~ My Grief Journal


The first eight days.       It begins......

*I KNEW*..... down deep inside, I think I knew..... I just didn't know who... and yet... I believe that I probably even suspected or knew even that as well.... somewhere inside, on some level...  
I just don't remember now.....

The strangers' eyes locked with mine - I could feel his anguish though outwardly he was composed and looked so strong and tall standing there in that official ~State Troopers'~ uniform.... He was calm as he spoke the words we've all read in books & magazines, heard in movies... officially identifying, verifying.... who I was and that I had a son.......   

Everything in me exploded then, it seemed that the blood in my veins had turned to fire and numbness began to make its' way through my flesh..... I became aware of my heart.... it felt large and heavy..... then grew loud as it pounded in my ears and I tore my eyes from his long enough to look around the room in desperate attempt to stop the news that was coming....... frantically, I looked everywhere around the room but at the two men.... hoping to see a sign that something was amiss... something out of place or crazy the way nightmares always are...... Hoping that I was dreaming...... not wanting to hear the words that would make it a reality.... But then.... maybe they were just here to take me to him... he was in a hospital somewhere... I turned back to him - and I knew by those eyes that the very worst thing that I could ever imagine happening to me.........
 A-l-r-e-a-d-y had.....

The memory of those next moments is sort of like a jigsaw puzzle dumped into my mind - just pieces of the picture - not really assembled into a cohesive memory... The first questions.... As he began to speak... I interrupted him... 
"Is he hurt...? ~ 
"I'm afraid so, Mam'.... he.... 
"He's not dead....!!!" ~ 
"Yes, Mam, ... he was pronounced dead at the scene.... 
My life as I had always known it, ended with those words. 

Then I asked, of course, the when, where, how, why.... of it... my mind still reeling with the impossibility of it... I felt very strange, aside from the pain, as though I were floating or something.... it gets a bit hazy from there on.... I was watching all of us and in the center of it all at the same time... I remember when the first piercing wail came out of me as I asked, from the depths of the deepest anguish I have ever known... 
"Did he suffer?"

I looked at the letter right there on the dining room table close to where we were all standing.... the letter of acceptance which had arrived that day..... from his #2 choice on the list of applications for post-graduate school... The College of William and Mary....... I was so thrilled when I took it from the mailbox earlier that day.  I'd called, but he wasn't in his room and had not returned my call before I went to bed.... so he never knew.... I'd thought that he was busy studying or tutoring somewhere...... I picked up the envelope and showed it to them... "But I didn't get to tell him...." and as I began to speak the tragic words... the pain rose up in me and there are no words... no clear memories about' the next hours of my life... I remember screaming, sometimes, writhing and gagging on the floor where I'd somehow gotten under the large table in the center of the room..... I don't know why...... I'm sure it must have been some primitive instinct and need to get away... escape the reality that I could not bear...

The hospital wanted to know if I consented to donation of... I said yes.... What difference would it make? Our bodies are mere vehicles we use - Eric was finished with his... and anyway... he had signed his drivers license to that effect years ago... but they had to get consent from the family.....

Brandi, whose room is right next to the dining room, came sleepily out to inquire what was happening... I remember not wanting her to see me... hating that I was making noise that I could not contain or restrain... and thinking that someone should stop her from coming any further.... "Don't let her come in here..." I sobbed... They (I don't know who) told her what had happened to her beloved Uncle Eric, and she immediately broke away from the arms and hands and crawled toward me there under the table - and her first words were, ......... "Mommy, did the angels come to take Eric to heaven tonight?"

~And a little child shall lead them........ ~ I thought,
as I took her in my arms and held her tightly against me....

There are just little bits and pieces, as I said... I remember the rescue squads' arrival and I wondered why they were there.... then I remember the oxygen they had blowing up into my nose through the ~harnessed~ tubing ... and wondering why that was there - and the QUESTIONS..... so many, many questions from everyone and I just wanted to be left alone - none of their questions mattered... nothing at all mattered anymore -
 n-o-t-h-i-n-g .... for my world was shattered beyond any meaning that I could see.......

My parents arrived. Roger came shortly thereafter.......... Then, there was the trip to the hospital emergency room, and there, the stupid questions... more and more questions.... I just wanted to be left alone..... The doctors asked me if I thought I wanted to die - I told them of course I did.... (wanting to be dead though - does not mean that one will commit suicide!) "What a stupid question!" I thought. ~~~~ I wanted to be with Eric.... wherever he was... and I did NOT want to be left in this world without him...... !

The next trip was to a psychiatric hospital
 where they thought I should be taken to insure that I would not act on the desire to die. Everything around me seemed to get crazier and crazier.... as though I was seated on a horse on a carousel which had suddenly gone awry and was spinning, wobbling and playing music erratically as it went on and on and I couldn't get off.... It took some ~doing~ to get out of that place! But the effort and surrounding circumstances had a stabilizing, positive effect in helping me to gather myself together and begin the long journey with those first few weak and hesitant steps.

