this train, I won’t suggest you stay on it all the way till the end, without getting off, like well-meaning church people tend to. I will encourage you to get off at every Stop, for however long you need to, including the ones you don’t want to get off at.
None of the Stops should be confused with your ultimate Destination. But they can be.
It’s your train too if you’re up for the ride.
God might suggest we make every Stop because God is all about learning, and the way we learn is to go thru every Stop of the learning process.
Stop, unboard the train, listen and learn what’s there, embrace it as best you can, and move on whenever you’re ready. No shortcuts.
This is not microwavable.
That’s not how God ‘bakes’ a person. We’re more like God’s personal crock pot. Low heat, all day long unlike American gods (money, power).
I mentioned last time that I am beginning to find the beauty in my scars and to honor that beauty. It’s easy to say, but it’s taken me 17 years (one day at a time) to get to where I can even talk to you about it today.
I showed you what the fire did to my legs. That scarring has been hard enough to deal with.
But there’s another scar deeper than the scars on my legs, it’s the scar behind any scar on my body.
It’s the scar that won’t heal, that chases me wherever I go.
It’s the scar way deeper than any scar you can see with the naked eye.
It is the scar that Ryan’s death left on my heart.
I see the scars on my legs every day but they always lead me back to Ryan’s face.
I WILL NEVER OVERCOME THAT! How can a mother overcome the death of her child? She can’t.
Let’s say God came to me during the first days of my loss and said, “Dawn, I have good news and bad news for you, which do you want first?”
And I say, “Lord, give me the bad news first.”
And God says, “ It’s gonna take you 17 years to really begin to see the Light.”
And I say, “ I can’t make it 17 years, not 7 years, not 7 hours.”
And God says, “ But that’s exactly where the good news comes in. You’re gonna make it. You’ re not going to kill yourself. We’re gonna go thru it together. And you’ll come out on the other side a stronger person, with a Mission the size of which you can’t comprehend right now.”
To you, friend, I’m going to say the same thing to you that God said to me, “ We are going to get thru this together.”
A Mother’s number one job is Not to ”secure your own mask before securing the mask of your child.”
Job numero uno is to take a round from a rifle for your kid. Like it or not, Moms, we are their saviors. As I’ve said before, I wanted to save my seven-and-a-half son, Ryan, from the fire. Not only did I not save him, I never got to him. I ran.
Ryan burned to death.
No mother could fail more completely. And I will never get over it however old I get. I hear what you’re saying:
‘‘It was an accident, Dawn.”’
“You did the best you could, Dawn.”
”Ryan is better off, Dawn.”
“Imagine all the future problems God protected Ryan from, Dawn!”
Is that all you got? Fuggedaboutit! There is nothing you can say that I haven’t heard already. And this tragedy cannot be understood unless you are a member of a very small sorority of mothers whose young child died violently. (It’s the Sorority nobody rushes!)
It has taken me seventeen years (6,205 nights) to say what I’ve said to you today. What have I learned?