(Continued from previous post...)
Was I relieved and grateful to have C.T. back in my arms, safe and sound? Of course. Did we brush off our knees, wipe our tears, skip on back to our messy, normal life and say to ourselves all is well that ends well? No. Truly, all is not well, nor will it ever be.
Going on with life, trying to do "fun" things, normal things, in the aftermath of Zachary's death, is difficult. Every day I wake up with an oppressive sorrow and a despondence, a numbness, to this new life of mine. I see his precious face. I see the nurse's hand cluelessly silencing the alarm on his heart rate monitor. I hear him moaning in pain, suffering and fighting the infection. I see his eyes, crisp and bright, and then frozen, almost lifeless. Nothing we have planned for our day makes sense or has any significance when held up against the torment I face upon waking.
It never goes away. It still takes everything I've got to will myself out of bed, to face the day and all it brings. To submerge the sorrow, don a smile and an attitude of excitement about a bike ride, or some other adventure with C.T., is still a significant undertaking for me.
After working up the enthusiasm to do the bike ride, the scene that ultimately unfolded on the trail felt an awful lot like being mocked and ridiculed. In the end, my manufactured fun-mom persona stripped away, the raw me was exposed. Humiliated, traumatized, trembling with fear, perpetually grief-stricken mother, Gretchen.
What were you thinking? Out riding bikes, pretending to be living,... pretending to be enjoying life? Ha! You fool. Did you really think you could keep them safe in your fragile state? Just like you kept B.W. and Zachary safe? Don't you realize all of your plans, all your devices of control, are a mirage? C.T. might have returned to you this time. This time you were lucky. But you really should have known better. Death Lurks Everywhere.
I couldn't have felt more demoralized, as if someone had taken my sweaty, tear-streaked face and smashed it in the gravel of the trail.
As I've pondered it over the last couple of weeks, I've come to realize that a good chunk of my exasperated tears on the bike trail were in recognition of the loss of prayer in my life. Since Zachary's illness and death, I do not pray. Not for myself or my family. Not for people affected by natural disasters, starvation, cruel dictatorships. Not for families displaced by war or children in precariously dangerous situations. Not for anyone.
It's not that I'm heartless or unmoved by the sad situations which unfold daily across the globe, or even in my own extended family. No doubt, they exist. In some cases, they are tragic. I want healing and remedy and justice in this lifetime as much as anyone else does. It's just that after watching my healthy, innocent son wither away and die, amidst mountains of authentic prayers, I no longer believe that my intentional, outcome-seeking prayers have any impact for me or others. I no longer believe that God intends to protect, heal and bless us in this lifetime, as if we are all one-of-a-kind, precious snowflakes, doted upon daily by our Maker. I simply cannot believe it.
When your prayers of greatest worth and circumstance, prayers for the very lives of your children, go unanswered, you can't help but question the very fundamentals of prayer. Even very basic would-be prayers of gratitude, for B and C.T., for food, shelter, comforts and conveniences I don't deserve any more than anyone else, don't actually form in my head or on my lips anymore.
After what I've been through, I simply cannot bear to talk to God.
My gut told me I could not, should not, call upon God when C.T. was lost. Why would He be concerned with a boy lost on a trail when He allows so many terrible things to happen daily? When He allowed B.W.'s death, Zachary's tremendous suffering and death? I also didn't feel I owed Him praise when C.T. was found. I felt grateful, even unworthy in my gratitude, but I had nowhere to place that thanks.
Realizing it was truly beyond my belief to pray for C.T. that day left me feeling deflated and alone, especially since prayer was something I used to cling to. I now have an aching resignation that this relationship with God, this ability to actually influence our modern everyday lives and the lives of others by communing with Him in prayer, is actually something sold to us, without much biblical truth, by the church. Shit happens. Really awful, hideously wrong, horrific, tragic shit. It's distributed unevenly. It's not fair and most of it will not be remedied or redeemed in this lifetime. And God, for reasons unknown to us, allows it all, regardless of our prayers.
I suppose it is still a hard pill for me to swallow.