Last week should have been a good week. A short week arriving on the heels of a three day weekend, a brief interruption before yet another weekend. Despite the fact that it's January, Texas in its infinite whimsy provided us with a steady diet of medium sunny days, springlike almost. If you wanted to grill last weekend or pretty much any day this week, you could have. Memorial day in january. There's a lot to love abut living somewhere where you can comfortably wear sandals in the dead of winter.
Despite all that, I felt off this week. Somewhere between the dawn of the New Year and James' six month little details began to spring to mind. Last year I calendared his birthday (along with everyone in my family, because I'm not very good at that otherwise). No need this year, and google calendar agrees. I didn't calendar anyone this year, blank places where reminders ought to be. Apologies in advance. The changing of the dates reminds me this is a year James will never see, that will come and go without him entirely, just as he never lived through a full calendar year, stealing months in 2010 and 2011. He never lived in any August or September. All of these little details run together, odds and ends of grief.
For me, grief is a weirdly free-associative kind of event. It's so raw that I can't just sit down and think "my son is dead" is for hours at a time. Instead, I find myself getting there through more circular means. The title of an article on a magazine about never realizing your full potential. Children's potential. Unfulfilled potential. Dead children. My dead child. It's always there, simmering beneath the surface, waiting for an opportunity. I'd rather have that than not have it there, but some weeks, like last week, it comes up more easily. In an article about movies coming out this year I discover to my horror that something called "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" exists and is coming to multiplexes near you soon. I am reminded that Lincoln lost several children. Eddie, who died at four, and his favorite, Willie, who died at 11 roughly a year into his presidency. Putting my long-neglected history major to good use, I locate and read a few scholarly articles on Abraham and Willie, and how he responded to the loss. Four days with no official correspondence, visits to the cemetery. His wife Mary began to go mad, a process she'd at least legally succeed at in about a decade's time. Digging a little deeper, I found original contemporary newspaper articles which- in stark contrast to how such an event would be covered today- spent relatively little print on the subject, focusing the week's news on Jefferson Davis' inauguration as the "Rebel President" that same week. These are the kind of things I've been doing lately. It all comes back to James.
So this week felt off, everything percolating without any real purpose. I sometimes feel like its only as we get farther away from James' death that the long term implications, and the full force of grief, begin to set in. Immediately following James' death the pain was too immense and immediate for comprehension, an all-consuming thing. It was however, inchoate, something beyond understanding by virtue of its immensity. Only now, with time passing and James still gone, do things begin to fall into context. The changing year is part of that, the rapidly accumulating experiences in which James cannot play a direct role. It sometimes feels like I'm waking up to that reality, slowly recognizing it. So now I'm just trying to figure out a process. I doubt that will come quick. I'm just along for the ride.
Thank all of you for your continued thoughts and prayers, and for the very sweet messages we received on the 16th.