Tomorrow you are 10. Ten! No. You’re not 10. Or are you? You would have been 10. You were born 10 years ago. Your ashes are downstairs in the office. They are here. They still exist. Your heart, liver and kidneys, which are traveling around living in other people’s bodies still exist. They’re 10 today. So you still exist. Tomorrow, you will be 10.
I have these types of conversations in my mind still. I say your name aloud whenever I can. I do everything in my power to keep you in the mix of the day to day. I bring you up and people get a sad look on their face. I want to tell them to stop it. I want to say “Can’t you give me this one thing? Can’t you let me talk about my son that died without having to stop and take care of you and your feelings?” I just want them to smile with me and let me have you in that moment. I don’t blame them, really. I guess I just want to talk about my son without being seen as the lady whose son died. People tend to define you by it, instead of realizing that death happens constantly. It’s a way for them to set themselves a part from a thing that they don’t want to believe will ever happen to them. It bothers me only because I don’t have the privilege of living in that fantasy myself.
I still ask questions in my mind that I asked 9 years ago. Like where are you exactly now? How did you die, really? I replay what the doctor said over and over and over again. I replay every time you fell down in your life and wonder if any of those times played a part in you dying. I still sing you happy birthday many times each year. Your bedsheet, along with the clothes you wore when you died and your little blue fleece coat are still in my sock drawer. They will be in that drawer for the rest of my life. A couple of your clothes still live in your you get brother’s closet. I know I need to take them out, and I will, when I am ready.
Everyone feels sorry for me and your dad during this time. We get a couple of texts from people on your birth or death day. I always appreciate those. This year is a hard one for me. Ten years old is a special time. I will never get over the fact that you aren’t here. It never ceases to blow me away, you not being here. Two nights ago the weight of this birthday hit me hard as I lay in bed in the dark. Tears came and the grief dropped on me like a pile of bricks. That feeling used to level me. Now, nine years later, I am so grateful for it. I spend so much time distracted, busy with both the important and the mundane, that you’re on the back burner of my mind. I spend my time being genuinely fine. I’m not struggling. I am mostly very happy, and you are a jewel in my heart that I see everyday in the digital photo album in the kitchen. But then the times come when my grief hits me right in the face. It’s a little devastating, but in the most beautiful way. When you died, every single day it felt like you got further and further away from me. Like you were zooming out into space forever, never to return home. It’s a little scary when you feel good sometimes. You think “How am I ok? Why do I feel alright now??” But finally, it returns. When the grief comes back now, it’s like you’ve come to see me, from millions of miles away. “There you are,” I think. It feels so good. I’m reminded of exactly how much I miss you and how all of the love I have for you is still in me. God, the pain is like a relief now. I hope it never ever goes away.