"A child takes life as it comes because he has no other way of taking it. The world had come to an end that Saturday morning, but each time we had moved to another place, I had seen a world come to an end, and there had always been another world to replace it. When somebody you love dies, Mark Twain said, it is like when your house burns down; it isn't for years that you realize the full extent of your loss. For me it was longer than most, if indeed I have realized it fully even yet, and in the meantime the loss came to get buried so deep in me that after a time I scarcely ever took it out to look at it at all, let alone speak of it."
After thinking I should add The Sacred Journey to my reading list, I pulled out my pen and marked that passage. As someone who lost his mom at a young age and has only recently started to realize the profound effect that event has had on my life and who I am as a person, I appreciate Buechner's words. It's actually startling to me how well his words describe me as a 13 year old trying to figure out life after experiencing that loss. I often avoided the subject. When my dad wanted to talk about my mom, I remember sometimes simply telling him, "I don't want to talk about it." So we didn't.
Instead I obsessed over school work...like staying up until one in the morning doing homework and practicing my saxophone obsessed. I guess it seemed easier to control. But when things at school didn't go well, it got ugly. The most vivid memory I have of that playing out was toward the end of my 8th grade year. Our English teacher, Mrs. Barnes, assigned our class to do a project on the book Ender's Game. I was furious at Mrs. Barnes when she determined I could have been a little more creative with my work and awarded me 93 out of 95 points on the project instead of the full 95 I felt I deserved. I proceeded to argue with Mrs. Barnes about my alleged lack of creativity and she told me, "Jason, you still got an A." Certainly a truthful statement, but I was so mad it didn't matter. You would have thought the world had ended. As Buechner states, though, my world had already come to an end. I just wasn't aware of it.
A counselor I've seen has said that something in me went underground when my mom died. I don't like how that sounds, but I can't deny that it feels true. I have theories as to what "went underground," but they remain theories in progress for the time being.
I still miss my mom. She was funny, loved the Lord, made really great spaghetti, hugged me when I cried, hooked me up with quality after-school snacks, took me to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles concert for my 11th birthday, stood in line with me for hours to meet the girl of my dreams from the Mickey Mouse Club (and gave me a stuffed bear to give to her!) and always managed to surprise me with thoughtful and creative Christmas gifts. It reminds me how grateful I am for the time I did have with her.