Here is a blog post I just read. It is from 2015 and if you are grieving the loss of a child, I am sure you have read or written something like this. I probably read it three years ago and just came across it again.
The thing is, if you have lost a child, you already know all of this.
If you haven’t, you might want to read this, but even though you can understand ‘intellectually’ what she writes, you can never really ‘know’ what she is saying. You have to be a member of the club. The distilled essence of this article is that grief, like love, never dies, never goes away, never takes a holiday. You don’t ‘get over it’. You don’t ‘move on’. Yes, you can go forward with your life but it is never the same. You are irrevocably changed and you can’t go back. We just came through the toughest part of the year for us and those what-if’s, those never-will-be’s are stronger. Still, going to visit his grave wasn’t as brutal as it has been in years past. That’s because Jake isn’t really there. He is wherever we are, wherever his friends are. Friends who remember and cherish his memory with a fierce devotion and purpose. He is “just” a memory now, but that will have to do.
We have been letting go of some of Jake’s childhood stuff. The kitchen we built together when he was about 2 or 3. His set of maple building blocks, Brio trains, some wooden puzzles, the piano we got for him. Things we were saving for his kids. They are going to dear friends of ours and his who knew Jake. Friends who have their own kids who will never know Jake but will play with his toys and in this way, he will be a part of their lives. It is small consolation but consolation nonetheless however small, to think that one day, W_ may look at the back of his play kitchen when he is older and see the wood-burned signature of the builders and ask, “Who are Ed and Jacob?” And his mom will tell him.
I’m getting closer to the music. I sold a ukulele last year to a Hawaiian musician and he and his beautiful wife inspired me to start playing again. I don’t play every day, and have forgotten so much it’s like starting over in a way. It’s still difficult to find the motivation to open the case and learn something new, or in my case, re-learn something, but at least I can play the darn thing without bursting into tears. So I guess that’s progress. But that progress doesn’t mean I am any farther away from my grief or that I have ‘gotten over’ Jake’s death. That just won’t happen. Ever. There isn’t a moment in my waking day that I don’t think about Jake, all the what-if’s, the never-will-be’s. There are still songs I can’t sing, but the good news is that I can strum the chords now.
We will be going through more of his stuff in weeks to come, duffle bags full of clothes, boxes full of kitchenware, shelves full of books, more of his toys, and will give it away to enrich other people’s lives on behalf of Jake. Tiny pieces of him scattered throughout the world making people smile, keeping them warm, helping them cook a glorious meal, making a difference. They may not know it, but we will.
So I wonder if there is anything new for us to learn. Is it only 7 things, or 10 things, or 12 things? All titles of similar articles I have read. There is only one thing, really. Grief is the price of Love and they are both forever.