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Left Out

Anonymous (All names have been changed)

I sat there, staring at the computer screen, the words searing into my soul:

The funeral for Robert Lindsay, Jr. will be held at 10am, February 20th at the Saylor Funeral Home. Donations to the Heart Foundation.

Trying to catch my breath I called out for my husband, “R—Robert! Come here, now!” I looked back at the screen as I heard his footsteps quickly approaching. Pushing my chair back from the computer, I gestured to the screen, saying, “Look! Look at this!” He moved in front of me, bent down, and took off his glasses, taking in the words on the screen that I knew would shock him. I waited. Suddenly, his head whipped around. He was looking at me wild-eyed as he spoke, “What is this?” Tears welling, pleading, he asked, “What—what does this mean?” He was struggling to take in what I was trying to push away: Our son, Robbie, was dead. Once again we were left out of his life—and now, his death.

For a few seconds we sat there in silence. Suddenly, I felt my insides begin to heave like I was going to vomit. Instead a wailing sound came out of my mouth. Then, I was sobbing. Robert was holding me as we both cried so hard. It was horrible. A while later we were walking around the house like zombies.

Later that evening, my mind went back to when it first began. We had tried to love Robbie’s wife, Nora; but it—or rather, she—was a challenge. After many starts and stops, arguments, tears and too many harsh words, Robbie called us one day, saying that it was over—the “it” meaning our interactions with them. He claimed they couldn’t take it anymore. We attempted to keep in contact via texting or email, but it was to no avail. The last we’d heard from them was three weeks ago. He’d had a minor heart attack. Nora had called saying that he was recovering, but “wasn’t up for visitors.” Rob and I discussed whether we should just show up and insist on seeing him; but after much discussion, we decided it would likely add to an already stressful situation.

So, we waited. And, here we are today blankly staring at words on a screen that say so much, yet so little. With tears streaming down our cheeks, we continue to ask ourselves, “How did we end up here like this?” What in God’s name could we have done to have avoided this moment?” Now, here we are in shock and knowing only one thing for sure: we will attend a funeral for our dear son.

Why am I writing this? First, just to get it out on paper. Second, I guess I’m doing it for you, if you are a parent who has experienced what we are facing. I wish I could give you some advice. I wish I could say something to make it better. I wish I could tell you what to do. I wish all these things, but honestly, I just don’t know what to say.

I will leave you with one thing, though: Talk about it with someone who will listen, someone who will not judge you, someone who will let you hurt while you not only deal with this deep rejection, but with grief that will never, ever go away.

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