I remember at one point,   I was being interviewed by the medical staff of Dominion Psychiatric Hospital to decide if it was ~Safe~ for them to allow me to sign myself out..... I simply said,     ~  "I have to go home, I have a son to bury." ~

~
~ My Grief Journal
Written materials by Nina Roberta Baker 1997

 

This is the first that I could actually come here 
to journal since April 1st.     Today is now April 4, 1996 - Thursday, 4 a.m.. ~~~~ I have come to write what I can about these last hours and days. I hope that I can. Nothing seems quite real to me. I have what is left of my son, Eric, here in my lap. I have taken him with me wherever I go since I picked up his ashes yesterday.   It is our last night together in this world.   In a few hours we will be taking him to scatter his ashes to the winds, trees and rocks of the mountains up on Judge Rye road, The chronicle of these events begins on the above date. I will first excerpt the following from a letter written to my cyber-penpal-Arova. I was still numb at the time... even as today - yet, there is a part of me that seems separate and capable of breathing and being responsible for all the things that these last days have required of me to deal with in the aftermath of Erics' death.
*******

Yesterday...
I had it in my mind to ride with Eric to Winchester, to the funeral home where he is to be cremated. We went to Dellingers' (Our Funeral Home here in town) to discuss with them those details and decisions that one must deal with. We had been in touch with them immediately so that they could go pick Eric up for us. I thought, when we went to town, that I was going to leave from there when the hearse arrived. They explained to me though, that the ashes are left for 24 hours to cool... so it wouldn't be possible to do that. It was probably best that way - for in the presence of his remains I think that I would have had to see him - and we had both expressed to each other - that we did not wish to be viewed in death..... From the first moments when I wanted to rush to Ferrum and do just that - I wrestled with that so-strong desire. In the end - I kept reminding myself of how I would feel if the positions were reversed - and I know that I have always, always made it plain - loud and clear - to my family, that I want to be last-contact-remembered by/with them, as a LIVE contact where I could embrace them and speak with them. Once our spirit has abandoned its' shell, I do not believe it is good or beneficial to cling to the dead body rather than the ~real~ person who has moved on to another existence beyond us but remains with us as well...   for it is not their body that we loved... but their spirit. I had never given a second thought to that expressed desire - until those moments when I, still mortal and bound within my own flesh - wanted to grasp and cling to the familiarity of his.... I wrestled a lot in those hours! I reasoned that it would not really matter to Eric, and that he would want me to do it if it was what I needed..... Yet, in the end....... I could not break that promise we had vowed to each other. I knew that I was not in any reasonable state of mind - and knew that what I was wanting to do... (Hold and embrace him...) would not be what I would want him to do with me if the positions were reversed... I have felt the stone-cold of a spiritless body - and know that the touch remains forever connected to that parting. Now that the opportunity has passed and I managed to resist the inner urge to hold on in any way I could to whatever was left here of him.... I feel good that I did keep the promise. I am sure too, that I feel a lot better than I would if I had seen and touched the lifelessness of that beloved form which I cherished as part of its' inhabitant..... Had I chosen to fulfil my own desire above Erics'.... I would have had to live with that choice and knowledge of the broken vow for the rest of my life.

I was amazed to hear, while we were at Dellingers' - that flowers had already been delivered - not from local people, most of whom would not even know yet... but from afar... from around the world even.... from my dear, dear cyber family members in the chat group (50+ Chat) which I belonged to. The director took me to a small room off of the main parlor, where he opened the door upon an array of beauty and love which those flowers and plants were representing..... In the center of the grouping, sat a large ~Fireside~ type of basket - filled with the most beautiful arrangement of plants and flowers I had ever seen in my life. I reached out to open the card and found that the 50+ group itself had sent it! I cannot describe the incredible feeling that came over me, surrounded me and filled me at that tangible contact with my cyber family! My cyber-room-mates I always called them... In those moments I could really feel the arms, the love and support of REAL people behind that basket of plants and flowers! A strength, from them, to me, began to come into me and I felt so comforted by the reality of what, until that moment in time, - had been only ~cyber~ a distant association with people ~out-there~ in the big world - Now they had come into my own very small one and were surrounding me and holding me right there and then....


(The strength of support and comfort has stayed with me throughout that terrible ordeal and on into this very day - a year
 and a half later! The basket is the centerpoint of my whole dining-room where it stays in the center of the round
table there and thrives on and on.......... My computer is also in the room.)
Click on basket for more pictures.... and

for the bulletin board............ to read the messages of love and support between my chat-family and I, as they appeared on our `community bulletin board' over the next few weeks.


