It's 2 a.m. in San Diego, and I've been up for an hour. I can't sleep. I am bleary eyed, but wide awake.
I always miss my son, and I will until the day I die, which goes without saying, Lately, I don't know, the pain is deeper, the longing to see him, to hold him, to laugh with him is overwhelming. It's like a hunger that will never be satiated, and I'm starving for my son. Does that make sense?
I believe it's true, that we’re numb for the first year, and then the foggy, fuzzy brain begins to sharpen in acuity and we awaken to greater pain. I think there is greater understanding and a bit more acceptance, maybe. I've had the misfortune to miss him for two years now, and I think the first year I was just a wisp of myself, walking around in the grief fog.
My heart and my head are wide awake now. My arms are emptier than they've ever been. I want to hold him in my arms and cradle him, the chubby little baby who needed me so much. I'd give anything to have another opportunity to love him better. I wish there was a next time. There isn't. Rikki and I ran out of time.
Yesterday at the gym, I heard three songs that were "our" songs. I moaned in between exhalations. The pain has intensified since the two-year “angelversary”. I can't put my finger on it. I consider myself relatively new to this whole grief process. I would be eternally grateful to any veterans out there who want to weigh in with suggestions about how to manage this next wave of overwhelming grief, because I swear it feels worse than the first year.
Where is the peace that is supposed to come with "acceptance" -- and why isn't it constant? I haven't been able to resume my relationships like I want to. Everyone is worried about me. The fact of the matter is, I am just not all that interested in other people's feelings right now. I have enough to deal with handling my own emotional cycles.
I'm just not the happy person I used to be. Where'd she go? I saw a picture of myself yesterday, and my eyes just look so damn sad, and I don't know when or if they will ever see the wonder in life again. I used to get really charged by nature. Now, I scarcely have the energy to "get out there." I force myself to go out every day.
I lived my life for my son. The sun did revolve around him. After he died, I tried to pour myself into taking care of others, because I have always been ready to help an emotionally ailing person. I have lost that aspect of myself. I just don't have it in me anymore. I used to derive pleasure from helping others, now it just exhausts me to even think about it.
In some ways that's good, I guess. During the worst part of Rikki's disease, I was superwoman. I did everything for him. I thought I was showing him how much I loved him. Maybe I was just enabling him. Maybe I did. It's hard to look back at that time. It was just such an awful time for him, and it was painful for me to watch him struggle and not be able to fix it with a kiss and a band-aid. I lost myself in his disease, and I've lost myself in this grieving process.
I'm not even sure I like myself anymore. Who am I without my only child, the love of my life, the center of my universe?
We're moving this summer to Joshua Tree, a magical place, a mystical place, and I will start seminary in the Fall. I am taking the next indicated steps -- but I feel like it's someone else carrying out the plans. I don't know where I am right now in the process. I resist moving forward sometimes. Moving forward just takes me farther away from my son.
My grandson said, "I'm afraid Daddy will forget me in heaven, and I'm afraid I'll forget my Daddy's face." Heartbreaking...out of the mouths of babes. I’m afraid of that too.
I have voicemails and several videos I can watch and listen to when I'm feeling strong, and every time I do, he feels so much alive...and my heart swells with love and then the joy recedes into utter sadness -- because he’s not here.
I work very hard to keep a positive frame of mind because I know my son would want me to be happy, and I do have good days; today is just not one of them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR-------------
Sherrie Kolb-Cassel is a free-lance writer who has written a book called LOVE SONGS TO A JUNKIE SON, a book of poetry about loving someone who struggled with addiction. She will begin seminary in the Fall of 2018, and currently lives in San Diego with her husband, Ben, and their two cats.