I am constantly asked how I’m doing. How am I doing? I usually say “Fine”, “I’m here”, or my new one: I just ignore the fact that they’ve asked and I say, “How are you?” That one’s easiest.
Here’s how I’m doing: I think about my son constantly, all day long. I can probably go 30 minutes sometimes without thinking about him if I’m engrossed in something else. The longer I go without thinking about him, the worse I feel when I come back to reality. My brain saves up the grief because it doesn’t have anywhere to put it while I’m thinking of something else.
I never dream about my son. I wish I did. I would do anything to see him again. But my brain feels differently. I don’t think my subconscious can handle dealing with Jay when I’m asleep, as that’s the only break my brain really gets from it all. So in an effort to save my sanity, my brain just shuts that off when I’m asleep.
I cry every day. I smell his clothes and touch his belongings, even though nothing smells like him anymore. I go to therapy. My daughter goes to therapy. I spend lots and lots of time watching videos and looking at pictures of my son. I still wish this were all a dream. But I know it’s not.
We have people over. We go out. We watch TV. We laugh, make plans, and play with our daughter. We have found a way to move forward. The ability to do this initially came as something we just had to do for our daughter’s sake. Neither my husband nor I could give up on her. We couldn’t operate as though life wasn’t worth living because Jay was gone. I have seen many parents do this to their still-living children as witnessed by reading countless missives written online by parents who have lost a child. We will never do that to her, even during the toughest moments. She has already lost one family member. She won’t lose her parents, too, if we can help it.
Physically, it feels like someone is gently but firmly squeezing my heart. I feel that in my chest all the time. Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night from a good sleep, The Squeeze (as I call it) is gone. I go to the bathroom and sit down, and slowly, The Squeeze returns.
Even after writing all of this, I still can’t say how we’re all doing. It sucks. Life is more painful than I ever thought possible. We’re dealing with it the best we can, and we’re doing it because there’s no other choice. It just is. We just are.