I have survived.
I’ve stumbled through them all. And I’m still here.
It’s now been over an entire year since my son died. A year since he was buried.
The very minute after his death and burial commenced some sort of advent pointing toward the One Year Anniversary.
I didn’t quite understand the enormity of it all back then. I was aware that there would be holidays and days of celebration without my son alive and well to live them out. I realized that. I knew these days would be challenging. I knew I would be sad.
But I was not prepared for how each and every Day of Special would cut to my core.
Special days like his birthday, or the birthdays of his children. All family birthdays, especially mine. Mother’s Day. Father’s Day. Holidays of all kinds.
They all painstakingly magnified the loss.
Even the simple holidays that once were minor to me became horribly hard. Like Veteran’s Day. Memorial Day. Fourth of July. Oh, I always understood the reason and meaning of days like these. But now they are more.
Yes, these days will become far more meaningful to me now. My son joins the ranks of those we honor on these days. I’ll be forever flying a Flag to commemorate them, for sure. Standing before My Flag will bring up a well of pride and deeply mixed emotions.
The American Flag will be forever Sanctified to me. It once blanketed the coffin in which my son now lays. The Flag is much more than just a Symbol of Freedom for me.
It is now a Sacred Shawl.
A red, white, and blue Cloak of Great Honor.
A Crown of Stars and Stripes Glory.
That American Flag…well, I will defend and honor it until the very day I die, too.
There were football games and special this and that days for his children. There were last days of school and graduations. So many things I know Michael would have loved to participate in and would be incredibly proud.
In my grief, a holiday would crop up quickly without my knowing it. It was as if I was in some kind of time warp and they would simply sneak up on me. I lost track of time anyway, but the days would pass and suddenly I would realize that it would soon be Thanksgiving, or Christmas.
I was never ready.
And time seemed fleeting in between. It was like a holiday passed and soon another came into being. I barely had time to catch my breath in between. Barely had chance to recover.
It has been exhausting.
Harder still are the ordinary days. The passing of weeks and months. The seemingly abrupt change of seasons.
Oddly though, I found relief at the ending of summer last year. I found solace in the coming of autumn and felt a craving for the dead of winter. It was strangely comforting to watch everything die down around me and go into a deep sleep. The days became shorter and the sun went down earlier and the dark of night brought with it a sigh of relief for me.
I could crawl into bed and sleep a longer night away.
My son died on the 22nd of June. Around the third week of each month, I felt myself start to spiral down. Sink into some kind of memory that I was not consciously aware of.
I would find myself pulled down lower and lower around the third week of each passing month.
My sight would become strangely dim. My thinking grew sluggish and dull. My head would throb in such pain and my mind would search and search for something I could not quite pinpoint.
I would walk about in seemingly slow motion. My feet like concrete, my arms so heavy. My fingers would strain to move. I became strangely numb and oh! so weary, and life’s mundane would become difficult. The days were hard, hard to get through.
I would enter into a new fog of loss, an unaware sense of knowing. My subconscious mind would not let this go for me. Each month, a few days before the 22nd, my inward parts would remember. It would not allow me to forget.
That “X” months ago, My Boy died.
It took me a few months to connect those dots. And let me tell you, it was as natural and as easy to fall into that funk each and every month as it is for one season to turn to the next.
A Circadian rhythm of Mourning.
I wonder if you would believe that I look back on this Year of Firsts with tremendous affection. I know this might sound morose. Macabre. Yes, I understand that.
I have grown to liken my past year to the year of a newborn child.
All of those Firsts of a newborn are so incredibly endearing. How you long to capture each and every moment. Put them all in a bottle somehow. Stop time and take it all in.
Yet there is no way to do that. Oh, the days and milestones can be recorded in a book. Pictures can be taken and each incident locked into the brain just so.
But there’s a desperation in it, too. The idea that they are all gone. A vapor.
Just like that.
No chance of getting them back.
I look back to the day my son died as a day I was reborn.
Into this new creature that I have no clue who she is.
And it would seem like I wailed to be fed and learned how to see all things new. During these days I had to get up off the ground somehow. Learn how to crawl through the pain and pick myself up and learn how to walk. All over again.
Oh! Such a bitter, bittersweet time.
Painful but yet somehow Glorious.
These days past in my Year of Firsts were the infant days for me. The days of tremendous love and pain and all of it…all of it such a contradiction of tragedy and triumph.
Because it was all so incredibly painful yet remarkably beautiful still.
I did it. I made it through. And somehow I’ve grown and flourished among the days.
They are behind me now. Gone. I now have no choice but to move forward. Into a life of the unknown new. I guess I will, with these baby steps of mine, find out what that new means.
My Year of Firsts.
I will deeply treasure each and every day.
I will miss them.