This photo was not taken days, weeks or months after my son died. It wasn’t taken within the first year after his death.
It was taken today. Over 2.5 years later.
This is grief. It doesn’t expire or come with an end date. It cuts through your heart and seeps to the deepest spaces where it will reside for a lifetime.
Holding your child’s lifeless body one last time...your brain trying to process the unimaginable while your heart is trying to memorize every detail of their face, their hands, their scent. This moment will never be erased from the memory. This is an image carried forever. It shows up unexpectedly and unannounced. Year, after year, after year.
We all have what we call “our season”. For those who have never experienced losing a child, their season is a favorite time of year because it’s their choice weather, carries their interest of activities, they enjoy the smell in the air or look forward to a special holiday.
When a child loss parent mentions their “season” it is much different.
Our season does not make us excited. It is something we dread instead of look forward to. It is a time period we want to skip. Put us in a coma and wake us when it's over. Our season comes with onset anxiety and PTSD. The smells and temperature of our season remind us of birthdays that will never happen, the memories of our sweet angels when they were with us on earth and the worst day of our lives.
During our season it takes everything out of us to keep going. We are emotionally exhausted. We are distant to everyone in our lives. We do not always respond to texts, emails or answer calls because it’s too much right now. We stay in more, declining invites we would normally say yes to. We don’t have the energy to fake the smile and pretend life is great. We are forgetful and unreliable.
Our season is full of broken dreams and questions we will never have the answers to. The what if’s, what would they look like, what would they be doing now.
Each year we have hope the next one will be easier. But it isn’t. It’s always the same, it’s always hard.
When our season passes a weight is lifted and we catch our breath thankful it is over. Shocked we survived once again.
If you know someone going through this be patient and kind. Expect nothing from them. If they cancel plans at the last minute do not be angry with them. Don’t take their actions (or lack of actions) personally. It‘s not you. They are using every ounce of strength they have to find their way through the darkness and back to the light. This is exhausting and they don’t have the energy for anything else.
My season begins very soon. You could say I am in the pre-season phase...I feel it coming. Almost a month away from what would have been a 3rd birthday. Thinking about it knocked me to my knees today, the anxiety suffocating.
But there is a difference between this year and last year, and the one before. This time I know it’s not going to be easier. This year I am accepting it and not fighting it. I know what's coming. I know what it does to me. I have learned and understand what my limitations are during this timeframe of my life.
I am going to stand still allowing it to hit with full force, a tidal wave crashing into me. As I lose my balance I will fall. I‘ll let the wave of grief wash over every inch of my body and hold my breath until it’s over.
When it has passed I will rise. I‘ll stare at the sun setting in the horizon and remind myself, it hurts this much because you love him so much. I wouldn't trade that love for anything. Not even to take away this pain.