They say one is the loneliest number, and so often in this land of grief, the solitary loneliness rears its ugly head. Over the last week, as I thought about the first day of kindergarten, I was reminded how alone I sometimes am. In bed on Wednesday night, my husband asked me what was wrong. I tried so hard not to tell him, didn't want to be upset, even though I'd just been crying in the bathroom.
"Ben would have started kindergarten tomorrow," I told him, and started to cry.
He didn't know what to say. I don't blame him for that; I understand that we are not the same. It is my job to get the children to school, to pack the lunches, sort the clothes, take them to the doctor. They are on my mind every moment of every day; no matter what I am doing, they are part of me. I don't know if it's something biological, or something that happens once we have a child, but it does seem to be common to mothers everywhere, this marking of time in relation to our children, this recognition of where they should be. It's not the same for most, probably all, of the dads I know.
And while I have friends who remember every year on the anniversary of Ben's death, there are moments, like the one I experienced this week, when what would have been a milestone in our lives is unrecognized by others. I don't blame them for that either; before Ben, I wouldn't have thought about those milestones in the life of someone else.
But I'm reminded how lonely this journey is, and I wonder if I make too much of what would have been. Do I need to let go more than I have, of Ben, of the possibilities that no longer exist? Or am I right where I should be?
I don't know. Not every day is like last Thursday, but every day I am aware of what I am missing. I don't want to forget completely, but there are times when I am tired of remembering.