From my journal dated December 11, 2002:
Saturday night Joe and I went to a Christmas dessert theater at Northshore Baptist. Betty* invited us to go, said her husband had purchased a table and they had extra tickets. I have been trying to be less reclusive and more sociable, so we decided to go.
As we were waiting in the lobby to get the tickets from Betty, we saw Leif, a friend of Eric’s, standing with another guy. We went over and talked to him for a few minutes, and then started to go into the sanctuary. As I glanced back, Leif was leaning toward another guy, talking, and they were both intently looking at us. I’m sure they were talking about Jason and the accident.
I know I’m now known as “the mother of Jason, who died in a car accident” more than anything else. I’m positive that’s what Leif was telling his friend. That’s my main identifying factor…or at least one of them.
I loved being known as Jason’s mom. I was so happy and proud to be Jason’s mom. But now my identity has changed. People identify me to others in reference to my son who died. I know it’s typical. I did the exact same thing Saturday night.
We ran into a gentleman at the Christmas dessert from our homeschool group whose wife had died from cancer. That’s exactly how I identified to my husband how I knew this guy – “they were a part of our homeschool group; Eric taught his son guitar; his wife died of cancer.”
I do remember consciously thinking at the time, though, that that’s not the only way I think of him. Yes, there’s an awareness in me that his wife died and their son lost his mother. But, I don’t only think of him as a widower.
When someone’s child has died, a huge chunk of that parent’s identity has been altered. People view me through a screen now – one that has Jason’s death superimposed on it. I guess I view myself that way, too, most of the time. Except it’s not a screen. It’s as if it’s been imprinted on my heart, on my life, and all over me. “My precious son has died. My world is shattered. My heart is broken, and I don’t know how it will ever heal.”
I think it may take as long to rebuild my identity as it’s going to take to rebuild my life.
With apologies to Patricia Hung (http://joyintheaftermath.com) who so eloquently addressed this same subject in her blog yesterday. Honestly…it was the next entry in my journal. Becky