A Catharsis for Sandy

File May 11, 9 27 55 AMWe’re going to play school for just a minute, and I am the teacher. Who can tell me what catharsis means? How do you release your emotions?
Maybe you’ve heard of the short story “A Rose for Emily.” Well, I’m going to tell you a story called “A Catharsis for Sandy.”

So many things happen to us to change our lives forever—marriage, the birth of children and grandchildren, jobs, locations to new parts of the country, the deaths of loved ones. Since Frank and I married in 1961, we have lost four parents and a few friends, but nothing has affected our lives like the loss of Jay, our son. When he died, on July 2, 1992, Frank’s, Wendy’s, and my life changed forever.

I remember well the visitation at the funeral home on July 5, when about 500 people stood in line to hug us, to tell us how sorry they were that Jay had died, to tell us how much he meant to them, about 200 of them assuring us that they were his best friends. (I exaggerate a bit with these numbers, but not by much.) They greeted us with all sorts of words of encouragement and love, but the comment that I really remember many of them making was, “I don’t know how you’ll ever get over this.” Many of our friends said these words, and God gave me the answer. I looked each one in the eye and said in typical English-teacher style and with the words that God gave me right then, “You know, it’s a lesson in prepositions. I’ll never get over Jay’s death, but I will get through it, with the help of friends, family, and most of all, God.”

And that’s exactly what has happened in my life . . . I have made it through the death of Jay. I’d be telling you a big, fat fib if I said that it’s always been easy, that I haven’t regressed from time to time, beginning all over with the stages of grief. God is still getting me through, with some days being easier than others. I could tell you how Jay’s death affected me immediately after July 2, but that might be for another time. Today, I want to tell you how God led me in those early days.

I knew right away that I needed to get busy healing. I had to because school would start in about a month, and I had to be able to face classes of seventeen-year-olds. So where do you think an English teacher would turn for help? Books! I read book after book about how parents handled the deaths of children, and soon I knew that I had to have an outlet for my emotions. That outlet—catharsis, if you will—was, and still is, writing.

Through the years, I’ve written enough to fill a book about Jay. Maybe I’ll put things together someday, but today I want to share two pieces that I wrote last month. I participated in the Blogging from A-Z April Challenge, and three of the letters were pieces about Jay. I’ll share only two of them.

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