I've given myself permission to remove three things each day this week from my cubicle shrine and put them into a drawer. Its funny how little impact it has had so far...I had not really realized how many things I have up to remind me of him. Its incredibly difficult. The pain in my chest is unbelievable at times, as if someone were gripping my heart tight in their fist. I worry people will think I did not love him, or that I am "moving on". I'm not. I never will. But I recognize for whatever reason, its not my time yet, and I still have a family to take care of and a life that apparently still has a purpose to be fulfilled. I don't know when my time is going to come, but I want the moment that I see Joseph again to be one of High Fives and laughter and a feeling of relief and conjoined accomplishment. I don't want the moment that he asks me what I have been doing all this time to reflect a life wasted in useless anger and bitter tears spent wishing him back to a life that was so hard for him, so full of pain, frustration and disappointment. I see so many people now who have had bone marrow transplants about the same time as Joseph...none of them are thriving, literally ALL of them have either passed on or are in and out of the hospital, on dialysis, had to have their gallbladders out, having kidney/liver/skin/stomach/neurologic problems...the list goes on and on and on. Its such new medicine and I think the chance of a cure is a lot of hope but at a very high cost. It is such a sad feeling to realize if he were here, we would most likely still be in the midst of incredible medical problems and his quality of life would probably be very poor...and that all my wishing him back would likely be wishing him into incredible suffering all over again, damaged lungs that would never function fully again, a hole in his neck to help him breathe, needing lung transplants but not eligible because of his cancer, gastric issues that he was starting to develop, weakness and inability to function as a normal 14 year old, etc. By the time he went on the ventilator those things were practically guaranteed. Its a gentle, tugging sadness, that his fate would likely be that even if our prayers had been answered and it quietly makes me realize my selfishness in my wish to have him back. Perhap God was merciful in taking him when He did. It pains me to even contemplate it, let alone accept it. Joseph might even be angry at me if I spent my life wishing for him back, when now he is healed, at peace, happy, hopefully surrounded by puppies as he said he believed he would be if he didn't get to have one here on earth. People frequently ask me if I got the puppy we had planned on getting for him. Its a hugely painful question. Of course not. How could I knowing it was his fondest wish in the world? He died before we could make it happen for him. It would tear my heart out with every darling antic. No. There will be no puppies.
My good friend suggested I put my memorabilia into a scrap book and keep it in my desk drawer and I like that plan. There where I can touch it, but not so in my face that it fatigues me and grieves me to the point of reliving the last three days of his life over and over, making it hard to function and difficult to care. I feel strongly this is the right thing to do. Yet it feels too soon in some ways. I do not know the "appropriate" amount of time to openly mourn. I do know that I have two other boys who are thriving, and every minute I spend wallowing in Joseph's death, I spend neglecting to savor what I have in the two of them still. I will never, ever, ever live without that pain. But I feel strongly I can learn to live within the pain, making it another part of who I am, something that is mine and here every day...rather than living THROUGH the pain each and every day. I don't know if that makes sense. I feel a strong urge to justify myself in this. That I will look inappropriate, that the idea of being okay with the pain will look on the outside like I am okay with the fact that he is gone. Nothing is further from the truth. But getting my grades yesterday filled me with energy and purpose. I am going to be a nurse. I am going to take what we have been through and use it while I still have time here. I am going to chase this dream that I thought was unachievable at my age. And I am going to do it both for Joseph and for me. I know there are a lot of hard anniversaries coming up. The fall and winter , especially Thanksgiving and Christmas, are going to be agonizingly hard and probably will be for the rest of my life. I won't project forward on how I will handle them. I have no idea. ButI feel Joseph's love for me..and that, today, right now, gives me strength.