Thursday, January 19, 2012

Raising Cole

Dear friends,
I want to say thank you.  Thank you for reading my raw, crazy, unedited thoughts of  this journey of life and grief that I have been traveling since September.  Thank you for reading, and then commenting, praying, and messaging me with your encouraging words.  I never meant to share my thoughts for everyone to read but I did want to feel better.  I did want to get some of it out so that I didn't become completely loony.  Grief is as difficult a thing as I have ever encountered and I don't know the first thing about how to travel this road but writing has been helpful.

On New Years Day, we were at our cousins' house celebrating the new year when I noticed a book under their Christmas tree that looked interesting.  It was called Raising Cole.  It had a picture of a University of Texas football player on the front and I was drawn to it.  Truly, like a moth to a flame I moved toward it then bent down and picked it up.  I don't know why.  I grew up in Texas so I like football as much as the next girl, but I'm not inclined to read a book about that subject.  As I looked closer though I read the subtitle Developing Life's Greatest Relationship, Embracing Life's Greatest Tragedy.  That was all it took for my sad soul to desire flipping the pages.  Well, upon the first few words I discovered that this was not a book about just football but rather a book about a father's love for his sons, one of which was killed too soon in a car accident.  Hmmm, connection for me. 

As I continued to read a small piece of text pierced my soul.  It read,

"Cole and I still talk all the time, no matter where I'm at or what I'm doing.  Sometimes I'm crouched in the mud at Fellowship Cemetery, my cheek leaning on his headstone.  Sometimes I'm pacing the shoulder on Highway 79 just north of Franklin, Texas, tracing the last few hundred feet where the tires of his pickup truck flattened the grass as they drifted off the road. "

I think it was at this point I yelled to my husband.  I got goosebumps and felt the presence of God as I thought of this unbelievable connection.  The author's son was killed on the same highway very near the location where my mother was killed.  Wow!  Now,  I was crying and did not want to put the book down.  I was absolutely sucked in, but was only able to read a bit more before we left for lunch.  I was impressed by the way the author, Marc Pittman, the father of Cole wrote so easily about his son's death and his experience with grief.  I loved that he shared how he felt and the things that he had to do after his son's death.  I appreciated and could relate to the raw real life stuff that goes along with death.  How he reacted when he heard the news.  How several of his friends knew of the accident before him.  I must admit I was very angry for a while that numerous people knew of my mother's death before I did.  She died at approximately 6 p.m.  but I didn't find out until around 8:30 that night that there had been an accident and it wasn't until nearly 10 p.m. that her death was confirmed to me.  I still feel cheated when I think about it.  I don't know why.  It didn't matter when I found out, just that I did but something about others knowing before me made me mad as hell.  It didn't seem fair that someone else could grieve for her before I could.  It was comforting for me to read that Marc had gone through his entire day before finding out from dear friends that his son had been killed.  I wondered if he felt angry as well.  Maybe I am the only one. 

Marc shared how it was seeing his son in a coffin and preparing to speak at his funeral. He spent the entire night before the funeral on a blanket at the funeral home curled up next to his son's coffin writing and talking to his son.  I think it was the way that he wrote so matter of factly about these things that opened the door to my own heart to let out the toxic grief that was consuming me.  After reading these first few chapters I knew two things.  One, I must buy and finish reading this book.  And, two, I must write some.  If even for me to remember, for me to process, for me to heal. 

I don't think to look at me you would have known.  I don't even think the three other people living with me would have known but there was a battle raging inside me.  The toxic grief was slowly taking over.  This battle raged between my heart and my head.  My heart that loves my Jesus so much and was feeling comforted each day by Him and my head that just throbbed with the thoughts that my mother was gone.  The battle was intense and I needed a release.  So, I  started writing and you started reading.  I started healing and you started sharing.  The more I have shared the harder you have prayed.  Some of you have even traveled this road yourself.  Some of you are on this road with me right now.  You know it's hard too.  You know each new day brings new challenges.  You know life is forever changed and you wonder what will make you cry that you never gave a second thought to before. 

My mother was brassy and bold.  I think she had a filter but she didn't use it very often.  I loved and hated this.  I loved that I never had to guess at what she was thinking.  I never had to guess how she felt about someone.  I hated that I never knew when she would share just how she was feeling.  Often it was at the most inappropriate time and embarrassment laid thick on me like morning dew on the grass.  My husband and I were talking about my mother the other day and we both agreed that we'd give anything to experience one of those embarrassing moments again.  To have her share an inappropriate story that she thought was hilarious and to hear her laugh.  I used to hate when she did this, now I'd love to feel like I want to crawl under a table because she did it again.   

I do want to wrap up today's post by saying that as hard as this is I have felt God all along the way.  From the moment we found out about my mother's death God's presence was upon me.  He made me feel strong and powerful.  He gave me a rush of adrenaline.  He was upon me.  He has continued to be faithful and walks with me daily.  I honestly think I would not be able to walk daily if it were not for Him.  That is the good news.  That is the blessing that is our Lord.  Marc Pittman knew that too and writes about a similar feeling.  An energy that allowed him to continue on.  I know God lead me to the book Raising Cole.  I know he wanted me to read about another believer's grief to know that I was normal, not loony and I was going to be okay. 

So, yesterday I bought Raising Cole.  I read the entire book in one day.  It fed my soul.

For any interested person the book is Raising Cole: Developing Life's Greatest Relationship, Embracing Life's Greatest Tragedy: A Father's Story by Marc Pittman

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