Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Living with the Loss

"You don't go around grieving all the time, but the grief is still there and always will be." - Nigella Lawson

It’s crazy that the world just carried on today.

People were just walking, and talking, and laughing for God’s sake, as if my heart wasn’t breaking. As if today weren’t such an important day. No. They simply picked up their lives and carried on.

I can’t do that.

All day long, while I was talking to my students, or while I was walking around campus and witnessing the autumn life humming around me, only one thing mattered to me today, and it was the one thought I had to keep shoved down tightly. I mean, gagged. Gagged and stuffed in the back of a room. Because if I let myself think about it, I would cry. And crying and teaching do not mix.

Today is my son’s birthday. My Sam. He would have been 13 today.

“Would have been” is the worst thing, the hardest thing I have to say, because my son is dead. I can’t say “is”. It’s a tiny matter of verbiage that makes all the difference in the world to this mother. I am permanently broken by his loss. I’ve written about it numerous times. I’m sure I’ll continue writing about it because it never, not for one day, leaves my mind.

There are things about me that will not heal. I have not laughed the same since my son died. I do not laugh as deeply, nor as long. Where once I slept through the night, I have not done so since the night my son died. I wake multiple times. Sometimes I can get back to sleep relatively quickly. I cherish those times. Other nights I’m up for a few more hours before sleep finds me again.

I’m hypervigilant about my children sleeping. I check on them during the night more than most moms do. This is common for moms of newborns, I know, but my living children are 10 and 14. They are well out of SIDS range, but I still check on them. And when they get a cold, or have a stuffy nose from allergies, I nearly go out of my mind making sure they can breathe at night.

I’m scarred. I’m scared. I’m broken. I haven’t fallen apart yet because I have two living children. But there are days like today when I think to myself that dying wouldn’t be so bad. Days like today my heart hurts so much that I almost cannot keep breathing. And it would just be a relief to stop. I miss my son. I miss my husband. And dying would be so easy.

But then I flip my wrist, and I see my semicolon…my survivor tattoo. And I know: I can’t take the easy road. I’ll fight this darkness that has come upon me today. I miss my son terribly, and that never goes away. It does not get easier, but there are days when it is worse. But I will not let the darkness win.

I may be broken, but I’m yet to be defeated.

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