A Date With Grief

I hate that this is only the second post on this blog, and I am going someplace so dark with it. But let's face it, this whole website was born out of something very dark, exceptionally sad and, at times, emotionally unbearable. It takes a lot of work to see the light and on a day like today, there is not much light to be found. Today marks 6 years since Dylan died, surrounded by his family, at his home in Bellefonte, Pa. As far as the death of a vibrant 15 year old boy goes, it was peaceful, it was not unexpected, and he was surrounded by love. But, frankly, it was hell. Every day since has been a struggle for all of us. Sometimes the struggle starts from the moment you open your eyes and sometimes the struggle is that he was not your first thought in the morning. Sometimes it is all encompassing and sometimes it is just a passing thought, but it is always there.

On days like today (I refrain from calling them anniversaries but what other word is there?) you recall every awful moment as though it were yesterday and you mourn the fact that it was not, in fact, yesterday but an ever growing number of years ago. You relive the hell of the day your life, and the lives of those you hold most dear, changed forever. The days leading up to these dates on the calendar are so much like facing down a runaway train. You stand on the tracks while you begin to see the light of the train in the distance, but there is nothing you can do. You can't run and hide, you have to let it hit you. You have to let it destroy you and then you have to put your pieces back together.

I have found over the past 6 years that while I am in the depths of this despair I have an overwhelming urge to write. To get the thoughts and words out of my head and onto paper. To release the overwhelming sorrow by writing it down so it can be remembered and maybe shared. The only thing is, I have never shared. I keep these thoughts and writings to myself. It feels presumptuous to think anyone would want to read it. Who am I to think what I have written is good enough to send out to the world? But then I realized, what if everyone thought that way? And what does it matter anyway? I am not writing the next great novel - I am sharing my thoughts on grief and maybe, just maybe, they can help someone else. Maybe they can help someone feel less alone in their thoughts. Maybe we all need to share our very human experiences so we don't go through life thinking we are the only one who feels this way and that no one could ever possibly understand.

So I am sharing what I wrote on this date last year. If you have made it this far into this post maybe you want to read it. If you don't, that's okay too. Choice is yours. I just feel like if I was called to write it, there must be a reason. So I am going out on a limb and sharing myself at my most vulnerable. My hope is that someone may see it and say - "I thought I was the only one who feels that way". And in that, we bring a little light into this dark, dark day.

A Date With Grief

Today I have a date with grief. I know the time and the place. I arrange it months in advance, count down the days till our meeting with growing anxiety and fear. Wonder what special hell you will bring to me this year.

I make sure the time is right. I want to be with you when the promise of morning turns to the emptiness of afternoon. When the bells peal, signaling the loss of innocence. I invite you in like an old friend. Pull up a chair beside the fire and wait for you to tell me your tales.

Today, I will listen.

At times I see you down a darkened street. You call out my name, beckon me nearer. But, I turn away, pretend I don't recognize your face. I am afraid of what you need to say to me. Your smile belies the pain you wish to cause me. You are a wolf in sheep's clothing ready to devour all I have worked so long to build.

Other times I feel you on the warm summer breeze. You smell of fresh cut grass and bubble gum. I greet you with a smile, a small pleasantry, but I have no time to talk. Not today, too busy. Just a friendly " Hello, how are you?" Please don't say too much - just a whispered memory.

On the darkest days you leap out at me from each corner. Relentlessly pursue me like a cold, dark shadow. Forcing pictures in front of my eyes I do not wish to see, telling tales I do not wish to hear. I close my eyes and stop my ears but it is of no use. The fog of memory has drifted inside of me and I can't turn you away.

On the best of days you flicker like a candle at the edge of my vision. You shine softly with only beauty, with only light, with only joy. You make me long to ask you to stay - memory a blessed repose.

But today, I am prepared for you. I have gathered all of my strength. I will sit with you, open your box of treasures. Feel, smell, touch all you have brought and laid at my feet. I will allow you to speak of the unspeakable, show me the most unpleasant of sights. Listen to unbearable tales. I will go back with you and remember. I will lift the lid off of every box, unlock every door. Face down every runaway train until I am left wasted and begging for relief.

I want to FEEL. I want the salt of my tears to sting all my wounds. I want the pain in my heart to break it in two. I want to tear down the wall I have built in my own protection. To uncover the wounds I keep hidden. To take the blinders from my eyes that force me to look only ahead and never behind. I think I am strong enough to withstand all you can throw at me today........

But I am mistaken.

I cannot. You must go now. You have overstayed your welcome. You have taken me too far this time. Plunged my head too far into your icy depths. I am gasping for air, my lungs on fire. I am running to slam the doors shut and bolt them behind me. Place the lids on their boxes and pray the contents stay hidden.

I am angry with you now. How dare you stay so long? Do you not see the damage you have left in your wake. Do you have no compassion for a mother's suffering? Can you show no mercy? I must wrap myself up in the coat you have shed - a layer of protection between myself and all I have felt. Put the blinders back on my eyes, no more looking behind.

I am not strong enough to withstand you yet. I must keep you at bay.

Grief, you are not my friend and you are not welcome here again.

And yet.....

I will allow you in. Next year and every year until the END. Until the day this journey is over and God proclaims, "Tetelestai - It Is Finished." Allowing me once again to look into beautiful green eyes, to touch soft brown hair, to hear a sweet voice whisper in my ear, "Welcome home, Mom."

And grief, you will be no more.

Kristen - Dylan's Mom

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