About Rebecca Carney - One Woman's Perspective

My name is Becky Carney. My husband, Joe, and I have been married for 43 years. We have two living children, Eric (40) and Jenna (35). We lost a baby in utero at 19 weeks in 1987. In 2002, our middle son, Jason (19), and his best friend, Alina (20), were broadsided by a drunk driver who was going at least twice the speed limit. They both died instantly. This blog is written from my perspective as a bereaved parent. I don't claim to know what it's like to walk in anyone else's shoes. Each situation is different; each person is different. Everyone handles grief differently. But if I can create any degree of understanding of what it's like to be a parent who has lost a child, then I have succeeded in my reason for writing this blog.

A Father’s Heart

IMG_8140I’ve never known a man to have such a huge father’s heart as my husband, Joe. His heart for his children knows no bounds.

From the moment the kids were born, Joe relished being a dad. Even from the minute we found out I was pregnant, he could hardly wait until the baby was born. He truly delighted in the birth of each of our kids.

He would come home after a long day of work (and a long drive home!!) and would play swamp monster, take them swimming, play ball out in the yard, wrestle on the floor, on and on. Each night was completed with Joe reading a book – Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Polaris Jack, But No Elephants, Richard Scarry. If he got tired of reading the same book over and over, he’d read it backwards as the kids laughed hilariously. If he got tired of playing the same game over and over, he’d make up his own hilarious rules. His greatest joy was being the one to pray a prayer to ask Jesus into their hearts. He wanted to be able to spend eternity with his children.

Once in a while, the kids and I would meet Joe downtown Seattle for lunch. We’d have lunch and then go to the Seattle Center and walk around. If Joe wasn’t busy at work, he would take the kids on the tram back to work with him to spend the rest of the day. They loved spending time with their daddy.

As they got older, he helped prepare for and host parties for the kids and their friends, helped our daughter and her friend dye their hair, polished Jason’s shoes as he got ready to go to a prom, taught each of them to ride a bike and later to drive. I couldn’t begin to list the many different ways he spent time and was involved with our kids. He loved being involved in their lives…and they loved him being involved. Always a people person, Joe could always be found in the middle of a group of kids, playing right along with them, making up games. The more the merrier, the more the fun. We rarely had a babysitter, instead taking the kids with us wherever we went. We loved having them with us.

Joe played more games of chess with Jason than I could count. He paid for the kids’ education, bought their first car for them, helped our older son start (and stay) in business, paid off his debts to help get on him feet when he was struggling. He has helped emotionally, spiritually, financially – just to name a few. To say that he was an involved dad would be an understatement…and the kids loved every minute of it. He celebrated each triumph with them and grieved each sorrow with them. To say that he loves his kids so much also would be an understatement.

Joe struggled terribly when Jason died. He was so devastated. I was so worried about him. He went back to work – and Jenna and I went back to school – a week after the accident. I think we all tried to jump back in too early, but we didn’t know any different. Joe had an hour and a half drive to and from work, his route taking him by either the cemetery or the accident site every day. Many days he would come home from work, and I knew he had been crying.

102_0734.JPGJoe told me once that he always imagined our house in Snohomish being filled with our kids and grandkids. He was looking forward to being a grandpa. He could picture it filled with family and friends.

After Jason died, the emptiness echoed around us. Our friends disappeared and left us alone. Our daughter was busy with school, working and taking dance lessons. Our older son had moved out not long after his son was born. He, too, went to school, worked a labor-intensive job and helped take care of his son, Michael. Although we have three grandchildren now and have tried to stay in touch and have a relationship with them, it has been difficult. With long distance relationships, it takes encouragement from parents and effort on all parties for it to work. Much to our sorrow, it just hasn’t happened very much. Let’s just say it’s not the ideal Norman Rockwell grandparent-grandchild relationship. It’s very sad.

Yesterday, our new neighbors (who have bought the property across the street and will be building a house there) came by their property to play in the creek. They are a young couple with two adorable children and stop by regularly for picnics and to let the kids play by the creek. I notice Joe periodically looking longingly out the window at them, wishing he could be a part of the fun. We had to run some errands and Joe saw a sporting goods store that had big balls in bins in front of the store for sale. He went over to look at them, thinking to buy one for the kids to play with. Since we try very hard to not encroach on their privacy, especially since they usually bring friends with them, Joe decided not to buy one. He was very quiet on the way home and I could tell how much he misses being around “young people” and especially kids. He wants to be the grandpa that hangs out and plays with his grandkids. He was just so sad.

We miss getting together with people. We miss being around young people. We miss our kids. We always thought we would continue the fun of raising our kids once our grandkids were born. It just hasn’t happened that way. Our son, daughter-in-law and grandkids live all the way across the country and it continues to be a difficult situation. Jason he is gone. He will never get married. He will never have kids. He would have been a great dad. Our daughter and son-in-law live four hours away. They have made a decision not to have kids, and we respect their decision. This coronavirus thing has made it difficult to see them. Both Joe and I have been horribly burned by people we trusted and struggle with trusting friendships. As a result, we really don’t have any close friends and are alone a lot of the time.

fullsizeoutput_c607We just celebrated our 44th anniversary. I love this man more than I could ever put into words. We have been through ups and downs, many moves hither and yon, difficult things no parent should face, health issues, on and on. We have survived and I love him more today than when we got married.

