It is all over for another year. I have always hated the end of Christmas...its so loud and colorful. So all emcompassing. And when it ends, its so silent, and the grayness of the world shows itself so devastatingly fast. And I am never sure which part was real, the colors or the gray beneath it. It was always that way for me.
This has a whole new flavor now, this my second year without Joseph. His illness through the holiday season was defining from that point forward. I have done a good job this year of incorporating my sense of his spirit into my spirit of the season, but now as the gray sky lightens, this day after Christmas, the memories are there, solemn faced, looming, holding their hands out to me, whispering softly "Walk with me". I found myself in tears a couple of times yesterday and in Joe's arms. I didn't give in, didn't let them take me over, and it was a good, good day. Today it is harder. There is no music or laughter or anything like the celebration or food to distract me, only the bright lights of a tree that is empty below and I know they will be going away soon. So symbolic of this time two years ago when he lingered on and on in PICU, when we knew he was going to die but neither his doctors nor we were willing to surrender to acceptance that there would be no miracles on this earth for this beautiful boy.
It is a tightness in my chest, a gripping of my throat, soft, clenching, present with me. I am called to his graveside; I am called to his path. From now until January 10th, there are memories that from the outside might look like the same blank page playing over and over again, but in my mind, are patterned with the subtleties that lead us the unforgiving pathway to surrender. Our own green mile. Life between now and then will be peppered with those memories and while I recognize this, I am at a loss as to how to cope with it and how to take its power away. I am not sure I would want to if I could. It was part of him, this final, valiant struggle against death. And I would never wish to forget any part of him.
The house smells of fresh coffee and the air is damp with a whisper of rain. I want to sink away now from the hullaballoo, let go of that fancy ship and float away in quietude and reflection. Last year it was a hammer, a baseball bat to the head. One year since I had seen or held or talked to my son. This time, marking two years, doesn't have the same violence. Just cotton-soft presence; this ethereal sorrow. In Lent, we Catholics do the Stations of the Cross, a ritual of prayer and remembering, telling the story of the last walk of Jesus prior to his death. This is my equivalent, the tears of the mother, remembering and praying, holding the stories of the last walk of her son. Touching the private, precious places inside the hollow place that exists every moment of every day now that he is gone. It exists alongside every happiness and savored joy. Neither one is a smokescreen for the other; both are true, these seeming polar opposites, twins of the same mother holding hands in my soul. I am the luckiest woman I know. I am the most sorrowful person I know. I count my blessings with a full heart every day. I mourn.