There are obvious stumbling blocks on this road of grief-birthdays, holidays, the anniversary of the day Dominic died. I can steel myself to face these dates as they ruthlessly approach. I devise ingenious ways to pay less attention to these agonizing reminders that my son’s living presence is no longer part of Thanksgiving, Christmas and family celebrations.
I have removed all the wall-hanging calendars that used to be my favorite way to mark time and count the days until the next happy gathering. It’s a feeble defense.
But there is nothing that can stop the breath-sucking, heart-stopping sneak attacks of longing that creep up, unannounced with a fierceness that belies the ordinary object or word or action that precipitate them.
“How are your children doing?” someone asks. I start with the oldest and count down-I have to skip Dominic and my heart stops-he’s still in heaven and I’m still here.
Facebook post noting his peer’s success. I’m so proud of him or her, but reminded that Dominic’s opportunities to impact this world are buried with him.
Our table for six that will always have one chair empty.
The photos that remind me Dominic will never grow older. I can never update his portrait.
His dusty mug hanging beneath the cabinets because it is unused for nearly eighteen months.
Cereal still on my pantry shelf-he was the only one that liked that kind.
Walking by Bath and Body Works and the smell reminding me of how he always got me the good handsoap for my birthday because I was too cheap to buy it for myself. I can’t go inside.
A dark head and squared shoulders-for a second-is that Dominic over there? Hope rises to be dashed by reality.
Someone (who means well) asks, “How are you?” I want to scream that I’m surviving, am still walking, standing, functioning but that really, how do you expect me to be?
I miss my son. I miss my life before my family was torn asunder. I miss the confidence I once had in the Sunday School answers that I too often dished out to people walking hard paths. I miss the old me that wasn’t missing the old me.