I heard this song the other day and thought of Joe when I heard it. It’s written in the form of a rhetorical question – Could I Love You Any More? – to which the answer is: I don’t know how I could love him any more than I already do. I love him with my whole heart.

Seven billion people in the world
Finding you is like a miracle
Only this wonder remains

Could I love you any more? (Question’s rhetorical)
Could I love you any more? (Oh, this feels phenomenal)
Could I love you any more? (Love is all there is)

Could I love you any more? (It’s inexhaustible)
Could I love you any more? (Oh, love is unstoppable)
Could I love you any more? (Love is all there is)

Wishing happy Father’s Day to my precious hubby. I wish I could take away your sadness and fill the gaps left by Jason’s death. You are an amazing man and I am so thankful for you.

~Becky

© 2020 Rebecca R. Carney

Memorial Day 2020

As we drove home today following a weekend visit with our daughter and son-in-law, we passed a church with a Memorial Day marquee that said:

Instead of mourning their death, thank God they lived.

I have to admit that I struggle with not letting sayings like this really irritate me. To me – and I’m speaking strictly in my own humble opinion – people who spout sayings like this (or in this case put on a church marquee) have no idea what it’s like to deeply mourn the loss of a dearly loved person, especially the death of a child. A saying like this could easily be interpreted as condemnation for someone who is mourning. At best, those saying things like this are horribly misinformed. At worst, it’s a slap in the face for those grieving the loss of a loved one.

Mourning the death of a loved one and being thankful that they lived is not an either/or situation. I am so thankful that Jason was born. I am so incredibly thankful he was born into our family. Being thankful for his life doesn’t mean that I don’t mourn his death or that I don’t miss him every day of my life. It’s an awfully huge assumption that both grief and thankfulness cannot co-exist.

Those who mourn should not to be judged or condemned for not being thankful. The Bible calls those who mourn blessed. Consider the words of Jesus said in the Beatitudes:

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 5:3-10

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5&version=NIV

Hugs to all of you missing dearly loved ones today.

~Becky

© 2020 Rebecca R. Carney

 

 

The Wariness of Grief

In one of the homeschool groups we were in when the kids were younger, there was one mom who seemed to me to be quite distant. I didn’t understand it, since her kids were similar ages to my kids and they all were part of the largest group of kids in the entire homeschool group. Her kids and our kids were friends, and her daughters were outgoing and friendly. We all were part of one of the largest homeschool groups in the state of Washington and belonged to a co-op where our kids attended certain classes with other homeschool students.

While we moms would sit around tables and talk while our kids were in classes, this mom would mostly sit in her car by herself. If she did come and join us, she was fairly quiet. She was friendly enough, but there seemed to be a wall between us. One day she told us about her older son who had died in a car accident. It was heartbreaking to hear and hard for her to tell. In my mind, however, I didn’t put together her wariness/guardedness and the death of her child until it happened to me. Grief has changed me and wariness/guardedness is one of these changes.

This article showed up on my Facebook this morning, and I thought it gave some insight into one of the ways in which bereaved parents change. I hope you will take time to read it.

Sadly, experience has taught me to be wary even of people I’ve known a long time. I have been surprised by those I was formerly close to who have hurt me or disappointed me. Or who have disappeared. So, I wear my mask and conduct myself carefully.

The Wariness of Grief:

https://www.compassionatefriends.org/blog/the-wariness-of-grief/?fbclid=IwAR1Ek54UNTCHiyfH8Jyr9wi3gZ0eckKy841iHG1ZEZpW2wRUDZuQa4ugrT8

~Becky

© 2020 Rebecca R. Carney

Unto the Least of These

In this time of death and great uncertainty, this phrase keeps going through my head. We see acts of great kindness, great selflessness, acts of encouragement and sharing. Those are the things I want to focus on, the things I want to remember. The people performing these acts are generally not high profile people; they are ordinary people performing extraordinary acts.

I see videos of celebrities filming video clips from their fancy house or mansions, complaining about being bored or feeling confined by their circumstances. I’m sure you’ve seen them, too. I have no sympathy for them at all. They have so much more than many people could even dream of. I admire the celebrities who are generously giving some of what they have to others, whether or not it is a publicity stunt. The end result is that someone who is in need is helped. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

When this is over – and especially now –  I hope we take time to notice those who serve us – the restaurant workers, the police, the farmers, the truck drivers, the medical workers, the office workers, and so many others – and show them and express to them kindness and thankfulness for all they do.

The gal who is my massage therapist (and helps hold at bay the aches and pains that harass me) has messaged me twice to see if there is anything we needed. She’s busy and has a lot on her plate, and her kindness and thoughtfulness truly touched me.

