Every year the black days roll around. They drag me down into a bog of depression, sucking me under, dragging me into the lair of darkness, designed to suffocate every nuance of joy, drown every moment of peace. You would think after nearly 13 years, it wouldn’t be so difficult, and that I would be able to cope better than I do. I know that, in my brain, I am aware that the days are coming, I try to fight the darkness, I try to stay strong and overcome the feelings that slowly overwhelm me. But, like a cloud obscuring the sun before a storm strikes, the emotional storm drowns me.
I know it is useless to let the depression take over. During the dark days, that usually last a week or so, I am physically and emotionally exhausted. I become inconsolable in my sorrow, and prickly in my communication to everyone. At times I feel catatonic and others manic as I relive the anguish of losing my son. My bright, difficult, passionate son was murdered – gone in a millisecond. Taken by a madman in a flash of gunfire, he fell in a pool of blood and brains onto a cold kitchen floor. Days later he lay cold and still in a casket as his family and friends attended his funeral, and we buried him in the cold red clay of Oklahoma. It was a beautiful winter’s day, but my sorrow knew that spring would never really come again for my heart.
So, now that the years have passed, I keep thinking I should be able to cope better. His birthday is September 11th. So many others have reason to be sad on that day because they lost loved ones. I am sad on that day because it was the day of birth for my son. More than the anniversary of the day he died, his day of birth causes me to mourn his loss. I don’t know why that is, I wish I did so I could let go and move forward. I do try to do something honor his life that day. I write him a letter, or I work on his memory book, I have even had a birthday party for him, but the sorrow still drains all the joy out of me.
This year was particularly bad. I went to bed for three days and only got up when I had to take care of my family. I cried a great deal, but mostly I lay there and thought about my son. I remembered every moment of his life from birth to death. I even went over the awful years of his teens when he was so angry and violent. I tried to think of everything I could remember about his likes and dislikes, all the funny stories of his childhood, everything he told me about himself. I read all his letters that he sent to us over the years, and went through his school papers and awards. The last thing I did was to read both his birth and death certificates. I know, a glutton for punishment. Those two documents are the proof that he did live, and that he died – but the important part is the life he lived in between them.
When I think of him, I think of him as a young man holding his baby girl and telling me that she was the whole purpose for his life my heart softens. I hear his voice telling me he loved me and wishing me a Merry Christmas the last time I spoke to him. I see him playing soccer as a little boy, with a big cheeky grin on his face after making a difficult goal – and as a Cub Scout winning an award. I remember a small boy telling me he can dress himself – even if he got his shirt on backwards and his shoes on the wrong feet. As a baby he was the most determined child I have ever seen. And through all the memories, I relive the love I still have for my first born. All the wishes, dreams, plans, and desires I had for his future and his success a a person came flooding back. And the sorrow that he didn’t get to live past the age of twenty-one morphs into anger. The childish cry, “It’s NOT FAIR,” wafts through my mind.
No it isn’t fair for a young man to be brought down in the best days of his life. But he wouldn’t think it was unfair. Not him. Life was always about an adventure, and when it got boring, he would find a way to make it exciting. Dying, for him, was just another adventure. Although, I am sure he didn’t want to leave his baby girl, or his family and friends, I am equally sure that he couldn’t wait to see what waited for him next. Though, he may not have been a very religious man in the traditional way, he always believed there was something more beyond this life. I can see in my minds eye his cheeky grin and bright brown eyes filled with curiosity and wonder as he took on a new way of life. That’s my boy – forging on ahead, no hold barred, into a new existence. Sigh, I miss him so much.
Now it is time to swim my way out of the bog of darkness and press on with this life. The sorrow clings to me every day like whispers of fog floating around me. But the sun does come out and it burns the fog away more day by day. Until next year. I don’t think a mother who loses a child, no matter how old or young that child may be, ever learns to ‘get over it,’ but eventually we do learn to live through it. Even if it means staying in bed in abject sorrow for three days every year.
Tomorrow the sun will peek through my darkness a bit more, and maybe by next week I will be back to normal, but I still miss my boy, and I guess until I join him and he gets to be my guide on the other side of life, I always will.