March 25, 2017 by kruckr
One month ago, I was lying next to him in a hospital bed, holding his hand, listening to the sound of the ventilator. One month ago, a thought began to seep in; the though that this might be the hospital trip he doesn’t come home from.
This is the story of grief. It’s an ugly monster, which is bound to show it’s face, in some form, to everyone. When you learn that you will never again see your loved one laugh, smile, cry, etc. the regrets start to settle in. The “what ifs” and “whys” try to take over all your thoughts. Somedays I am better about battling these toxic talons of the grief monster, and somedays I let the thoughts in. “What if we had just stayed at the hospital the day before?” “What if I hadn’t gone to bed so early?” “Why didn’t I take more pictures and videos of him more recently?” “Why didn’t I play with him more instead of doing …” These thoughts are a slippery slope into despair. You can’t unthink them, but you have to try to fight against them. Once they breed they take over and it’s easy to fall into a pit you can’t or don’t want to dig yourself out of.
After arriving home from the hospital I felt empty and I was immediately confronted with decisions to make. The first came when I was tidying the kitchen and I saw the sippy cups on the drying rack. I immediately began packing them up and putting them in his closet. Later, I had to cancel his diapers from the Amazon subscription. We went to his school to gather his things, Community Peds Care came to get his equipment for other kids to use. With each of these instances, I found myself getting very angry and of course very sad. Letting go of his body was the most painful experience I’ve ever had to endure. Letting go of his things is like slightly reliving that moment over and over again. So, the rest of his belongings will stay right where they are until I find the strength to make those decisions.
Instead, my mind turned to decisions about the memorial service. We held service on March 4 at Trinity. It was a beautiful tribute to his beautiful life. So many people came from near and far to help us celebrate him. After that was over, and families and friends went back to their lives and things have been much more quiet on the home front. I have been writing in a journal, working on a memory garden and have been working on planning an inclusive playground build in his memory. These are good, productive things and positive ways to channel my grief, but I would be lying if I said they made me feel better. A solution has to match the problem and my problem is that I miss my little boy so bad it hurts. There is no solution for that.
Most days I think the only thing that gets me out of bed is Ella. She’s such a bright, happy baby. It’s nearly impossible to be sad when you’re around her. I know she won’t really get to know her big brother, but she should know a mother who shows the same devotion to her as she did him. As much as I would like to crawl in that dark hole, she deserves better. She deserves the best.
My therapist gave me lots of paperwork on symptoms of grief and coping strategies. She described grief, not in stages, but in a cycle. The Loss is the beginning, but there is no end. You suffer, settle and then things get stirred up again. That cycle will repeat over and over again for the rest of my life. The hope is that the settling part of the cycle begins to last longer and longer.
Dan went back to work on the 13th, I will go back on the 28th. This is the last step towards beginning this new normal without my little boy. This new life will include all the things I do, minus what I did to take care of him. In place of those, there will be the garden and the playground. Somedays I wonder why I’m even bothering because as I already stated, I know these things aren’t going to make me feel better. But, they’re the only things I know how to do to “be” with him in some way. Humans traditionally try to avoid pain at all costs, but there will be days when I let the pain in. When I let myself feel it all to remind myself that he lived. I hurt because he lived.