November 3rd marks 4 years and 1 day since I lost my son. 4 years without hearing him call me “Momma”. 4 years without his amazing hugs and bright smile. 4 years of missing him and wishing it could have gone another way.
I have to be honest; this year has hit differently. I knew it was coming (obviously…), but at the same time it snuck up on me. My body told me it was here before my mind did. I physically felt the change from Summer to Fall weeks ago; a time that indicates that the anniversary is getting close, and it took me a whole day to figure out why I felt so awful. Several days later I made plans and spoke the date of his death without automatically attaching the two, and then the anxiety of what I had done set in after the fact.
I realize that this indicates a new season of grief, because I have been here before.
My mom passed in 1988 (I was 12), and over the years that followed I went through this same pattern. The loss went from an obsession to a normal part of my existence. I learned to live a life without her. The things that had power over me and over my emotions started to fade; dates, places, words, smells… the attachment diminished over time. The intensity of the pain diminished right along with it.
Ultimately, this is a good thing. It indicates healing and forward motion. It proves that I am living and not just existing. But at the same time it also hurts. The more time passes, the further away from my son I get. There is a point in time where he existed. There was a point where he was minutes behind me. Now that point is measured in years, and those years feel like miles and miles of empty space between us. Where before I could almost reach back and touch him, now it feels like we are standing on opposite sides of a canyon. I think about the times I could not get out of the pit of grief, and the times I still needed to visit it. I visited the pit purposefully because it took me back across the miles to him. The pain served as a connection. But pain is not healthy.
So yes, the healing… it’s going to hurt.
I know that I must continue to walk the miles. I can’t get stuck; it’s not the right plan or purpose for my life. It’s not what I need even if I would prefer it sometimes. So today and maybe for a bit, I choose to sit in sadness. I sit here looking back over the miles of the last 4 years, and I take inventory of myself and what I’ve become. I look over the joys and pains that I have experienced in those miles, and I remember my child, my mom, my dad, and all of the love I am able to carry with me from knowing them. I sit and look back at the past, knowing how beautiful the future is ahead of me, and I know they will be in my heart as I start the next mile.
And in reality, aren’t I just making my way back to them?