I know I’m not the only one who carries a calendar in my head that threatens to explode like a ticking timebomb.Days that mean nothing to anyone else loom large as they approach.
The date of his death.
The date of his funeral.
The day he should have graduated from law school.
On and on and on.
How can I survive these oppressive reminders of what I thought my life would look like? How can I grab hold of something, anything that will keep my heart and mind from falling down the rabbit hole of grief into a topsy-turvy land where nothing makes sense and it’s full of unfriendly creatures that threaten to gobble me whole?
Each year that passes brings new challenges. I’m never prepared for the period I call my “season of sorrow” regardless of how many times I’ve lived through it and survived.
We cleaned out our garage the other day and found traces of Dominic in so many random places. Each little thing had to be evaluated and put either in the “keep” pile or in the “toss” pile.
What hurt my mama heart almost more than the bits of Dom we found were the bits of my earthbound children tucked in long-forgotten corners. Because I found myself thinking, “What if something happens to THEM? What if I regret tossing that out?”
Things a nonbereaved parent never has to consider.
Yet something I ask myself every time I clean out a drawer or closet or even a random pile of old school papers.
It’s absolutely normal that the space Dominic once occupied in the hearts and minds of his peers gets smaller over time.
He was only a part of their lives-lives blooming and bursting in the spring of their years.
They are moving and marrying and having children and building careers. If he were still living it may very well be they would have lost touch by now anyway.
It has taken me a lot of time and a lot of energy to do the work grief requires. There’s no short-circuiting the process. No way to rush through the painful and necessary steps.
For years I struggled with why, “Just think about the memories” didn’t comfort my heart. I treasured them. I tried hard to hold onto them. But that wasn’t enough.
And then I realized that a mother’s heart is not prepared to go on without the company of her child. I never, ever expected that it would be ME reminiscing about Dominic. I was sure it would be HIM thinking about me.
I pull out the memories like treasures from a locked strongbox.
“Handle With Care” because they are all I have left.
But they are not enough.
They will never be enough to satisfy this mama’s heart.
We are supposed to have to remember our elders, our grandparents, even, maybe our spouse at some point-but not our children.