Updated: May 28, 2020
My youngest son texted me the news. “Nathan’s died.”
I called my son. He was crying.
Do you know the sound of an 18 -year-old boy’s grief? It’s a deep, broken bass sound that is heart-crushing, especially when he is 3,000 miles away from you. I’m alarmed at how quickly I had forgotten his sweet and tender heart hidden underneath that 6’1” frame that could easily throw me over his shoulder.
I asked if he knew what happened. He didn’t. I stayed on the phone with him until he stopped sobbing. Then I told him I would call Nathan’s mother to get more information.
“I’m so glad you called.” She said, “I couldn’t bear to be the one to tell you.”
“Lisa, I’m so sorry. I’m so, so sorry.” I kept repeating that phrase as we cried together.
Then she told me that Nathan had died from an accidental overdose of opioids.
“I don’t think I can do this,” she said. I responded immediately “Yes you can!”
I regretted those words after I said them. They weren’t just a reaction to her loss. I realized couldn’t handle the thought of her giving up. I wish I had said, gently “I know that you can’t see how, but you will.”
After the call, I sat on the couch and cried. My daughter sat on the couch and held me. She knew Nathan, had played with Nathan along with Ezra (my youngest son), had gotten rides to school with Nathan and his younger brother, Travis for months and months after Art died. This was a loss for her loss too.
So often sadness feels endless. The grief I feel now is not only for Nathan and Lisa. It’s also for me. L’s sorrow and guilt remind me of me in the early days after my husband died. I knew then that I was entering a hell that I didn’t understand. I didn’t know its depth. I didn’t know how long it would last. I couldn’t imagine NOT being in so much pain. I didn’t know the protocols of grieving. I was grateful for the support of my friends and terrified of it. Would I somehow have to “pay” all of them back? I thought I had tucked that memory and those emotions away, but talking to Lisa bought them back.
I was crying for my young, naïve widowed self and all the pain she felt and would feel.
And I showed up, just like most of you want to show up for your friend.
I show up in part because I know that it helps them and me. When you show up for a friend, it feels good. You touch the sadness, but you also touch on a connection.
I want to take you on this journey with me as I find my way in supporting Lisa, Sam (her husband and Travis, Nathan’s brother, as they learn to live a life without their son/brother. I can promise you these two things:
I will be honest, which means at some point you will probably think I’m an a**hole for some thought I put onto paper.
You will learn something, even if it’s what NOT to do.
Thanks for coming along with me. Together is the best way to learn.