I often feel that people around me are waiting for me to suddenly do something crazy. I’m not sure if they expect me to burst into tears, or to lash out angrily, or to explode, but I figured I could post a little about what grieving is like for me.
I don’t feel “grief” all the time. I certainly think about Rowan constantly, as I believe most mothers are constantly thinking of their children, regardless of their “living” status. Sometimes I just think about happy times or I remember what it was like to be pregnant with Rowan or things he did or his personality compared to his sister’s. I see children the age he would be if he was still alive and I can see Rowan at that age in my head. Ghosts of what I’d dreamed of for him. They don’t all make me sad, they mostly remind me that he was real. Sometimes I get a tinge of sadness, but it’s sadness I feel and recognize and do not fear or resist.
But grief, that all consuming sadness that seems so private or so scary to others, that doesn’t come out during my normal day. It never surprises me.
It’s always the worst after I’ve been working out. You know those workouts that push you until you are pulling strength from forgotten places? Those are the times that I suddenly realize the amount of strength I now have and exactly where it came from. Those are the times that the silent void where cries or coos should be starts to resonate. I realize there aren’t snores coming from the polar ice blue room with wolves watching mindfully. It is my son’s room no longer. And that is when I see his face in my mind’s busy space and nothing will move it from the center.
The tears start, stinging with the salt of sweat. The clenching within my chest that pulls my shoulders inward and clasps my hands across my pulsing heart becomes undeniable and all I can do is embrace the pain and allow it to flow. That is when I sit down at my desktop and click the folder I often try to ignore.
I click through the pictures, remembering. I see the joyful looks between Rowan and his sister, his father, and know exactly which photos were taken with me behind the camera. That look of trust and love he placed so fully in me. I see smiles and games. Adventures. So much joy amongst tubes and drugs and cuts. And all too quickly, the pictures turn to hospice. Still joy. Still smiles. Pictures of us loving as deeply as the soul allows and saying goodbye to the person who made our family complete. And then it’s over. I’ve seen them all. There will be no more. And it seems so confusingly short. Was that really all we had?
I try to write out the emotions that I cannot name without the aid of paper and pen. I sit alone, battling the urge to push all the pain away and instead will it to course through my being.
As the grief is spilled the knitted shard in my chest begins to fade. My breathing becomes even. I walk down the hall to the handprints my children made together right before my son died. I place my hand over the tiny blue handprint.
It reminds me of what it felt like, to have his hand in mine. But it doesn’t satisfy. It will never feel as though Rowan was meant to go. He was meant to be here with us. He was meant to hold my hand and learn to walk. He was meant to cry at the top of a slide until Evelyn agreed to ride down with him. He was meant to feed ducks and chase geese. He was meant to get in trouble at school. He was meant to beat his dad at video games. To date some girl we absolutely did not approve of. To crash our car into a mailbox the first week he had a driver’s license. He was meant to fall in love. To get an ugly tattoo. To go away and not call home often enough. To see his own children born and to fret and worry as parents do. He was meant to sit by my bed when I was old and dying, and hold my hand, telling me my wrinkled, gray appearance was beautiful, and that he loved me.
But some things that are meant to be aren’t.
I miss him.