I have to tell you that this is the hardest thing I have ever had to learn to do, figuring out how to continue on without you. It has no precedent. I cannot compare it to anything I have ever experienced before. It does not taste like chicken.
I have used the term uneven before, but it is more like lopsided, but even that is not strong enough. You wrote about the awful yearning you had when you and your girlfriend parted back in college, when she moved to Washington State. The words you use are so full of sadness and loss. I have no way of knowing if the feelings are similar but they seem like they should be related.
Your sister is trying to get on with things too. Her reaction seems to manifest itself more in physical things. Part of the adventure of moving was that she would have you near. You were a safety net for her. It is hard being a newlywed, the rules of interaction change and the dance begins for real. I knew she would marry one day, but like so many things I never projected my expectations too far into the future, I was too busy and fascinated by the day. I wonder every now and then if you would have ever married. I tend to push the thoughts of what might of been away pretty quickly. Those thoughts are very sharp and painful because they are pure speculation though in substance like smoke that changes with the wind.
She has rented the apartment where you lived. I think deciding to follow through with that has been most difficult for her. Having someone else in your space is a giant step for her. I have not had the courage to even face that house since you died. I have a lot of memories tied up in it. Maybe I should go look at it and see that you really are not there. Memory pulls up thoughts of you in that space. I use it to comfort myself sometimes. It is easy to recognize when a baby puts its fingers in its mouth to sooth itself, our self-soothing is less detectable some times.
It is a big step for your sister, to rent your apartment out. I thought it was a big step for your dad to drive your car. I’ve not ridden in it or ask to drive it. I know you are not attached to cars except for their ability to transport you to where you wanted to go.
I remember you and your friend out there in Utah after you destroyed the oil-pan in that car. Your story of the little town, having to find food and waiting for the repair were vivid and remain so in my memory. I have stopped flinching when I hear the engine start now, and yes, we have finally after trying to get you to take care of it, replaced the glow plugs. I traveled to Colorado with you in that car. We stayed up on the reservoir in the cabins. It was a great adventure for me and the greatest joy was watching you as your anticipation of getting to live in Colorado grew.
I know, had you lived, you were planning to try and return there. I know you were hoping to go spend time with your friends in Idaho and Utah. Those unfulfilled opportunities gang up on me sometimes refusing to leave until I look at them again through my tears.
Your sister is still moving forward parallel to me in time, changing and growing, expressing ideas and making plans. I try to decipher if I am taking her for granted, because it is easy to accept the fact that she “is”. I don’t spend a lot of time shuffling through memories concerning her. I don’t feel the need, because she is continuing to do new things and we talk often.
You and I talked often. That is the hardest thing. Just your voice on the phone helped settle the day, freed me to go on with the things that interested me at that time.
You would be ashamed of me for the time that I cannot account for over the past six months. Whole mornings disappear and I don’t know where they have gone. It takes so much effort some days. I struggle with things to look forward to.
Your sister is amazing. She has her moments of strangeness as we all do. Her strength and maturity always surface in the important matters. She is so full of potential, like you. Her intelligence manifests itself in ways different from all of us and her craziness too.
I have tried to put some space between the times I write. I don’t know why. I talk to you a lot in my head. You are so tangible there. I’ve got to get on with things, sweetheart. I don’t know that I owe you anything and you certainly owe me nothing. I hope that doesn’t sound harsh. What I mean by that is that when you were here, I gave you my full attention and maybe more than I should have, I’ll never know. Maybe that is why I feel so empty now, because while you were here, I held nothing in reserve. I had things to do then, and I still have things to do now, though their importance has diminished drastically. Surely they had value, didn’t they? I am searching for new sources of joy, regardless of how subdued they may be right now.
I am so proud of your sister. She is a credit to us as a family. You helped raise her too. Your positive influence in all ways made us a better family.
If I write more it will just turn into babble about how much I love and miss you. I do love and miss you. I don’t think I will ever plumb the extent of that . . .
Pam, Your writing is absolutely beautiful, although the subject matter is brutal. As you know, I lost my Mother when she was way too young. I have since lost Grandparents and friends. While I grieved them all, I know there is no greater loss than that of a child. I have a close friend who lost her 18 month old son to SUDC (toddler version of SIDS) and almost four years later I still sometimes sit and hold her hand while she cries. She (and you) will never stop grieving this loss. She has managed to enjoy life with her husband and other three children, but the pain is always with her. Even the thought of being in this life without my daughter takes my breath away – I don’t know if I would survive that. I haven’t been to my Mother’s grave in many years (she was cremated and buried in Durham), and I have felt quite a bit of guilt about it. I think for me it is not where I find her. She is in the air, in the beauty of the Earth, in the eyes of my siblings and child. I know from your writings that Joshua was so in tune with nature, and I believe when you see the beauty of the Earth you see him too. God Bless you all!
Sending hugs, thoughts and prayers for your new year…turning the page on a new year is never easy because it marks another year without your boy.