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From a Grieving Mom to a Non-Grieving Mom

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” ~ C.S. Lewis

When my boys were little, we had a motorhome we frequently took trips in. Even if we could only get away for a weekend, it was a good family time to simply drive less than an hour to a camping ground. One time, we took a week to enjoy a longer vacation time together. Friends lived about 12 hours away so we went to visit with them. Once we had arrived in their city, we needed to stop at a local store and pick up some basic supplies.

My youngest son was less than 1 year old, the next just under 3, the eldest less than 5. I decided to stay in the motorhome because the baby was sleeping and I knew he might wake up now that we had stopped driving. My son, who was under 3, wanted to go into the store. He was always the inquisitive one.

It wasn’t long before my then husband came running out to the camper looking quite frightened and frantic. He started yelling as he approached us, “I can’t find Roddy!”

Dear non-grieving Mom, has that ever happened to you? Have you ever been in a store, at a park, in a crowded area filled with strangers and turned around to suddenly realize your child has disappeared? Do you know the feeling of panic that ensues? Are you familiar with that terror? That “aloneness?” That horror? The utter confusion that envelops you? The trepidation that is felt in every fiber of your body? That momentary feeling that your heart simply forgot its next beat? The initial denial that is suddenly transformed into terrifying anguish?

I yelled at my husband to watch the boys and ran as fast as I could into that store. I started yelling immediately as I went through those doors, “Roddy!  Roddy! Roddy!” I went from one end of the store to the other, and it was a large store like a Walmart. In between yelling for my son, I periodically implored, “Have you seen a little boy? He has blonde hair, he’s little?”

Please, non-grieving Mom, if possible, just for a moment, walk in my shoes if you can. If you can relate to this, then imagine it continuing on for hours, days, weeks, months, years. Imagine being forever lost in this endless torment of crying out with every fiber of your being for your child who has disappeared. If you are able to relate to this for
even a moment, you have for this moment tried on my shoes.

Some kind, elderly gentleman heard my pleas and located my inquisitive little boy that day. My son was checking out something that caught his eye, which for the moment fascinated him. I use to call him my “space cadet” because once something of interest grabbed his attention, 100 percent of his focus became absorbed in that object. His quest for knowledge was insatiable.

All worked out well on that day, except for my anger toward my husband.

My son, my “space cadet,” is dead now. I still, after all these years, sometimes look for him in once familiar places. I can still taste that moment of terror. There are still days when my heart is in my throat and I cry out, “Roddy!  Roddy! Roddy!” I know where he is; I believe I will see him again; I know we will find one another. But until that time comes, I will have those moments of tormenting panic.

That is the best I can do to attempt to help you understand what I live with, and who I am now.

Jude’s book, “Gifts from the Ashes,” is available at Direct Textbook.

Follow this journey on Jude’s website.

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Thinkstock image by OcusFocus