Since Josh's death, our extended family has gotten together a couple of times - to celebrate Lauren's college graduation and for a birthday weekend. These have been the hardest on Gillian as Josh was her "hang-out" buddy. When they got bored, they found ways to entertain each other. For me, Mother's Day was endured. In fact, I would rather have skipped the whole thing - not only this year but for several years. I don't think it is possible to ever have a "normal" Mother's Day again.
So now we are on our summer vacation. It is good to be with family and this year, we are all making extra efforts to be together. But at every turn, we are reminded of Josh. We went out to a nice dinner while visiting with Tim's family on Cape Cod. All the cousins ate at one table and wouldn't you know, there was an empty seat - just for Josh. When I saw this, and even as I remember now, the tears flow. In his book, "Lament For a Son", Nicholas Wolterstorff wrote what I feel.
When we gather now there's always someone missing, his absence as present as our presence, his silence as loud as our speech. Still four children, but one always gone. When we're all together, we're not all together.The picture are the top of this blog was taken at the Cape by Gillian last summer - so signature Josh. Chilling outside with his shades and listening to music. Who would've ever known that it would be his last visit?
We are now with my family in Vermont. Reminders are here too. While out to dinner, ribs were on the menu. We all knew what Josh's would've ordered. There is a snow making pond nearby which is a good place for people and dogs to cool off. Tyler and Emily both thought that Josh would've loved swimming with Biggie and Huck.
We are watching movies. Last night was Juno. I cry easily at movies anyway but now, any scene that reminds me of Josh will do it. When Juno sees the ultrasound of the baby, it reminded me of Josh's baby book that I recently found which had the ultrasound polaroids of him. Or when she gives birth and sees her baby for the first time, I remembered the cold January day our precious baby boy was born. The shower is a good place to cry without alarming or disturbing anyone else.
I can picture him in both of these places. Sleeping here, chilling there - not saying much, but just being with us. How could he be gone? Why did he go? I just can't seem to move past these two unanswerable questions.
This grief that I feel resembles an ocean where I am the shore and the water is the grief. Most of the time, the water is calm, slowly coming over the shore and slowly moving out. In and out, just like the grief. Always there but not always covering me.
Other times, the waves are high and crash against the shore. The tide is powerful and there is a strong undercurrent. Swimming is at your own risk. At these times, the grief is overwhelming, crashing against my heart, mind and soul. Luckily for me, this does not happen but maybe once a week for if it were more often, I don't know if I could survive. Maybe this is why the risk of suicide is higher in families when a loved one has died in this way.
What does help is this blog. Thanks to all who are part of this special community - you have been a lifesaver to me and my family.