Thursday, August 20, 2015

Bike ride part 2

(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. 


  1. Oh Gretchen.

    I wish I could summon words that were sufficient to answer this post. But I hear you. I truly do. It is a hard pill to swallow. I don't pray either. Not since I prayed in the NICU.

    I tried praying by rote - just praying the words and adding the names. That is what I do now. Not truly praying by my measures.

    'O God, whose beloved Son took children into his arms and
    blessed them: Give us grace to entrust (name), to your neverfailing
    care and love, and bring us all to your heavenly
    kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and
    reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.'

    And I have prayed this prayer countless, countless times. For my daughter and for many, many others. I don't think it makes any difference necessarily. And I yet I pray it still. I pray it for children I know who have died. I've prayed it for your sons. I hope that wasn't wrong of me.

    I feel both gratitude and anger. And mostly. . .I'm just puzzled.
    Who wouldn't be?


    I'm so desperately sorry about the bike trail and how it felt so humiliating and mocking. It is horrible when things work out that way. I'm no stranger to that.

    Oh how I wish, wish, wish you lived closer to me. That you could come and have a cup of tea with me in the garden. That we could watch the children play. Although C.T. might well consider mine too babyish!

    Shit happens. It's horrible. It's unfair. And I'm sorry xoxo

    1. Your rote prayer isn't a bad one. The earthly damage has been done, my loved one has died. Now God, we ask that do as You promised. An affirmation of Jesus' goodness and God's almighty-ness. I can hardly argue with that. I am touched that you have prayed it for Zachary and B.W.

      Thank you so much for your comforting words. Some tea together would be amazing...

  2. I came across this cs Lewis article awhile back and have wondered through his thoughts... Maybe you will appreciate it too. With love, sweet mama.

    1. I'm on my third read of Lewis' piece. I really do appreciate you sending this - thank you.


  4. I don't have words to make any of this better, but i want to tell you i think you are doing an amazing job at facing the world everyday, accompanying C.T. though life despite what i can imagine to be significant anxiety that something could happen to him.

    Many thoughts to you and your family. Your boys are lucky to have you. xox

    1. Thank you, Typhaine, for your encouragement.

  5. I've lost prayer, too. I didn't want to be a cliche, when Joseph first died. I didn't want to say something like, "I've lost God" or "I don't believe in God anymore." But the years go by and I haven't found a way to reenvision that relationship, and the loss is huge.

    Burning Eye