Two years. It's incomprehensible that it's been two years since I held my sweet boy in my arms as he took his last breath on this earth. Mark and I both feel that the more time that passes, the further away from Jack we feel. And that is hard. People will say to me that Jack isn't gone, he's still in my heart. But the reality is, I don't feel Jack in my heart. I just feel a huge emptiness. I think part of why there is such emptiness is because I don't have memories of things Jack did or things he said that I can recall to bring me joy. My memories are all just my best guess of what Jack was thinking, feeling, and "saying." I don't really know what Jack thought of me, his life circumstances or the decisions we made for him. The further out I get from having the reassurance of those soulful eyes, the more doubt creeps in. It will be my lifetime struggle to keep the doubt at bay.
I still cry every time I think of Jack, and I think of Jack every day. I mostly think of Jack when I look up at the sky. The clouds and limitlessness of the sky make me think of heaven and I wonder what it's like, how it feels and what the Jack on the other side looks like. I know he is with God and the one thing I can say with certainty is that as much as I miss him, I don't ever wish him back here. The tears that fall are for me and my loss. When I shift my focus from myself to Jack, the tears quickly dry because I truly find peace in knowing that Jack is in the most amazing place, he is healed and he is infinitely happy.
Despite the feelings of distance and emptiness, I do talk to Jack. I tell him I miss him. Every so often, I'll ask him to send me a sign, something to let me know that he hears me. For the most part, he ignores me, but every once in a while he comes through. Or at least I'd like to believe that he heard me. I do a lot of thinking and reflecting on my forty minute drive to and from the office. I work in a somewhat rural community and the view along my commute consists of open desert surrounded by mountains and a wide open sky. About a month ago, as I was driving into work it was an unusually cloudy morning with the sun's rays shining through the openings in the clouds. As I looked up at the sky, I pleaded with Jack to send me a sign. I really needed one heading into the difficult holiday season. Shortly after I got into the office, an email came across my phone from my friend Angie, who was also one of Jack's nurses that cared for him one day a week for several years. Angie moved to Minnesota shortly before Jack died, but she always had a very strong connection to Jack and was one of the few people who really got him and treated him like a typical kid. In her email, Angie sent me a link to a NPR story that was part of NPR's series called "StoryCorps" - a program that allows people to record, share and preserve stories about their lives. The story Angie linked was from a woman sharing memories of her grandmother. As I listened to the story, the author shared these words:
"She used to tell me that the sky was black velvet and the stars were holes that had been punched in the ceiling of heaven. And that was how our loved ones looked down at us and saw if we were doing wrong, or if we were doing right, or just check in on us every so often. So every time I look up at the sky, she's there."
Angie's email to me said "Listen to this story. I thought of Jack looking down at you through the holes in the fabric sky."
I sat there at my desk and cried. Jack gave me my sign. He assured me that, yes, every time I look up at the sky he's there, looking down on me.
Two years. I love him and I miss him, but I know I'll see him again. In the meantime, I'll continue to look up and know he's there and he hears me.
Onward my friends.