Expectations….they can really be a terrible thing…good in many instances, but in my current context, my view of expectations have deviated from what they used to be or from the norm. I’ve never really thought much about expectations until now, but, on more than one occasion, my expectations have let me down…have crushed me…have shattered my world. You see, having an expectation is holding a belief or having a certain confidence that something will or should happen….a confidence in something or someone to behave or act in a certain manner. We all have them…and we are all often abandoned by those unmet expectations. But there are some expectations we hold…that really don’t seem like expectations…..they just seem to be a given. We often take for granted that these “expectations” are what our future holds….what our world will be like in 5 or 10 years. We can’t seem to accept the possibility that these expectations my never come to be. From experience, I have learned that the expected is as fragile as a budding rose. With one strong gust of wind, the petals of our expectations can be plucked from their base and swept away in one strong gust of wind….scattered, torn and broken.
As I was driving today, those unmet expectations hit me head on…pardon the pun. But truly, the weight of those hit me square in the face, and it literally took my breath away. I probably should have pulled over as I drove, but I didn’t…I continued on in my state of complete despair. Tears streamed down my face as I struggled to catch my breath…and the worst part was my mind. My mind raced with thoughts that I feel embarrassed to voice. I couldn’t stop them….and the thoughts seemed to jump from one to another so fast that I couldn’t control where they were going. I know that sounds crazy, but really…that’s what losing a child does to you. Your mind tries to make sense of something that is absolutely senseless…of something that is completely unnatural and irrational. I couldn’t stop thinking today, “Why did this happen to my family?”. And I’ve often thought, as Hillary Scott, says so eloquently in her song, “I may never understand that my broken heart was a part of Your plan.” Today, I grappled with this and my heart felt like it was being ripped apart all over again. The fullness of trying to understand the “why” behind this tragedy that hit our family almost a year and a half ago, once again brought me back to the early days of my grief. I thought I had gotten beyond the why…..but it reared its ugly head again…so completely unexpected, but so entirely real. Add to that….I felt completely forsaken…by anyone, everyone and no one in particular; including my faith. This left me feeling broken beyond repair. And despite, being in the presence of others and being surrounded by thousands of people…I was ALL alone. It’s the worse feeling in the world to see others all around you, but to be so alone that it seems no one cares….that no one understands. Forsaken…that’s where my journey has taken me.
Just when feel like I’m figuring out this grief thing and gaining some control, I am besieged by it once again. And I find that I am traveling unchartered waters….waters that are unfamiliar, dark, and lonely. Each day brings me into unknown territory. It’s as if I travel day after day with no known destination….it’s as if I travel just to get through the day. Why might that be? Well, you see, for 47 years now, I have lived with the expectation that I would see both of my children grow with me into my older years. That I would experience their college graduations….both of them, weddings, the birth of grandchildren, more Christmases, more holidays…..more time….with both of them. That truly was an expectation I held…I never saw it as merely a possibility. So, now that my expectations have been shattered, I am currently traveling a destination with no journey. My previous world of certainty is now anything but certain. It is completely uncertain….and my destination is unknown. I look at everything differently now. I no longer take for granted or expect that my visions of the future are a certainty. I now view everything as a possibility, because, as you the cliché goes, “You never know what tomorrow holds.” And even though I know that we all have a destination, a purpose….I travel it feeling that I have no destination because of that all to real uncertainty.
I know that I’ve said it before….but please….I beg of you…to not view life as routine, as something that will always be. You never know how very quickly your expectations can be shattered…how quickly your world can be torn apart….how quickly your world and your life can be forever changed. In the blink of an eye, your world can go from almost perfect to broken and shattered. That’s what happened to me….one minute I was working with no inclination that my world had been shattered….and then the next minute, I was on the floor, writhing in the deepest pain of my life. And then, I had to share this tragic news with Aaron’s sister….and shatter her world. And then, I had to share this tragic news with my parents and shatter their world….and Aaron’s aunt and cousins, and shatter their world….with Aaron’s step-sisters, and shatter their world….and so on. Within a matter of 5-20 minutes, this news shattered my entire family unit and their individual world. Our unmet expectations….shattered our world….in a split second.
And so, at times…I travel this journey with no destination…one that is often clouded and unclear. On other days the skies clear, and I find my way again….But I often still wander with no clear destination in my travel. I travel…merely to travel…to try to find my way through the muck and the mire of my unmet expectations.
And while I more often than not, feel completely alone…I know that I am not. And even though I often feel so very distant from my faith…I am not. I know that He is there…that He does hurt for my hurt…that He does know what I am experiencing. How do I know this? Because on that particular day that I described above where I was driving and trying to understand the why, I heard a song that spoke to me…and this is what it said:
“Not even a field or a flower escape his notice.” – If those things are in His sight…I know that I am in His sight…even when I may not feel it. He is there and is in some way guiding me through that muck and mire. And it is on these days that light appears and offers me some clear guidance to my destination. Maybe those days will occur more often over time….but right now, I bask in the days when the son shines and provides that guidance. On the other days….I will continue chartering those unchartered waters even though I see no destination.
To anyone struggling with the loss of a child or a sibling….there are others that understand what you are feeling and what you are going through…and sometimes, it’s nice to know that you aren’t crazy….that there are so many others feeling exactly the same way you are….there are many traveling that lonely journey with no destination.
To Sherry Petrowski for always being there for me as I travel this lonely toad…and for labeling this journey as often feeling like one with no destination. Thank you for you friendship and inspiration!