And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly. Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed. They existed. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed.
-Maya Angelou

Thursday, October 16, 2014

How This Feels

Willow tree sighting sent by my friend Karen from somewhere near Seattle

Last week while we were sitting at Eric's swim meet, Mark said to me "I can't do this anymore". I asked him if he meant he couldn't sit through another swim meet anymore and he said, "No, I can't live without Jack anymore".

That's how this feels. 

Every day you wake up wishing you could die. Not because you don't want to live, but because you are so desperate to see your child again. As another grieving mom stated so perfectly:

"I have the hope of heaven, and like many bereaved moms, I operate with one foot here and one foot there. Death holds no sting or fear for me at all anymore."

I have three other children to love and care for, so I have to keep living because I need to be here for them. I also know that the gift of Jack didn't end with Jack and I believe there is something more I'm supposed to do with the lessons and the love that Jack gave me. Yet, the torment of wanting so desperately to be with Jack while recognizing that my work here is not finished can be unbearable at times. 

That's how this feels. 

I've been able to talk with other moms who have lost children and what I'm learning is that there is no right way, no wrong way and no easy way through this. There is no survival guide. There is only our own unique way to press on, to get up each day and put one foot in front of the other. There's no moving on, no getting over it, no putting this behind you. There's only living through it. You can't think too far ahead because imaging another twenty or thirty years without Jack is inconceivable. My biggest fear is that people will forget Jack. And the reality is, people will forget Jack. Five years from now, it's possible I will have friends who won't know me as Jack's mom, who will have never known Jack. When I imagine a time when people won't remember or know Jack, it takes my breath away, literally.

That's how this feels.

What saves me in this moment is that I can talk about Jack and about my grief and there are people who will listen. It also helps to write. I don't know who all is reading, but I'm going to believe that despite how repetitive and uninspiring my writing is these days, there are people who are reading and listening. It's what gives me the strength to carry on. That, and the hope of heaven.

The four most important words you can say to a grieving parent are "How are you doing?" and then be willing to simply listen to the raw truth about how this feels.

Inching Onward by the grace of those who ask and then listen.