I sometimes look at old photos and the dates when they were taken and feel a jolt. It occurs from the toes up like an electric sensation. Just eleven months, just ten, just nine, just six, three, two, just one month before my son died. I look so carefree, so happy, so clueless.
I understand that that is how we have to pass through out days. If we knew what lay just around the corner we would stop in our tracks. We would not be able to move. Or maybe we would, thinking we ,James Bond like, could arm ourselves and attack preventing what was to come. I don’t know.
We can eat all the right foods, take our vitamins, do our exercise, meditate, de-stress, decompress and get on a plane to visit our family and disappear in the South China Sea. While philosophers and theologians pour over texts or debate the meaning of it all, for me in my small world, in my small town, it makes absolutely no sense. I don’t get it. I don’t even know where to begin to go to get it.
Sometimes I recognize the platitudes people offer as being their own defense against the unknown and unknowable. It is easy to store up the arsenal of pat phrases, proverbs and truism but it does not shore up the coastline against the tide. The wind and rain and waves come relentlessly driven by the laws of physics and a force that helped form us will destroy us.
Quantifying all the things that make up a person is like trying to capture the air. Histories are written, biographies are penned about well know persons yet they are observations – not the event, not the person.
The person is gone.
Yet here and in every moment of my day reminders of him remain. Ideas we have discussed, movies we have watched,books we have read, activities we shared, simple things and complex things and DNA. Like the needle on a compass in one simple gliding moment my emotions all turn to point to him and where he has been and the space he still occupies in my mind and my life.
And I grow furious that the world has moved on. The days keep dawning and I recognize the similarities and I rail against the differences. And every subsequent loss to me and my friends and my family, every illness and, God forbid, death, adds one more stone tossed in this well of grief.
I never considered that grief was a state in which you could exist. I thought it was an emotional state that like joy or anger came and went with time and situations. It has become a color on my palette that tints every single day and situation I encounter. I become angry at the power it has to stop me in my tracks at times, or turn a day with potential to one in which I get nothing done.
It takes practice and force of will to move some days. And the days keep filing by revealing the tares among the wheat. The grief that springs up shoulder to shoulder with the joy.
And still most mornings I wake after haven fallen asleep in tears – hoping somehow that it has been a dream. A horrible nightmare that the sun will whisk away and that my son will call or walk through the door again.