The Master Chief and Me
It’s pretty close to 4 years since Luke died. A lot has changed in my family’s lives since our Day 1 (I call the day Luke passed Day 1. For me it’s the start of a new life, wherever I had been going in life, career, and any hopes and dreams before Day 1 was obliterated. A new life of pain, uncertainty, and grief was started from that point.) You can call the passing of your child, sibling, family member, or friend anything you want, but no matter what there is the life before Day 1 and a completely different life after Day 1. As I previously stated, life has changed quite a bit since that day. We started a nonprofit, we serve more in our Church, try a little bit more each day to be social or do things, we’ve refocused our dreams and careers, but life still has its sting. A father had called me a while back and asked if things would change and I told him a little snippet of my life. I had told him about two weeks earlier I was getting ready to sign in at work and the loss of Luke hit me like it was Day 1. I had to stop, breathe, collect myself, and then sign into work. A week later I just stared out the window remembering my son. Holidays still suck especially his favorite holidays. But I get through them all, a little bit of hope for all of us I suppose.
If it’s been a day, week month, year, or 3 ¾ years healing is still an ongoing process. There are days when it’s all grief, just being tired of being sad, sometimes it’s the memories that come back like a punch in the gut that takes your breath away. At 3 ¾ years I’m more seasoned, more prepared for what my wife calls “sneaker waves” of grief. A very dear couple had gone through their 4th year anniversary of losing their son and the hurt is still there for them. For them, the pain is just as real today as it was 3 years ago. But back to the Master Chief.
On the dashboard on my truck is a little ledge for sunglasses or whatever but what is on my dash is the Master Chief. Master Chief (MC) is a little figurine that Luke had an affinity for. He loved playing Halo (me too!) and we had many nights saving the universe from an evil army hell bent on destroying the human race. We had put together a Mega Bloks model of a ship called a Pelican and with each Blok set there was a version of the MC and other characters. Luke had a few and we shared some with his friends after he passed, but I kept one particular figurine for myself. This Master Chief is a bit of mutt, different colored legs and helmet, but it fit Luke’s style so I kept that one for myself.
The figurine has gone to a lot of places, Mt Rushmore, Ohio, Central Oregon, Mt. St Helens, the ocean, and even has had his own photo shoots. The Chief has taken a few falls, maybe been glued back together, possibly almost fallen down a cliff, but through it all the Chief has been with us on our outings to stand in for Luke these past few years. While I was straightening him out after a trip I gave him a long look, I was wondering if I should be holding onto the MC. We’ve been through a lot together but fundamentally it’s just plastic. I pondered if holding onto the MC was healthy for me. It’s kinda the saying to move forward you have to let go of the past. But again, is that necessarily true in this case? Does that mean I let go of the MC to move forward in my life? But even then, what is moving forward as an adult? It took a while to find my answer, and I’m willing to share them as long as you realize this is one person’s opinion.
The reason I write the disclaimer is that we all have grown up differently, different cultures, different ups and downs, different beliefs. This may be your first real tragedy or maybe your 4th. Your life experience is what will ultimately guide you through your choice, and your willingness to move forward with healing, staying static, or regressing. It’s your willingness or stubbornness that will guide your choices before and after your loss. Folks want to stay miserable and sad all the time, that’s their thing. Some want to be told what to think or feel. Some want everyone to shut up so they can work through what they are experiencing. I probably cycle through all those scenarios. We are complex beings and how to deal with the loss of a child is scattered. Folks read about the 5 steps of grief, but you can go through 5 steps in fifteen minutes back to back to back to back. It’s also easy to just give up. I would suggest not giving up, there is still good and beauty in this world I hope you all find it to be true.
My conclusion to the conundrum of the Chief is that he will remain as my riding buddy. The Chief will remain in his spot, on my dash, for as long as I can take him. He will ride along during my various adventures, have his photo shoots, and probably take a tumble or two. Maybe one of his siblings will take up the Chief when I’m too old to keep on saving the universe from evil invading armies. Maybe they will have forgotten the Chief and have their own stand in for their lost brother. In looking at the Chief now versus two years ago I would suppose he was a stand in for my son, but now it’s more like a companion. I’m not embarrassed for having the MC and I’m not sharing this because I’m proud of the MC. The path to healing is a long and often daunting walk (sometimes a crawl), which is why having a symbol of our lost ones can help a lot. These items, tokens, can change overtime like the MC has for me. I wouldn’t say it was a crutch for me but comforting? Possibly. Some people may find the idea of having a MC dumb and others relieved that people do keep something that reminds them of their child. Either way it’s a personal choice. Just let it be what it is and keep on moving forward with your grieving. Now is not the time to faulter. I ask you to be strong in your walk. You may have the chance to lift up another grieving person who has lost their child, or their sibling, or friend, and as much as you are reading this trying to get through another day, or a rough patch, so are others. WE must be there for the people who have also been thrust into the worse club ever, The Survivor Parents club…
Loves From Luke
PS. I have been known to stare at the Chief in my truck for long moments just wondering what the hell happened or just asking myself if I can make it through the day or through this life. The Chief doesn’t answer, but he listens and that helps too.
Peace to you all