I haven’t written in this space in a LONG time. I’m not sure why, but my writing seems to not come as easily these days. I still write in my journals because I know that it’s good for me, but even that hasn’t been as clear or happened as often. My thoughts are all jumbled, and when I reread things, they either aren’t interesting or aren’t coherent. So, this entry may falter, but it’s important to me to keep writing!
I’ve had a lot of practice dealing with grief. I have learned to breathe when I used to hold my breath. I have learned to keep from crying when at one time I would have lost it completely. I’ve learned ALL the coping skills from writing down my feelings, counting my breaths or taking a walk to smelling essential oils, calling a friend, or taking a moment to relax and pray. One would think that being an expert at something would make it easier, and maybe it does. Sometimes I feel like I could be a therapist. But then there are those days when I still feel like I’m a basket case. Damn the coping skills or the gentle way that I usually deal with things. I want to scream or hit something or someone–mainly the someone who took away my baby. But there isn’t anyone to punch. Empty air isn’t very satisfying.
Those are the days when the memories just aren’t good enough. The days when I really need my husband’s level-headed voice of reason, or my mom’s statement of unconditional faith in me, or my son’s voice saying, “I love you Mama.” The memories are there but are not sufficient. I try to make them be enough, and sometimes I succeed. I know I’m supposed to be content; what I have is supposed to be adequate. Most of the time it is.
The emotional toil has definitely done damage. I’d like to think that it hasn’t. I’d like to think that I’m just as happy-go-lucky and optimistic as I used to be, but I’ve changed. My feelings run deeper. I’m still a happy person in general, but it’s a bittersweet happiness. Every day is precious, yet every day is also more difficult. I can’t get through a day without memories flooding my mind. I don’t want to get by without the memories; however, sometimes it’s just exhausting. On those days, I fall into bed drained and debilitated.
I used to think good memories were sweet fleeting moments that made one smile like remembering when my first child was born, a great beach vacation, or the Christmas that it snowed. I’ve come to realize, however, that it’s not just bad memories that can take on a dark look. Good memories can also be haunting and all-consuming. They can change a moment from innocent and easy to dark and difficult. They can make it almost impossible to breathe.
There’s also the absolute terror I feel that my memories may fade, so I might not always be able to hear those voices or see the faces they belong to—the worry that the memories I do have left of my loved ones might someday disappear. I sure hope not, but I know how easily I forget these days. Those important recollections are hopefully making a permanent home in my mind crowding out the lesser short term thoughts like why I walked into a room or where I left my phone. I’d much rather forget my name than forget the sound of my son’s voice.
It’s not just the memories that can cause the pain. A rough day or sad moment always seems to come back around to remembering death. So, even when it’s just a little something that causes my day to go askew, it almost always builds until I’m ultimately deep in grief. I have a friend who has also lost a child who says the same thing is true for him on the bad days. No matter what has gone wrong, large or minuscule, it often leads down a road of sadness where the end of the road is simply going to bed and having the strength to start over the next day.
Life is not fair, yet I know it can still be beautiful. All of those hours of therapy and pages of words surely can’t be for nothing. More than likely they are helping me wade through this thing called grief. It’s a short word for such a huge void. The memories aren’t nearly enough. But they are all I’ve got.
Sitting by the water—I think of you.
I wonder if you are happy and wish for it to be so.
I can’t imagine life without you, yet that’s where I must continue
On through this life without pieces of my heart.
You continue to give me strength and laughter.
Even though you aren’t here in person, you are here in spirit.
And for that I am grateful.