6 months in, I go about my day to day in a pretty normal way. I take my daughter to school, manage the household stuff, talk to friends, hang out with my husband and tend to the one, lone tomato our garden has yielded this year. Jay is not always on my mind, but he is most of the time. Sometimes a feeling comes over me that’s a combination of utter sorrow and complete horror. Definitely the worst feeling I have ever experienced. Sadness of what is and horror of what has happened.
Lately I’ve tried to piece out exactly where this comes from. I want to deal effectively with this grief. I don’t want to cover over the sadness, nor dwell in a useless sludge of tears. I want to concentrate on the piece that scares the shit out of me. Is it a thought? A fear? Is it that he died? Seems obvious, right? But I don’t think that’s it, exactly. He died. That’s something that happened. But he’s not dying every day. I deal with the grief everyday, I don’t deal with the event. And there’s the loss, of course, we all are dealing with the heart-wrenching loss of him on a constant basis. I can’t cut the crusts off of my daughter’s bread everyday without wanting to lose it because I can no longer put it on his food tray. But I toss it in the compost now and slather a heart-stopping amount of mayonnaise on my daughter’s sandwich (because that’s how she rolls. Don’t judge). I move on with my day.
So it’s not just a case of the sads. It’s not just the loss. It’s not the accident, even. I think I figured it out. It’s the horror piece that got my attention. It’s the fact that he was here. I look at our family pictures. Photos that were taken candidly, before showers or teeth brushing. Everyone laughing and eating and talking and living. We were those people. We were that group. We lived in a world where this just doesn’t happen. It’s that “me” who is horrified. That me in that life with that happy group of people who’ve never called 911 in their lives. We live in Marin, for goddsakes. Our kids don’t die. It’s the fact that we, as those people, existed at all. And one day they all left. Now we’re people who laugh and tend one tomato while our son’s ashes sit on our dresser. We’re people who know how wrong shit can go. And you never come back from that.
Our son’s handprint is on the round hand mirror in our master bathroom. His fingerprint is on the fireplace. There used to be a handprint on the shower tile in the bathroom downstairs, but that has since been smudged away by water and footprints. I have a lock of hair in a bag that we cut when we was in the hospital and we knew he wasn’t coming home. I have the tag that was put around his ankle when he was born. I have pregnancy photos and pictures of us right after I gave birth. I have stretch marks on my stomach in the shape of a fiery sun. I even have a tiny piece of the end part of the belly button/umbilical cord that falls off. We have over one thousand pictures of him.
He was here. We were all together. The horror isn’t necessarily what we live everyday. It’s the realization that we actually had a completely different reality.
In my kitchen, where I’m writing this, our old family photo stares right back at me. I really miss those people.