The light is always burning, turning, waiting for your return,
As the storm raged waves crash hard against my memory.
A ship lost at sea is the feeling in my heart.
My compass is askew and my course uncertain.
The mooring docks are empty, as empty as my soul.
For in my heart and soul lives a giant hole, sinking, a downward spiral.
As hard as I can I am trying to stay afloat, but every day the hole grows.
With every sunrise, a new day, a new hope that the hole will grow smaller.
The complexity of grief is a sinking vessel, with the never-ending hope of rescue.
-Brad Benton, Lindsay’s dad.
I wrote this poem not long after Lindsay passed away. The main reason I wrote it is fairly apparent, but for some reason the thought of a lighthouse, an angry sea and a boat lost and in destress stayed on my mind. The interpretation of this poem can be as vast as the number of people that read it with many different end results. In the words below you will read what I was feeling.
The turning and burning light represents a beacon for when you have lost your way. Lost, like so many after the loss of a child. The light is beckoning for you to return, to return to what you knew before, return to a safe harbor of love, a harbor of family and friends, a harbor of dreams yet to come true and dreams lost.
My memory stands firm and acts as the foundation of the light house. A foundation that must keep the lighthouse from crumbling so all can see. A foundation that must keep the memories alive as it takes the pounding of each wave of grief, sorrow and pain and then return it back to the sea. A foundation that must forever stand strong and true.
Any parent that has lived through the death of a child knows the feeling of being lost at sea. There are no bearings, no landmarks, no manuals and nothing to guide you but your own heart, and it is broken. This is a loss like no other on earth. The feeling of helplessness is your sail and the winds of hope have stopped blowing. The tides churn your emotions with a constant raising and falling.
My compass is askew with no true north, no true direction. I do not know which way to turn to find my way. My course of healing is uncertain. The time limit on grief does not exist nor is it laid out like a chart to guide you to a final destination. A compass not only gives you direction, it gives you hope and security, but when your compass is askew you feel as if all hope is lost.
The mooring docks represent my soul and the emptiness it feels as the storm fed seas seem to take the breath from my body, like a slow descent into the abyss. With the seas raging, all the vessels, like my hopes and dreams, have loosened their lines and drifted away, unsure of ever returning.
When you lose a child, you lose a part of your heart and soul, there is a large hole where they once lived. Missing this part of your heart puts you in a downward spiral that seems to never end. With every waking day, you try so hard to move on, but grief holds you down like an anchor. The hole in your heart and soul feels as if it will never mend.
The complexity of grief, there have been volumes written on grief and its many levels and forms. All I can tell you is every day, it is there. Some days not as bad as others, but it’s always there. It’s like an ant at a picnic or that obnoxious relative at the annual family reunion, it’s always there. I do feel like a ship sinking, calling mayday over life’s airwaves. You are always looking for that one thing that will bring you back, back from so many hurtful places, so many fears, so many tears. You are always hoping for that one thing to rescue you, but it never comes. In my own heart and mind, I believe I have to rescue myself. I have to pull myself up by the proverbial boot strap and face each day, knowing that her face will be the first one I see when I leave this world. Knowing that when I see her face, it will be smiling. Smiling because she now knows why I said “no” so many times. Knowing I did love her unconditionally, no matter what she said or did. Knowing I did trust her and knowing I tried to be the best dad I knew how to be. I know in my heart, Lindsay would not want me to stop. She would not want me to stop living, stop working, stop being a father to Jarrett or a husband to Kelli, a son, a brother or an uncle. I believe she knows how much I loved her when she was here, how much I still love her and how much I will always love her. I believe grief is what you make it, it can rule your life or you can rule it. This is a direct quote from Ms. Lindsay Benton while she was speaking to a young man on the phone. “I have enough people in my life telling me what to do, I don’t need you doing it too.” Well grief, I don’t need you telling me how much I miss my daughter, how long I’m supposed to hurt or cry, or how hard it’s going to be to carry on, because I already know, forever. I want to believe that every time Lindsay looks down from heaven she will see that lighthouse with its light still burning, and know that it’s foundation will forever stand strong.
As I was completing this blog I happened to look at the date on my computer, July 28th, eleven months she has been gone. It still does not seem real to me, it still feels like a movie or something that happened to another family. Not a day goes by when I get a text I think for a split second, maybe. I still expect the garage door or the door going up stairs to come flying open at any time. I still try to make myself believe she is just staying at her moms for a few days and she will be home tomorrow or maybe the next day. My mind always thinks tomorrow, but my heart knows, never.
I miss you girly girl, dad.