*I'm writing this post as suggested by Angie at still life 365.
Seven years. Five months. A lifetime. One little lifetime, to be exact, seven years and 5 months of missing a small boy who would be in first grade now, but is not. Who would be tormenting his big sister just like his little brother does, but is not. Who would be one of the great joys of my life. (Who is.)
Where am I on this journey of missing Ben? Ah. I am accepting. I am sad. I miss him with every breath that flows in and out of my lungs. The story of my life started the day he died: I don't think that's a sentiment you can understand unless you've been in these shoes. (But maybe not.) All that came before him--or much of it--was ordinary, unexceptional. And then Ben died. That is the beginning of my story.
I am better than ok. But the hole in my heart does not go away, does not fill in. It has scabbed over, there is a scar, and if you probe it too hard the hole might open again. But this is how grief is. I want Ben back with every part of my being but I have also accepted that this will not be. For if I had him back, I might have to give up James, and I could not lose him too. Yet I cannot have all three of my children, here and now, alive and well. And so there is a shadow, ever present, marking what was.
I am afraid of pregnant women; I'd prefer all pregnancies were kept secret until the baby arrives. I know all too well what there is to lose. My innocence is gone, never to return. But there is also a joy I thought was lost to me forever; it springs up like a tenacious flower after the lawnmower has passed overtop: nothing will hold it down, cut it off. It disappeared for a time but has returned, changed.
People told me losing Ben would make me stronger, make me better--but I dispute that. It changed me, certainly. I am more sorrowful, more introspective, more aware that all of us--the whole world--suffers from a broken heart, and that the pain manifests itself in different ways. Sometimes in anger, hatred, silence, or compassion.
I hate that people will still not acknowledge what we've lost, will stand in my house on the anniversary of his death and see my tears and say nothing. I more than hate it; it infuriates me, drives me to a rage beyond... reason? Or maybe just beyond. I want to say his name every day but know this will not happen; for some, silence is the only response they can manage, for reasons known only to themselves. And I try to accept that, knowing that some days I simply can't.
What I have: my living children, my life, they are good. Incomplete, but happy. I am lucky, and I know it, every day. I am so, so very lucky.