The boy that was.

There is a hole inside of me. It’s invisible to the naked eye. Out there, walking around, breathing, eating, working, interacting – I look like a normal person perhaps. The gaping wound inside of me – with its jagged, limitless edges, it yawns wider every day. I hoped – like all wounds – it would start to contract, the edges migrating towards each other. Instead, it stretches, the edges further and further apart. I feel like I am disappearing.

Every day, I face that I go on and James does not. I still have to get up. I still have to go to work. I still have to give of myself to my daughters, to my husband.

All around me, reminders. Echoes. Like tiny, hot knives that stab me when I least expect it. Everywhere, his essence permeates. His bed, his little clothes – still unwashed, still waiting to be made into a blanket – I haven’t been able to send them. They remain where I sorted them carefully, on his laundry basket. His dresser – still full of his clothes, medical supplies adorning the top. Everywhere I look – something small but profound – a toy to help with stretching his clenched hands open, the hospital band that my husband hasn’t removed since December 18, the day our son was admitted to the PICU for the last time. Everywhere, the knives.

How is he gone? How do I go on? Every day that passes on the calendar is another day farther from him. I simultaneously want this pain to end and do not – because if the pain has eased, then I am farther than ever from my sweet boy. Every picture that I take is one picture farther from the last one of him – the last time that I touched him.

All I have are videos and memories. A lock of his hair. Letters and cards. A box with his special things. His music playing giraffe.

My worst nightmare manifest. The pain is unfathomable. It underscores everything – the soundtrack to a movie that no wants to watch. It hurts endlessly.

I took the girls on a short hike yesterday. Afterwards, a person I dearly love and respect asked me if I found respite in nature. I told him that I found as much respite as I ever do these days. He seemed taken aback by this – why did nature not salve my wound? This pain – truly unfathomable to those that haven’t suffered it. Even to him, someone that I expect to grasp this agony, even he does not truly see the depths of this darkness.

You think you can understand, on an intellectual level – but you cannot. The fathoms of this pain are unreachable to all but the devastated few.

I am a shell. Outside, everything looks normal. Inside, my heart searches for that warm plump body, those bright, inquisitive eyes, that head of dark brown, wild hair. My eyes search the heavens for a sign – a bright star. My soul calls out into the void, and all I hear are echoes of the boy that was.

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