In the last weeks, people I care about have lost a child, and people I care about have survived the anniversaries surrounding their own losses. It has made me reflect a bit.
When someone I know, we know, loses a child, it is a visceral experience for me. I feel that ache for them, feel the sadness and rage that they couldn’t be spared that pain. It doesn’t matter how old the child, whether a tiny infant or a grown man, it makes my very heart ache, and makes me want to do something, anything, to help them. It makes me become even more hyper-vigilant about checking on our kids, just needing to know they are okay. That little sniffle? Maybe we should get that child into the doctor? That silly grocery request? Sure, I’d be happy to drive miles and miles to bring that item, but more importantly to see the faces of our children. It makes me remember again how awful those first days were, how it seemed like we wouldn’t survive.
But survive we did, and then we hit anniversaries. For me, I was completely convinced (partly because of people who hadn’t experienced such loss telling me it was true) that on day 366 after Sam’s death, the light would come back on for me. On day 366, I wasn’t going to cry, or want to cry, almost every day. On day 366, I was going to be able to see Sam’s stuff, like his buzz-cutter for his hair, and not fall apart.
And you know what? On day 366, 367, 483 and every other day since 365, it wasn’t that the light just came back on for me. Anniversaries still kick me, kick us, hard. But eventually I came to understand that they are hard, they will be hard, and it’s okay. I learned to accept that there are times when I can laugh so hard I can’t breathe or talk, but then have the tears come rushing in right behind. I learned that the light is there, it has always been there, if only I have the eyes to see it.
I also learned to look for the beauty in the world, no matter how odd the location. This is a picture of my garlic chives, which have flowered. I didn’t plant them for their flowers, I planted them as an herb, but yesterday they bloomed unexpectedly — I just needed to take the time to stop and see their beauty.