As the weather finally begins to catch up with the seasons, I find myself
looking back. Beyond the still blue waters and flowered meadows. Back to the
time when the only contrast to the vast expanses of ice were the dirt streaked
mountains of accumulated snow.

When I think about this year’s record snowfall and sub zero temperatures I
can not help but see the similarities between the brutality of winter and the
unrelenting nature of grief. The bitterness and isolation, the amassing woe and
the agony of every step.

It will be five years in August since my son Brandon suddenly passed away. Which
is confounding to me because it seems like an instant and an eternity across
the same span of time. The days and years blending together into one endless
conundrum. My outlook unchanged by the passing of time or the changing of the
seasons. Which seems fitting considering that my hope and ambition are still
frozen in time.

Conversely, the warmer the days get, the more I seem to suffer. My anger and
anxiety continuously rising with the temperature and humidity. In the winter, the
bitterness was like a mirrored shield, my discontent merely a reflection of the
misery that everyone was struggling to endure.

Though now the warm weather has transformed peoples mood, most everyone is upbeat and pleasant.
Which in some strange way compounds my misery. Perhaps it is because Brandon died on a hot
summer day or maybe it is just the hints and whispers of those horrific days
still hanging on the air. Which ever the case, it makes even the brightest
summer day seem unbearable.

When I think back to the blissful summers we had when our children were
young, one story always comes to mind. We had planned a long weekend at an
amusement park a few hours away from our home. When we arrived, we bought our
passes and scurried to drop off the luggage in our hotel room.

That is when it it began to rain. Not just a drizzle instead it was an all day down pour.
My wife, daughter and I were beside ourselves, feeling completely frustrated and
annoyed. But not Brandon. He always had the sunniest of dispositions and the
brightest of outlooks. As the rest of us grumbled and complained, he would
periodically get up and look out the window. Even though the storm sprawled out
endlessly in all directions, he would repeatedly say, “The blue skies are
coming, I can see ’em.”

That small bit of hope was enough to continually draw us  to the window, only to again gaze upon the persistence of the storm.

Eventually, we were able to spend some time enjoying the park, but to this day,
we all agree that his comedic redundancy was the highlight of the trip.

I often ponder the nature of such an optimistic view. As I continue to suffer
though my own emotional storm, I wonder if the day will come when the sky will
seem a little bluer and my outlook on the world, a little brighter. Perhaps then
I will have the ability to look beyond the dreariness of my days and focus
solely on the brilliance of my son.


John French

My name is John French. I was born in January of 1968. I own and operate a small remodeling company in Highland, MI. My wife Michelle and I married very young and we celebrated our 20th anniversary in May of 2009. We had two amazing children: Veronica, who is 20, and Brandon, who was 17. We worked very hard to build a life that would afford us the luxury of giving them all the things we never had, including a stable home, committed loving parents and every material thing imaginable (within the means of a middle class family, I should add). Over the last few years, it seemed we had finally arrived, and living was easy. Then Brandon passed away in August of 2009 from an undiagnosed heart condition. The devastation of that one single moment has crushed our view of reality and cast us down into a state of perpetual winter. I’ve been writing all my life, though not publically. Brandon’s death has so overwhelmed me that I can no longer contain my thoughts. Although my stance is undermined by despair, and frosted by the bitterness that follows the loss of my son, I will labor to plant some seeds of promise in the barren future that I'm so unexpectedly tilling. Perhaps something beneficial will stem from my mourning. If you can gather even a grain of hope from my reaping, it may help to sustain you through your own emotional storm.

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