Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday's Woe - Why Look For the Dead Among the Living?

Wednesday's Woe

Why Look For the Dead Among the Living?

by Tommy Prince

The angel asked Mary when she went to the tomb to find the body of Jesus,

"Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here! He is risen as He said."

But tonight, I ask the opposite question,

"Why do we look for the dead among the living?"

I was reading in my journal this week of events from May of last year...

This memory still brings tears to my eyes as I recall the pain of it then...and now...

My subconscious is always seeking Merry Katherine out in my dreams. I probably dream about her once a month at least. It is always such a painful experience because she is so alive and herself in my dream, and then I have to wake up...

Two days ago, I dreamed about her. She was back, helping me move cars around in our driveway. I was always driving her around places, taking her to friends' houses, taking her to the mall to meet her friends, etc. Angie and I were often taking her and her teammates to out-of-town track meets, taking her and her friends to the lake with us, taking her off to college, picking her up from college, helping her to move in and out of dorms, etc. Her friends were almost always around her and loved to hang out at our house. So seeing her among her friends was a very normal part of our lives...

So I find myself often getting triggered, as my mind and heart always seem to be "looking" for her, seeking her out. There is always a struggle going on in my subconscious to seek her out among the living. It is very disturbing.

It is like a bad joke. Cruel and inhuman treatment. It is like being bullied or taunted when you look, and see...
"There she is!"

But it is not.
It never is.
It never will be.
And yet, somehow... you keep looking...

So...enter some entertainment outings in public...

First, some background...

Angie and I had enjoyed watching (on television) a friend of our son Nathan's the year before pitch the amazing baseball games for the University of Georgia (Angie's alma mater) that enabled the Georgia Bulldogs to go to the college world series. This pitcher, Josh, is a good friend of Nathan's. Josh is from Athens, Georgia where Angie is from.

So on this one particular day, Josh had talked to Nathan on the phone and was so excited to discover that Nathan wanted to come see him play with the Diamond Jacks (the farm-league professional team he now pitches for) as they would play against our Knoxville Smokies here in Knoxville. So Josh left our family enough tickets for all four of the games so that we could finally see him play in person. We were all so excited. (Rollin had other plans that week and was not able to come.)

It is not often that Angie and I can find something enjoyable to do out in public (as most of you can relate to, I'm sure), so we were so excited to have this opportunity to go and see Josh pitch live and in person!

So Nathan, Angie, and I piled into our suburban and headed off for the game. Nathan was going to meet some of his and Josh's friends there, so he found them, and we all sat together. Nathan is only two years older than his baby sister Merry Katherine, so his friends are of course all around the ages of Merry Katherine. We all talked a lot during the game, then got up together to go closer to Josh's team's dug-out so that Nathan and Josh's girlfriend could go and talk to Josh some when he wasn't in the batter's box. This gave us time to get to know some of the girls who were friends of Josh's girlfriend.

Encountering these girls, all around Merry Katherine's age, I found myself "locking in on them":

"Tell me about yourself?"

"What are you majoring in?"

"When are you graduating?

(Or, with some,) "When did you graduate?"

Merry Katherine would have been right at that age (age 22) of graduating as well had she lived....

Some lived near Knoxville and had graduated with a teaching degree. Since I had served on our Knox County Board of Education for about eight years, I naturally offered,

"If you want to teach in Knoxville, let me know; maybe I can help you."

So it was all very friendly and sweet and fun getting to know these girls, but it was also drawing me in in a way that was inexplicable to my conscious mind.

The next game we went to, Nathan had to get a paper-that-was-due back to his graduate school about an hour from home, so he was unable to go to that night's game. So on this particular night, we did not sit with all of Josh's friends. Angie and I found some seats in the best place we could find to have a good view of the batter's box.

Angie then began observing some unusual, out-of-character behavior from me that was confusing to her and began making her uncomfortable. Here we were on an outing with one another, and she noticed that I was seemingly "rubbernecking" my head around, and not just my head but my whole body was twisting in my seat, looking and scanning the whole stadium.

She got more and more uncomfortable as I didn't seem to stop even after the game had started. So she leaned over and asked me, "What are you doing?" So I told her I was searching for the girls we had met the night before. She recognized that I was unaware of my own behavior so she said,

"What would you think if you were sitting behind a father who was staring at Merry Katherine like that?"

Suddenly, I was jolted out of my "spell" and quickly realized my behavior could easily appear that I was gaping at a group of nubile girls for prurient reasons when in reality I was just looking for my baby girl! It was as though I had gotten a "glimpse" of her in her normal world from the night before when we had been with these girls.

That night, it was like she was here--I was back with her in her world of just hanging out with her friends, with everything happy and normal again.

For me, when I encountered these girls and spent some time with them, it had been a feeling much like it must have been when Elizabeth had visited Mary, the mother of Jesus when they were both "with-child" and Elizabeth's baby (John) jumps inside her when he sensed the very presence of Jesus...

I was like the little bird in the childhood story-book that goes around saying,

"Are you my mother?"

"Are you my mother?"

But my heart was saying,

"Are you Merry Katherine?"

"Are you Merry Katherine?"

It was like something had pushed through, driving me to fill that black hole so that I wasn't even aware of my own behavior!

In being around this group of girls,

it was like Merry Katherine was in every one of them.

We couldn't even go to a baseball game, a simple baseball game, without my being triggered...

After those two nights of my system being severely triggered, it's like I crashed afterwards to the point that we couldn't even go to the last two games...

So I ask myself this question,

"Why is it that we look for the dead among the living?"

photo from



Diana Doyle said...

Beautiful post! I know exactly how you feel however I try to avoid kids Savannah's age, I hope one day to feel as you do.

I have followed women around a supermarket though if they reminded me of mom...I think it brings us living ones alot of comfort....that we can somehow pretend...even if its just for a moment...that our loved ones are still with us...well, thats how it is for me.

And as for your dreams, you are so lucky, I never see my loved ones in my dreams, maybe only once or twice each....I read once when this happens that it is a spiritual visit from the other maybe your daughter is visiting you on some other plain...during your dreams. Sending a hug in this msg. Diana Doyle

pearl said...

Yes, I can imagine your feelings and pain as you were wanting to think of your daughter still being amongst you in these settings. Just being with girls her age and remeniceing about all the times you were doing special things with Merry Katherine and her friends must have been a struggle to remember those times and feel she should still be there with you.
Grief does take a long time. I'm finding that out and surprised at my teary reactions some days to the simpliest things.
May the Lord bless you both and give you the strength each day that you need. May He bring that special JOY to your heart as you remember things about your precious daughter.
Love and prayers to you!

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