I have been laid off for the duration of this virus, and have had to file for unemployment. It’s been tough getting through to the NC Division of Employment Security. I’ve had to call twice to ask questions, and it took me a week to actually get through the first time and then 2.5 hours in the queue to talk to a live person. Both times, I was so impressed with the employees’ pleasantness, calmness and helpfulness. I’m sure they are swamped and get their share of complainers. I tried to communicate to them to the best of my ability how truly grateful I was for their help in this craziness.

I hope we come out of this a more compassionate people – something that is not just for the moment, but for the rest of our lives. I hope we perform acts of kindness without anyone watching or without any accolades – just because we can. I hope we come out of this with a heightened awareness that a high profile person (i.e., actor, singer, politician) does not have more “value” than ordinary people. I’ve written before about the integrity of my husband and how he treats everyone he meets with the same respect. It’s one of the things I love most about him.

With my husband’s age and his heart attack four and a half months ago, we have to be very careful overall as members of the “at risk” group, so I am not able to “do” a lot for other people. My focus has been on doing everything I can to keep Joe safe and healthy. I cannot imagine Joe getting sick and being all alone in the hospital – or, worse yet, having him succumb to this virus. I don’t know what I would do without him.

Our son and his family live in Seattle, a few miles from the epicenter of this virus in the United States. I worry about their safety and that of our daughter and son-in-law in South Carolina. When you have lost a child, you truly understand the frailty of human life and how quickly someone you love can be taken from you. My heart aches for those who have lost dearly loved ones.

Please be kind. In a world that is hurting, be kind, pleasant, helpful. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Even a small kindness can make a difference in someone else’s world.

Stay safe. Stay well.

This is the context for title of this blog article – Matthew 25:31 – 40 –

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

https://biblehub.com/niv/matthew/25.htm

~Becky

© 2020 Rebecca R. Carney

Wishes…

I look at the pictures of Jason on my Nixplay digital photo as they rotate in the frame that sits right by my desk at work. Oh, how I wish I could go back in time to hug that precious little boy, tickle that cute little guy under his chin and hear his infectious laugh, play a card or board game with my lover of all games, bake chocolate chip cookies with my beautiful boy, sit and watch a movie, just BE together doing anything.

I love looking at the pictures, but some days the pain of his absence is almost too much to bear. Photographs and memories will never take the place of actually spending time with my precious boy.

I love you, my precious boy. I miss you with all my heart.

~Becky

© 2020 Rebecca R. Carney

Integrity

1f4362aafec4392ef99f84318a38010aOfficial definition: Firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.

Synonyms: character, decency, goodness, honesty, morality, probity, recited, righteousness, rightness, uprightness, virtue, virtuousness. Honesty, honor, integrity and probity mean uprightness of character or action. Honesty implies a refusal to lie, steal, or deceive in any way. Honor suggests an active or anxious regard for the standards of one’s profession, calling, or position. Integrity implies trustworthiness and incorruptibility to a degree that one is incapable of being false to a trust, responsibility, or pledge. Probity implies tried and proven honesty or integrity.

(https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/integrity)

Unofficial definition: Doing the right thing even when no one is watching.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jason had great integrity, a heart to do what was right. He was honest. He was trustworthy. He was the guy that parents knew they could trust their daughters to go out with. He was the type of guy that showed up to work on time and did the best job he could, no matter what else was going on around him or whether anyone was watching. He was the guy that was kind to anyone.

In one of his college classes, a fellow small group project member had plagiarized a portion of Jason’s paper, one that Jason had generously consented to allowing the guy to read in order to help encourage this person’s effort in writing his own paper. The professor recognized enough similarities and called both of them in for cheating. Jason was horrified that his integrity was being called into question when he had simply been trying to help the other guy succeed in the class. Thankfully, the professor recognized what was going on and who was the real cheater. Jason’s integrity showed through.

My husband also has a great integrity. It’s one of the things that drew me to him. Joe worked in telecommunications, with his clients being some of the major hotels and universities in the greater Seattle area. He worked with the White House communications department, the office of the President of South Korea, actors, sports stars, major business companies. When working with government departments, he had to be cleared by the FBI just to step foot on any floor of the hotel the government entity had taken over. The thing about Joe is that he treated everyone with respect, whether his dealings involved the White House or the maid cleaning the toilet.

Jason was the same. He approached life with an openness, honesty and integrity that was just amazing. He was a true friend to his friends. He loved his family and friends unconditionally, forgave unconditionally. He was not embarrassed to show that he cared. He hugged those he loved, no matter who was watching. He was true to himself and his values. Whatever he did, he did with his whole heart and with integrity.

Integrity is treating people with respect, whether they are rich or poor, whether or not you personally benefit from the way you treat that person, whether or not anyone is watching or will every know what you did. Integrity is your actions matching up with what you profess to believe on Sunday. Integrity is not trying to make someone look bad just so you will look better. Integrity is owning up to your mistakes, genuinely saying you’re sorry, and trying to do better the next time.

Jason’s integrity is one of the things I miss about him. It is what inspires me to try harder and to do the best I can, no matter the circumstances.

I miss you, my precious boy.

~Becky

© 2020 Rebecca R. Carney