Tuesday, August 31, 2010

18 months

He's been gone 18 months.

I feel very differently than I did at a year. I'm thankful for that.

Most days it's okay. Okay like the holocaust is okay, or 9/11 is okay. Of course it's not okay, but we all still get up, go to work, take care of our kids, watch tv in the evenings. Life goes on. Not his, but every one else's goes on. I don't cry most days. I don't feel overwhelmingly sad most days.

But every time I climb my stairs to go to my bedroom I walk past his door. I see the black and white sketch that a friend did of him holding a zucchini, hanging on the wall. I see the firetruck bed that my husband built, with him. I see his ashes sitting on his bookshelf. And if I stop to think about it, it makes me sad. Really sad.

So most days I don't.

There's not a hallmark ending to losing your child, the moment at the end of the movie when the music swells and everyone comes together for a warm group hug with a couple of happy tears. Sometimes I think there's a piece of me waiting for that.

It's a slow fade of pain, loss, sadness, that grows more distant, but doesn't go away. And the more distant it is, the more distant he is.

18 months is a huge amount of time for kids. The girls are different people than they were when he was diagnosed, when he was sick, and when he died. One of my consolations in his death is their relief. They do not seem to suffer the way that my husband and I do. But as much as he fades for me, it is tenfold for them. It's the way of a child's memory. Their brother is being lost to them.

My grandmother is 95. Our phone conversations are almost all about dead people, people so important to her, some that I never knew, (hoping here that I'm not the only callous granddaughter), many that I don't really care about. I listen, because she needs me to. When do I become her? When will no one remember him but me? When will no one want to talk about him but me? What can you say about a 3 year old, 2 years, 20 years, 50 years later?

I started this saying it was okay. It has to be okay. I am losing him again, and I can't stop it, just like I couldn't the first time. It has to be okay.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Vacation

Last week we went on vacation. It was greatly needed, and a really nice time. There is a huge difference between the vacations you take when you have toddlers and what you can do with older kids. We were able to be really active, and outdoors.

After Henry died, I found the most relief in doing new, different things. Things he had never done, would never do; I didn't see him there. Familiar things had such a sting, his absence was so palpable. There was a bit of escapism in the novel adventure.

Now, his absence is part of the routine, the usual. All of the paths of everyday life have been trodden without him enough times that I no longer expect him there.

I was surprised to find how much I missed him on vacation. There were so many things that we did that he would have enjoyed. I thought of him so frequently, and it made me sad. The ubiquitous 6 year old boy with blue eyes that hangs out in family vacation spots made it easier to imagine him there with us, fighting over who got to sit by the window. I remember writing about missing a dead child, wondering if I would miss him at age 4 for the rest of my life, or if I would miss the person I imagined that he would have become. This trip it was definitely 6 year old Henry that I kept seeing.

I only cried once on vacation, and the girls didn't notice, for which I was glad. I don't try to hide all of my emotions from them, but they had such a good time and I didn't want to dampen their spirits.