I’d always thought that if something happened to any of my children, I would just immediately go crazy. Really, just take me away in a straitjacket. But it doesn’t happen that way. I’ve discovered that I’m only crazy some of the time and sometimes I know it and sometimes I don’t. And sometimes other people think I’m crazy but I don’t think I am.
My family thought I was crazy at the site of the crash, when I put my fingers into Dustin’s blood that was still on the road, when I picked up bits of his hair that hadn’t been washed away. Doing that just seemed obvious to me, touching part of my child.
Crazy to me was waking up every morning and reliving the chaplain on the front porch, telling me my son was dead. Every morning. I also would get a glimpse of his silhouette on the front porch every time I happened to glance out the kitchen window just right.
Crazy is how I felt one day a couple months after Dustin’s death when I was just walking along the sidewalk and a car came around the corner, in its own lane, going a reasonable speed, but what I unexpectedly experienced in my mind was it coming speeding over the curb and crashing into me so that I was thrown up onto the hood before being catapulted through the air.
Crazy is what I was on Mother’s Day, when I cried so long and so hard I honestly thought I wasn’t going to be able to stop, that I was going to die crying. I never knew that one body could manufacture so much snot.
Crazy is what I think other people are when I get sad and they say, “What’s wrong? Did something happen?” Did they FORGET that my son was killed?
I don’t think of Dustin every minute of every day like I did the first few months. But it’s like living with chronic pain. You have no choice but to live with it and you get to where you’re not thinking of it constantly, not noticing it sometimes in the busyness of life, but in a split second, with no warning at all, the pain is there again front and center.
You never know what’s going to bring it to your awareness. Like last night, watching Jay Leno and the guest star was Justin Timberlake. Now, I don’t know what Dustin would think of this, but I think there’s a resemblance between him and Justin Timberlake.
Every bicyclist or bicycle reminds me of Dustin. Sometimes it’s certain books (anything Native American or about hiking or Germany), or a food (like Raisin Bran), or music (Marvin Gaye, Beethoven). It can even just be a big soup pot (he requested one his last Christmas).
And one day
in an innocent conversation, Glenn (my husband) used a slang military term: F.U.B.A.R.
“F***ed Up Beyond All Repair.” It hit me like a sledgehammer. My son was
F.U.B.A.R. Dustin was F.U.B.A.R. That craziness stayed in my head nearly
constantly for days (and is still here, a year later).
|Our last Christmas 2010, choosing between soup pots|
There are the more obvious things that make me think of Dustin’s death: other car or bicycle or pedestrian crashes. Seeing bad driving that doesn’t result in crashes. It seems almost every book I’ve read lately mentions some parent losing a child (I read mostly mysteries [or non-fiction]…and Harlen Coben is the greatest!).
I do want to think of Dustin sometimes. There are so many terrific memories of him and of course thinking of him keeps him alive. My biggest fear, and the fear of so many parents of deceased children, I’ve found, is that he will be forgotten. You know, out of sight, out of mind. Nothing scares me more or upsets me more or fills me with more dread. Even though I know it’s an unreasonable thought that he’ll be forgotten. Even though thinking he’ll be forgotten makes me feel guilty because doesn’t that mean that I somehow think he wasn’t very important to people? (See, more craziness!).