It has been so long since I have heard his voice or seen his face. I grasp his pictures now on my more difficult days and peer into his face trying to read the expression…the emotion…to bring back the moment and live it with him again. It is a futile endeavor and leaves me aching and lonely. I have his image from so many ages here at work, on my desk, my walls, my computer. There was so much more to his life than his illness, so much more to my motherhood than the beginning or the end. I yearn desperately for his presence. At times the need in my arms to wrap him up is a true, physical ache. Perhaps that sounds a little crazy. Perhaps it is. I comfort myself a bit that every parent can look back on photographs of their children at younger ages and yearn to hold that sweet nubile body again, to feel the warmth and intense love seeming to flow from one to the other, seemingly by osmosis. I remember his cheek tender against my shoulder, his limbs heavy and floppy with sleep in my arms, his blue eyes seeking and curious on my features or hands. How I would make tiny cubes of cheddar for him and how he would so neatly and carefully pick them up one at a time between thumb and forefinger instead of grasping handfuls and mushing them into his mouth the way he did with bananas. How he surveyed my expression one time when I was crying (he was a toddler, not even two years old), not disturbed by my emotion but rather watching intensely to see where on earth the water running down my face was coming from, making me laugh in the midst of my pain (I had tripped over his safety gate and bashed in my knee pretty badly). I wish so much he would give me something now to fraction the agony that way, to split it apart and help me see the wonderful energy and lightness of being that he brought to my life. Some sign of him that would drive home to me how incongruous my grief would probably seem to him. He was so full of compassion for others. So silly and pure of heart. So earnest. He would hate to see me hurting this way and yet be fascinated that he himself could engender so much emotion. Is there any way out of this darkness? I have moments...it is for me a mottled thing, not constantly black, but when the devastation is upon me there seems to be nothing else. Joe is so patient. I try to keep it quiet and put away when I can. It is not fair to those around me to wander around moaning all the time, so to speak. I try to ration my need for comfort to a level that is hopefully tolerable to those around me. I have isolated myself somewhat and that is not fair to him, to look to him alone for emotional sustenance. Maintaining my friendships though has become intensely difficult. I have such a well of intense need that is unable to be named and so little ability to relate to the concerns of those who have never known what it is to watch someone die. I am a bit of a hag. So much of what others complain about becomes so petty in my mind. I am not a compassionate listener right now and have never been good at biting my tongue. The two combined may quite possibly end up costing me people I still need to love me. So I just stay away and hope somewhere I will find my way back to a place where self imposed problems are still something worth helping someone else to solve.
I wish I knew where he is. I desperately wish we had time to say goodbye. I wish I knew if he was relieved to die, to leave his pained and diseased body. If he was ready to let go. I want to kiss that soft head. His absence is haunting and palatable. I taste its bitterness on my tongue, called to awareness even by the sweetest thoughts of him. Will I ever reach a day when I remember him and smile instead of fall into silent, private, hidden weeping at my desk or in the dark of night? In one of the books I am reading by another parent who lost a son, he talks about the darkness, the seeming lack of God’s presence in this place, the hope (that feels vain and angry) that by simply sitting and being quiet, not moving because the depth of nothing is so impenetrable..that somewhere in this place…God will come.