It's been five long days. My grandson Wyatt's visitation is over and the funeral is over. I wanted to thank everyone for all the condolences here and on Facebook, and for all the emails -- they were so abundant that I quit trying to count them at some point. I hope you all know that they were each appreciated.
We had about three hours of driving time each day traveling to his home and back, and I spent part of it thinking. All my adult life, I've feared something happening to one of my girls, and as time went on, my grandchildren. I discovered on Wednesday that it's every bit as bad as you would imagine.
Over the years, I've watched other families in my small community deal with the deaths of children and grandchildren in fires, illnesses, and auto accidents. It's always been gut-wrenching to experience that as a friend, and sometimes as a teacher. I've watched the families go forward, staying strong. But life is never quite the same.
Sometimes, we wish we could hurry life along. We want to know what's on the next page. But I think I'm happy with the way things are. I don't want to know the future.
Four months ago, I'm glad I didn't know that the photos I was taking of him covered in mud after a football game would end up as part of the slide show at his visitation.
Three months ago, I'm glad I didn't know that one of the shirts I was giving him for his sixteenth birthday would be the shirt he was buried in.
Three weeks ago, I'm glad I didn't know that while I was listening to his excitement about spring music contest, I would soon be watching his choir director cry beside his casket.
I realize that not everyone knows my family situation. Like many people, I'm part of a blended family. Sometimes we've been more shaken than stirred, but in the end, it has somehow all smoothed out. I know that what I'm going through is not the same as what my husband Don is going through, because Wyatt was his "real" grandson, or whatever term you can come up with to distinguish relationships by blood from relationships by marriage.
It's not the same, but it's close.
On Thanksgiving, I knew Wyatt was having a hard time with the pain and recovery from his hunting accident. I sent him this text: "I know things are rough for you right now, but it will get better. You have a lot of people who care about you and will be giving thanks today that you are still in their lives. Hang in there! Love you."
I don't know when I'll be able to delete his reply: "Thanks for that. It made me smile. Love you too."
-- Debbie Sanders