There are moments in life that change us. Marriage, parenting, graduation, retirement – many of life’s major transitions divide a life into a before and an after. In many situations who we are, how we live, and how we see the world radically shifts after these moments.
However for some of us there is an After. There is a singular moment in our life that is so earth shattering that it radically changes everything about our life and who we are in such a profound way that is impossible for us to avoid being fundamentally changed. These moments can be deeply traumatic. It is as if the fabric of our world, indeed ourselves, has been rent in two and the pieces imperfectly joined. We are still whole, but the division is noticeable – at least to us – and is permanent.
My After was the birth of my second child – the son who has inspired this blog. Matthew suffered what has been described “catastrophic brain damage” during his delivery. This brain damage was caused by a physician. That fact has been affirmed by two separate courts that decided that Matthew’s birth involved medical negligence that caused the significant disabilities with which he lives. A doctor’s decision irretrievably changed my son’s life, and by extension, mine. The moment this man picked up a pair of forceps I became an extreme caregiver.
For a long time this angered me. Really, really angered me. It took me years to begin process the rage that I directed towards this particular individual. I pinned the losses and suffering of my son, my family, and myself, on this individual. Peace was elusive, and while I hid the worst of it, my anger was destructive – at least to me.
Because I am a little weird I worked through most of my anger by studying theology. I often joke that my graduate work in theology was an expensive and labour intensive form therapy. But these studies reminded me that life is random and unfair and only God is perfect. To be human means that we make mistakes and it is unfair to hold a physician to expectations only appropriate for the Divine.
Last week I attended my youngest son’s music concert. My son attends a very small private school and my family has been members of this school community for many years. As I milled around the foyer after the concert I noticed this particular physician standing off in the distance. It seems, at least for a while, we will be members of the same community.
For a moment I was rattled. I wasn’t sure I wanted to share My community with Him.
And then it occurred to me that we were okay. My son was okay. I was okay. My family was okay. My marriage was okay. Heck, we’re pretty happy most days. It took me 17 years, but I am hoping I have found a new After. The moment I was irretrievably changed because I could finally replace a bottomless soul destroying rage with a sense of peace.