From: gypsy@shentel.net
Date: Wednesday, April 3, 1996
Subject: Eric Lee Baker July1, 1973 - April 1, 1996
To: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Dear Friend;
At 2:15, night before last, I was awakened by two uniformed State Troupers who had come to tell me that Eric had died around 10:30 in a car crash. He and two of his best friends there at Ferrum had gone to Rocky Mount to purchase some food and were on a mountain road nearly `home' (back at the college) when something large loomed into view. Eric, attempting to avoid collision with the object, apparently lost control of the car (?) in compensating for the swerve (?)... the car went off of the sloping edge of the road , turning around and hitting a tree, sideways at the drivers' door with such an impact that Eric was killed immediately. The other two boys were hurt but are going to be okay. They are emotionally overwhelmed, one, so much so, that he cannot remember anything at all about the entire day. The other could not even speak with me (from his hospital room) - he tried, but was incoherent and then just slipped into a sleep.    I tried to write to you yesterday about it - but could not go about clicking the buttons or typing - my fingers felt like lead and I was very, very nauseated. I then checked the Chat to tell you - hoping that you might be on. You weren't - but SNICKI was and with great effort I managed to type one or two lines (I think) to her. She called me at once and the phone was right here by me, I picked it up and we both cried. I made sure to ask her that she especially notify you - as that was what I had been attempting to do anyway. I hope that she did.
This is all I can manage right now, dear friend. I slept none of that night, little of last night and in a few hours we will meet with our funeral home director in town and perhaps, If I can (I want to) - I may accompany the body to the next town where there will be a cremation of the remains (everything that they could use was harvested as soon as I could speak the words to the waiting hospital about 20 minutes after they broke the news to me.    There will be a memorial at college in the next days - we will attend that. Ours here will be on Friday. I will then, with family and his close friends, take him to a high mountain trail which was very special to him, his Dad and myself and there we will return unto the earth what is of the earth, what is of the Lord, has already made it's journey thereunto. This is in accordance to our belief of how it was intended and right.
With love,
Your GYPSY - (Nina) *******
----------End of Original Message----------

The present.... ***Thursday, April 4, 1996***
Now that I have begun with - and re-read it myself as I entered the above
I find it most difficult to continue. I have not been one to bend to defeat
in the face of difficulty though - and I will not now either.   I sat here asking myself -
"Why? Why is it so important that I do this anyway?"
And the answer came right away - it is always there just beneath
the consciousness of everything I say, do, think or hear..... there are others
who will follow in the footsteps of any and every experience I have....
If there be any value beyond myself - in the path assigned to me, then
I must allow it to be reaped and harvested by any who come along behind
me and happen upon my words - for words seem to be the gift that You, Lord, have given me to use to feed Your sheep. And so it is that even at times that I myself find myself starving, needy and unable to nurture my own self..... it may be that there is food for Your sheep, Lord, in these words which share all this... and so I offer it to a world and people that I may never even come to know.  
There is one reason... well .... perhaps there are two Lord.... First, I love You, my Abba. Secondly, the pain is so great and I find it so difficult to bear it, that if it may be that another might be in similar circumstance and these words mightprovide some tiniest bit of any comfort, wisdom, or strength - then I must take from this experience what might do that - and pass it on as a `good' that might come of the agony of what I am now facing and feeling. I don't know if `words' have ever come harder.
The effort of relating through this keyboard
is so great that I am trembling and feel more and more leaden with the efforts I keep making. Time keeps stretching out and I find it hard to relate myself to it - or - `it' to myself. I have always said that time is a `relative thing' and that only the finite are bound by it. Eric has been released from the constraints and responsibilities of time. I... I am still here within it, and yet ..... it seems to have lost it's power over me.... I feel no pressing need to do anything whatsoever except as it pertains to these final arrangements for the disposition of the remains of Erics' life..... Not just the physical - but all the friends, family and others that have need of my helping them to hold onto what they may, (and must) keep of my son, and to help them to let go of that part of him which was physical so that they may keep and carry with them, that part of himself which he invested in them and will forever continue on through us all as we live and invest ourselves in the ~others~ of our lives and deeds.

Upon learning yesterday, that so many were planning to come from Ferrum - Roger wisely suggested that we go to check out the possibility of their attending the farewell service off of old Judge Rye Road at the outcropping of rock. (What a comforting place for me to return to part with him - where the Holy Spirit manifested itself and Gods' will that Eric should be `saved' from an evil world and Satans' power.... for truly, now, he has been....  I have come to believe in these last days, that Eric was in a mortal danger - drawing ever nearer to the temptations and power of deceptions of these end days. All who seek knowledge are!  There is rampant deception and Satan is truly roaming about as the scriptures say of him, "Like a hungry Lion, seeking whom he may devour".   Some souls He `gives up to delusion'.....  and some, "the very elect" He promised that the days would be `shortened' for.
I believe that Erics' days may have been shortened when he,
as a child of God who had reached out and taken the blood of Christ as his worthiness and adoption....had become a son of God....and then, through his love of knowledge and through his disillusionment in traditional ~religions of men~ became ever more enticed away from fellowship in the midst of what he saw as superficiality and hypocrisy . Not that he ever renounced his beliefs, but he certainly questioned (as do we all) what he grew up in the midst of experiencing - and in the course or consequence - he was so open to studying every philosophical avenue he encountered. He never chose another ~way~ or ~belief~.... but I felt concern at his estrangement with ~church-going~ ... and feared that it could endanger him in his hungry searching for truth and integrity ... (something to believe in and identify with) for he himself had these qualities manifestly). I felt concern that the various philosophies might draw him ever more close to a threshold that he had not yet crossed..... His Heavenly Father, as any father would, may have reached out and grabbed him from that danger.
Shatter my faith? as some fear for me at this new pain and loss?
Nay - no never !   If anything, it has increased it.  For I know this... that if it had been Satans' doing and his infernal accomplishment of obtaining what belonged to God..... the death would NOT have been so kind or merciful as Erics' was.    That mark of mercy was Gods' gift to me - and His seal of ownership and victory in the battle which was being waged. 
I know that once we leave this small world of limited knowledge  and understanding.... where we "see through a glass darkly"....  we receive new vision and complete understanding of what finite beings can not see or grasp entirely while influenced and bound here in this realm. Eric, lover of learning and understanding.... has now gone beyond the limitations that restrain us here whom he has left behind... And surely, surely - this has been answered prayer as we have countless-times pleaded with God that Eric and Roger be drawn back to a closer union with Him.... In Erics' case, the drawing back was total and entire... and so too - was the gift of salvation which he asked for and received in faith as such a small child.
Gods' promise kept.
His love and power manifested.
And so I say to this, as I seek always to say to everything........
Amen, Abba...Amen.
At last, Eric has been freed from the misrepresentations of the many `others' who claimed, themselves, to be of God and His love -
He now knows, I believe, and sees, who and what God is. Gone are those influences which confused him and planted seeds of doubt which God did not allow to take hold and grow..... For, as He has promised us - He is with us always. He was with Eric on that dark, lonely road where his life ended.    They are together now.    And one day,   I will be with them too.
Eric, my son.... whose hunger and thirst for knowledge and understanding exceeds any I have ever known - now knows all things... understands all things... and is safe.   How could I ask for more for him?   Even for myself,  selfish as I am in wanting him with me. I would not alter the circumstances.  
I can say that now.
I can mean that now.
I think that means that I can be at peace now.
Even I, Lord and loving Abba.... as I was taken to be `counseled & `treated' - in those first hours - You steadfastly held Your hand on the situation and maintained Your hedge around me so that I could and would depend on You and allow Your Will to unfold itself exactly as it was meant and intended by You.... And now - I find that it has. I am here now. It is finished. Peace is surpassing all understanding. Trust in You even imparts the understanding when we can but be still and know that You are God!   I have been still. I know. I KNOW - that You are God.

