Photo of Pink and blue morning sky with trees, My Forever Son
Pink Morning Sky, My Forever Son

I Remember Joy

All these things I recognize, I remember delighting in them-trees, art, house, music, pink morning sky, work well done, flowers, books. I still delight in them. I’m still grateful.

But the zest is gone. The passion is cooled, the striving quieted, the longing stilled. My attachment is loosened. No longer do I set my heart on them. I can do without them. They don’t matter. Instead of rowing, I float.

The joy that comes my way I savor. But the seeking, the clutching, the aiming, is gone.I don’t suppose anyone on the outside notices. I go through my paces. What the world gives, I still accept. But what it promises, I no longer reach for.

I’ve become an alien in the world, shyly touching it as if it’s not mine. I don’t belong anymore. When someone loved leaves home, home becomes mere house.”

Nicholas Wolterstoff, Lament for A Son 
Mother and Child, My Forever Son

Where Do I Fit In?

It is hard to learn to live without-without son, without possibility, without potential-without likelihood of ever again feeling “normal.”

I don’t fit in most of the time when I’m with my friends because the crux of their lives is their focus on children. Their children. Their grandchildren. What and how their kids are doing. Holidays, birthdays filled with their children and grandchildren.

Graduation, first job, the launch into career, graduate school, academic accolades, honors, scholarships and grants, concern over their child’s choice of a girlfriend/boyfriend, concern and worry about an upcoming marriage, empty-nest syndrome, hope for grandchildren, pregnancy-sigh. . .grandchildren. All of these, secondary losses. All of these reminders I lost my son.

In Losing My Son, I Lost Myself

I will never know any of these again. My life is strange. It hasn’t been invented yet. There is no manual or standard or how-to. I don’t often run into those who have lost children and so much of the time, feel lost in the community in which I’ve grown up. I can’t quite make things fit. I try-God knows I try-but inside where it counts? Even when I’m doing my best to hide my deep ache, infinite sadness, and pangs of longing as they talk about their children and grandchildren, I feel so separate and alone.

I could live in hugs right now. I took warm laundry out of the dryer this morning and wrapped my arms around it. The warmth, the softness, the give. The missing, my connection to Dylan, the way he smelled of Axe body spray, teenaged boy, chestnut hair, arc of his nose, profile of his face, dark brown eyes, chocolate brown. I miss my son.

3 Things I’ve Learned in 3 Years of Grief

  • Year One: “Just Breathe” (and keep it simple: eat a little, sleep when I can, just breathe)
  • Year Two: “You can survive (this is harder than it sounds)
  • Year Three: Grief is here to stay” (because my love for my son is here to stay. My grief is my love for Dylan)

Grief is Here to Stay

But as far as ever getting over it (Grief for one’s child), there is no such thing.

Parent of a child who died by suicide

Grief is not something we ever get over, and it doesn’t ever stop. What we learn to do is grow around our grief, to encompass it and incorporate it or manage it into our own life, she says. We walk with it.

Every time you turn around—there’s a reminder, there’s a statement, there’s a feeling, there’s an emotion—and you are overwhelmed by your grief, she says. And as we walk with this, and you learn to understand your own grief process, it becomes something that you can manage.

A mother who lost her daughter to suicide

I fell in love March 19, 1992 when Dylan was born, though truly have loved him since I knew he was inside me. Today, three years after his death, my child still is inside me. He always was my lifeblood coursing through me, my heart’s joy, the beat and rhythm and passion of all that I did. Dylan was part of me and even now, I am still part of him.

Black cat from behind photographed on brick sidewalk, My Forever Son
Shadow Cat,

Grief in Year 3 (Memorial Dates are Impossible)

To those of you that still feel you aren’t even sure you want to be
here and you can’t imagine ever being happy again. The pain does
change, it softens. You will want to live again and be able to enjoy
life again. It will never be like before but the crushing, all
consuming pain you feel right now will soften. You will be able to
live with it. It just becomes part of you.

Parent of a Child Who Died by Suicide

Caught in the Pain

Turbulent dreams, all dreams now of loss, of losing, of being stolen from, of being desperate and chaotic and running wildly. I awaken most days exhausted, alive and breathing in the fully alert state of realizing Dylan’s death is final. It has been 3 years, but still I struggle.

Last night I practiced Tai Chi–hard, focused, mentally and physically challenging, way longer than I should have. I forgot to eat and was run ragged by the time I got home. I find myself doing too much all the time right now, but this is how I keep on keeping on right now.

About My Forever Son, Photo of Dylan, 20 years young
Oh that smile, Dylan, Forever 20 years young, My Forever Son

Tonight, Tai Chi practice for one hour. Tomorrow, on Dylan’s memorial date, plans throughout the day. Going to lunch. I will be with my family, my mom, my sister. I will light a candle in the morning, write a letter to Dylan, go where the day leads. I’ve found all along that the lead-in is always worse than the actual day. I pray this is true of tomorrow as well. May the day bring peace, love, and beautiful powerful remembrance of my precious and beloved Dylan. Always the love, always the remembering.

A photograph of a high school senior, Dylan, age 18. Brown hair, brown eyes, wistful half-smile, black t-shirt, My Forever Son
Dylan, age 18, high school senior year, My Forever Son

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