When Joseph died, I watched and listened as Stewart, Nick and Alex all said "Goodbye" to him in their own individual ways. I remember marveling that they could say it. I was nowhere ready to say those words and made up my mind that I never would. And I never have actually bid him farewell.
I am coming to recognize now that I have tried desperately to hang onto the feeling of Joseph's death having just happened. Perhaps somewhere in my subconscious I feel that if it is recent, then he isn't actually that far away. That he was just here, and travel takes time. And if he was just here, then he cannot be far.
I am recognizing a different flavor to my mourning, a different feeling and depth to my sadness, and a kind of stretching toward peace that I was not able to even contemplate before. That is not to say I reach for a time when his memory will not bring sadness. I honestly don't think there is any chance that it won't. But I feel myself reaching toward the happier memories. I get angry inside a little even as I type that. I resist and resent any part of my soul trying to find peace with this. To find any kind of acceptance of it. It feel wrong with every fiber of my being, as if my pain has now become the embodiment of my child. But I am coming to see also that it gets in the way of me truly holding and communicating with him. When I am quieter inside I can smile about things. The memories come to the surface more freely than when I am anguishing. I don't think I am anywhere near where I will need to be to actually say those words, to say goodbye to Joseph. But I feel myself acknowledging that I am going to have to. The pain this causes is excruciating and gut wrenching, but the tears are so cleansing. I am not doing a good job at describing this. I am mourning Joseph so heavily now. It is a constant and it feels good. I don't know how else to say it. It does not feel good in the sense of getting a massage or laughing with friends or having a warm bath. It feels good in the sense of something being purged and let loose, something that needs to roam and find its place being let free to do so. I feel closer to him and I feel more honest. My son has died. I miss him. I mourn him. I am crying a lot these days and it does not take much to get me there.
I cry because I am acknowledging that I am glad he is no longer suffering. Even that feeling I fought. Of course I didn't want him to suffer. I just wanted him to not suffer yet still be alive. But his death does not change the relief of no longer watching in helpless agony as his body failed him bit by bit. I cry because if someone had handed him to me still warm from my body, squirming and pink and new and said to me "You can have him and love him for 13 years, but after that he has to go back to where he came from....or you can hand him back now and not go through that", I would have brought his small body to my cheek, kissed him and vowed to do the very best I could while I had him. I don't even know that I would change much in terms of how I mothered him. I just would do it more consciously, with a greater sense of savoring, and with more mental snapshots filed away to bring out later and remember him by. I would never wish away the 13 years I got with Joseph. Just as the pain of giving birth is worth it once that baby is in your arms, the pain of Joseph's absence is worth the years of his presence. But I do miss him so very much. I can still have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that he is no longer here.
He was a good son. He loved me fiercely, desired to please me, was protective of me and loved to be with me. Being alone in the house with Joseph was just a joy. He never needed a lot of attention. He really enjoyed just occupying the same dwelling. There was an energy of community off of him even when we were not speaking or interacting directly. He would bring out his Legos or play his video games or do origami and I would read or watch TV or cook...and it was peaceful. He didn't need to be entertained or validated. He just wanted to be nearby. And truthfully, I got a lot of that through his illness. I would get very frustrated because I knew my entreaties to try and get him to play or interact while he was sick would irritate him. He just wanted to be together, no different than always. Sometimes he wanted to interact, but most of the time he simply wanted to enjoy knowing we were there, bonded, together.
I wish I could find that same sense of community with him now. To feel that energy around me. When my father died, I knew right away he knew how I was feeling, that there was forgiveness and love between us and that our relationship was at peace and perfected now. I wish I could get that same kind of message from Joseph. But perhaps I just was more ready to let Dad go than I am Joseph. I am having so much trouble saying goodbye. I want to ask him to help me. Help me say goodbye Joseph. But I dont' really want to. I am afraid of saying that. I don't know what it will mean in terms of the rest of my life, of my relationship with him and my feelings about myself as a person and as a mother.
I ache to see him again. It is a hard, congested tightness around my heart. I ache to hear his voice. To feel the connection of mother to son. Am I still his mother now that he has moved on to a higher existance? Did he outgrow me when he outgrow his skin?