This has been a very arduous couple of weeks, full of ups and downs.
We have been renovating our guest house, the place where Jake lived on and off for the past few years. Going through his belongings left there brought up so many memories and feelings. Again, random items brought reminiscence rushing to the surface unexpectedly. We finally cleared out most of his belongings, and that act of transforming the space from one where he spent time into something new, with different furnishings, a new coat of paint, brought its own sadness. As if we were saying goodbye all over again. Hard to explain how deep this runs. It suffuses the very core of my being. We have also been selling some items that take up space, that we just can’t keep around. One of them was an aquarium set-up he had in his room for many years, the room in our house where he grew up. It sat in the corner bubbling away; fish came and went. A tiny plecostomus grew into a huge sea monster. We all had tremendous enjoyment from such a simple thing. It sat dry and empty in what is now my office for nearly 8 years. A very nice woman came to buy it, she has smaller aquaria and was very excited about the larger tank. While I was loading the tank and stand into her car, silent tears flowed. Terry said, it was as if we were losing another piece of him. But I think, it is as if a tiny part of him is going out into the world, to bring another person pleasure, to have new experiences, still making his mark.
The week before last, we observed the holiday of Shavuot, the culmination of the Counting of the Omer, which commemorates the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. What should be a joyous occasion is now steeped in sorrow and longing, as is every holiday now. This is one of the holidays, like Passover, where the Kohanim stand before the people and pronounce the Priestly Blessing. It is so difficult for me to do this, so draining. I managed to get through it, voice cracking, obvious to everyone how emotional this is for me. As I wrote in the Passover piece, it is something I did for Jake every time we parted. On Wednesday and Thursday, I could feel him there with me, under my tallit, arms around me as I choked out the blessing, tears flowing. I had to put on my sunglasses before I could face the people afterwards.
Last week was the run-up to Father’s Day, and my birthday. I was born on Father’s Day and every few years, the two coincide. This year is one of them. It is not something I plan on celebrating, there isn’t much to celebrate, or rather, we are not in a celebratory frame of mind. We will mark the day, go out to a birthday dinner tomorrow night, but I am averting my eyes from the entire Father’s Day thing. I am still a father, will always be Jake’s Dad, but we will never get to have another ‘Boy’s Day’, as we often did. Or, another way to look at it is every day is Boy’s Day, as he is always with me. It is small comfort though.
The intervals between postings grow longer, it has been nearly two weeks since I last wrote here. I am not sure why the imperative to write diminishes over time. It is important to get these things out, and exhausting too. I don’t have any fresh insights, new perspective, just the day-to-day grind. Striving to keep the grief monster at bay. Riding the waves that still come, albeit fewer and farther between; nevertheless, they strike without warning. My mask is fitting a little better, maybe a little more convincing to others. Inside, not much difference. I am the type of person who relies on his intellect to make sense of the world. I analyze, parse, distill my experiences through the lens of knowledge, but now, that is all out the window. There is no understanding what has happened. There is no logic, no sense, no way to use the power of rational thought to explain it. Emotion grips me, sometimes gently, sometimes with a wicked vengeance that leaves me shaking and bewildered. It is said that the depth of one’s grief can be measured by the depth of one’s love. If that is so, my grief is infinite and boundless, as was my love for my son.
So we trudge on. The burden doesn’t get any lighter, it isn’t any easier to carry. The days meld into weeks, the weeks into months, nearly six now. We see signs and signals from him everywhere, or at least we imagine we do. Orange dragonflies, rusty Allen’s hummingbirds, money appearing out of nowhere, a song on the radio, bits of overheard dialog, the palpable sensation of his presence from time to time. He is around, I am sure. Why he had to leave, what he is up to, and when I will see him again, I will never know.
© 2014 Ed Colman