In Order to Remember We Must First Forget
Before I really get started here, there is something we all need to understand about what it is like to lose a child: it is impossible. It is impossible to comprehend. It is impossible to think about. It is impossible to even mentally approach the loss.
The loss, this thing that I’ve tried many times in my mind to describe, it is like a wound that is bigger than your entire body. It is big and black and more painful than your mind can conceive. It follows me around and reaches out towards me constantly. But to reach towards it is to be immediately engulfed in emotions too overwhelming to handle, and so I am required to spend all my time doing anything but look towards it. My life has become one of constant coping mechanisms, crutches, distractions. I feel guilty for it, but I have no choice.
Our society’s default greeting is “How are you doing?” What am I supposed to say? Usually I reply with the stock “Fine.” But sometimes I just shake my head slowly side to side and say that I’m “Hanging in there.” The truth is I’m barely hanging in there. (The truth is you should stop asking me how I’m doing.) I’m not suicidal, but even my own death would be a welcome relief from this pain. But I have an amazing partner in Carissa and an awesome stepson Penn and we all must continue together.
In the meantime please don’t be offended if I space out in the middle of your story, or don’t reply to your simple greeting, or take days or weeks to reply to an email that I would normally immediately attend to, or don’t give a shit about your petty shit. Don’t hesitate to offer medications in the form of booze, chips and salsa, funny stories, creative outings. Do choose your words carefully, take a wide path around anything that has anything to do with this. Whatever you do, don’t project your life or belief structure onto us. You don’t want to say the wrong thing when I’m in an anger stage, just ask our old patio furniture and grill.
All of my family, friends and acquaintances have been really good in terms of those things mentioned in the last paragraph, so if you are reading this, that part probably did not apply to you. It’s just fair warning.