By Mary Cucarola – 2/5/18
“When properly attuned, the heart’s most striking capacity, lacking in the mind alone, is the ability to comprehend the language of paradox.” — Fr. Richard Rohr
When I wake up on February 5th, my son’s birthday, I can’t wish him Happy Birthday by phone, text, message, or in person. I don’t have or need the ingredients for his favorite birthday dinner – shrimp scampi, lemon pasta, and Caesar salad, along with a big bottle of hot sauce on the side.
I can’t make him a birthday cake or give him a birthday gift or a bouquet of yellow balloons. I can’t tell him how much I love him or give him a hug. The worst part is I can’t welcome that closed-lip smirk, which was his trademark smile.
And, then there is this…
When I wake up on February 5th, I don’t have to wonder if he is safe because I can’t get hold of him by phone, text, message or in person. I don’t have to worry that he is going to relapse again, miss work, get into trouble, or overdose.
I don’t have to stress about dealing with his business partner or his father in explaining his whereabouts. The best part is I don’t have the constant anxiety waiting for the other shoe to drop that goes along with active addiction. I don’t have to spend any more of my retirement funds for his treatment. I can relax and take care of myself.
The rational mind cannot deal with both of these sobering truths – only the heart can. It is not the mind that has been dealt these truths, but the heart, and it is there where healing happens. The heart doesn’t need to resolve itself from the pain these sobering truths bring.
Grief is both joy and sadness, both hope and despair, both acceptance and denial. It is not an orderly process, and there is no closure, only a lessening of the pain.
When Cody died, it was easy to glorify his good qualities and temporarily forget his faults. But, those faults kept me up at night for almost 10 years, and consumed my life. I am not sure he would have ever found peace on this earth, but I know I did everything possible to help him find recovery, and that he is at peace now. If I could wish him back here, I certainly would, but as the reality is, I am only left with memories, both good and bad.
I spent the last few years of his life in fear of his death. I am calmer now about dying in general and maybe I won’t ever be that afraid again. After all, I watched my son go away and I know he is safe now. Someday, I will go away and I will be safe, too. I still miss making him his favorite birthday dinner, but my heart is healing as it lets go of the hurt of it all. There are some things that I am not meant to understand, only find a way to heal them.
I do understand one thing, though – when I wake up each morning, birthday or not, nothing is the same as it was and will never be.
Happy Birthday, Cody Joe.
Mary Cucarola – 2/5/18