Tommy holding his newborn son, Taban. He was so proud…. also, when his daughter, Mckenzie… was born.
By Gloria Faye Brown Bates/aka Granny Gee
I have been going through another ‘Tommy Time’. You have shared it with me many times, reading as I wrote about it.
I can’t speak for other mothers who have lost a child/children. I can say I know from losing my only child, my son… how I have felt. I don’t even know if ‘you’ can read my blog about grieving… to know if what you are feeling is ‘normal’. I only know what ‘I feel’…..
How do you compare one grieving mother’s grief… to another grieving mother? How? In her mind… ‘her’ child died, the pain she goes through is from ‘her’ child. Think about it for a moment… just for a minute… ‘if’ it were your child…. see, it’s so bad … that you can’t bear even the thoughts of it. ‘Your’ pain would be greatest…..
It seems I keep going through ‘disbelief’… disbelief that such a strong, big guy who loved life, wanted to live it to the fullest ….died. I look at his photos… I see a ‘real’ living person who was there for the photo to be taken of him. How can he not be here… now?
Blocked arteries… it really is a silent killer… the strange thing is… Tommy was going to doctors the most ever….. in his whole life during the weeks prior to his death…….. not one of them ‘saw anything’… not even one doctor hinted at it.
Silent, invisible….. I can’t believe that not one of the doctors who prescribed heavy dosage medicine didn’t do an EKG, at least some kind of tests on his heart. Especially knowing he’d been a long-distanced truck driver for years… one knows they don’t usually eat right.
Especially knowing Tommy had just come off the road with a breakdown, suffering from the death of a man he accidentally … killed. A man who stepped out of his car, into oncoming traffic… into the path of a tractor-trailer …driven by my son, Tommy.
I don’t even question ‘why did it have to be Tommy who hit the man… some cars did in fact ‘hit’ the man, ‘afterwards’… they had no choice in the three fast-moving lanes of traffic on that bridge. Only it wasn’t the man… it was ‘parts’.
I’m not going to get answers to my question ‘why’… did it have to be Tommy. As someone would think to ask me …. ‘why not Tommy?’ How in the h___ can I answer that question…. ‘because he’s my son, and I wish he were here, and that’s ‘why’ he died… what he was going through ‘disguised’ his medical condition…..
Don’t I sound so angry at this moment? I don’t mean to … oh yes, I do! No, I don’t… but, …. I am. No, I’m not………… I’m not… it just hurts… I feel pain in my heart. These are just thoughts…. :)))
Can you see a gentle giant of a guy down on one knee, in the middle of the highway… in shock? Crying… tears on his face… his eyes only focused on the parts of the man lying in the road? How did the traffic ‘not hit’ my son, too?
His eyes not seeing any car, or person who slowed down …. after realizing something bad had just happened? They drove silently past my son, looking straight into his face…. he never saw them.
I stop to think for this moment…. if it were my eyes seeing this gentle giant of a guy down on one knee, in the middle of Interstate 40 on the bridge (no breakdown lanes)……. what would ‘my eyes have seen?’
I would see a blonde-headed guy with eyes frozen wide in shock, tears he never knew were falling from them…. looking around him, at the ‘parts… the ‘red’…. in the road. I ‘can hear the screaming in his mind’ that no one else could hear………….. how long did it take for someone to come, put their arms, their hands out to touch him, comfort him? How long?
Once the law enforcement arrived, and the IMAP people got there… they began comforting him, talking to him. They kept telling him it was an accident…
I won’t ever forget my son … he sat in front of me, crying … ‘not seeing me as he tried to tell me what happened’ … as he described the blood, the torso with the heart still beating in it… lying there.
The things he saw…. the things he carried in his mind… oh God, I understood the pain he was in…. I was experiencing it as I watched my own son experience it. I was sick to my stomach, I felt actual, physical pain. Mothers do that……
In my mind, I keep hearing his soft voice crying, “mama, mama”….. You see, I still deal with what he went through, I grieved with him… I ‘felt like I was there, too’. That’s part of being a mother…. being a part of your child… almost feeling like whatever happens to your child… also, happened to you.
Oh God, the physical pain I felt in my heart when this happened to Tommy… (May 2009)…. one year later in the same month… May-2010 … my son died. He never got over the death of that man… he came off the road in April-2010… with a breakdown… began going to doctors.
Not one doctor checked his heart …his heart was broken… not only that, it really was ‘broken’….. blocked arteries… he would die at any moment. It was just a matter of …. days, weeks… from April 1st to May 29th. (2010)
Tommy suffered, grieved … was in bad condition just before he died. You wonder ‘why’ I grieve the way I do… there’s always more to the story when it’s told. There’s still ….. more. It is always like that… true stories have to be told in ‘layers’.
He was desperately trying to … come back to life, to live it. I even saw several smiles … just before he died. Do you see ‘why’ I talk about his smiles? He’d quit smiling after that accident….
Just before he went to Myrtle Beach that weekend, he’d talked to someone about going back to school. He was supposed to meet, ride around with a parole officer… that’s what Tommy wanted to do. He’d been good at that job.
These are thoughts in my head today. It takes a long time to tell a story… a true story of real events. Some are too painful… to tell straight-forward. There’s always still ‘more’… left untold. The same as in my life … it’s always going to ‘be one day’… only layers at a time can be told, seen….. too painful.
It’s always ‘if’…. after things happen. Just like the ‘if a doctor had just checked Tommy’s heart’….. damn all the ‘ifs’…. yes, I said that! I felt a flash of pure, hot anger… mixed with pure, raw grief.
Now, it’s time to go back to ‘being all right’ again. Play the game of life… everything is all right. I smile again, laugh… never mind if a tear or two falls.
I just think lately… I have felt anger about Tommy’s death. I think about all he suffered prior leading up to his death… he was experiencing ‘pure hell’, not only that… he was experiencing bad things in his life.
Yes… I guess I’ll feel anger to my ‘dying day’… I know there are things I’ll always live with… things I’ll never talk about… unless it’s the right place, right time.
Tommy’s death … Tommy’s death … can ‘you’ imagine ‘being in my shoes’… saying your child’s name in place of ‘Tommy’s name’? Yes, I know you can’t bear to even think it, anymore… than saying it.
I know this won’t be the last time I’ll experience the feelings of anger ‘inside’… over my child’s death. For now, it’s how I’m feeling. I’m sure from time to time, I’ll experience ‘anger to my dying day.’
Not only that…. it never does any good to question ‘why?’
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