Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Years ago, an elder couple was being interviewed, during which the line of questioning circled around to the death of their son. He was a soldier on deployment and never made it home. The woman was expounding on how hard it is to lose a child. She expressed concern for her husband who – at least in her eyes – wasn’t dealing with their loss in a way she thought was acceptable, as he rarely visited the grave site. As she perceived it, her husband was simply ignoring whatever pain may have come up.
The husband of this woman then spoke up and said, “I do deal with my grief and I confront it in a different way than you. I don’t visit our son’s grave much at all, but I drive his truck.”
As a result of this interview, a song was written, by whom I don’t know. Lee Brice is the artist who recorded it. The title is “I Drive Your Truck.” The song talks about things in the truck being left much like they were the last time it was driven by the deceased young man.
The chorus of the song reads as follows:
“I drive your truck. I roll every window down and I burn up every back road in this town. I find a field, tear it up, ‘til all the pain’s a cloud of dust. Yeah, sometimes I drive your truck.”
Another line of the song that I appreciate says:
“This thing burns gas like crazy but that’s all right. People got their ways of coping, oh, but I’ve got mine.”
I don’t know how to grieve. Not properly, anyway. As far as I know there is no handbook, no website, no app that can point the way. I had to wing it.
I find it extremely difficult to face the grief I feel over Natalie’s death. I know I let her down. I was less than a perfect husband. I loved her deeply and still do, even if my behavior didn’t convey my love for her. Not only was it my wife who got taken from me, but also a lifelong friend and my daughter’s mother.
I don’t know how to express what it’s been like to deal with her passing without having had an opportunity to tell her that I really did love her. Part of making amends requires that the party who had been wronged gets the chance to give forgiveness, and at least hear the apologetic words of the party who commits the wrong. I’ve never gotten to do that with her in person. She deserved a million apologies from me. She deserved the opportunity to either forgive me or not.
During the second round of a sweat ceremony, the Spirit World is called upon, in order to ask the ancestors who have gone before us to pay us a visit during our ceremony. This is done to ask for guidance, or just to say ‘hi’. I’ve sat through well over a hundred such ceremonies as what I’ve briefly described. I have used that time to talk to Natalie, to tell her how sorry I am for being a boy, when I should have been a man. One way I believe I can make amends is to be a better man, and to continually strive to do so, in order for her to hopefully see my endeavors.
Like this older couple, where one of them was unaware of the other’s grief, my friends and family haven’t really seen the way I’ve dealt with my grief, and am continuing to deal with it. People have their ways of coping and I’ve got mine.
So, Natalie, if you can read these words, I miss you and I love you. I miss your insanely loud laughter that belied your diminutive stature. Thank you for the daughter you gave me seventeen years ago, almost to the day. I’m told she’s incredible. I’m sure you know all about her.