Out of the cradle endlessly rocking,
Out of the mocking-bird’s throat, the musical shuttle,
Out of the Ninth-month midnight
Over the sterile sands and the fields beyond, where the child leaving
his bed wander’d alone, bareheaded, barefoot,
Down from the shower’d halo,
Up from the mystic play of shadows twining and twisting as if they were alive…
— Walt Whitman, from ‘Out of the Cradle, Endlessly Rocking’
Saturday marked the two-year anniversary of my son’s and his father’s deaths. Now I’m in that marking time phase. Today it’s been two years and two days. Yesterday was two years and one day, and so on. Last year it took a few weeks before I was able to set aside that pattern.
I wanted to ignore the significance of the day. I wanted to completely shut out the pain that comes with it and carry on as though absolutely nothing was wrong. And anyone reading this who has lost a child is probably getting a sad chuckle out of that, knowing it’s completely impossible to ignore. I went out with my best friend, and we didn’t talk about it at all for a while. I’m sure it was the elephant in the room, but my best friend is really good about giving me space. It wasn’t until we sat down at a coffee shop that things really settled in. My best friend assured me that it wasn’t obvious to everyone in the coffee shop that I was upset, but as miserable as I felt I’m surprised it didn’t show on my face.
On the 90 minute drive back to his house, I started to talk. Andy was so young, but his life was still significant. His life still meant something, and I’m glad for all of the good experiences he was able to have in his short time. He had been living with his father and stepmum for quite some time, as things were much steadier in their household. I felt and still do feel guilty about not having a part in his daily life. Just after his death, someone told me to let my memories of him comfort me. The words were well-intended, of course, but they made me furious. He should be more than memories. He should be present in more than just spirit. Children do not die. I can’t think of a single reason why a child aged eight years should die, and I still can’t wrap my mind round the thought that it *did* happen, regardless of the order of things. The Universe turned inside out that day, and I haven’t yet righted it completely. The popular phrase in grief is that one should make a new normal, but the word ‘normal’ does not apply in this situation. Children do not die.
I take solace in feeling his and his father’s energy near me, though. Alan and I were the only people in the past, present, or future of the Universe who could create our child. He *was* us. He was the combination of our energies formed in to a beautiful child who brought so much joy to our lives in the two years before we were separated, and who will remain part of me forever. Not a day has gone by since his death that I haven’t thought of him, and I’m not sure I want a day to pass without thinking of him. He was my child, and not even death is strong enough to break that bond.
Now it’s 2:00 in the morning and I’m writing this as a sort of outlet for my own complicated emotions and as a nod to others dealing with the loss of their child. No one understands quite like we can. That said, thanks so much to my best friend for getting me through what’s probably the most difficult day I face in the year. Thanks as well to Steve and Andrea from Compassionate Friends. You’re both amazing people, and I wish you peace. Never underestimate the worth of laughter mixed in with the pain. And remember, we’re in this together!
Peace and healing energy to all of the parents out there who are missing their children tonight as well. Keep them close.