Category Archives: Continuing after loss

after loss

Son and Moon

Thinking of Sam today and everyday, March 2, 1998 — April 30, 2007

Son and Moon

It is my death before my death, my time before my time
It is my loss, my grief, my son, my way…
So let me revive him, and bring him back
What harm is there in allowing me this?
To see him in the moon and the sun
Or in the green eye of a living thing
To keep him alive in a nest in a tree
Or wrapped around my finger in a silver ring
So indulge me as I move in time
Holding moonlight in my hands, as he spills through my fingers
Watching spots of sunlight play, while he dances in the shade
Talking with the bright green lizard, who spies me with his little eye
And tells me he sees me too, and that he knows what I know:
That he’s my son, my light, the moon in my hand
My time before my time, my eyes, my way…

April 30: Ten years

April 30 seems to always be the most beautiful day of the year. There has been only one rainy April 30 in the ten years since Sam’s death. Again today, with no rain in sight, I am reminded of that perfectly beautiful, blue-skied afternoon, April 30, 2007, when he collapsed on the playground at school. While everything around him was gleaming, green with new life. Blooming, bright with new color. The sun, so strong and optimistic that day, that it seemed—in that kind of light, nothing bad or ugly should’ve happened.

Though it did. And Time keeps moving on. The sun keeps shining. The sky keeps turning blue. And new life keeps buzzing and blooming. But today…today is the tenth April 30, the tenth year. An impossible fact: More time has been spent without him, than was spent with him. He was only nine.

Today, I had wished for the sky, instead of the bluest, sunniest blue, to be the darkest of grays. For there to be rain. Non-stop. All day, all night. For there to be thunder too. Angry, roaring thunder. How can this be? Instead, there were gentle breezes rustling the trees, coaxing music from the wind chimes. Again, I learn to accept. Another blue-skied April 30, gleaming with new life, blooming with new colors. And be grateful to have made eye-contact with my bright Green Bean hiding in the jasmine.

I see you.

And I see you.

Words of Hope

Photo by Deanna Kassenoff: Cardinal and Chickadee

“Hope” is the thing with feathers

BY EMILY DICKINSON

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
 
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
 
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

As long as we are here

After the death of a child, grief extinguishes our hope–our hopes, our dreams, our future. With nothing to hold on to, hopelessness becomes seemingly tangible. Life becomes unreal and unsteady. But as long as we are here, hope still flutters deep inside us. Though it’s an impossible thing to see. It’s there. Perched in our souls, our sons and daughters, though gone, still live within us. And they never stop singing; so don’t ever stop listening. Even though the songs or sounds may be fleeting and without words, hope is the thing with feathers that never stops – at all.

Photo by Deanna Kassenoff: Cardinal and Chickadee

Poem source: Poetry Foundation

The Missing Letter

I have no more words.
Let the soul speak
With the silent articulation
of a face.

– Rumi

 

Sam, Nov 2006

Sam (3/2/98 – 4/30/07) 

He is the missing letter from every one of my words.
And, he is the lost words that I seek.

Though words never can truly describe his essence, the sound of his voice, his wit, his loves, his promise, his unrealized potential…

He is my possible, my dream.
My alternate reality, my quiet.
My left side, my tolerant heart.
My hope for peace, a better ending.

He’s my awareness, my stay in the moment.
My patience—in this space where I wait.
My mystery, my future.
My sight beyond this lifetime.
My unknown, my tears, my smile.
My “What would life be like if…”

He is my humor, my ability to laugh.
At my cluelessness.
And the absurdity of it all.

To the nines

“Form is exactly emptiness, emptiness exactly form.”

Buddhist “Heart of Perfect Wisdom Sutra”


Sam.

It is the year of the Monkey, the ninth of twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac cycle. And, the ninth year of living without you—and your monkey-hugs.

I had you for nine birthdays, nine years. Nine photos on a wall. And now, you’ve been gone for nine years. How can it be? That I had you for as long as I have not had you.

You would be turning eighteen! You’d be graduating in a few months; you would be driving with your brother to school each day; you’d be sitting in the fourth chair at dinnertime; you’d be laughing, flirting, texting, dating; you’d be telling stories, reenacting every hilarious detail; you would be staying up late, and Reggie, your dog, now old and gray, would be curled beside you, snoring and content; you would be….

I suppose the “would-be’s” will continue as long as I am here without you, balancing form and emptiness. And finding within me the courage, the way you did, to continue and never give up.

Joy

Dad and the boys, beach 2003

Dad, Joey, and Sam, 2003

Months after Sam’s death, and shortly before he was gone too, my father, always trying to cheer me on, reassured me that I’d find joy again. I disagreed. I didn’t want joy, happiness. I was consumed with grief, and wanted to die too. He worried about this, I’m sure, which added to his grief.

What I’ve learned about joy over the past eight years:

It’s one of the hardest things you have to do—find joy again, after loss.

It’s never the same kind of joy you felt before, when he or she or they were here, alive.

This joy lies in between the grieving and the living; that middle place where grieving and living coexist.

And in this middle place you find the still point, the peace.

And you find peace when you do whatever it is that makes you happy, no matter how ridiculous.

And whatever it is, it will be enough (for the time being).

And enough is the key.

What else is there in this life?

But the scent of your favorite soap. The sound of a snoring dog. The taste of butter and honey on a waffle. The lunch hour you spend laughing and talking with a close friend. The incredulous smile on the elderly man’s face when you hand back his lottery tickets, after the wind grabbed them away from him in the grocery store parking lot. This moment in between the grieving and the living, when you are running, chasing, and stepping on flying wisps of paper, that is the still point.

And enough, for the time being.

Peace.

My dad (9/1/1935 - 1/9/2008)

My dad (9/1/1935 – 1/9/2008)

Unfriended

“In prosperity our friends know us; in adversity we know our friends.”

~ John Churton Collins

If you are an underclassman (in your first few years) majoring, involuntarily, in Life after the Death of your Child, you may find yourself bewildered at the flight of your friends, at the loss of your former support system, and at the dead air you’ve heard crackling since the death of your child. The phone has stopped ringing. The emails have ended. The holiday cards are conspicuously absent. The voice messages you left (“Hey, friend’s name here, just checkin in. Hope all’s well. Talk to ya soon. Love ya.”) have yet to be returned. The summer visits are no longer anticipated. The secrets you’ve shared have gone underground. And, at this point you’ve run out of excuses for their absence. You’re angry. Hurt, abandoned—left for dead. And, if it’s even possible, you’re sadness has deepened.

Okay, so this was my experience.

If you have not experienced the disappearing act of friends since your child’s death, then you’re very lucky. For now. And you don’t have to read any further. Unless, you just want to see how this ends.  Continue reading