Why? Maybe it is because our two girls will be leaving home soon - one to start a new job in Atlanta, and one to go back to college. Maybe I fear Josh’s absence, overlooked while the girls are home, will be more than I can bear.
Maybe it is because football practice has begun and I fantasize what should be. Josh coming home, hot and sweaty, taking a refreshing dip in the pool and passing out on the couch. I can close my eyes, visualize him and in doing so, my heart breaks even more.
Maybe it is because the days in August are quickly passing followed by a new school year. Josh should be a senior – big man on campus. Leader on the football team. Enjoying the present, while looking to the future. But it will not be.
With this example, it has dawned on me that Josh experiences loss as well – and this knowledge adds to my grief. We saw the new Harry Potter movie while on vacation – he would’ve enjoyed it. We went horseback riding and I could envision his smile/smirk at this new experience. Laughing at the horses as they raised their tails and pooped at will. Trying to determine, as all the men were, how to be less uncomfortable while trotting.
Has Josh ever skied? I don’t think so. Will ever experience college life? No. Have the chance to find his “soul mate” and marry? No. Ever know the joys of fatherhood? No, no and no. No new songs, books, video games, or experiences – ever. What a waste. What a loss. Why didn’t he think about these things before taking the steps to end his life? Maybe they would’ve pulled him back from the brink and he’d still be with us today.
After five months, why isn't it any easier? Maybe it is because the horrible reality of our “new” lives, without the existence and being of our beloved Josh, is sinking in. Is this really it? Did it really happen? Is he gone from our lives forever? I can’t stand the thought and want to scream and shout, “NO, IT’S NOT TRUE!”
Maybe it is because of a long letter received from a dear college friend. I should have waited to the end of the day to read it. Her empathy and condolences as a fellow mother made me cry. She also shared that her twenty-two year old daughter was no stranger to suicide as one of her best friends in high school took his life, and a girlfriend in college died by her own hand. More tears flowed, thinking about these two young lives, our son and three other young men I’ve heard of, who took their lives this year between January and April.
Why are young people doing this to themselves? What makes suicide a viable option? How can their minds allow for this permanent self-destruction? Why didn’t they open up with their true thoughts and feelings – to receive the critical help needed?
Has the media (TV, movies, books, video games) de-sensitized our young people to the horrors of death and its resulting wake of despair and sorrow for those left behind? Has this made it easier for them to walk towards and embrace death? I don’t know.
It is hard for Tim as well. Since Josh was a linebacker, Tim would watch football games on TV, focusing on that position in hopes of catching a great play, which he would then show and discuss with Josh. The first preseason Patriots game was on the other night, and Tim cannot watch the linebackers anymore.
Since he is a real estate agent, Tim spends quite a bit of time alone on the road. “Josh’s death,” he says, “is always right here”, holding up a hand in front of his face. Last week, he was driving around in Herndon/Sterling, on the same roads that he and Josh traveled while doing errands - just a few days before his death. It is so hard when something as insignificant as driving down a road can bring up bitter memories.
Unfortunately, it does not seem that grief follows a linear progression where one goes from stage to stage – on the way to recovery. No, for me, the grief process is more circular where the stages follow one another, round and round, and sometimes out of sequence. For how long, I do not know. Some of Josh's friends tell me that when they think of him, it is the happier memories that occupy their minds. Not me. When I think of Josh, it is still so hard, so painful, so sad and depressing. I don't know how long this circular voyage of grief will last - I only hope that at some point, the slope is upward, leading eventually to acceptance and peace.
Poignant writing from Nicholas Wolterstorff whose book, “Lament For A Son” was written in honor of his twenty-five year old son, who died in a mountain climbing accident.
Nothing fills the void of his (Josh’s) absence. He’s not replaceable. We can’t go out and get another just like him (32).I end this post with a photo of all of the family on Tim's side, wearing our "Josh" shirts, in memory of him.
My son is gone. Only a hole remains, a void, a gap, never to be filled (33).
Something is over. In the deepest levels of my existence something is finished, done. My life is divided into before and after (46).
So it is with all memories of him. They all lead into that blackness. It's all over, over, over. All I can do is remember him. I can't experience him. The person whom these memories are attached is no longer here with me, standing up. He's only in my memory now, not in my life. Nothing new can happen between us. Everything is sealed tight, shut in the past. I'm still here. I have to go on. I have to start over. But this new start is so different from the first. Then I wasn't carrying this load, this thing that is over (47).
Perhaps what's over is happiness as the fundamental tone of my existence. Now sorrow is that (47).
Josh - we love and miss you with all of our hearts. Rest in peace, our dear beloved son.