Because to accept the suffering would mean accepting that there was no solution to the puzzle of that day ...
“What are you willing to suffer for love?” ~ Heather King
In the last 16 weeks I have refused one thing: to take up my cross. I didn’t want it, didn’t ask for it and refused every part of it.
My heart has been shattered by the suicide of my son, Anthony, and I have cried, and cried, and there has been no acceptance within those tears. I’ve been begging God to let this cup pass and just bring Anthony back. I’ve been rehashing the events of that horrible day he left us, the day he hung himself. In my mind, I’ve trying to find just that one crack of opportunity, where I could get in and change how it all ended, and then he would come back to me.
Living past my son’s suicide has been like being trapped in a maze, with no solution, just a continual trudging and backtracking, with no exit.
I have been wanting all of my son back, and none of this suffering.
When I heard those words come out of Heather King’s mouth at a recent conference, the wind was knocked out of me and my entire body felt like it was on fire.
“What are you willing to suffer for love?” she asked.
NOTHING, I wanted to shout. “I will NOT accept the suffering!”
Because to accept the suffering would mean accepting that there was no solution to the puzzle of that day, no resolution beyond acceptance of what I do not wish to accept.
I want Anthony back. How can I accept less? God is capable of anything! That was the song of groaning rage in my heart.
As Heather kept talking, though, I could see that she knew. She knew suffering for love and she knew Christ in the flesh. The one thing about Heather King is that she is trustworthy. That’s saying something for me, because I don’t trust anyone to understand what I am feeling, but I do trust her. By the end of her talk I had accepted that the suffering I had been fighting was part of the love I have for Anthony. There is nothing that can be done now except take my suffering and offer it to Christ.
Acceptance comes with pain, even in the little things, like quitting my job where Anthony and I both worked. Making a new playlist with music he never heard. Having his phone line shut off. Doing all of these things brought such pain as to leave me lying on the floor, staring at his picture and crying, because the world is so heartlessly going on without Anthony in it.
That is the most difficult part of this cross, carrying it as everyone else just goes on with life at the grocery store, or the water park.
My priest has suggested that I leave this place, with all of these reminders of Anthony. It is not such a bad idea.
But in truth, as a mother, everything reminds me of him. The things that are new remind me of all the possibilities he couldn’t see in his last minutes on this earth. The camping trips; watching his daughter’s face as she saw her first fish come out of the water; me going to Notre Dame for a writing conference; his brothers graduating from high school. New music coming out every week.
Every one of these things makes me feel so much regret in the pit of my chest. If only he could have seen what was coming ahead.
Then there is dealing with all the good things that are happening. Yes, good things happen, but I can’t help but wonder if some prayers are being answered because Anthony is praying for us, and if so, the cost is too high.
I would rather be back to having everything going wrong, with him still here. Love says that my son’s death is not the price I had to pay for prayers to be answered. God knew that Anthony’s choice was going to be to end his own life, for whatever reason — only God knows – and to take away the choice would be to turn creation upside down.
Our entire existence is based on the freedom to make choices. God knew this and put all of the people in place to help me carry this cross. I see it now: all of these Simons are a grace, they are not the cost of Anthony’s life.
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