Like Roman Candles July 4, 2014Posted by johnbohlinger in Dealing with Grief after Losing your child., Death of your child, Grieving Parents, Guilt and Grief.
Tomorrow is the 4th of July; all holidays, big or small, carry a lot of memories. Regrettably, painful memories tend to leap out first. I remember a 4th of July when my son was around 10-sh, we drove to a firework stand. I was broke at the time, which is a soul crushing failure for a parent. My son, like any boy that age, wanted The GIGANTIC SUPER PACK of fireworks that contained enough gunpowder to level our house.
I said no, too expensive.
Like boys do, he got a little angry and disappointed and began to argue.
I retorted like a caricature of a grouchy dad : “Well, if this isn’t good enough, we don’t have to buy anything.”
Damn-it, why did I react like that? What I’ve always told myself was that I responded so harshly because I wanted my son to learn the value in being grateful and happy with what he has. I’m sure that was part of my reasoning, but I now realize that I acted badly because I felt like I was a disappointment to my son; he deserved more than I could buy, and that hurt.
I remembered buying our meager pile of explosives and driving home with everyone feeling disappointed rather than happy. I pretty much ruined the 4th of July outing.
Tonight, it’s occurred to me that we weren’t all feeling bad. I called Aug’s mom who didn’t remember it at all but instead told a sweet story of a different 4th where we fished, had a picnic and played games: a unanimously wonderful holiday.
I’m glad I remembered the disappointing holiday because the years have given me a better prospective on what happened and what it meant. It was a normal parent/kid locking of horns; this is the hard part of being a parent. Now I can forgive myself for not handling it better. I was doing the best I could, and it turns out, that was pretty good. My son did become a person who was usually grateful for what he had and I managed to always pay our bills and kept the roof over our heads. We both did alright.
The happy holiday memory was like a gift from God, something that proved that things sometimes went perfectly. The two memories need to be together because they gave me the full picture of our life together. It was wonderful, it was hurtful, not perfect but making the most of it. Life is like a roman candle spidering across the sky: beautiful, dangerous, and over too soon.*
* I now view life as so precious life that I’ve become the guy that carefully scoops up bugs in my house and puts them out side.