Later....
As I ask Erics' friends about his possessions - if there be any that they feel they would like to have in remembrance of their relationship and time spent together....   I find that each thing is so strange a `parting'..... I feel glad that there is that association and that they wish to hold it to their hearts.... yet, because it is a thing Eric loved - I somehow want to hold onto it too! ......The selfishness is far outweighed by the love of God which abounds (as He is so wonderful to provide in me) and I find a bittersweet joy in the giving of something that I want to keep.....     It is a most peculiar thing to attempt to describe -but the feelings are so powerful that I must at least try..... I guess the best description would be to say that it is like
planting seeds of Eric.....

Later....
For several days now - I have wrestled with the idea of phoning Erics' room to hear his voice which has now been forever stilled at its' source.... I could not. Strangely - it was one of the first things I desperately pleaded for, for someone to obtain for me, from Ferrum ( the voice mail recording)! Yet I could not bring myself to insure the obtaining of it by simply calling there myself and recording it! Oh - how I WANTED to! Yet, I just could not...... to call there and have him answer- it was too great a conflict of the reality I am trying so desperately to embrace....     This morning though....    I came here at 4 a.m. (to write in journal) and I had this strong awareness ......   as I sat here typing -  the phone just inches away.......   and the possibility that I might hear that voice again, there with it.   In that perplexity of strong, and strongly opposing emotions -  I reached for the phone...   fearing both  that the recording would already be gone - the line dead.....   

AND...

fearing that his voice might answer as well....
not knowing how I would handle either circumstance -
for both seemed unbearable. Unbelievable still, at times....

At last..... unable to forego the longing for the sound forever silenced now.....  I picked up the phone, and with as much courage as I have ever had in my life,  I called his room.......
(continues on next page, click below)

Later... The balloons...
Yesterday, while we were up there climbing those rocks and checking the terrain for those who wish to accompany us to the `closure'...... So many of those voices of Erics' friends.... all of us saying the exact same things.... "It doesn't seem real" "I can't believe it" "It just doesn't seem possible that we will never see him" or "hear him...." - And I have been so very concerned with the difficulty for all of us... and up there, where heaven and You Lord, seem so close that if we could just stretch ourselves a few inches more than our maximum..... we could touch the sky ..... knock at Your gate..... the vision came to me. That's when the symbolic benefits of the releasing of balloons came to me. I wanted to release 22 balloons in a moment when, after prayer and coming to peace with it.... I could let Eric go by act of my own will and not the forced-upon-me circumstance of his death. I knew that I needed to do that. I know that all of us need to do that. And therefore - my imagination filled with the sight of each and everyone who came to say good-bye to Eric - having their own personal balloon, to release there in the moment of their own choosing..... to heal them and allow Eric to be a welcome and comfortable part of their life again - instead of being a pain that they must hide from....

Still later....
We will be having them come to the house too. Just a simple `refreshing' time of some `snackies and soda' that seem so befitting of what Eric would enjoy having his friends do at his home...... So we have decided upon popcorn, chips, Oreos, chocolate chip and vanilla sandwich cookies and Cheeze-itz.... and - OF COURSE - lots of Dr. Pepper (with some alternative choices of soda).... what could a party for Eric be without Dr. Pepper?

