Many years ago, I was lying on an old vinyl covered bench with holes worn through it and foam sticking out from the side. I looked up at a black steel bar pitted with rust and on the ends of this bar was a total weight of three hundred pounds. As I placed my hands on this bar of resistance, I began moving them vigorously to find the right location, the right spot, where they felt the most comfortable. I began to think but then I stopped myself and thought, “Don’t think just do it.” I pushed this steel bar weighted down with more weight than I have ever lifted before and in a moment of hesitation, I felt fear, I felt weak and I felt beaten. This weight was now right over my chest, my heart, and there was nothing between me and the crushing weight of the bar but my own strength, my own will, and my own desire to hold it up, to control it. As I began to lower the bar my arms started to shake and feel unsure, but as it hit my chest it bounced back up, it now had direction, it had momentum and all I had to do was complete the journey. As I placed the bar back in the rusty rack of this old worn old bench I realized the journey, any journey, really has no end. Any journey can go on forever, if you only have the strength.
Why do we recall the most random memories when current day events, or tragedy happens in our lives? This was one of the memories that I pulled from deep from the catacombs of my cobwebbed mind. Why did I think of my old high school weight room after Lindsay passed away? The reason, the answer, it will always evade me, but I know it was a place I felt safe and I felt secure. I began to look at the day I joined the 300 pound club and compare it to my current situation, grieving. The weight of grief is immeasurable, there is no bar that can hold it and your team is made up of a not so lucky few. Standing beside Lindsay’s bed, watching all the lines move on the numerous monitors was like lying on that bench, I was scared, I was nervous and I was vigorously looking for a the feeling of peace. A peace that fills your heart, a calmness that eases your mind and a love that lasts eternal, the love only a parent and child know. The only way I could find this peace was through the memories of her smile, her laugh, and the words every parents longs to hear, “Dad, I love you.” August 28th was like pushing that old rusty bar off the security of that benches rack. I felt like my whole life was shaking, not just my arms. From trying to hold in all my emotions, trying to be brave and trying to be strong. Grief is like that bar when it comes off the rack, you can use all your will, all your desire and everything in you to hold it up, but sometimes it will surpass all your strength and it will come crashing down on you and the last thing you have is control. There are times when grief hits me right in the chest and goes straight to my heart, like a dagger, it can pierce the innermost part of my soul. Then there are times when it will hit me and I have the strength to push it away, I can hold back the pressure of grief, if only for a day. It is at those moments I feel there is a purpose, there is a direction, and I use that momentum to carry on, to push that bar back up and to live life the way, I feel, Lindsay would want me to live it. To be the man, the dad, the teenager that was lying on an old vinyl bench years ago who can be strong for her, to carry on her legacy, and the love for our family. Like time on a game clock, momentum always seems to run out and you are always looking for overtime, just a few extra minutes before this journey continues. A journey, that for a parent that has lost a child never ends. I read once “Child loss is not an event, it is an indescribable journey of survival.” This is such a true and powerful statement, an indescribable journey of survival, a journey that will never end, a journey that has your life torn between before and after, a journey that breaks you or makes you stronger. Everyday the road of grief has many different paths, and you always seem to be standing at a crossroad. You never know the which road to take because there are no signs telling you the direction to go. You never know until you start walking if this daily road is going to be straight and smooth, bumpy, curvy, rocky or if it will only have a few pot holes. Regardless of the paths surface, it is griefs path for you that particular day, and it will take all of your strength to stay on that path until the end. Grief is a journey anyone who has lost in their life walks everyday, it is a journey of sadness, a journey of memories and a journey of tomorrows. I take this journey everyday, and everyday I know where my strength comes from, the memory of a smile, a laugh, the most beautiful eyes I have every seen and it comes from five words, “I love you too, Dad.”
Everyday my life starts off on that bench, everyday I place my hands on that bar and everyday I pray I have the strength, to be strong.