I haven’t written anything on these pages since February of this year. 10 months. Where does the time go? Much has happened this year, and yet …
There have been many times where I lay awake in the deep of the night, turning over words in my head. But when morning comes, the imperative to fix those words on paper, or on screen as the case may be, diminishes. The cares and events of the day push those thoughts to the back of my mind and I don’t have the burning motivation to write as I have in the past. Even now, I struggle to find meaningful words for this. It’s not as if my journey is complete, far from it. In fact, I might have made some progress this year. And yet …
Tomorrow marks the 5th December 28 since that terrible phone call. 5 years. Hard to believe. As the saddest day of my life recedes into the past, the days and months pile up, the sun rises and sets, seasons change …
* * *
It’s now December 31, the 5th anniversary of the second saddest day. I didn’t get very far with my last post. 5 years in and I suppose I should write about what I have learned in 5 years of grieving, new insights from the past year, but really there are only a few things to learn:
Life goes on whether we like it or not.
People are there for you or they aren’t.
Some days you are okay, some days you are not.
Those waves of sadness can still strike without warning and take my breath away. They happen less frequently than they did 5 years ago but they are no less powerful.
A broken heart can’t actually kill you, but it comes damn close, and you are never the same.
In spite of my continuing disbelief in what has happened, Jake is never coming back. We will have to continue managing without him.
Those are the lessons.
That disbelief persists. I can look at photos of him as a boy, teenager, young man, and it is hard to realize I will never see him marry, have a family, find his passion and pursue it. Some days I still feel as if this is all happening to someone else, it can’t be real. And yet …
This time of year comes with a triple whammy. December 28, the day of his passing, December 31, the day of his funeral, and his yartzeit, the Jewish day of his passing. As I have written, that day varies year to year due to the vagaries of the Jewish lunar-solar calendar. This year it is on January 2. So tomorrow night I will go to shul to say kaddish, have something sweet and a l’chaim, share a laugh and a cry. Then on Wednesday, we’ll go the cemetery to see that his headstone is clean, bring a few stones and wonder that somehow, we have survived life’s greatest tragedy, albeit not unscathed.
On a night when the rest of the world celebrates a new beginning, what can we celebrate? Our New Year’s Eve is forever tainted by that grim night 5 years ago. Surrounded by family and friends we struggled to grasp what happened, how would we ever survive, gripped by the iron bands of grief. Back then it seemed as if they would never relent. They have somewhat, but the scars and scabs and broken heart remain. Branded by sadness we wander down the road. What, exactly, will this year bring? Only the passing days can tell.
For every parent in the throes of grief, those newly bereaved, those who have a few years behind them, the old hands, anyone who mourns the loss of a child for however long, I wish you whatever islands of peace you can find in the ocean of heartbreak we sail upon together.