As quickly as this fantasy life fills my mind, the pain hits because I know it is not real and never will be.
I recently listed to a poignant audiobook memoir of a young woman's own grief journey after the unexpected death of her health conscious mother from late-stage lung cancer at the age of 45. I would highly recommend Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed (2012). The overwhelming grief led Strayed to hike the less traveled but equally formidable west coast counterpart to the Appalachian Trail, in an attempt to process and internalize her personal tragedy and loss.
In her travels, she encountered many people, both on the trail and off, whose interactions and stories impacted her in some way. I can relate to the pain of one such person so much that while listening in the car on the way back from a business trip, unchecked tears streamed down my face.
Lou had picked Cheryl up hitchhiking and had a picture of a young boy hanging from her rear view mirror. When asked who he was, Lou simply said it was her son, Luke, who had died 5 years ago at the age of eight. He was hit by a truck while riding his bike and died five days later.
Lou told Cheryl the following:
After that happened, I died too. Inside. I look the same, but I'm not the same in here. I mean, life goes on and all that crap, but Luke dying took it out of me. I try not to act like it, but it did. It took the Lou out of Lou, and I ain't getting it back.It has been five years for me and I feel exactly the same way.
RIP Josh - love you and miss you.