Friday, July 17, 2015

Four years gone

Where is my baby? Not with his family. Not growing up, vital and alert. Not here, not alive. The truth is I do not know. I cannot. I hope. If you believe, as I do, that faith is distinct from knowledge, that is the only real answer that I will ever have.
He is not here, and the sheer wrongness of it has not lost the power to smack me in the face, to take my breath away in a crowded room (last week on the train, a family with children, one in a stroller- where is my son? Where is my son? Not here.) without any warning four years on. It happens less and I am glad for that. But it is not gone.

In my dreams, it's often that way. A group of friends at the beach, casually meandering through the day. I'm playing beach volleyball one moment and the next I'm stricken with panic. James. How the hell did I forget about James? Where did I leave him? When was the last time he was changed? Oh my god I hope he's ok. It's very rare in my dreams that he's actually gone, or that I am aware of that fact. Instead, it's as though I've misplaced him. I'm sure both say more about my subconscious than I'd like.
Often I want to write with news of triumph. The conquest of grief and loss. But the only victor in this story is James, who walked away from his cancer and pain the happiest, most beautiful boy anyone could have hoped for. There is solace in that. Indeed, solace abounds in many ways. Family. Friends. Years of recovery. The dark days immediately after James' death, the oppressive grief that sees intimidation in doorways, showers and a trip to the store has largely receded. That is not to that say that the grief itself has passed, because it has not. There is no triumph over grief. Reconciliation, perhaps. You learn to live with it, to give it a wide berth when necessary. To honor the dead in life.
I take off every year for James' anniversary. Usually there's a trip. The beach. A city with a zoo. Something I like to think we'd have done together if he were here. But the day of must be in Dallas. I went to visit James today like I do every year. I brought Eatzi's, a picnic event. Avocados on the sandwich- he liked that because they were easy to eat. And he could feed them to himself. I read to him a bit from a book he wouldn't have liked but that I was reading anyway (something I also did when he was alive, selfish father that I am).
These days are sad but in an odd way I look forward to them. It is the one day of the year that I have to spend with my son. I can let the grief breath, allow my thoughts to ruminate and find some measure of peace. For at least one day, I have not misplaced him and I know exactly where he is. I can't speak to triumph over grief. No one triumphs over losing their child. People survive, and they do it by letting themselves grieve. Some days you have to let the loss win, and that's ok. You need those days for all the others where the grief rides along with you, as it will forever, but does not drown you. 

I wanted a good mohawk James picture to put up with this but side mohawk James will do too.
Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers.