We had another family vacation last week, a long weekend on the water. We've spent enough time without Henry that packing for a trip and traveling with just the girls feels normal again, not like we left someone at home absentmindedly.
Though new experiences are less heart wrenching than repeating things that we had done with Henry, they are far from sorrow-free. My first thoughts at a new experience are always him: what would he say, what would he like, when would he laugh. I have wondered how I would "remember" him as I experienced things he hadn't; recently, my thoughts have been more on him at age 5 as he would have been, without cancer. He was such an athletic boy, exuding health. I pictured him on the kayak, rowing with him strong little arms. There was no bald head, no steroid-induced cheeks. It was hard, sad, but I tried to look at it and move on.
As the weekend went by, it got easier. I thought of him less and less, as seems to be the pattern in new situations. Consequently, my mood lightened, lifted, I was more able to pay attention to what was going on around me.
I seem to be presented with a dilemma. Some days he's present and heavy in my mind, almost as much as if he were here. Other days I'm very upbeat, focused on the now, and when he enters my thoughts I touch on him lightly and with fondness and move on again.
But most days I'm somewhere in the middle. I can consciously choose to think about him, and be sad, or to not think of him, and feel happier. My mourning is much less intense than it was, but it is very rare that I can think of him and feel happy, light, and good. I'm like a balloon running out of helium, and to look at a photo, or really experience a memory, or to hold a favorite toy causes me to sink to the floor.
Which is of course tiring. And probably not great for me, or my family. So I find myself often pushing him away, out of my conscious thought.
And I don't feel great about that. But I'm not sure what else to do.