One of the most difficult things to explain to anyone who has not buried a child is this: I didn’t just lose Dominic ONCE, I continue to lose him.
I lose him every single time there is a moment when he SHOULD be here but isn’t.
I lose him when his friends graduate, get married and have children.
I lose him again on Christmas morning when HIS face isn’t around the breakfast table and HIS name isn’t on the presents around the tree.
I lose him when I need to call and ask a question about my computer or need his opinion when trying to make a decision.
I lose him when everyone else is making their way home for the holidays or a birthday or just a visit-his car never rolls up the lane, his smiling face never emerges, his arms never reach out to wrap me in a bear hug.
I lose him when his siblings line up for photos-the space where he SHOULD be but ISN’T looms large.
I will never know the joy of standing at his wedding.
I will never be able to congratulate him on his first court victory.
I will never see his children
I won’t have his companionship in my old age.
He is gone-out of reach.
I’ve struggled since the beginning of this journey to convey others the ongoing open-ended emptiness of burying a child.
There is simply no way to fill the void left by my son’s leaving.
No job, no hobby, no ministry, no person, no exercise regimen, dietary discipline or medical intervention can fix this pain.
So when people think I will
my son’s death,
they profoundly misunderstand my experience.
I’ve been away from home for eleven days now. For a homebody, that feels like forever.
Most of those days I’ve been surrounded by unfamiliar people and lots and lots of noise.
But in the midst of all that activity and sound, there has remained a quiet spot deep in my spirit that holds space for Dominic.
No matter how frantic, how deafening or how crowded things get, his absence is the loudest silence I hear.
I absolutely understand that when people say things like, “Just think of all the wonderful memories you have” or “He brought you so much joy” they mean well.
Because it’s true-I have beautiful memories of Dominic. And he DID bring me great joy.
But I had those things BEFORE he was beyond my reach.
Childhood memories, photographs, mementoes from school and athletic teams-they were already displayed on the walls and shelves of my home.
But there were things I had then that I don’t have now:
- his physical presence;
- his laughter ringing down the hallway;
- his text messages telling his absent-minded mama that there were storms headed her way;
- his level-headed relationship advice;
- and his tech-savvy, “I can fix it” help when I crashed my computer or other electronic device.
I don’t have a hundred different uniquely Dominic parts of my life anymore.
And I miss every one of them.
We took this picture celebrating Father’s Day 2013 and it was supposed to be a joke.
Dominic had a habit of finding somewhere to be for the end of May (which includes his birthday) and the first couple weeks of June (Father’s Day) nearly every summer for the last six years he was with us.
I had to schedule his high school graduation (we home schooled) for the ONE weekend out of the whole summer when he would be home before he entered college in the fall.
In 2013 he was studying abroad in Switzerland.
So on this day when he was absent (again!) I brought along this picture and thought it would be funny to have him represented in the obligatory Father’s Day photo-little smiling Dominic.
It popped up in my Facebook memories the other day and I realized it’s not funny anymore.
Now the only way Dominic CAN be part of a family portrait is if one of us holds a picture of him.
I hate that.
Who could have guessed that our messing around would now mess with my head?
This popped up in my Facebook memories today:
What I wouldn’t give to see it again, to feel his beard against my cheek when I hugged his neck, hear him laugh, know he was only a phone call away!
I’ve learned to carry the sorrow because I know it will be redeemed.
But the missing?
The missing never fades.
Another friend has a new grandchild.
It makes my heart so happy to see families grow and prosper. I love the fresh sweetness of newborn wrinkles and chubby fists.
If I’m honest I have to admit that for every smile that spreads wide across my face in response to posted pictures, there is a tear that slips down from the corner of my eye.
I wish I could feel unadulterated joy like I used to.
But I can’t.
It is impossible for there to be any progeny bearing his smile, his laughter, his brown eyes and overgrown eyebrows. The rhythm that filled his head and tapped, tapped, tapped down the bannister is buried underground.
And that is hard to bear.
Losing a child is not a single event.
It happens over and over and over.