You have probably had that moment when you have been very busy and the busy-ness stops. You are in a familiar place where you stand still for just that second and the familiar is surprising because of just how familiar it it is. It as been around you, minding its own business and you have taken it for granted distracted by all the things, stuff, obligations that you have been working on. In conjunction to this moment someone mentions or perhaps you read on a piece of paper a date or perhaps you see a photo and wonder “when was this taken?” You learn the date and a shock ripples through you — has it been that long?
For those of us who have lost a loved one – recognizing every day that passes can be shocking. When we turn and realize it has been a week it seems impossible, a month -surely not! and then a year – unfathomable.
My son’s birthday was this past Wednesday. It was his thirty third birthday, the fourth birthday we have marked without him. I baked his favorite cookies. I made it through the day.
I told a friend the other day I have stopped trying to believe he is gone. Since the phrase that comes to mind most often for me when talking of him or by myself is “I can’t believe he is gone” I have decided that maybe it is best not to bother to try. It doesn’t work.
The shock of realizing that that number 4 on the calendar situated in the grid marked February marks the fourth year this day has passed without him is incomprehensible. Sometimes the shock itself is the thing I find myself focusing on. What is that? I feel like I am in the movie 2001 on that deserted landscape with the monolith standing there stark and foreboding. It is not to be ignored.
The photos, the old papers found become with time like speed bumps. You are moving fluidly through the day, week, month and you bump over those things after a while. It may be during the third year or so that you can do this. And I don’t mean you don’t notice – it jostles you to the point of tears. These are the tears we have all learned to let flow and then mop up and go on. These are the ones that burn at the corner of your eye when in public or you find yourself looking down distractedly pretending to search in your handbag or briefcase so no one will notice.
The Monolith smacks you right between the eyes. It stands there daring you not to notice and for a while you stand agog – and all the familiar, day-to-day will only wait so long for you to move on.
The sense of “has it been that long” feels like it has been amplified.
We feel the touch of the wind as it passes. We stick our hand out the window of our car and we can tell that we are moving through space. We feel our feet as they make contact with the floor and perhaps the ache in our hip joint as we move to walk. We are in one place and now we are in another and we remember snippets of the journey.
One minute we were a family of four, interacting and laughing together, sharing the passing of the milestones of birthdays and growth. In one short day it changed. And that day became a date on the calendar and a hole in our life.
I am very active and push myself to be out there in the world among people. I am swimming along the stream too. I have no intention of shutting myself off. I am thankful every day for my son, my daughter, my husband, family and friends.
Every night when I go to bed, I think of my daughter- my love and pride for her and I hope that is she is resting and safe. Every night I listen to my husband as he sleeps, my dogs as they turn in their kennels. Every night I think of my son, I think of all the prayers I said on his behalf, of all the hopes I had for his future and I wipe my eyes and I go to sleep.
As I told my friend the other day “I am as better as I am going to get for now.”
I carried him for 9 months. I watched him grow for 29 years. He will remain a part of every day I live for the rest of my life.
I love you babe.