Night....
I have drawn such a contentment from having Erics' ashes at my side. It is such a strange thing - I know.... but it's as if I have been climbing a high mountain, am near the top, exhausted, torn and bleeding from the efforts I expend... and his presence has given me a rest from this `giving-up-of-him. For these hours - I have been able to hold him very, very close and feel his physical presence which will be no more with me by tomorrows' evening...     It has given me a time to "snuggle-with-him" again - in a way that mothers no longer do with their sons who are grown. Sure - we hugged, and we kissed and even held hands sometimes - but this sort of cuddling you do with your babies and small children. He weighs in now at 8 pounds..... Less than at his birth.... He is my baby again. I have carried, swayed and rocked him. I have even seen Peach rock him while sitting. It is a thing of wonder to discover our "way" as we pass through this time....

Dear Me..... ` Friday, April 5, 1996
I know you are doubting -
here in these early hours of morning and mourning - that you can go on.  It feels like you want to stand still and hold onto your little boy.     Remember how the stages arrived and the `letting go' thresholds had to be crossed?    This is but another one.  You can do it.   but my soul whispered..... 
"Can I?"
Yes - I know.   When you awoke this morning, the `Meekie'-wrapped box there inside the covers and even a bit on your little blue satin pillow where your head lay... (Buffy having lain on the other side of him with her head resting on him all throughout the night as though she KNEW that her "brother" lay inside) - and felt that the whole box was very warm from the `cuddling'..... there was a desire to KEEP him.   Well, there is no real keeping of him in our power, and I well know that, - but to keep the warmth in him and to draw the comfort of that presence of his remains - forever.
Yet - I would not wish that he should remain a sterile compilation of ashes locked up forever within a black box.... No - my wish is that he should live on in our hearts and to do that - we must not cling to black boxes with hidden-from-view contents. Those remains are a concentrated source of elements which will be eagerly taken up into the majestic trees which grow in that inaccessible terrain - wild and undisturbed. Made inaccessible by the rock formations among which they grow. There he will be a part of a rare thing on this earth-for there are few places which man does not covet from it! This place will not ever - until the Lord returns - ever be raped or ravaged by man.   This is a quiet place of peace and tranquility to which I offer what Eric has yet to give away... There will be no desecration. And I - I know that I too will join him there one day. What a wonder that a son should come from a mother and then the mother shall one day return and join the son in a unity of common particles within trees, shrubs and flowers there.... It comforts me. I also must BEWARE lest it entice me too....... I almost feel that already. You my Abba, have walked with me through the shadow of death so many times that I would be hard pressed to number them. I feel Your Almighty presence ever-the-more when I am weak like this....

Later...
(actually, the following portions are being written today, which is Saturday)

As I went to the front door..... ( I keep doing that almost as if to see if you, Eric, won't be pulling up in the driveway again after all...) I saw two white plastic wrapped bundles there in the grass - .......the 200 papers, my son, which we purchased to give away to your friends today - the issue with the "A Mothers Story", Obituary which I wrote and paid them to publish in it. I can no longer give you anything except by giving to them - and so I will...
A few feet away, the sight of our very first Daffodil of the Spring opened to this days' sunrise - greeted my eyes too. A gift for me given - I truly believe, in honor of the day and a farewell to Eric too. I shall take it with us, I think, and place it upon the memorial table with his other things, to share with others.....
We left early - yet there were others already there.    I have never had to be more courageous in all my life - than in those moments of setting up the memorial table....   I `almost' succumbed to the grief several times, but managed - with Your Power & Grace which is mightier than all else..... to maintain the composure that I so wanted in order that I remain capable of meeting and interacting with the gathering of friends who so loved my son.

When Jon arrived, he gave Peach and I each a red rose.... I'm unsure about the meaning of it - but Jon knew and that was all that mattered.... The roses spoke of love - love between the four of us (Jon, Eric, Peach and I) for each other - and I needed no further explanation.

Walters' eulogy was just wonderful. He even used scriptures that I have chosen to be read just before we set him free (yes - I KNOW his spirit is free and it is only the body that we are dispersing up there - but many of those gathering have NOT set him free in their hearts and I so want them to do that as well) up there at the rock outcropping. He began the service in a `breaking tradition manner' which would have brought a grin of approval from my son.... "I usually have everyone rise at the beginning of the service - " he said ""but I know that Eric would not have wanted anyone to do that, so I won't." He spoke of the love and bonding with Peach, which was wonderful - because the papers would not even put her name in as a survivor because it had to be `NEXT' of kin...... not even aunts, uncles, nieces or nephews.... (I put her in the paid obituary though)
The ENYA music was so perfect playing there - Eric would have absolutely loved it that so many who had never heard our favorite music - did so now and asked who it was because they fell in love with it too....
Afterward, I met so many, many people with faces to try in a brief moment to attach faces and memories of Erics' speaking of them - to. Even Noel, still on crutches, came to the service. Eric Cardwell couldn't make it yet - but will be at the candlelighting service.

It was quite cold up on Judge Rye Road and windy as well - and out on that rock the winds bit like knife of steel. The first thing we did was set up Erics' huge boom-box near `the' rock - atop the large ones just behind it. Enya began to play again in that sweet, haunting way of hers.....
Carrying all the flowers was quite an accomplishment!    Few helped - which surprised me a little - but then - I'm sure that no one was really `thinking right' at the time. I carried a share too - wanting to do it for my son.... We removed a lot of the flowers from their containers and lay them in great piles up there on the rock where we later threw them after the ashes.    Others were set at several points along the ridge for those who wished to throw tribute of flowers but were not comfortable with the rocky path which led to the outcropping where we stood.

