Change is happening all the time, all around us, with us and without us. It pushes and pulls us. Sometimes it seems to shove us. At times it has happened without our notice and when we arrive upon that change it seems astounding. It is crazy that we expect things to stay the same as they always have.
My daughter told me I would not recognize the portion of the city where she lives. They have rerouted the exit that takes you to her part of town and buildings that have been there for almost a century are gone.
It is difficult to try to change yourself. It is easy to be a passive observer of the change going on around you rather than to try and change yourself.
Health problems can exert the “need” for change, but self-will and adherence to a prescribed regimen are the only things that can potentially render change in that situation.
For the grieving it can be difficult to focus on the former need. We may even neglect ourselves to the point of inflicting real harm on ourselves. It may be difficult to get ourselves up and out to the doctor. The doctor is going to ask the inevitable “how are you doing?” and that is a question, when asked by a truly interested inquiring person, we don’t want to answer.
So. How ARE you doing? Your life has changed and you can’t do anything about it. So what are you going to do with where you are? What can you do?
Yesterday while driving I felt memories start seeping into my mind. They were memories from two years ago and they are not pleasant. They come like a pack of cards I shuffle and reshuffle, trying to make sense of something I can’t make sense of. So I spoke out loud and I told them to stop. I then decided to approach them from a different angle.
Here are a few of my conclusions from this examination:
I will never have a day when I do not miss my son. (I know the words never and always are words that are to be avoided but in this case they are unavoidable)
I will always have moments when I will flash back to that awful day when we got the phone call.
I may often have moments of unexpected tears and panic.
I will always have a voice that seems to cry irrationally – “why him?” I will always have a voice that says “I can’t believe he is gone.”
I have the right and ability to spend as much time as I want with these thoughts and ideas. They are mine. I don’t have to give them up for anyone or anything and as much as things may change around me, these things may not change in my mind. And that is okay.
In claiming these thoughts and holding them for a while, I realized that I can also allow myself to hold them without going through them obsessively. I can give them some time. They are available for me to take out whenever I so choose. They do not change yet I can choose how I will allow them to affect my day.
In so doing I begin to feel my son with me during the day. It is as if I have suddenly made space for him (his memory) to walk along side me. To put his head on my shoulder as I read a book. To come watch me paint for a moment and point out the things I need to do differently. I can hear him making fun of me when I watch a truly stupid television show that is a waste of time.
I do not want the rest of the days I have left here to be a waste of time. I would hope if the situation were reversed, if I were gone and he remained, he would not waste his time.
Right after his death I threw myself into a number of activities. I participated in NANOWRIMO and somewhere there is a rough draft of a book. I knitted a lot of dish cloths. A year ago I began a new technique with my watercolor and continue to pursue it. I have not counted the books I have read. I do puzzles every day. Today my life could change again. I could cease to live altogether. I know it doesn’t take much to make that occur. We are so fragile.
It is hard to embrace change and impossible to accept and acknowledge the kind of change that the death of a child brings. I can’t change that, but I can change me a little at a time, incrementally I can change how much time I will devote to his death or how much time I will devote to allowing his good influence to live in me.
In 1929 when the stock market crashed investors jumped out of windows because of the loss of their investments. I have lost one of my investments, but to cash it all in would be to say that my investment in my son was never worth anything at all. I gave my time and energy to help him grow to become a man, and a man he was. He influenced others, including me and that is still worth something.
I have other investments. My daughter and my son-in-law, my husband, my siblings and in-laws, my friends and relationships yet to be established. I can spend any and all the time I want with those “thoughts” that might rob me of time I could spend shoring up my other investments or I can allocate those thoughts their time, and spend the rest where it continues to be needed.
Allowing the change wrought by the death of my son to only influence me in negative ways is ,for me, wrong. It is disloyal. It is a discredit to him and to me and the rest of my family.
I have been writing regularly in this time since my son died, and in the writing I see an ebb and flow of emotions and feelings. My own personal therapy of sorts. I wish there were more than words to hold on to.
Please know that the things I say are not meant to make you feel that you need to change anything you are doing. I have friends who have sought counseling and benefited from it greatly. I like the fact that is still an option for me. The Compassionate Friends are also a great resource.
As for today, may something in it change for the better to clarify or comfort or simply soften the day.