As the memory and excitement of the holiday season begins to fade, I’m reminded of some of the key concepts highlighted by Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. Gratitude, compassion and empathy, not all unfamiliar in our “everyday life” seem to get highlighted during this time of year.
I married my lovely wife Roz on Maui just before thanksgiving holiday. We had come to Maui for a vacation and took that leap of faith in Lahaina. I don’t know that I can describe how grateful I was to be connected to this wonderful lady. Our first child was born two years later and once again I experienced an array of incredible feelings, as I watched my little boy emerge from my wife and best friend. Another two years and a second son bought the reminder of the miracle of life and how precious and fragile our children are. I was fortunate to watch the birth of my children and witness the miracle of my wife becoming a mother. We were a family. Gratitude and compassion were on the list of wonderful things that made up our family fabric.
Then on January 13th, a phone call by Sheriff Williams changed everything. A few weeks previous I had been skip-walking through an airport anxious to get home for the Christmas Holidays. I was a tennis court contractor and for three long months had been two weeks on the job and one week at home. The disruption of being gone and the popping back and forth was confusing for the kids, who were now eight and six, and strained my relationship with my wife. It always took a couple of days to adjust and pick up from where we left off and then “poof!” I was off again. Our New Year’s resolution was to be together as a family more and reduce my time on the road… maybe even change careers. We had a plan.
My son Jeremy had refused to tie his boots (willful 6 year old) that January morning. Roz wasn’t too happy about the behavior and told him he had to stay home with me. They hadn’t been gone thirty minutes when Sheriff Williams was telling me that my first son was dead and that my wife was in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. 48 hours later I was signing papers to donate her organs and turn off life support.
I remember believing that my life could never be right again. But, in the mists of my confusion I began to rediscover what I had always known about my wife and son and about life.
As a hard working father it was easy for me to get caught up in my efforts to support my family. Some of that sensitivity and awe that came with marriage and the birth of our children got tucked away in the day-to-day life.
When I took on my wife’s role of raising my son and the countless tasks in and around the house I became aware of how much I didn’t know about her output. Sure, I had my idea of how it went but really I didn’t know about the depths of her efforts. My opportunity to recognize, in a very different way, the reverence of life, the incredible contributions of motherhood, the miracles of birth and the evolution of a child…the list goes on…came to me in the form of life tragedy.
My hope for everyone, those in partnership and all those individually raising a family, are that no matter how much effort we extend in our lives, we build up an appreciation and extend it to our families and community.
I am grateful. The opportunity to shepherd my son and learn more about the role of “mother” is awe-inspiring.
Charles Morris has used the incredibly heartbreaking experience of losing his wife and son as a way to help others through grief. He has published the book: A Guide For Transformation. Go to www.aguidefortransformation.com to learn more.
Image Credit: Christine Underwood Myers