My first thought is ‘that’s impossible’. It really can’t be a year since I’ve seen Kevin. The truth is whether he feels nearby or far away, his loss has been such a huge part of my consciousness for the last 12 months that it doesn’t seem possible that the world has taken one full trip around the sun since that day.
But of course it has.
When I contemplate all the things that have happened it becomes apparent that it really has been an entire year.
There is a genre of self help books directly related to the loss of a child. One of the common themes, confirmed by some of the folks at Compassionate Friends, is that the second year is harder than the first. The shock has worn off and the hole is more noticeable.
On the one hand, I can’t imagine how anything could be harder than the last 12 months, but on the other hand, I’ve already started to feel this reality in some ways.
Yesterday, when I woke up, I felt lost. I was wandering around aimlessly; I couldn’t get out of my own way. I reminded me a little of October 13, 2010. The difference is that feeling lasted about 4 months last year, and I was able to acknowledge it and try to work through it in a couple of hours yesterday. I’ve learned something I suppose.
Last year we were in total shock working our way through the holiday season, we pretty much avoided the whole thing as much as possible. This year, the missing presence will be more noticeable. I expect to feel more or less the way I did yesterday until New Years, at least off and on.
I’m reminded of a plaque my mother displayed in the family room when I was a kid.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
the Courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference.”
I must confess I find it kind of ironic that the Christian Serenity Player is a pretty good approximation on Buddhist teachings.
Somehow this really sums up my experience in the last year. I can’t change the facts. I find “acceptance” to be the wrong word here, but I get what the author was trying to say. I need to reconcile myself to this painful reality. I can’t change it so I must find a way to live with it. Courage? I don’t feel courageous, I feel quite meek in truth. Still, I must build a life going forward, for me and for my loved ones. Wisdom, well I suppose I’ve picked up a little along the way. If it’s indeed true that true wisdom is only born of suffering I’ve probably learned more in the last year than in all the years that preceded it.
And so I move into year two. I’ve worked hard. I’ll work harder still going forward. I’m still searching for things. I search for a way to reconcile the emotional pain, which I’ve never really dealt with. I search, not for answers I guess, but for insight into the bigger picture of reality. I search for ways to honor Kevin’s life.
In time I’ll search for joy. I don’t think I’m ready for it yet. But I think that’s how I’ll know that my grief has been reconciled. That’s how I’ll know I’ve left the forest and the storm behind. I don’t know for sure when, how or even if I’ll get there, but I understand that it is the goal and I’m going to try.