|~ Andrew, the summer of 2007, at our local skate park ~|
by Melanie Dorsey
A box cannot contain my love for you, nor who you are.
Not any kind of box.
Not the ones that will store clothes and toys and boy stuff.
Not the one that holds a jar of clay in a place it hurts to see Your name.
Andrew Christopher Dorsey.
It seems so wrong.
It hurts so much.
Listen to my heart.
The place where names are eternal,
That is where your name belongs and IS.
In a book; not on a box .
In a book; not on a name plate under the red flowers.
In a book; the Lamb’s Book,
Where Eternal Life has signed your name.
Andrew Christopher Dorsey
Sometimes no matter what my head knows and no matter how much I believe with all my heart that I will see Andrew again, the grief overwhelms me.
Certainly I do not grieve as those who have no hope, yet I do grieve as a mother who cannot see her young son. And for who knows how long.
I can have lots of good days and even good times when I think of Andrew and I can smile. Even though the “missing him” never lets up ~ it just doesn’t. How could it when I always miss him? It’s not like he’s gone off to college or gotten married and moved away. (Not at 12.) Then I could call him and look forward to holiday breaks. There are no more real conversations between us. Only the ones in my heart. And they are a poor substitute.
I had such a beautiful time in Maryland. Our friends there and the body of Christ (new friends) at the church treated us exceptionally well.
I had my daughter with me and that helped me quite a bit, too. Before leaving home, and at the last minute, I decided to take my pillow as a “carry on.” It was Andrew’s pillow and I have been using it for months. I debated on whether I should take his robe with me. I always sleep with it. I did take it; I stuffed it in the pillowcase.
When I was speaking in Maryland, especially on Sunday morning when I was not so much sharing my story but teaching, I had a moment in which I felt I had “come home.” It was like an inner sighing. I think that is what happens when we experience our spiritual gifting.
Tuesday on the flight home, the realization that I was returning home but there would not be Andrew there, washed over me. And the tears flowed. My daughter put her arm around me until I could control my tears.
Friday my husband had surgery to remove the rod from his leg and the last two pins (ski accident on 1/09). They called me back to the recovery room and it looked so much like an ER that my heart began to pound. And then I heard that awful beaping of the monitor. I remembered that sound and it brought back the anguish of Andrew’s pain.
Saturday I ran in the Miles For Hope (brain cancer research) 5k. I saw posters honoring the survivors or memorializing those who did not survive. From what I could tell they were all adults. I did not make a poster for Andrew. I just felt it was too soon. I didn’t want to “put him out there” in that way. And anyway we had the Team Andrew shirts. That felt right and it felt like enough for now.
Sunday I went to church with my oldest son. My daughter stayed home to assist her dad.
Through parts of the service I hung my head and hot tears landed on my linen skirt.
On the way home, we stopped at the gravesite and I dusted off the plastic name plate. It was broken in two places. (We have not yet ordered the permanent marker but feel that now is the time. It’s been hard to think about that.)
Yesterday the tears would simply not stop for long. I asked God to please help me.
“Help me feel better. What’s going on with me? Please help me.”
I took my camera outside and took three pictures that mirrored my feelings ~ the purple flower with its blooms drooping, the crepe myrtle devoid of her lacy, pink blooms, the fallen tree grown too big for its container. Through tears I took pictures.
I debated on whether I should share my feelings here.
Grateful ~ Thank you for sending encouragement my way. Thank you for praying for me.
|Andrew at 9 years old.|
I received this comment on my post “I Remember.” I have no other way to reply to my dear sister in suffering than to post my letter to her and hope that she comes back to read it. And if you do, dear one, and if you would like private correspondence, my email is email@example.com.
