Healing will come slowly. Yet, as I keep reminding myself, life must be lived. Nick’s race is complete, but mine continues. His death is not the end of my calling in life, but, in a sense, a new beginning to it. It doesn’t close out my story, but, I’m convinced, opens a new chapter of it.
Death is the great interrupter. Death is the great interrupter because, far more often than not, it strikes when it’s least expected. When death comes it invariably interrupts plans, dreams, projects, goals. One author observes how very sad, how very pathetic it is, when a man dies suddenly and we go into his home or his place of business “and see the unfinished things he has left—a letter half written, a book half read, a picture begun but not completed. Life is full of mere fragments,” he observes. “Mere beginnings of things.”
One of my surreal memories from this last year is going into Nick’s dorm room a couple of days after his death. It gave every indication that he had expected to return. Books were laid waiting on his desk in preparation for final essays. Hebrew vocab was jotted all over his whiteboard in preparation for exams. Spreadsheets full of guest lists were open on his computer in preparation for his wedding. I’m sure he was as shocked as we were that all of these tasks would be left forever incomplete, that they would only ever be mere fragments, mere beginnings of things.
And it wasn’t just his life that was so suddenly and significantly interrupted. On November 2 I, too, was full of plans. I had just begun my next big book project. I had jotted the opening sentences of the book I intend to write after that. I was deep into various threads of research and was learning to master new software designed to organize and express ideas. My mind was full of beginnings of things. But by November 4, those things, too, had been set aside and very nearly forgotten. What seemed so urgent and so important and so interesting the day before seemed nearly irrelevant the day after.
It has taken a long time to begin to pick up the pieces, to gain interest in those projects again, to start to make headway against the mental and emotional fog that goes with so great a trauma. I would never have believed how disruptive it could be to lose a child. I would never have known the degree to which it affects body, mind, and soul.