It was December 24th, 2020 and there was a knock on my front door. My wife was in the kitchen preparing a Christmas Eve brunch, and my daughter got up and looked out the door and announced to me that there were two men at the front door in uniform. The first thing that went through my mind were that the local police department were collecting "Toys for Tots." When I opened the door, I saw two men in Army uniforms standing there looking somber. The one with the cross on his lapel said to me, "Sir, are you Gregory Thomas Jacobs?" I just looked at them and said, "He is dead, isn't he?"
Rewind to September 11th, 2018. My eldest son David got on a bus for basic training with the Army. He was so proud that he entered on 09/11. He excelled in Basic training, and was first in his class in AIT. His career path was a 15 Yankee, which worked on AH-64 Apache helicopter avionics, electronics, and armament. It was one of the longest and hardest AIT's in the Army. Upon graduation from AIT, David went over to South Korea for a year, then to Colorado Springs, CO. On 12/23/20, 50 minutes after getting off work, an elderly lady side swiped David while entering the highway ramp, and flipped his car into a light pole.
Fast forward to today. Well, there are so many details in between those two previous paragraphs that I might save for another day. However, I would like to share a little of my journey over the past 16 months, as I believe it to be therapeutic and a necessity for me to move forward with my healing. I have learned that I will never forget my 21 year old son, nor will I ever get over this grief that I am experiencing. They say that losing a child is the worst and hardest thing that a person will ever go through. I haven't experienced too much other grief, but I can attest to the smothering effect this type has.
Along the way I had friends and well wishers give me advice. They all meant well when they said such things like "Well at least you have two other kids," "Oh, you are still dealing with that," "Remember David is not in that grave, but is up in heaven," etc. I have learned that people are just going to say stupid things, and that they have no concept of what I am going through, unless they have lost a child. Through all this, I have learned to show grace, and realize that they mean well. After all, they are saying something, it is much harder when they don't say anything at all. A friend of mine said to me once, "I just didn't want to say anything, in case I sparked a reminder." What is hard for people to realize is that 24 hours a day 7 days a week, David is on my mind. It is as if his name is tattooed on my eye balls for when I am awake, and on my eyelids for when I sleep. I have suffered chronic depression, panic attacks, high blood pressure, sleep apnea, etc. as a result of this grief. However, I don't suppress my emotions, but learn to let them lead me where they may, but not be controlled by them.
When I first got the news of David's death, I didn't think that I would be able to go on. There was such an emptiness inside of me, and numbness to life. I was in a constant state of brain fog, and was bitter at God, and all of my friends that just couldn't understand. I have grown into not replacing those past friendships, but adding a whole new slate of friends that have lost children. I have found solace in talking with other dads who have lost a child, and have realized there are a whole lot more around me than I realized. The problem is that if it doesn't directly effect us, it is out of sight and out of mind.
I am happy to say that I am finally able to read again, and maybe more importantly to write. I am not sure if this blog will be an avenue of therapy for me in putting down my thoughts, or if I will remain private. I was once a huge extrovert, but have turned more introverted on my grief journey. At the beginning, I wasn't sure that I could ever have the relationship with Jesus that I did, but I have grown into an understanding that He has never left me, and is walking alongside of me.
For anybody who is going through their own grief journey, I would just say that I get it. I don't have any pearls of wisdom, as each person has to walk their own journey, they just don't have to do it alone. I am so blessed to have a loving wife and life partner of almost 26 years, that we can comfort each other together in this loss. I also am so blessed and cherish the relationship I have with my other son and daughter, and my 4 year old grandson that my deceased son left as a blessing for us.
Don't mistake me acknowledging the blessings that God has given me in life, for the other part that just says, "this sucks!" I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. Although David grew into a young man, he will always be my baby boy. David, I miss you terribly, and will never understand the why's associated with this situation. I will however pledge to continue moving forward, as you wrote in your journal "Forward is the direction the arrow flies!"