When the last balloons were ready (the 22) - Roger read from Ecclesiastes 12:7 and said a few words and then I released the balloons at the end of Erics' chosen song, "Silent Lucidity". I felt a pain so acute but also a thrill of the release of him and found an almost exuberant joy inspired by the words `A soul set free to fly' ..... there is that longing within all of us, for that moment of our mortal release when we know our souls will soar free.....
It is amazing to me - that although not a one of us had ever experienced a service of this kind - we all seemed to be bound in a common unity of spirit and desire which focus was to set Eric free and allow him to give what there was left of himself to a world he no longer inhabited otherwise.

We played Enya at Dellingers' and up there with us at the dispersal site - before and after the song (which Jon brought with him) he had requested be played in the event of his death. (I'm repeating myself - I know....) SILENT LUCIDITY by Queensryche

Jeanne had agreed to the great task of preparing all the balloons. Roger managed to bring them out to the rock to me (which was an incredible accomplishment amidst all the bare branches of early spring and the thorny bushes and vines which managed to burst a few) where I waited with Eric for those last minutes before he would be freed. Such an incredible accomplishment really - when looking back on it from here - it's a wonder that all agreed to carry through my desires!!! But then - like mother, like son - and Eric and I were so alike in our non-traditional mind-set and dreams - that it was probably very familiar and appropriate to them to be doing this final thing with him in such an unheard-of way....
It would seem so impossible - and yet I suppose that Eric, himself, and his love of the unique and 'being different' lent inspiration to us to do it as we did. There just could not have been any other way for us to deal with his death. He will be remembered and his memorial will stand out as being about as unique as any could be....... As I listened to the words of the song (which I had never before heard in my life) - I felt eagerness rise up in me to DO IT! Not a shred of reluctance remained after I heard those words "A soul set free to fly" .... I could almost see Eric there with us and hear him saying with a grin and twinkling eyes... "This is totally awesome mom!"

Then - I was amazed that so many were inspired to join me in setting him free to fly!!!!! It was such an inspired and inspirational unfolding of events. There were many hands that stepped up to participate in the releasing! Not a one of us had EVER been in a cremation experience before - and many - if not MOST, seemed initially uncomfortable with the whole idea of it - but when I explained our thinking about confining rotting flesh inside of one box and then inside of another box and then inside a hole to be forever confined and shut away from earth and sky in the useless form of remains that could never return to the life cycle in any way..... I could see the dawn of understanding in the new light of shared thinking. But to see those same people move past ALL their traditional thinking and discomfort with the idea of death - and into the spirit of dispersing Erics' remains to be taken up and made into various new forms as his soul was set free.....by taking those remains into their own hands and scattering him there..... that was a miracle to see.
I think perhaps - that Eric and I will have made every one of those people more comfortable with their own mortality and inevitable end.    I think that they too have a glimpse now that all ends are a beginning.
I kept a small amount to scatter at the lake he so loved at Ferrum, (Philpott Lake). We will do that when we go on Monday. I hope though - that the essence of him will forever be borne through the lives he touched. I know that will certainly be the case in some of us.

The ashes are surprisingly dense and heavy - it took some time to disperse them. The flowers followed and I felt it, in those brief few moments, to be a celebration of his release. Oh, would that it could have remained so in my heart. It did last for a while - but then the weight of still being here and earthly-care bound, fell over me in a heavier mantle than I have ever worn before...
Most came home with us. For a while, I was well anesthetized by the presence and needs of the large group of people. When they left - the silence drew in on, around and within me. I began to feel sort of robotic..... Tending to Brandis' medications, breathing treatments and a short snuggle time. I know that I am a bit divided as sometimes happens within me in overwhelming situations (and I have never been more overwhelmed!). I think that only God will be able to reunite me. Meanwhile - it is probably a mind-saving mechanism that is serving me well. I will leave it to God to restore the unity.....

More....
After tending to Brandi - I went to bed. I could not bring myself to even shower because there had been winds which had carried some of the ash-dust over me and into my hair and I wanted it to remain there.   I went into Peachs' room for a little while - to go through some of his things there - but there is no hurry... In fact... I probably feel inclined to leave the things there as if he just arrived home for the summer.... I did want to find the song which, at Erics' request, John had brought to be played at his funeral. I know that Eric too must have a copy of it in his collection - seeing that he loved it so much.

