What would my title be?

As my husband negotiated the sea of glowing red lights in the dusky skylight along Loop 820, I found myself revisiting old thoughts.

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The next exit is Beach Street, if we took the exit and turned left it would only be a few stoplights before we are passing through the intersection at Fossil Creek Boulevard. I barely notice the cars as we pass, all I can do is stare across the median trying to figure out where the fifty foot mark is south of the intersection. That is where his head struck the pavement after my son was thrown from the car he was riding in. Fifty feet, a little more than four yards would end my son’s life. I try to picture him lying there, the paramedics working on him to bring him back to life. Tears sting my eyes as I notice a dead bouquet of flowers tied to a tree near the intersection. Did someone leave those for Justin?

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My eyes are burgeoning with hot wet wells of sorrow as I try to bring myself back from the incessant wandering of my mind. I revisit that day in mid-August 2005 often when I am in that part of town. The day our lives changed forever. .

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“People who lose their spouses are widows, children who lose their parents are orphans… but what would my title be?” Tears fall free a slow, single drop at a time as I give voice to a new thought.

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My husband meets my eyes for just a moment before returning his attention back to the road. He shrugs before saying softly, “I don’t know.” .

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My heart aches as the confusion begins to roll around like marbles dropped on a tile floor. The clattering and scattering of my thoughts seems to radiate to my stomach as a large knot forms there building up pressure and heating my cheeks. My hands shake and I know that it is going to be a difficult night at support group.
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Tonight my husband is going with me. I had to beg him to go… He never wants to be in that environment very long. His pain is different, his grief somehow lessened by the fact that Justin was my son and not his. At least that is the way I see it. He can’t comfort me, he can’t help me and he certainly can’t understand me. Most of the time I am angry at him and I don’t even know why. .

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A few days later I would learn my new title: Bereaved Parent. Bereaved parents are just one of many forms of the “bereaved” in our society. The definition in Webster’s states bereaved is a noun meaning one who is suffering the death of a loved one. That definition feels so slight, so inadequate. It lumps my grief in with someone grieving a long lost family member as well as those grieving the death of their parents or spouse, even a friend or pet could be considered a “loved one.” Yet, I am bereaved. Out of my mind off the chart bereaved.

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So crazy with grief that I would become so frustrate I would leave the house for hours at a time and turn off my cell phone because I feared saying something that I would regret to my husband or daughters. One such occasion I cried all the way through a movie and then went to Build-a-Bear where I created a little stuffed dog with scraggly hair and brown and white patches all over just so I could experience the process. I wanted to see what they did when they stuff them because Justin once went willingly to the store with a group of teenage girls from our youth. when one of the girls would not kiss the little heart they put inside, Justin readily did so on her behalf. The bear was a gift for the girls mother and just one of the endearing qualities of my boy that I fondly recall more often these days.

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I found the little, unstuffed mutt hanging on a peg protruding from the wall near the front of the store. I pulled him down and petted his fur telling myself I wouldn’t buy it if there were no clothes that made me think of Justin.

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You may be thinking it is an odd thing for me to associate a little patched dog with my son, but that day… when his friends and he were in that accident… the police reported that my 220 lb. 6 foot plus son was hanging out the window of the tiny Mazda car he was in barking like a dog at passing traffic. So, every since that day, I have seen little stuffed dogs and thought of my boy.

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I wandered over to the “boy” clothes and found a little pair of khaki shorts, some boxer shorts and a striped red and navy polo shirt. I added a little red ball cap to my collection of stuff and proceeded to find shoes. After all, shoes seem to be very important to me. His shoes sit in the garage seemingly waiting for his return to use them again. I found a pair of shoes that resembled “skater” shoes and my ensemble was complete. I was buying a dog… a stuffed dog that is. I stood in line with very small children and grinned weakly.

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When it was my turn the teenager running the “stuffin’ machine” smiled and said, “I’ll only make you kiss the heart.”
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She ran each child through a litany of exercises to ensure their new “pet” would live a good, joyful and fulfilling life because his/her “heart” was right. I kissed the little gingham heart I had selected and she tossed it in before stuffing him until he was just a little soft. After my dog was stuffed, I dressed him and took him to the “identification station.” Here I would give him a name: Justin. I put in our address and his family’s name. Then I went to “check out.” I paid a whopping $50.00 for my little dose of Build-a-Bear comfort.

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My girls laugh out loud when someone new comes over and accidentally sits on Justin in the stray chair he is occupying. I yell, “Don’t sit on Justin!” I then go and lovingly pick up my little dog and relocate him to a safer place.

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Weird? I know.

Necessary? Absolutely…

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Why? I don’t know.

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I’m bereaved.

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It has been two summers since I first began visiting that little support group called H. O. P. E. where those who have lost a child meet weekly to Help Other Parents Endure. I found healing in those early months there. I was on my way and just needed to find some necessary Truth, Taking and cry a well full of Tears to find that place where comfort and peace seem to flow again. Today I can tell you that the Joy of the Lord is my strength, but it hasn’t always been that way.

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My son, Justin Brant Newsom, went home to be with the Lord on August 23, 2005. He was involved in a two car collision at the intersection of N. Beach Street and Fossil Creek Boulevard on August 15, 2005. His injuries were numerous and severe. It was the head injury that would ultimately claim his life. Doctors determined he was brain dead on Tuesday, August 23rd just eight days after the accident. He was 17 years, 5 months 12 days, 3 hours and 18 minutes old. We buried him on August 27th and filled the sanctuary of our church to overflowing where I delivered the eulogy to every one’s surprise.

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I tell them, as I will tell you: Any strength you find in me, any grace at all, will be of God and not my own will because in my flesh I am a squalling mess on the floor hating every aspect of this loss, but in my heart and my soul I know God has a plan and a purpose that will bring forth something good and a greater glory unto Himself. My son is in the safest keeping of all, in the loving presence of His Savior and Heavenly Father until I finally make the journey home when my life on this earth is through. His legacy lives on in the testimony and love of his family and I am so grateful for the 17 years I had with him. He was a gift and a blessing in so many ways.
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Feel free to share the stories of your loss and your children with me in the comments. If you will email me a photo and the name and sunrise (birth) date and sunset (death) date… I will prepare a post each month to introduce members and their children.

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Our next post will be Monday, June 2nd when prayer requests will be posted and prayed over. If you have a prayer request you would like to post please email me with your information and I will include it in my post.

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The Thursday Scripture we will be reflecting on is:

Please read this Scripture and even this Chapter of Scripture if you are up to it. Consider how the elements described by one who has suffered the loss of children is feeling. How does he describe himself? What does he note about what is happening around him?

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Until we meet again, Be Blessed.

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