The juxtaposition of life without my child means he is always right here with me but I am always missing him. Signs are all around me every day. I wake up and make my children breakfast to find a perfectly shaped heart crumb in my line of vision. As I am running errands I look down to find an old, dingy penny that no one else would have ever seen. Thoughts of a daunting task cross my mind and an odd electrical appliance sounds. The placement and timing of these occurrences are far more than just coincidences. It’s more than just that. I can feel him. A presence so strong that there is no denying he is with me. Should I reach out to hug him, however, its just the air.
One of the things I cherish most about being a mother are the hugs, kisses and affection. The weight of their little bodies is always more dense than sight alludes to. The feel of their soft and thick hair between my fingers is calming. Their short arms that encircle my waist represents their unconditional love. They are all precious moments. The lilting of their voices as the say, “mom”. The nicknames of affection they use. These are the idiosyncrasies that make each parent/child relationship unique.
My life is made up of two of these types of relationships. They are ever changing, ever blooming. With Christian, it’s different. My relationship is special with him in other ways. The strength in our connection and continuity of communication since he passed has been a pleasant surprise. While I am extremely grateful for this in innumerable ways, I truly yearn for the physical aspect of him here.
Survival after losing him without any signs or communication would be much worse. In an effort to carry on, recognition of our connection in this manner has been essential. Nonetheless there are many times when feeling the joy of his presence intertwines with the sadness of his absence.
We spent Spring Break from school visiting family in Florida. The beach there, and my parent’s condo, were some of his favorite places. In every whispering breeze, every crashing wave and every child’s face, Christian was with us. The tall eleven year old boy, with wavy brown hair and mischievous brown eyes was nowhere to be seen. The boy who would now likely be mortified to sit on my lap, there only in spirit. The “what ifs” haunting me. My heart aches just writing this.
As much as he is with me, those “what ifs” will never be answered.When Christian first passed away and people told me the pain would soften with time I would think to myself, “They don’t know me. Maybe their hurt softened, but mine never will.” It angered me when I would hear, “He is still with you.” It made me cringe. I would think, “Do you see him, hear his voice, see him playing with his brothers? He is not here!” Now I understand grief is acceptance and settling. You must accept what is and settle for what can now be, or in effect, make peace with what isn’t. Time is the only way that happens.
When you live long enough without the physical presence of someone you love, you are happy with any sort of connection you can have. The question becomes would you rather have a spiritual connection with the child who you were supposed to see grow up or would you rather have nothing? Well of course you are going to choose the spiritual connection.
The knowledge and confirmation through signs that Christian is always right here with us keeps me going every day. It is what I focus on, what I must focus on. In the book I am currently reading, The Obstacle Is Your Way, The Timeless Art Of Turning Trials Into Triumph, a recurring theme is to stay in the present. In the present I have a relationship with my son. It’s not what I want it to be, but given the past that I don’t have the power to change, it is the best option. There are days when I don’t have the energy to stay present and get past the thought, “This is not enough!” There are plenty of times when I break down into tears because the reality of what could have been, should have been, is not. If I let those times rule my life, however, I am not living. I’m not honoring Christian.
Ryan Holiday, the author of the aforementioned book writes, “Simply do what you need to do right now. And do it well. And then move on to the next thing. Follow the process and not the prize.” This excerpt was specifically about accomplishing a large goal. I find that it also applies to moving through grief. It is essential that I truly feel those moments of sadness and grief. I must let them be there because they are a part of this process too. After they pass, it is also essential that I return to the present. The present is where I have a living relationship with 2 of my children and a spiritual relationship with Christian. Given the option of no relationship, I choose the only one that is possible.
We cannot control what happens to us in life, only our reactions. Each day it takes work. When Christian passed away I made a conscious decision to continue on with my life and put the necessary work in. For me, that means living in the now and being grateful for having him always with me in spirit. Love to Heaven…