I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about this month. For me, making it through June, the month of the anniversary of my son’s death, is hard enough. And honestly, April and May are not much easier. I feel is if I hear a countdown in my body and it just moves into my life and ticks away. And then stops. Until the next year.
I thought I would wait to write this column until after I joined a meeting of the Family Advisory Committee, a newer committee of COPE that is a mix of COPE families, staff and Board members.
I left the meeting last night so impressed and in love with our COPE families. The meeting confirmed for me, again, that COPE families are made of steel, and love, and laughter and an eternal sadness. A bit cracked and chipped maybe, but strong. Irreverence and humor sit side by side with our shared loss. Grief is never too far from the windows of our hearts and still…..we show up. Some days more of us is there than others, but we show up.
I was struck at the intense connection the parent members of the committee had with each other. Though they represented different support groups, they laughed at shared experiences and memories of things that had happened in their time with COPE. These members had participated in our annual walks, visited the labyrinth, and most importantly, believed that the strength of the group experience helped them survive the darkest time of their lives.
I was a bit jealous. My divorce was a year before the accident. The expected family and network of supports had huge holes and I felt unspeakably alone. A month later, an autopsy report told us that my son’s death was more complicated, with human error and ignorance playing no small role. And those complications created huge turmoil in our lives. This loss, this process, was not something that a hug would fix. No dinners with dear friends could quiet the storm in my head and heart. I started to write, but there weren’t enough words to clean this mess up. I just felt alone and even as friends listened patiently, there was never any relief.
I came to some COPE meetings, but at a time of cascading family and legal events, I couldn’t tell my story. And I couldn’t sit with it either. So I just didn’t go. I had other supports, I thought, and I gained about 40 pounds. Maybe not the best coping skills.
I did start a writing group at COPE, and found love, kindness and humor and, well, more love, there, and I worked to help COPE in all the ways that my head and heart let me. Maybe for me, giving was my way of getting, if that makes sense. I am lucky enough to have two wonderful children but if tried to cram caring for three children into hovering over two, they would not be happy. Maybe joining the COPE Board and accepting this new position of Board President is not just the way I help support COPE, but the way COPE is supporting me.
Thank you all.