ive years ago this week ( June 27, 2007) I heard the words that would forever change my life, “Zach is in the lake and they cannot find him”. It was two days after my son’s fourteenth birthday that he tragically drowned in a peculiar boating accident.
I believe that when every person encounters a tragic event their life eventually returns to what I term a “new normal”. As the local sheriff’s divers spent days looking for my son’s body in our local lake many people gathered on the shore to lend their support. I clearly remember one person saying to me that “given time life would return to “normal”.
How could my life ever be “normal’ without my son? What is normal about burying your son….certainly this is not the customary sequence of life’s events.
Although spoken to give me some comfort, the mere suggestion that my life would ever be normal again by any definition of the word seemed preposterous. I was too stunned to respond and the mere suggestion of typical future actually angered me.
What is life like five years after the sudden death of a child? Life for me is as I predicted. My days have evolved into what I deem to be a “new normal”. In the first few months after his death I refused to go out for fun. Each Sunday I would visit my son’s grave and mourn the summer camp fun he was missing. Every day brought tears and thoughts of “how can I go on?. How was this normal?
But as time evolved a “new normal” did emerge. The weekly cemetery visits became bi-weekly and then monthly. When I saw Zach’s friends hanging out at the local shopping center the result was not always tears. I began to laugh again and my bi-weekly poker game again became a time to connect. At first I felt guilty in a way-how can I be having fun in a way my son never will again? This was part of my belief that after such a tragic event life does change- a “new normal” was evolving.
Everyone who faces loss must encounter the future. Some loss is slow and expected. For others it is quick and unimaginable. But for each of us life goes on. But I believe it will never again be as it was-It will never again be normal. Life will be a new normal….and I believe our new life should be a testament to those who will always be in our hearts.
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