It's late, but this is a picture of James and I from Easter last year.
You lose track of things in grief. There's no future to consider and the present is simply a distraction from the all-consuming past. You forget appointments you used to keep, habits you used to have. One of the casualties of major life disruptions are major life habits, and plans from your bedtime routine to your morning drive in ritual. Your five year plans are exposed for the obvious bits of wishful thinking they always probably were. I used to make a point of checking different parenting blogs or children's health blogs, because for some silly reason I thought it was important to be a well-infomed parent. I used to read up on saving for college. I don't bother with that anymore. There are other things you change that you don't notice. When I filled out forms for things I used to list my name as "James Matthew Sikes" to avoid the inevitable James/Matthew confusion. I never do now. I fill everything in as "Matthew Sikes." No first name. Many of these decisions I did not come to consciously. They slipped into my routine casually, in much the same way that James once did.
To describe me as "Ok" about what happened to James would represent a vast, profound misstatement. I am never going to be "Ok" that my son died of brain cancer when he was eight months old. I do not expect that feeling to evolve, and I think it's important not to expect that. Things still set me off. We did our taxes last week (pushing right up against the deadline...) and there he was, automatically filled in by our helpful friends at H&R Block Online from the year before. James Camden Sikes. Son. Dependent. There's his social security number. The same one as on the form for his death certificate. There's an familiar symmetry to all of these bureaucratic forms. It turns out that if your child dies, you can still claim them as a dependent. It is not such an uncommon question that you have to talk a person about it, it's well within the questions tree of the form. We finished the taxes. And then I went into his room and had a very bad half hour.
Despite all that, I catch myself thinking more about the future. This may seem odd given my circumstances, but the future holds a certain allure. Unlike the past, the future still holds possibilities. Sometimes I still catch myself feeling like the most important part of my life has already passed with James, and the rest is doomed to be a footnote in the fictional biography I'm leaving behind. Like one of those Wikipedia biographies you run across for someone who you know exactly one thing about.
Lately though, I'm entertaining hope for more chapters. I'm thinking about what other sections I might like to add to that biography, regaining the thread of some of the things I left in midair when James got sick. I have mixed feelings about this because I have mixed feelings about feeling better at all, but by and large I think it's a good thing. This week has been hard. It's been nine months today since James died, and I'd be lying if I said I don't notice each and everyone of those anniversaries. I'm thinking more about next week though. I'm sure that's a good thing.
Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.