Melanie, I come here and read often. Sometimes I go back and read some of your posts again. I lost my son 3 years ago and I am still struggling. My faith has been tested and I fear I am losing the battle. I ask God “why”, a million times. My whole life has been very difficult and it was like this was the last straw. I can’t seem to come up for air anymore and it is getting worse. How do you cope? You seem so strong and I feel so week. I want to love God but I feel like he has turned his back on me and I am not worthy. Even though I continue to go to church it just feels like an automatic motion. Everday I want to hug my son’s neck and tell him I love him. I understand the hair you snipped from your son, unfortunately my son burned up in his car and we never saw him again. I have often wondered what would be worse, to lose them quickly,as I did or to have to watch helplessly and not know what to do, as you did. I think you are amazing and I wish I has your strength and faith. Please pray for me as I desperately want God in my life. Sometimes it feels like the pain takes my breath away and smothers everything.
I feel your pain. I feel it because I can relate to the suffering, the death and the separation from a dearly loved child.
I also feel your pain in your wrestling with God. I have twisted, tossed and turned with God in confusion, anger and ultimately what boils down to an almost mind numbing disappointment.
Disappointment in a God, who could have done something, but who didn’t.
Let me recount a few of the highlights (perhaps more aptly they should be termed lowlights) that I have experienced in the past eight and a half months since Andrew made his journey to Heaven.
At his hospital bed in the hours before his passing, the four of us hovered as close to Andrew as possible. We huddled together as we spoke tenderly to him, kissed him and caressed him.
I spoke to my husband and our other two children.
“Whatever happens, we do not give up our faith in God. We do not blame Him and we do not turn our backs on Him. We resist being disappointed in Him.”
Well, three of those things I have not given in to. However, the last – disappointment in God…I have to own that one.
I have been very disappointed that God did not honor our faith, and did not do what I believe His word teaches, honor His very Word concerning healing.
(I have promised God I will be honest with Him, honest with myself and honest with others. And so I share here honestly.)
At Andrew’s funeral we stood as a family, with our hands lifted to the Heavens as praise and worship music was sung. We sang and we worshipped.
(It has taken me months to say the “f” word. I usually refer to it as Andrew’s service.)
It was many months later that I would lift my hand high like that in praise again. I could have faked it for the sake of people who may have been observing me. But I had promised to be honest. And I could have taken the approach of fake it‘til you make it or attitude follows action. I could also have offered a sacrifice of praise. But I refused to give what didn’t come from the heart. Sacrifice of any kind must first come from the heart. It must cost you something or it is falsely labeled sacrifice.
You ask me how I cope.
I can give you some practical ways that have helped me get through my days and nights. Nights have been the worst. (I’ll give some of those practical ways at the conclusion of this letter.)
You tell me I seem so strong.
I am always surprised when people tell me I am strong. I have never felt strong. But what I have felt is determined.
Determined to feel the pain and not avoid it.
Determined to get healthy for my husband and children.
Determined to lead others to a Savior who led the way for us to be reconciled to the Father.
I had a close family member tell me when I was questioning so many things about God, that she thought it was too early for me to be reconsidering my theology.
I had to disagree.
I began my wrestling with God the month after Andrew passed on to Heaven.
I needed to find out from getting in God’s face how He expected me to go on.
Not just go on with this physical life.
But how to go on in my walking out my faith. What would that look like now? What would I look like now? What did HE expect of me now?
Now that my worst fears were realized. Now that all I wanted to do was die so I could go to Andrew.
Now that I felt so many eyes watching me…waiting to see what I would do…wondering if my faith would withstand such a devastating loss.
I am not strong. I am weak. But I am determined that in my weakness, the power of God will be revealed. The power of God to draw others to the cross, to the wounded side of Jesus and to the boundless, bottomless, beautiful love of God.
Mickey, God loves you. HE LOVES YOU!
He is not disappointed in you. He is not removed from you.
He may be silent at times. He may be hidden at times.
But he HAS NOT TURNED HIS BACK ON YOU.
His eyes are upon you. His heart is for you. He listens to the prayers of Jesus interceding for you.
He loves your boy and he loves HIS boy.
