When it comes to my son, my heart continues to refuse to think of him as “gone.” It is a daily battle and sometimes just to be able to get on with the day I give in to pretending. I pretend I will see him or talk with him at some point. As I head to bed, turning out lights and checking doors the reality follows me. He is not here. I never go to bed without tears.
Often the missing him takes on franticly desperate proportions. I look for him in the face of every tall young man. ( I thought I was past this). I want to look at photos of him and I can’t look at photos of him. I have a short video of him at Panthertown Park with the dogs. I hear his voice in the video and the day is destroyed when before it was a point around which my day could find its course.
My daughters wonderful dream in some ways a comfort in some ways a new focus of yearning.
I listen to NPR. My son used to make fun of NPR. I think he felt it was like someone who reads Reader’s Digest and think they have a grasp of things going on in the world.
On NPR Barry Lopez was being interviewed about his book “Sliver of Sky”. I haven’t read the book yet, but it is on my list now. I am so sorry for the death of his innocence at an early age to sexual abuse and for the new face he has had to create. I recognized in his statements a similarity to statements made by those who have lost a child. It seems to be tied to grief, loss and the feeling of being alone in a situation over which you have no control.
Here are some of his words out of context, but you will get their meaning.
“Damaged for the rest of your life. . .”
“It is like someone has set your face on fire and now you have to look in the mirror and find another face.”
” . . . an empty place that nothing will ever fill or fix . . .”
difficulty in an “ability to articulate your meaning in the world . . .”
“Someone will tell you how to tell the story that did not go through the experience.”
The last statement is hauntingly true. We, the bereaved are made to adapt our story, make it palatable and socially correct. It is is as though at times we are expected to ask for help that when offered must be on someone else’s terms.
My son is still a part of my every day life. I think of him and what he would say and how he would react. I had such hopes for him and expectations. I could not wait to see what he was going to do. We argued and fought. I am a person who yells when angry and so we yelled at each other though I have a hard time remembering about what. I miss his long arm looped over my shoulder and the feeling of his being protective towards me.
I don’t like to hear myself say it, but I have been damaged. I stare in the mirror and I see an old face made older by grief and I don’t know who she is . There is an empty place that nothing can fill – no one and no thing. I was his mother to the world, I was so proud of him and had so much to look forward to. My story is not new and not singular as an experience but it is difficult for the unscathed to hear and it is not my job to make it more palatable.
You can’t fix me or fill in the space. You can’t replace my son. You can if you are willing be patient with me. Respect the fact that if I am sad it has nothing to do with you. If you can’t take it then let me say, it was nice while it lasted. No hard feelings. My hard feelings are those that I keep company with all day.
I wear tear tracks in my makeup a lot. And if I look like I’ve been crying, I probably have. Don’t ask why because you already know why. Don’t ask me how I am. Surely you can tell. I have no accurate gauge anymore , it has been lost and actually was faulty to begin with. Don’t tell me “it seems like you are doing better.” It feels like a slap in the face. Better than what? Or thanks loads pal, now I feel guilty that I am having a good day.
I am not trying to be difficult. I am just more obvious that many – so very many who have created their new face and wear it better than I do. Victims of child abuse and spousal abuse and marginalized and terrorized , victims of violence and accidents and ill health who are leaving this earth or have watched loved ones leave this earth. We are who you might become one day. Even if you treat us as you think you would want to be treated in similar circumstances – you still won’t understand. Until – God forbid, it happens. So it is a conundrum that after everything I have said I really would prefer you to remain oblivious. Sincerely.