I had someone ask me what is was like to lose a child. They weren’t asking out of morbid curiosity but trying to understand the pain I was going through and in turn trying to be a better friend and help me however they could. I couldn’t verbalize my feelings at the time but I think maybe I can now.
Losing a child is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It doesn’t matter that we knew that Charlie had a terminal illness. It didn’t matter that through his fifteen years on this earth that there were several times we “prepared” ourselves for the worst to come. It didn’t matter how many times you tell yourself this could be it…
It still stuns you to your very core.
Losing a child is like losing part of yourself. You don’t walk away whole; at least I didn’t. Everything you are, everything you’ve done, everything you’ve felt, thought, dreamt, spoke gets turned upside down, inside out and smashed back together but nothing is the same. Your heart breaks into a million pieces. Your brain loses the ability to function. Your entire body reacts in strange ways. Speaking hurts. Thinking hurts. Taking a breath hurts.
Even now, over a year later, I still stand in stunned disbelief that he’s not with me anymore.
There are moments that it all comes rushing in. When I hear a song on the radio. When I see his friends, growing, flourishing, existing. When I walk into his room and see his picture. When everything goes quiet at night and I listen to hear his noise, his cacophony of sounds that were unique to him. When I see a gorgeous sunset or sunrise. When I see my nieces and nephew.
Those moments are hard. My arms ache to hold him. I would give anything to kiss his forehead and cheeks, to tell him I love him once more, to see those smiling blue eyes and that beautiful smile. To have him give me the thumbs up and tell me everything was okay.
I cry. I rage. I scream. I pray. I bargain. And I hope.
There are so many emotions that can run through me at any given moment that sometimes I have to step away from my family to shield them from the onslaught. Those moments, thank God, are fewer than before. I allow myself to grieve when I need to. I let the emotions come, good or bad. I learned early on in this process that if I held it in, if I didn’t let it out, it would explode and my family couldn’t survive that.
The grief can be unrelenting. Now, so close to the holidays, I feel it pressing on me from all sides. I have a hard time finding pleasure in the simple things I did before Charlie passed. Those things that used to give me joy, only function as a chore now. I need to find things that bring that pleasure. Maybe in time I will.
The grief never leaves you, for me anyway. I read somewhere that to love deeply is to grieve deeply. And I believe it now. I loved Charlie so deeply, so unconditionally, so completely, that my grief at times seems insurmountable. I wake some mornings and wonder how I will find the will to get out of bed. How I will find the strength to simply do the normal everyday things that people take for granted.
How I’ll breath through the pain.
Some days I function completely normally. I go about my day as I normally would. I do all the appropriate things. I feel all the appropriate feelings. I look and act like a woman just doing her thing, keeping house, doing errands, living her life. BUT. At the end of the day, when all is sleeping and I am fighting my neverending bout with insomnia, I feel guilty. I feel guilty for living my life normally, doing all my stuff normally.
And he can’t.
I find that grief and guilt happily walk hand and hand down the beach, totally in love and in sync. Having little griefguilt babies that plague me constantly.
I never expected this to be easy. And I know my grief and the way this torment effects me is totally different than someone else who has lost a child. But know, this grief is different than grieving for a friend, a parent, a grandparent. At least for me it is.
I’m not just grieving for the loss of Charlie. I’m grieving for the loss of everything he’ll never do. All the things I could see in his future; graduating, falling in love, falling out of love, broken hearts, broken bones, driving, taking that first taste of alcohol, his first hangover, his first speeding ticket, his first car, college, marriage, children….
I mourn for every thing he’ll never get to do. For every thing he did do. For filling my life full of joy and pain, laughter and tears, for being who he was…
And for not getting to be what he could have been.
Putting your life back together, putting your family back together, is extremely difficult. I still haven’t managed it and I’m not sure that I ever will. I will never be the person that I was before Charlie passed away. I never expected to be. How could you be? None of us will be the same. We’ll go on, because that’s what Charlie would have wanted. We will talk about him, laugh about the stunts he pulled, remember him in everything that we do. That gives me comfort. That gives me peace.
I have found in all of this, that Charlie touched so many lives. He was an inspiration not just to us as his family, but to all that knew him. And in that I am so blessed. My boy was phenomenal. To know him was to love him. His light pulsated so brightly while he was here on Earth I can’t even imagine how brilliant it is now.
The last year and a half has been a journey. An unpleasant one but a journey none the less. I am an emotional wreck. My heart is broken, never to be quite whole again. I ache for my child. And I tend to think entirely too much about negative things and lately my glass is half empty. It is the HARDEST thing I will ever do.
But for him, I would do it all over again.
Even with all that, I would walk this same path, drive this same road, live this SAME life.
I had him for just fifteen years but in those years I had a lifetime of love that will carry me into the next existence where I’ll get to hold him again.
My family and that knowledge is what carries me through each day.
Losing a child will cause you to break into a million pieces. You can pick up the pieces, put it all back together, but the end result is never as pretty, never as perfect as what it was before you broke.
You will never get over losing your child. But you will learn to live around it.