I was laying down the other night in his spot, which is also my spot. That side of the couch where he liked to lay down when we watched our shows, The Voice, Face Off and Fringe. We so looked forward to those nights-homework, shower, a snack and one of our shows. I loved that we had this routine and quiet time together. I can see him now like it was yesterday. It hurts so much to even watch a commercial for one of those shows.
I’m staring blankly at the ceiling fan circling around and around, entranced somewhat by it’s motion as I think of him laying right where I am now. My arms want to lift and reach for him and wrap around his body which isn’t there. God! That need never ceases. My mind, the maze of turmoil it often is, jumps back to the day we came to see this house. Aiden was sitting in a chair by the fireplace holding a bag in his lap because he was feeling sick to his stomach. He looks so little. Guilt grips my heart and I wonder whether it was just too much for him. Leaving his home in NY and his dearest friend who lived next door. ‘I did this. If we had stayed this wouldn’t have happened. We made a decision that altered the course of our lives and now this happened.’ Such a familiar voice. Damn it. It never stops.
I asked him what he thought of the house. “It feels like home” he said, in that sweet quiet voice he had.
My thoughts are fighting with each other and the room whips back around and into focus once again. I’m back watching the light flicker rhythmically as the fan crosses it’s path over and over again. I can’t seem to move my gaze away. The house is so quiet, and all I can think about is the mutation of my once beautiful life and the knowledge I have now that no Mother should ever have.
Knowledge I never wanted. A life I didn’t choose.
This is part 1 of what I’ve learned since the loss of my son.
SO MUCH OF WHO I AM DIED WITH MY SON.
The me I knew at approximately 3:30 pm Mar. 9, 2015 as I sat in the sun on my parent’s patio in Florida, has ceased to exist. The shell remains familiar, but the contents are not what they were. Not even close. That person is now like a friend I once knew, a friend I envy thoroughly and whose life I would give anything to have. That other person is in a million scattered shards. Most pieces never to be put back into place again. I will never be her and I wouldn’t want to. That would deny the very reason for my altering. It would deny his irreplaceable value in my life. We are forever bound, my son and I. The spiritual connection- that love I held for him before he was conceived, the shared life-force that coursed our veins. The space within my own body he occupied and the space in my heart that will always be his- it remains. Crying and reaching for it’s lost inhabitant. The body, mind and soul continually mourn that absence and ache for the child that is supposed to be here still. He is gone but the rest remains, tugging, calling and reminding. Humans, mothers especially, cannot live in that kind of visceral and emotional contradiction that is “out-of-order death” and ever be the same. When our child dies, parts of us die along with them. That is one price of Motherhood and of love.
SURVIVING IS A CHOICE NOT A GIVEN.
For the longest time people would say, “You’re going to get through this.” and I would reply with resignation, “I have no choice, tomorrow is coming whether I want it to or not.” I was wrong. Surviving child loss is a conscious decision. It is a choice and sadly, many choose not to.(which I 100% understand) The frightening facts of parents who lose children is that the risks for suicide, depression, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, divorce and accidents skyrocket. We are at greater risk for cancer and other life threatening illness’ because of the horrendous physical and emotional strain that life continues to be. But the fact is, we choose life or choose death, in whatever form we allow it. Some grip this side of the universe, finding purpose within this pain, while our eyes and hearts anticipate, even yearn, fearlessly for the other side. Some can reach back out to the world and live when it would be so much easier to just stay home where it feels safer. Less chance of more pain that way. Not everybody can do that. Some make a different choice.
There are many seasons, holidays and just random days where the idea of medicating the pain away is so seductive. Some will choose to medicate themselves into a more tolerable state of numb rather than experience what living with this is. That will never be my choice, but it is one I understand. My prayer for all of us is that we choose to live in the fullest way we are capable of, despite the struggle and effort it is to do so. For me, living by the ‘creed’ of ‘Believing Against The Grain’ helps me tremendously. I urge you to read that creed.
GOD CAN FEEL ABSENT, CRUEL, EVEN NON-EXISTENT. HE ISN’T.
At first I hated Him with every ounce of my being. How could He? What kind of a “god” does this? Where are MY promises? He is a liar and a thief. I trusted Him and He betrayed me in the cruelest way possible. My child!! My baby boy!! I prayed EVERY night for his protection! That BASTARD!! I screamed it all.
Then I felt absolutely nothing, empty of any intimate knowledge of God. I understood that He wasn’t. At all. Ever. I believed I was a part of a vast scam and was a fool for buying into it. There can’t be a God. Where is he now if he is so freaking big and awesome? Where was He on March 9th? He didn’t love Aiden enough to save him?? I don’t feel him. I don’t hear him. I don’t see him. He isn’t. Life is just a random sequence of bull-shit and I’m holding the shovel. There is no God.
Then the absence and separation I felt was the most disorienting and frightening anomaly I have ever experienced. It left me untethered to the world and reality as I always understood it. That’s how I knew He was. I don’t believe you can feel that tangible absence from something or someone who doesn’t exist. The absence and emptiness I felt was as real as His presence and fullness always was. Knowing Him since I was a child, and then not being able to feel or sense Him in any way in the turmoil of such tragedy and pain created such a profound sense of separation and need. My need for His presence is how I knew he was. Even though I could not find him, I held on for dear life to what I knew and tried to believe that the trauma and the pain was so deep and dark and suffocating, that nothing, not even He could penetrate it for me. I had to find my own way out and back. I still am. I also have learned this is a life-long pilgrimage and I’m just beginning the treck.
But He was there, in the darkness with me. Waiting.
Psalm 23:4 “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”
Romans 8:38-39 “For I am sure that neither life nor death nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Please share so another grieving parent somewhere can know they are not alone.