I could feel Eric so present in each person here.
I am sure that they too felt a closeness to him in being in the home of his birth and life-span.     The car which carried Noel, had gotten separated from the others and they came here and climbed in a window to wait for us. I was so pleased to see that they had felt at home enough to do that! Eric would have been too. These 5, missed their opportunity of releasing their balloons, so we did it right in the front yard before they left.   It was good for them - I was with them and saw that it was so.....
Just before he left, Jon took me into my room and gave me the car-keys and Erics' wallet. He had carried that wallet about 7 or 8 years!!! Jon said, as he handed it to me "I tried to give him another one a couple of times, but he said "This is the only one I've never lost".... One of the car keys was broken in half! Imagine the force that it took to do that to a KEY - and what that did to flesh and bone then.... In the wallet there were two pictures of his Brandi and $32.00. When I removed the various cards to put away in the box where I keep my own old cards it seemed somehow too final or something - to do right now - so I put them back. I was going to put the money in my wallet - but could not bring myself to do that either. It just didn't seem possible that I should `take' my sons' money. It was, in fact, the first and only time I had ever seen the inside of his wallet! There had always been such a loving and intimate closeness and respect of each other that we, neither of us, had ever found it necessary to snoop or to pry in secret......   So it felt so terribly `intrusive' to be in his wallet or going through his personal things.... I know I must, and will, at some point... but for right now - I simply put everything back and put it into my nightstand.
I did go through his dirty clothes to find a shirt he had worn, needing the scent of him to help me make the transcendence from `here to there' of acceptance of his sudden disappearance from my life. But I wonder - "Can anything do that?"

April 6 & 7 1996 - Saturday & Sunday
Except for that early morning part - I could not write yesterday..... there was no time or energy left in me to do so after the services, the gathering here at the house of friends and family and the absolute exhaustion which took me the moment the last friends had gone. I have come now and related the details of the rest of the day. The rest of the time is sort of hazy. I seem to go in and out of awareness of where I am, what I'm doing (which isn't much), what I'm thinking (which also isn't much), but NEVER of what I am feeling! Never of what I am feeling.

I get so cold! .......Sometimes I tremble of the cold that seems to come from within instead of without.    I need this to be a terrible dream. I need to awaken. I need my son! Sometimes I cry aloud and I hear the agonizing sound of it haunting as the howling of wolves. As a result, my voice is barely recognizable even to myself. My aching throat and neck are swollen and sounds come forth with great difficulty and low volume. Suicide does not beckon. I want to die YES! - but there is no whispering that it is the only way to escape the pain or that I should bring it about by my own hand. I know that I must endure, not escape it. I do not understand it - but I know it.
I am relying on my Abba to keep me in the path of righteousness as the shepherd of my life. How then, can I fail. Right now - I keep stumbling and falling - but I will not fail..... I will crawl at first, and then I will begin again to walk.... For now though, - it seems that I am not even able to crawl or drag myself...... I go from one responsibility or event to the next - and in the in-between-times, I'm not sure where I am or what I'm doing. I fall asleep easily. That is a merciful thing and I am grateful for it.

Monday, April 8, 1996
We left earlier than planned. Peach rode with Jeanne because Jeanne didn't want to be crowded into my small car with us (which would have been a close fit). It was good, because we had taken Buffy along and there was a comfortable room for the two of them in the back.

As we passed the site where Eric took his last breath, there was no mistaking it as such. I was trying to say the words and Roger knew and said them for me - "You want to go back?" - more a statement than a question - he already knew..... Such powerful emotions fought for supremacy - all won... It is very hard to sit here and relate this part - for it brings it so clearly into my consciousness that the pain is just unbearable.....

The tree. The spindly barbed-wire fence down upon the ground. The damned insulation material (part of it) laying there ...... glass and parts of that Eric-beloved Firebird strewn all around. I got out of my car almost before Roger brought it to a stop. Then it was a kind of slow motion thing. Looking at this part and that. The field. The glass. A lens from his glasses. The cut high upon the tree. Bits and pieces of soda bottles - some creme-filled scones (Erics' - for sure). Half of a cassette box with Erics' writing on the lines. I bent down to touch .... first the ground itself. "My son died here...." Then picked up pieces of things for some strange reason which I still do not comprehend. Simply reaching out with stretched fingers to only touch others and leave them lay.... I found myself standing aside watching me as I did these strange things... wondering and conjecturing about why I was doing them. I never did come to any answers... or understanding. Not of myself. Not of the reality. Not of the death. Not of the present moments or actions.

I stood up and just felt such a confusion of agony as I tried to relate to what I was seeing in the aftermath of my sons' death... I went up to the tree and put my arms up and lay against the spot where Eric was thrust violently to an instant death and I cried in that terrible and intense wailing that comes of itself and tears at the flesh of my throat and the substance of my very being.... shredding me

The farmer who owned the field was plowing behind his house. He stopped and came to us. The first thing he said was how sorry he was at our loss. The second thing he said was "Right there's what caused the accident..." pointing at the remains of the insulation we had heard about. It was a very long black wire or string and plastic that lay there inviting me to go into a blind rage..... The man went on to say that he thought it had probably even interfered in the steering of the car as well as the other material blocking Erics' view....

As we stood talking, another man came to join us. He had been working on his truck in the driveway of his home and saw us there. He had with him a bag which contained three more of Erics' personally dubbed tapes and - the three necklaces from the rear-view mirror which Gene and Jon had tried so valiantly to find for me when they came up to get his things. Oh - how I had wanted that one necklace that Eric had said, again and again, he loved so! I had given it to him the first Christmas that he had the car! He often reached up and held it in a little mini-carress when he spoke those words! It was thought that they were lost. Now, this stranger had brought them here to us and it lay in my hand. I gave one immediately to his sister, Jeanne, the other, I gave later to Gene at the chapel during the candle-lighting service

The farmer told us the car was a short way back from that spot, covered in a blue tarp. I knew as soon as he spoke it - that I must make the journey there too before I could be `done with it'. I'm glad that I did. Although it was a horror, to be sure - and as terrible a vehicle I have EVER seen anywhere.... It left no doubt as to the merciful suddenness of death .....

