They say, “When you lose your parents you lose your past, but when you lose a child you lose your future”. I found this quote intriguing because a parent can “lose” a child in more ways then death. The death of a dream or what a parent anticipated of a child’s life is a grief that is best described in my humble opinion as a fall that is occasionally broken by soft areas of respite. A soft area where you either catch your breath in a break from health or life issues or where you find achievement and progress. Progress that brings cheering and joy, which in turn buffer a parent when the fall comes again.
And the fall does come. It’s just a question of when.
I’ve had the pleasure since Larkin’s birth to meet many parents who walk alongside me in this journey of disability and special needs. People I admire, love, and some I try to emulate. Some I can share dark humor with, prayers, and the deep dark thoughts that need to be brought to the surface every once in a while. If we don’t bring the bad out with the good – we are simply not being true to the walk we are called to do. However I do not and will not ever mire myself in pity, sadness, or blame. It’s just not who I am as a person. Yes I have my moments to be sure and there are friends who have held me as I wept in rage, sadness, and helplessness. Most importantly I have friends who have held Larkin in these moments and treasure her life and what she has brought to their world.
Along the way doctors when they hand out diagnosis back it up with “it’s not your fault” or “there’s nothing you could have done to prevent this” and “don’t blame yourself”. I won’t disregard that there are parents out there who feel responsible somehow but for me it’s never entered my head.
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe said it this way – “Certain defects are necessary for the existence of individuality” and further still “Nature goes her own way and all that to us seems an exception is really according to order”.
Larkin keeps a strong perspective in our life for what is truly important and why should we feel that we are exempt from nature when it is all according to order. Is it simply statistics or all according to order? I for one think it’s just according to order and we are imperfect in so many ways. Are we promised a perfect life? Does it seem that others have it all perfectly tied up with bows and smiley faces? So the question that keeps popping up in conversations I have with parents is “who IS to blame”?
When I was a flight attendant I quickly learned that it is in most every persons nature to blame. If something goes wrong, finger pointing quickly becomes the choice for resolution. It’s exhausting when all a person who really wants resolution needs is someone to step up and take care of a situation. I began a little experiment back then where I would offer up either an apology or say “I did it”. Astonishingly enough conversation stopped and turned into something productive OR it would show if someone didn’t want resolution they simply wanted to keep fighting.
I still use this technique to this day at work and in other situations. No one can argue when someone accepts blame – you now have to find resolution. When someone apologizes – you can’t really keep beating the issue and if you choose to do so then the anger and lack of acceptance is on you.
However when it comes to having a child with a disability, special needs, health issues, it seems as if fear is the yeast to anger. It rises right along side and sometimes brings with it the need for blame. And usually there is no one tangible to blame. Typically in the conversation the parent is angry with God and therefore He gets the blame. It is natural I suppose for some to do so but again I never did. I found strength in prayer, talking with Him, and trusting that somewhere/somehow there was a lesson to be learned that would help me grow as a person. To become who I needed to be.
Do we blame someone when things are great? Do we blame when a circumstance allows for joy when our child achieves a milestone? Or do we thank God that we have something to celebrate and embrace?
Acceptance is the key. You have all heard me say over and over and over and over “it is what it is and we will play with what we are dealt”. It’s been harder for Andy because daddies are supposed to fix everything and be in control. It broke my heart to watch him helpless through all of our issues simply because that is where blaming oneself can begin and that is something he should never ever have to feel. It pushed me to be stronger and hold it together tighter so that we all could move along into acceptance and keep anger out.
Not to say that anger hasn’t reared its ugly head. Parents snipe, pick, bicker, and flat out argue big time during times of crisis. Who can blame us (pun intended) because we are beyond exhausted and scared? But at some point acceptance steps back in and you relax into the situation and again deal with what is at hand.
Blame. What a big fat giant word in 5 letters. Ruins lives, marriages, and relationships with God, prayer, and ultimately yourself.
I find the following words of Jesus most helpful during times of crisis as I accept the light that God gave me to illuminate my home, my community, and that Larkin truly is a glory to her Father in heaven to be celebrated and there is no blame to be found there, only love.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven“.