That question, for me, has a lot of history behind it and it starts with the Grandma who raised me. None of this story is meant to dishonor anyone in my family, I'm simply speaking of history as I know it. As a baby, my Granny was very sick and not expected to live. At some point, she was given to some neighbors. As she told it, those neighbors had already lost several children to illness, so I guess the next logical thing to do was to give them someone else's child to die? This was 1925 in podunk Oklahoma and I'm thinking they do things differently nowadays. At any rate, she did not die. So, this other family raised her, while her daddy (her birth mom died in childbirth or shortly thereafter, maybe, I don't remember exactly) remarried, had other children and raised all of her siblings with his new wife. My Granny went on to have three boys in three years, all with different dads, and did not raise any of her children to adulthood. She did the best she could, a single mom working her ass off in an era that was not kind to single mothers. Those three boys all had kids that they did not raise for all of their childhood. As I mentioned, my Grandma raised me and that started at the age of two, until I went on to live in a foster home my last couple of years of high school. One of my uncles even signed away his birth rights to his first son, never seeing him, again.
I saw this generational legacy and was determined to stop it at my generation. My sister had had already had a son that she was raising and I knew that no one would ever raise my children. I think I figured if I could just get them through the teen years, then the cycle would be broken, we'd be safe, all would be ok. I prayed many prayers about the things that had been passed down, generation to generation, everything from this cursed curly hair (trust me, it is a curse) to addiction to raising our own kids to our tempers, even to things spoken over me that weren't recognized as curses, but definitely were. I don't mean like voodoo curse, I am speaking about the power of the spoken word. It is so mighty and powerful. We throw words around like they are nothing, I'm the guiltiest of the guilty when it comes to this, but we have to understand that we could be cursing generation after generation with our carelessness.
My Grandmother buried one of her sons (as an adult), my dad buried his only son (as an infant) and now I have buried my only son as a teenager. I didn't pray about this. THIS I didn't think about or see until Brandon died and I began to question God about how truly awful the things are that have been passed down and why he would let me bear a son to lose him at nineteen. I prayed a lot for Brandon. A ton. I struggle with wondering if I prayed enough. Sometimes, I felt more secure in avoiding directed prayer because I was too afraid of the what-ifs. I simply couldn't bear to think that God might actually let him die, like if I felt I had to beg God, maybe, I would think to myself, that meant God could really take him, if He chose to. I mean, I know that all we have is not ours, including our children, but sometimes in my heart of hearts when I said He could have it all, in my little voice I was whispering, "But not one of them....right, God? Not before me, right? RIGHT? You would not ask me to let go of one of them. You couldn't."
I'm a big fan of the blame game and I'm quite good at it (which is not a good thing) because I can lay blame on someone else faster than you can say whodunit. I hate guilt and people trying to manipulate me through guilt, so I pretty much don't do it. It's a wasted emotion that robs people of their lives. Right now, though, I am really having trouble figuring out who to point the finger at. I will, literally, stand in the middle of my room and say out loud, "Who do I blame for this?" Do I blame God? God is sovereign and I both trust in that sovereignty and question it, since He chose to allow Brandon's death, when He could've snatched him right from death, again. Do I blame my parents for bringing me into this world and passing down such a painful legacy? Do I blame my husband for parenting differently than I did? Maybe this is God's way of making sure we don't pass on anymore sickness. And, OMG what if He makes sure with my daughter and she has to suffer the same loss...do you think if we make sure she has all girls she will be immune? Ultimately, my finger pointing stops here. Why didn't I see the potential for tragedy and just say no to children...why didn't I pray harder, longer...why didn't I learn to parent better...why didn't I keep him in church more...why did I not make every.single.day of his life the best day of his life? If I had been the perfect mom, I'm sure this would hurt a lot less.
Before you start looking up the numbers to refer me to the mental hospital, let me assure you that this is all part of how I am trying to work this out. I do feel awful. In knowing that I have ZERO control in this life, when it comes down to it, I still feel that I could've done something, even just changing the direction of one step, to keep my boy with me. I want him back so badly and wondering how I could've possibly kept him here, is something that keeps haunting me.
While I blame, I also comfort. Many emotions are fighting to be front and center in my mind right now. I blame myself and, in the same breath, try to remind myself that Brandon left a huge mark in this world. I am not being punished. Really, really wonderful people have also lost children. My guess is that most people who have lost children are probably pretty wonderful. I truly have no idea what Brandon was saved from in dying young. I fought for him, really and truly fought for him, since I found out I was pregnant with him. I loved him the best way I could, with every ounce of my being, which brings me back to blame because maybe it wasn't enough, but then I go back to getting over myself and say, it was the best I had with what I have.
Tonight, a boy at church called out, "Mom." I turned. I scolded myself for turning towards a boy's voice and then started crying because I'll never, in this lifetime, have a son to call me Mom. I will end with what I read, immediately after that happened...it's from a new book by Dr. Daniel Brown, called Embracing Grace.
Guiltiness gnaws at all of us. We worry that our specific wrongdoing has crossed an invisible line beyond the limits of grace. Plus we labor under a vague sense that we haven't done enough, prayed enough, or been good enough to be worthy of God. This biblically rich, highly accessible message offers you sturdy truths to silence condemnation and self-reproach.
And that's just it. Deep down, I know the truth and I know that I neither earned my son or lost him because I wasn't worthy. Right now, it doesn't stop me from begging for another chance to do better by Brandon, be a better mom, a better person, but I'm sure I'll eventually stop playing this game and accept what has been given to us all. Grace. I am generous with it. For you. For me....not so much...but I bet I'm about to learn some things I never knew about it and it's probably just in time.