I saw the T-shirt they cut off of Eric at the scene. I cannot describe with what nauseating fear and dread I reached into the car from the passenger side (there simply was NO drivers' side!) and picked it up from the floor - knowing at once that it was Erics'. Slowly - oh - so, so slowly, I opened the material up and held it out. There were the scissors marks. There were other cuts and tears from who knows what source. But there was not one drop of blood. Not one. My heart then knew a final peace of assurance that the death was absolutely instantaneous. The only blood was on the head rest and seat belt - and that, not a large amount. His head had been cut. I knew that. But the bleeding had stopped so quickly that it was of a certainty that the impact stopped everything at once. My son had suffered enough pain in his short lifetime - he had not exited in its grip!

My eyes scanned every inch of the interior to drink in the atmosphere of the last of my sons' life. There were snackies and foods that he loved so dearly and I found myself smiling and imagining the feast the three guys were about to prepare when they arrived back at the dorms.... There on the floor, I saw an 8 pack of his favorite `Cheese on Wheats' and on the seat lay a box of four Cadbury cream-filled Easter eggs that I ALWAYS bought for him because he so enjoyed them..... (and I so enjoyed him enjoying anything that I took delight in getting them).... Later - at the service, when I mentioned them - Noel said that it was the last thing Eric had picked up as they got the food - saying to them that his Mom always bought them for him every Easter. "Got to have these" he'd said......

It began to rain. I have always thought it a poignant thing when rains fall at a funeral as though God and the angels were shedding their tears with you.... At the memorial service in the chapel on campus - many friends and faculty spoke and it was so good for me to hear the reality of Eric that they had received in themselves and would carry in memory and perhaps, in their lives and characters.

I was given the framed award certificate he would have received at the dinner on the 12th. They also said that the English award he had been chosen to receive would be given to us later and that his name was to be engraved on a bronze plaque and put up in Roberts' Hall and that the award would forevermore be given in Erics' name. What joy that would have given him! What a tragedy that most such decisions are made posthumously! It is nice for the friends and family - to be sure - but it is a bittersweet kind of thing in that death is the initiator of this honoring.
I do not know what I would have done without Roger to capture the taping and take photos of it all - I had barely the strength to stand or - for that matter.... to sit there. I had no consciousness `lapses' though. Every moment is etched upon my heart and mind. Every face, every word.......

Gene knew the whereabouts of the lake Eric had so often spoken of. I had brought a small portion of the remains to be scattered there because Eric had said he'd spent so many many hours there.... done so many things there... felt such inspiration there... It seemed that a bit of him should remain in that place....
We went to the bridge and delivered our gift from there in the light-misty rain. I dropped the one black rose and amazingly - it sunk right down into the water and out of our sight as if it knew it was to remain there with Eric!

Present day....
I am very, very numb.... 
There is just too much pain to incorporate my ~selves~ at this time. 
I gathered his folders and notebooks and went through them - grateful that he has kept his `important papers' in an order that will make it easier to tend to the details that will be necessary in the days and weeks ahead. So like my son, to ease my way where and when possible....

As ever - I find his poetry work difficult at times to understand - but always, always, profound and moving..... As I went through the pages - unable to read with much concentration - I found so much mention of pain..... To the world and to many critical spirits... he might have seemed negative, critical and cynical - but his poetry reflects the sensitivity, tenderness, vulnerability and agony..... That is the part of him that God knew beyond the coping mechanisms and the outer pretense of indifference or disdain... The task was an emotionally enormous one to face - and I kept feeling almost as though I were going to faint. My vision began to blur and `slide' in an odd sleepiness that I could not fight - so I lay down and slept.

Sunday, April 7, 1996
It is a strange day. I felt strange... almost like slipping in and out of consciousness. Like falling asleep with my eyes open. I'm beginning to get dizzy when I stand up. I feel the oppressive emptiness of Erics' absence from the world with me - and I push it back - fearing that they will take me to a hospital or something. I just need time to allow it to move in on me as I assimilate and adjust to the reality which came too suddenly.

Life seems "beside the point" right now.  
So much of what I have done was a gift to Eric.  There was always the thought 
that I would be with him in the form of the many services (knitting, sewing, favorite recipes and such everyday `love gifts' I invested myself in for him.   Now - what 
does any of that mean? What do I do with them?  (quilts,  art, etc. etc. etc.)
  Remember that they were gifts to a son who lived only 23 years? 
 It then becomes a sort of tribute to tragedy - does it not? 

Does tragedy deserve a tribute? NO!

Journal of Nina Roberta Baker

My Grief Journal

Any Mothers' Loss Of Her Child

50+Basket

50+ Support

Guestbook
Home
Master Index
Eric Lee Baker Family & Friends
E-Mail About Me <bio>


*Midi played by Dick Anderson * Help Me Make It Through The Night