You have been separated from your son for 3 years. I have been separated from my son for nearly nine months.
But God was separated from His Son for 33 years.
That separation was for me.
For our sons.
I’m going to stop for now but I have more to tell you.
Please know that I am praying for you, dear sister. I PROMISE TO PRAY FOR YOU. And I’ll be praying as a sister who has “been there”…who is still “there” in some ways.
|On vacation at Rock City in TN
Andrew RESTING on THE ROCK
In the first days after we kissed Andrew’s cheek for the last time and I cut that bit of hair from his head before they closed the lid on him, I remember the pain I was in.
While making funeral plans, I kept telling myself - almost robotically, “It’s just a jar of clay. It’s just a jar of clay. When we put his body in that grave, it’s just a jar of clay.”
That mantra was soon replaced with, “He’s not really there. He’s in Heaven. He’s in Heaven and he’s perfectly fine. He’s perfectly fine. Jesus, kiss Andrew for me and tell him his mother loves him and I’ll see him soon. Please tell him for me.”
I had terrible flashbacks of him being on life support and not being able to communicate with him. I would sit on my couch in my robe for hours and everywhere I looked, I “saw” him. I had waited on him…helping him walk through the house, helping him even in the bathroom. Once when he was on his own in the bathroom, I heard him fall. I screamed and ran to the door. It was locked. I got the key to unlock it but I couldn’t open the door because he lay on his back with his head against the bottom of the door. How could I help him? How? Somehow he managed to slide himself down and away from the door. Somehow he managed without the aid of his left arm and with very little help from his left leg. I helped him up and then I began helping him each time in the bathroom.
He had to give up his privacy. I reminded him that I had helped all the time when he was little and that I would not “look” at him when I was helping him.
And he said, “It’s ok, Mom. I don’t care anymore.”
And I felt bad for my twelve year old son, not a little boy any longer and not yet a man, but having to “grow up” in the worst possible way.
He had to accept the loss of so many things. And in such a short time. Barely 4 months from diagnosis to death.
Once I caught him staring at his face in the bathroom mirror.
He said, “I look funny. The left side of my face doesn’t match the right side.”
I said, “You look good to me. You’ll get everything back. It may take some time but you’ll recover.”
|Andrew enjoying his PASSION!|
In those first few days, I would suddenly struggle to breathe. I had panic attacks and in the middle of them I would pace through the house and talk to myself aloud. I felt like pulling my hair out. All I could pray was, “Help me, God. Help me, God. PLEASE HELP ME.”
There were times I would have to lie on my bed because I felt so physically overwhelmed. I remember actually feeling as though I were in some kind of reverse labor. It was as if I wanted to take my son and have him return to me…to the safety of my womb. I literally writhed on my bed as though I were having contractions.
I still sleep with Andrew’s robe every night. If I awake and it’s not near me, I just reach out my hand and it’s there. I pull it closer and say, “Stay in my heart, Andrew. Just stay in my heart.”
Some of you said you would like to hear how I made it moment by moment even when I didn’t FEEL that God was near.
There were many moments when I didn’t FEEL God near. He seemed hidden, silent. He seemed as though He were just observing the situation. Observing me. What would I do? Would I still love Him? Would I trust Him ever again?
So, when my heart didn’t feel HIM, something deeper than the emotion of feeling held me together.
Not a feeling. Just a knowing.
A knowing that even when I didn’t get what I hoped for…Jesus must be enough.
A knowing that even when my theology seemed to have abandoned me…Jesus must be enough.
A knowing that even when life was cruel and God could have healed Andrew…Jesus must be enough.
Something deep within me would not give up on the sacrificial love of God.
After all, God LOVED so He gave.
Jesus LOVED, so He layed down His life.
And somehow, in a way that my mind still cannot even comprehend, Jesus was enough for me.
And Jesus is enough for me.
The I Am IS. Enough.
|Andrew called me outside one day to see his “grafitti” version of Jesus. See the crown?|