Thursday was December 28, the 4th December 28th since Jake’s passing. 4 years. It doesn’t seem possible, but in this new world I now inhabit, anything is possible. It is one of the curiosities of time that it can be so long ago and yet it was only yesterday that I got the terrible telephone call on that bright December afternoon that changed our lives forever.
We spent the day quietly and went to visit the cemetery, something we don’t really look forward to doing. After all, Jake isn’t there, so in a way, it is almost unnecessary. I visit him every moment of every day. He is wherever I am. But we wanted to make sure his headstone is clean and orderly, wanted to leave some stones and bring him some M & M’s and a box of Sno Caps, two of his favorite candies.
It was a clear, chilly afternoon, the low winter sunlight streamed across the manicured lawn in the Garden of Rachel. The nearby fountain whooshed and splashed, its 20-foot high column of water jetting into the air and tumbling back into the large round pool. We cleaned his stone and scattered the candy around, arranging it just so while we waited for the sun to clear a nearby tree. A bright splash of light streaked across the name, Jacob Samuel Smilen Colman, and we snapped a few photos. It is curious. I can look at this carved slab of black rock, read the inscriptions, note the dates, pretty much with dry eyes. But whenever I get to the last line, the one that reads “Our Beautiful Boy”, that’s when the waterworks open up. Every single time.
It’s as if this terrible grief has relaxed its hold on me somewhat, the 28th doesn’t have quite the power to incapacitate me it once did. Not even this 28th. But it is still there. Buried just below the surface. The scab is harder, more durable. After all, you can only deny something for so long. But the bewilderment persists. The grief can still grab my heart with an iron grip. Take my breath away. No, I don’t walk around in the same daze, but every day I wake up and wonder, how did this come to pass. How is this possible that I will live out my days without my beautiful boy.
The death of a child is not something you ever, ever get over. Just as you don’t “get over” his birth. Both events are life-altering moments. You are never the same afterward. Never. We carry the love of our children with us forever, wherever they are. Wherever we are. The sadness never goes away. Tempered by time perhaps, but no less painful, no less immediate. Slowly we learn to live our lives in a different way. Not “the new normal”. More like the new abnormal, but we learn in our own time and in our way. Don’t ever let anyone tell you how or how long you must grieve. We will grieve forever.
Jake’s friends left moving tributes on his Facebook page, on our Facebook pages. Photos, memories, bits of him that no one will ever forget. One of his friends said, “I’ve come to realize that the older I get the more I miss him and Austin and all the time we were robbed of to spend with them. I always have memories and that’s never going to be good enough.”
Exactly. As time goes on, I miss him more and more, not less and less. All the time we were robbed of. The memories are sweet, but they will never be good enough. There will never be any new memories to make. His friend’s loyalty and friendship are beautiful. They give us small comfort that as long as they remember, Jake will live on. And they do remember. They remind us that in his short incandescent life, he touched so many people. People who will carry him in their hearts for a lifetime.
Tomorrow is the 4th anniversary of the second saddest day in my life.The day I laid my beautiful boy to rest. For many, New Year’s Eve is a time for celebrating the anticipation of a fresh new year. A look forward to all the things to come. For me, it is the day I began this dreadful journey into my uncertain future, a life irrevocably changed.
Shine on, Jakey Jake. We all miss you terribly.