Judson's Legacy

Can’t Go Back!

Somehow Drake and I wound up on a list where we regularly get invitations to go to movie screenings for films that are still in the final stages of production before being released.  We recently had the chance to see the upcoming film “Marley and Me” due out in theaters this December.

This screenplay, adapted from the book by the same title, is about a couple that adopts a Labrador puppy they name Marley.  Marley quickly becomes a central part of their lives, and indispensable to their growing family, but this visual memoir ends with the death of their beloved canine (this is not a spoiler but rather a well-known part of the story).  It was a heart-wrenching sequence leaving not a dry eye in the theatre, including mine.

After the film, Drake and I took part in a focus group of about 20 viewers invited to share their opinions about the movie.  Still dealing with the lingering emotions from the final scenes of the film and wiping away tears, people began to describe their experience with the movie, many of them discussing their inability to watch the sequence that portrayed the death of the dog.  But as they shared, I realized intense emotion was arising within me; it actually hurt to hear people explain their struggles with watching Marley die.  They described it as too long, too painful, and too hard to watch!

I realized that I was envious.

For many of these people the death of their dog was described as the deepest suffering in their lives,and I was jealous that I cannot return to a life when I was unfamiliar with intense affliction too.  I wanted to go back to the days when a 3 minute movie segment about a dog dying depicted an awful tragedy and equated to the full extent of my own experience with torment and anguish.

But I can’t go back.

Instead, I am left with memories of sitting powerlessly by my beloved Jud as he intensely suffered for five wretched months, only to end in a violent death while he was in my arms.  It has shredded my heart.  I could not turn off the videos or stop reading when it got too hard…I couldn’t leave…I had to stay in it and live it every day, only to have it end in my greatest nightmare—the loss of my sweet little man.

I asked our counselor the other day, “I can see how over time people can look back on memories of their deceased children with joy and sweetness, but I don’t know what to do with the suffering…how do I ever recover from the suffering of my beautiful boy?”

Our grief counselor mentioned that the worst possible human experience is the death of a young child, but living through a little one’s severe suffering as part of that death experience is an exponentially deeper pain.  “You won’t ever recover from the suffering, Christina, but I promise that you will become more adept at learning to live with it.”

I am still at a place on this journey when any recollections of Judson’s suffering make my heart feel like it is going to rupture into a billion pieces and I won’t survive.

I wish I was not intimately acquainted with affliction.  I wish I didn’t have such tainted memories.  I wish I could go back to the day when I was naive to suffering…

But I can’t go back. 

This is my life.  This is my experience.  The suffering is now a part of me.

***FYI, “Marley & Me” is a movie I HIGHLY recommend.
It is one of the best I have seen in a really, really long time!***


5 Responses to "Can’t Go Back!"

  1. Veronika says:

    I must say that I cannot go and see the movie, I have the book and I cried when I read it.

    Now, I will have to say that I am one of the people that never lost someone VERY close to them yet. And I hope that for very long time it will not happen!

    With other people that lost someone, especially a child…well, the journey never ends…you will always miss your son, but with time you will feel little bit with piece and will know that you will meet Judson again when the time is right.

    I cannot imagine how hard it must be, so I only wish you happiness and joy again!

  2. hh says:

    Oh, Christina! I NEVER feel like I have the right words to say to try to bring comfort or encouragement to you. I’m sure the hundreds of others reading your blog feel the same way; hence the small number of comments you receive (at least on your blog). I just hope and pray that many who love you and check on you regularly through your blog at least email you or call you….or visit you!

    This is how I (and the others, I’m sure) feel when reading your words: it’s hard to breathe. my heart feels like it’s being ripped out of my chest as I feel your pain. and yet my "feeling your pain" is NOTHING!!! compared to the real, agonizing pain that you and Drake feel.

    Oh, God! Will you please pour your mercy, grace, and tangible love over our dear sister and friend today?? Please HELP her get through this day. And we pray these same things for Drake, too. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

  3. Lisa Taylor says:

    I have three dogs. I remember life before Jaden. Everyone knew just how much I loved my dogs. They are spoiled rotten. I remember saying out loud, often, that when my dogs passed away I would have to take family leave time from work because I would be crippled with out them.

    I remember screaming aloud after finding out Jaden was going to die, "I will slit all of my dogs throats with my own hands if I can just save my son."

    I wish I had not witnessed the death of my son. It just isn’t peaceful and simple and easy like most would like to think. It was horrible and is burned into my mind as the first memory of my son, daily.

    I am so sorry, Chistina. I am sorry your heart hurts so bad. I know it will never ever go away. I am so sorry. Jud is so beautiful, so funny, such a perfect son. I can’t stand that you have to miss him. It isn’t fair, it isn’t right. I just don’t understand why this is part of God’s plan.

    Love to you,
    Lisa Taylor (Jaden’s mommy)www.savingjaden.com

  4. 34666 says:

    Christina, I too wish you could go back to the day when you were naive to suffering…I wish all of us who have faced this disease could. I wish to badly that our children were well.


  5. Cheri Burk says:

    I actually was going to bring the subject up to you at the symposium. You seem to have such control of your faith and I thought you could give your perspective. It’s something even those of us who have lost children don’t talk about. It’s the hardest part to understand. I talked about it with a pastor, a grief counselor who’d lost a child, he coudln’t explain it, how could anyone. Suffering for us I can understand, but why the children.

    Like your other poster, I never know what to respond but I enjoy reading your blogs. You can express things like most people can’t.

    Sending love,
    Cheri Burk

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