Christmas Morning, 2015 – 9:10 AM

This is not the way I wanted it

It isn’t what I deserve

It isn’t what I planned

But it is what it is

It’s the dharma.

It’s that which is

Taking one more glance at a newspaper article on my way out the door to mass, I read that Buddhist quote above and said to Tom, “What an unusual quote to read on Christmas morning.”

We planned to attend Christmas morning mass with our son, Ron, several weeks prior.  It was scheduled to begin a 10:00 AM with a brief program prior at 9:45.  On Christmas Eve at 12:15 PM I received a text message from him saying, “What time is mass tomorrow?”  Ron had planned weeks prior that he would meet us there, join us for breakfast and spend the rest of the day with us.   Rather than text him back, I called him and we chatted.  I told him about some of the gifts I had purchased for us to take to dinner at my sister’s house.  So we agreed to meet at 9:30 AM at the reception area just outside of the chapel.  The last thing I said to him that day was, “I’m so looking forward to being with you tomorrow, Ron.”  I have no exact recall of his response, but it’s likely that he would have said, “Me, too”.

We arrived at the chapel around 9:20.  One of the sisters asked if I would agree to do a reading during mass.  I said, OK so I decided to review it while waiting for Ron to arrive.  Ten minutes passed quickly and at 9:30 I looked out the window waiting to see his car pull up outside.  At 9:35 I sent a text, “We’re here.  Where are you?”  Ron would either be sure to arrive on time or tell you why he was running late.  He did not respond.  A pang of unease surged through me.  At 9:45 we decided to go inside for mass to begin but we seated ourselves in a place where we could see Ron enter the front door.  We “saved” a seat for Ron’s next to Tom.  Mass began and with each passing minute a deepening sense of dread entered my heart.

When it was time for me to read, I stood and slowly yet carefully read the text, which was adapted from the Old Testament Book of Wisdom.  The reading depicted God as a most loving mother always holding her child in her care.  I read the words slowly, clearly, carefully.  I knew in the depths of my soul that somehow this reading was for Ron from me for all time.  After I completed my words, I turned to Tom and said, “Let’s go.”  Our departure from a conspicuous place in the small chapel on Christmas morning drew attention so before leaving we stopped and told Sister Pat, “Our son, Ron, was supposed to meet us here.  He did not show up.  Something is wrong.”

We stopped by our house to pick up the keys to Ron’s house.  I called my sister and told her that Ron had not arrived at mass and that we were driving to his Ardmore home, about 45 minutes away.  We called the local township police department who asked some brief questions, then said they would send someone to meet us there.  On the way as we drove the Blue Route, we silently hoped to see an accident.  I asked Tom to please not rush.  I was in no hurry.  Somehow I knew Ron was gone, yet I wanted my life as it was now before I had to really know.  I quietly dreaded the life that would be in store for me.

When we arrived at Ron’s house, Tom saw a note on the floor just inside the door and he knew without reading, what it was, but did not tell me.  The police arrived, they broke down the door.  I will always remember hearing the officer calling Ron’s name.  After what seemed an interminable about of time, he came out to the car and told us the news, that our son was dead and that the cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Collapsing into Tom’s arms, I said, “Ron, I forgive you I forgive you I forgive you. But there is nothing to forgive, I know that.  I am so very very sorry.  Dear God in heaven have mercy on me. How will I ever survive this?  If you will help me survive this, I will forgive everybody everything forever.  Please forgive every wrong I have ever done.”

Arriving back home into the arms of gathered loved ones, I once again saw the newspaper.  Once again I read the words

This is not the way I wanted it

It isn’t what I deserve

It isn’t what I planned

But it is what it is

It’s the dharma.

It’s that which is

That is when I understood why my eyes fell on those words just a few hours ago.  Somehow I knew I had to find a way to accept the unacceptable and survive the instinct to drown in my grief.  I was just beginning to understand the depth of the love that never dies.

16 thoughts on “Christmas Morning, 2015 – 9:10 AM”

  1. Marge, thank you for sharing these most difficult and heartfelt words. I am grateful to know you and to have shared this journey with you through Facebook mostly but also through prayers for you and your family this year. Continued blessings. Susan T

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  2. Dear Marge,
    I’m so sorry your son Ron passed away. You tell your story very well. We know not God’s plan but we know He holds our future. I take comfort in knowing that I am not alone. We can share each others grief and we can hold one another, comforting one another in our time of need.
    Thank you for being a brave warrior and for sharing.
    You’re in my prayers.

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  3. Always sending love to you and wishing you strength To get through each day. You are a beautiful person and I’m grateful for your friendship.

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  4. After recently watching the death of my sister, through my father’s eyes, I can imagine just a smidge of your pain & sorrow. A parent’s love is precious. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself. I am sending you warmth & love.

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  5. I’m sure that we can’t possibly know yet how far a reach your words will have, but I trust that this brave and honest sharing will go far into the world, touching others who might not even know yet that they need to read this. Thank you.

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  6. Marge- I found your blog beautifully written yet very difficult to read. Finally today I realized why. As anyone who has suffered a sudden life changing moment we live in fear of the next one! Try to stay present.
    Love Andrea

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  7. Marge,

    There are so few words in our language to describe the depth of feeling and range of emotion as expressed so implicitly in your story. The wretched sadness of a heart torn and forever scarred but which holds the most beautiful memories and loving presence of a soul, your son, who continues to live within you as he is so much a part of your being. Please continue to share your heart’s journey with us, friends both known and unknown to you, so that you may find solace in your own words and, that we may have a glimpse of the loving bond between you and Ron which will live through eternity.

    Much love,
    Bet & Michele

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  8. Marge, I am a friend of Kelly Shaffer Fuddy, who I know you are acquainted with. On January 16 of this year I lost my 94 year old mother, who I had been caring for for many years. It was a complicated relationship and a difficult loss. Nine days later, my step-daughter was brutally murdered by her husband (January 27). She was 24 weeks pregnant with a baby girl. Although the circumstances are not the same, reading your stories about the loss of your son are a connection to someone else who has also lost a child. Thank you for your words.

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    1. Lisa, my heart breaks at the loss of your step-daughter and grandbaby. There really are no words for such terrible tragedies. While the circumstances are different, that’s true, but the gut-wrenching pain and grief are so similar. Thank you so much for your posting.

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