Loss

MAY MADNESS

I’m getting good at doing ordinary. So good at it that someone actually said to me a few weeks ago: “I thought you were all better.” Good job, eh? So I had an ordinary day. Worked in the morning, had my weekly lunch with Nick, doctor’s appointment with my husband, dinner, and a bit of grocery shopping to end the day. Everything was ordinary in my office today too. Business as usual. No one mentioned and I gave no indication that one year ago today my son’s funeral was held.

I knew today was going to be a bad day. I didn’t work last Wednesday, April 30. I’ll never work another April 30 in my life. That day has become Ben’s day. But I can’t take off every day that I know is going to be a rough day, so I was at work.

You know, you can talk to me and it seems as if I am there. But I’m not all there. Or always there. I can give you an appropriate response, but I bob in and out. Most of the time what you say to me registers, at least fleetingly, but then I go back into my psychic cocoon where every thought is “Ben”. It’s like a big roll of movie film that keeps playing in my head. His life. My pain. There’s always a thought of Ben playing in my head, in the background, while the rest of the world swirls around me.

I spent a good chunk of the day, when I did not have to participate, thinking about how life changes. Joys and sorrows. May has always been a special month. I met my husband on May 10 and we got married on May 16 six years later. And there’s Mother’s Day. But I was thinking about early May last year. While those around me probably assumed I was doing fine (because I’m getting good at doing ordinary), I was thinking about contrasts.

May 10, 1975 – My husband and I met on a blind date. I don’t have any pictures from that day, but I do have the shirt he wore on our first date nearly 4 decades ago. I saved that shirt, like I’ve saved so many things that have sentimental value to me.

May 7, 1995 – My son Ben was 9 and made his First Communion on this day, which date jumped out at me one day last summer when I was looking at some pictures and some of my kids’ “stuff” that I had saved. I came across the church program for Ben’s First Communion. I remember sitting on the floor–seeing the date, May 7, sent me “there”, that place that has become the crushing zone since Ben died. I have a lot of pictures from May 7, 1995, that joyous day, as well as the program, one of the invitations and a napkin from Ben’s party, the decoration from his cake top and the crafts he had made in PSR in the months leading up to his First Communion. Sentimental value.

May 7, 2013 – My son Ben was 27 and his funeral was held in the same church on the same day as his First Communion had been…. only 18 years later.  I don’t have any pictures from May 7, 2013. I don’t want any. I don’t need any. Memories from that day have been chiseled upon my heart. The funeral home. The church. The hearse leaving the church and me running out onto the sidewalk to watch my 27-year old baby being taken away, away from me, down the same street that I had driven down hundreds of times with Ben in the car with me. I don’t need any pictures from that day. I remember.

May 10, 2013 – The funeral home called to tell me Ben’s ashes had been returned, 38 years to the day that my husband and I had met on a blind date. Who would have envisioned such sorrow? Back in 1975, I was simply infatuated with the boy I had just met and ignorant of the sorrows of the world. I don’t have any pictures from May 10, 2013. I don’t want any. I will forever remember returning from the funeral home and having to be “carried” into our house as I brought Ben’s ashes home. 38 years to the day that his dad and I had met.

Contrasts. Joys and sorrows. Cruel reality playing over and over in my head. I try to convince myself that I am “getting better”….I’m not going mad……all while I am getting good at doing ordinary.

 

 

 

 

 

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DEBRIS

April 30, 2014. As I sit here on this dark morning as the rain clouds hug the tree tops, I look back upon the last year of my life and realize that over the next few hours I will be living the lasts of my firsts. Ben died on April 30, 2013 at 12:30 p.m.  One year…….

We are just coming out from under a long, unusually harsh winter here in northern Ohio. As the hyacinths pass their beauty to the tulips anxiously awaiting their chance to steal the show, I realize I’ve spent the last few days thinking about how to pick up the pieces after the big storm. It was hard to motivate myself to get out into my yard as I watched winter turn toward spring, but I spent a few hours last Sunday afternoon picking up branches and twigs, raking those errant leaves from my flower beds and pruning the dead stalks from my perennials and bushes. As I went from one section of my yard to the next loading a wheelbarrow with the debris, I thought about others who were probably doing the same. Doing so serves a dual purpose. We’re left with a sense of accomplishment and also realize that our efforts are pleasing to the eyes of others. If only picking up the pieces of a broken heart were that easy. Pick up the pieces and put on your best face. But it’s not simple like that. I can put on my “best” face, at times, but there’s no way to ever totally clean up this debris, this shrapnel that has been left behind after my heart has been broken. I love and miss Ben with every ounce of my being!

 

 

ON MY WAY

You ever jump behind the wheel of your car filled with excitement?  It doesn’t matter how many miles you have to drive, it could be thousands, but you are just so excited to be on this trip. You have your destination in mind. You’ve sacrificed and you’ve plotted and you’ve put all those little “X’s” on the map where you thought you might want to stop along the way. You know where you’re headed and you’re well on your way to There. And because you’ve told yourself so many times, it has become deeply ingrained in your brain that “it’s the journey, not the destination.” So you’ve enjoyed the moments, learned from your travels even through the storms, and with every mile along the way you’ve been graced with a memory as you’ve reveled in your journey.

So what happens when you’re almost to There and you’re jolted from your comfy seat?  When your map has been shredded and it lies at your feet in scattered bits on the floor? How do you find strength to continue on your journey to There when you suspect that There may no longer exist? Tell me, which direction do you head when you drive in circles to reach a destination that has now become an illusory icon that appears always out of reach?  And, if you can still remain faithful to the idea that it’s the journey, not the destination, where do you find the strength to continue on your journey when what you see before you is one dark tunnel after another, with a tease of light here and there? How do you convince your tired soul to remain on this circuitous route while nearly every mile now exhales a memory that takes another nip at your already broken heart, as you strive to reach that phantom destination?  I know, I know, I know. I preach to my brain every minute of every day. I’m digging up some strength….. somewhere, somehow.  But some days I am just so weary as I struggle on my way to find peace  and acceptance. I miss Ben so much!

2-25-14