Tomorrow, September 8th, it will be 7 years since Jack's accident.
Sometimes it feels like a thousand years, and other times a blink of an eye. If you are newly bereaved, I know the thought of someone writing about child loss SEVEN YEARS LATER may seem frightening and distressing. It's too much and too scary to think too far ahead, to let the collateral losses of what is to come pile up on the acute loss you are feeling right now. It's hard to imagine enough strength for the journey of weeks, months and even years ahead.
Today is the one day you need to get through.
To breathe through.
To drink enough water to rehydrate after your tears have run dry.
It seems like I don't write much about my own grief here or on Facebook these days, preferring to share what others who are deep in the muck capture with such naked eloquence. There is so much wisdom out there. One of the reasons I wrote Rare Bird so early on, was to capture raw, early grief in real time. I wanted to capture it, but I didn't want to stay there, and I wasn't sure if I'd want to revisit it again and again. I didn't know if I could ever say, or if I even wanted to say, that I was healed, especially if that entailed leaving Jack behind, but I knew that I wanted to be able to say, even early on, that "I'm healing." In those early days, as I wrestled and wrangled and poured out my heart on this keyboard, you showed up day after day to bear witness to my pain. Thank you.
Now, I feel more like a coach, an ear, or even a light-- illuminating a path up ahead that while almost too scary for the newly bereaved to contemplate, provides more than a degree of hope.
Shortly after the accident, a wonderful fellow blogger sent me this painting one of her friends made for me. It captured the closeness of our family, with a big nod to the numerous signs of comfort we received related to birds. Jack is reaching out to the sky, to the future, his future. I see this small painting every day and I love it.
Now that our family is no longer in the cloud of grief, I consider this painting anew.
While I used to think it represented our family: Margaret, Tim, Anna and Jack-- with the bird bringing us comfort from above, I now wonder if it now represents Margaret, Tim, Anna, and little Andrew, with the bird being our rare bird, Jack, who continues to comfort us, guide us, and cheer us on, even after all of these years.
For those of you who look at grief as a LIFE SENTENCE-- a life sentence of sadness and pain-- I'd like to suggest reframing it as a LOVE SENTENCE. Your love for the one who died, and his for you, will never diminish. It will stay real and vibrant all the days of your life and beyond, and eventually you will be able to think of him with a love that is no longer tainted by the LACK that feels so strong right now.
That is my experience most days at 7 years in, and it is my hope for you, for me, for all of us.