One of the things even the most uninformed person understands about loss is that the first birthday, the first Thanksgiving, the first Christmas and all the “firsts” after loss will be hard.
But one of the things no one tells you about is that a heart will mark the “lasts” just as much.
The last time I saw him.
The last time I spoke to him.
The last time I hugged his neck and smelled the unique fragrance that was my son.
Every year as I approach the anniversary of the day Dominic left this life and stepped into Heaven, I also remember all the last times.
It’s hard on a heart to think about and wish that somehow I had made more of those moments. I long to have just one more opportunity to say what needs to be said, to see his smile, hear his voice, and hug his neck.
But there’s no going back.
So part of the pain of marking the milestones is knowing there is no way to change a thing. Not only the FACT that my son is gone, gone, gone. But also the FACT that whatever I said or did or left unsaid or undone is utterly and undeniably carved in stone.
I don’t know why this anniversary is hitting my heart harder than last year. Maybe it’s because I recognize how much life has happened since Dominic left us. Maybe it’s because I think in terms of decades. Maybe it’s because there are so many exciting family celebrations that he won’t be part of.
I have no idea.
But it’s nearly five long years since my son crossed the threshold of his family home. It’s nearly five years since I heard that familiar deep “Hey!”. It’s nearly five years since I waved him down the driveway and hollered, “Be careful!” as he drove back to his apartment.
I am thankful for the faithful love of my God and my family. I am thankful for the compassionate companionship of friends. I am thankful that I am still standing after the awful blow that I was sure would knock me so far down I’d never get up again.
But I miss him. I miss him. I miss him.
I will never be able to watch the early spring flowers bloom again without also remembering that it was those blossoms that heralded the good weather that lured him to take his motorcycle that night.
I will never hear Spring Break plans without counting the days between his last Spring Break trip and the day he met Jesus.
I cannot step outside and smell the grass growing, feel the breeze blowing and hear the birds singing without my heart skipping beats and doing the math. Today marks less than two months before the day he left us.
I understand that for others-if they remember at all-Dominic’s departure is a day circled on the calendar.
For me, it’s an entire season.
I mark every single day that led up to that day. I remember every single conversation, meeting, text and phone call. I remember all the things I did and regret all the things I didn’t do.
While the world is celebrating new life, I’m remembering a life that ended.