The day I have been dreading is almost here. Both slowly and all of sudden it has come, and very soon I will have to face it: the one year anniversary of the day my son left this world.
I have survived almost an entire year of firsts. Days that were already bittersweetl because we lived with “is this the last one” in the back of our minds, seemed really just bitter. But somehow, I survived. By outward appearances, it likely seems that I am doing quite well, and sometimes I really do feel like I am doing well.
But I am still a grieving parent. I will always be a grieving parent. This isn’t a phase, this isn’t something that will ever go away. That is part of who I am from now until the end of my life. The person I was up until September 9, 2015 is a memory now. She was shattered to the core on that day. And while pieces of who I was “before” have remained intact, some pieces still don’t fit. Some pieces are shaped entirely different.
I use to be someone who wanted total quiet and darkness when I slept. That is no longer the case. Even almost a year later, I need background noise, like a familiar TV show, to sleep. Because alone in the quiet, my mind will always drift back to the moment I knew my son was gone forever. It will frantically try to recall every detail it can remember from that day and I will be tortured by an image that will be engrained in my brain until the day I die: my son’s perfect, beautiful face and the way it looked the last time I saw sunlight wash over it as the medical examiner put him in the back of a hearse and drove away. And I don’t know if there will ever come a day when dark and silence doesn’t conjure that image. I don’t know if I will ever be able to make peace with that.
And though I do find joy in life, and find reasons to smile and genuinely feel happiness now, I still feel that more often than not, I live on the brink of tears most days. The smallest and most insignificant things can breach the emotional dam and release a flood of tears, at any time, in any place. A song, a certain phrase, a child Landon’s age, eating a cookie…anything and everything. My heart is still so tender and my emotions still very fragile and unpredictable. I am also unsure about when or if that will change.
Gene Wilder passed away yesterday, and I listened to “pure imagination” in bed and ugly cried. Landon loved Willy Wonka almost all of his life, and the death of its star felt like a piece of my connection to Landon died too. Logically I know that’s not so, but as I said…my emotions are still fragile and I never know what will trigger the break in my dam.
I can’t even count how many times I’ve thought or said “I can’t believe he’s gone.” So many days it still seems impossible. I climb and re-climb the stages of grief so much that sometimes, it’s just exhausting. I still bargain a lot. Because what I wouldn’t give to have had more time. To have had one more kiss, to be able to see that whole face smile and hear that musical giggle just one more time. And although I know that my heart will feel that way no matter how much we had, I can’t help but to wish for it. My heart still aches for my child. I am still angry that this was the hand that he was dealt in life. I am still angry that “what if” games in my mind are like Chinese water torture I can’t escape from.
I don’t know that I’ll ever have acceptance. If I do, I can’t see that right now. While I can make peace with certain things, and take comfort in others, like knowing he died before the suffering years found him, he still died. And I don’t know how I will ever accept that what happened to my 9 year old son was okay, or right, or fair, or for the best. I do have acceptance of the grief that comes with such a significant and life altering loss, but acceptance of his death is another thing entirely, and I’m just not there.
I am still here, but I’m still figuring out how all the pieces fit back together. I’m trying, and with the support and help of my amazing family and friends, I think one day I’ll get there.
Thank you, to anyone who has offered their hearts, their love, and their support over the last 356 days. You could never know how much it has meant to me.