Past midnight again.

I’m here, awake with my ghosts. The ghost of what was. The ghost of what is no more. The ghost of what could have been. I’m haunted.

On the best days, the most coherent days, I still cannot believe that my actual worst nightmare came to pass. The thing I feared more than anything else, the thing that I thought I could never stand – that thing? It happened. One of my beloved children died.

I think of the time of before. That’s how life is now. Before and After. Before, I was innocent of the way that life can shift in the span of one phone call, and how that shift can never, ever be undone. My entire world is off-kilter.

January 2 marks one year since he died. But our grief began seven months before that, when we heard the news of his diagnosis. For 18 months, I have been living in an alternate reality. Everything is darker here. The light shines so blindingly bright some days, but that only makes the shadows blacker. I see everything too crisply. I have to shut my eyes sometimes. My innocence is gone.

And yet, I’m still here. I didn’t die with my son. I don’t know how. I don’t know how I stood it. I don’t know how I stand it still.

Nightmares. I have them often. Half-remembered dark dreams, lurking shapes just at the corner of my vision, dreaming of being pregnant with twins, only to lose one. Was that you, James?

Lately, I want to be alone. I feel myself drawing inward. I’m isolating myself. I don’t want invest to my love, my emotions, into those that will only go away. And that is everything. Everything fades.

This is depression, perhaps. Or it is the depression phase of grief. Who knows?

As with all things in grief, this will ebb slowly, flowing away from me, until I find my footing again. And then, when I find my footing, I will be washed away once more without warning. It’s the nature of grief.

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