Making Memories Without Him

July 14, 2017

Family trips should fit nice and neatly into your happy spot. So, why doesn’t it fit just right?

We are finally going on a real family vacation, not just a trip to visit family but a trip just for us with no daily agendas. Since summer began, I’ve been working on various family outings.

I’ll get so excited thinking about it and then within the next few days, I get into this funk.

It takes a good two to three days to come out of it. I have to recognize that it is happening first before the cloud following me around begins to thin out.

This emotional tug-of-war game is all because of him. He isn’t here to make these memories with us. After almost 3 years of him leaving this earth, we are still experiencing monumental “firsts.”

That happy spot that I have learned how to intentionally fill since his death just won’t hold this family vacation piece like I want it to.

It reminds me of a puzzle piece that the dog found and massaged its gums with for a while before you realized it. That piece never really looks or works the same again.

I survived camping at the lake. We had a fun time and our youngest did fairly well considering he’s almost 2 and camping is pretty different from normal life. Throughout the seemingly short adventure, I would sink back into those moments of cloudiness though. I longed to see 3 little boys playing on the campsite beach instead of 2. My youngest and my oldest assisted in driving the boat as they sat on their grandpa’s lap and gripped the wheel, as if it was second nature.

Shouldn’t there be another little boy pleading to crawl up there?

The real beach is our next adventure. I can’t wait! For the past 5 years, I’ve tried to make this happen and here it finally is. The ocean might be too much for the boys, but they love the sand. As for the agenda, there isn’t one. No plans. Alright, well I have to get the stereotypical beach portrait of, at least, the boys.

I found the most adorable, beach-inspired shorts for the boys to wear. The moment I found them, I then needed a plan for what I was going to do for our Wyatt bear. The stuffed bear we use in several of our pictures that is his placeholder has to coordinate as well.

I found myself standing in the baby section of Target comparing outfits to the shorts losing my mind because nothing was coordinating.

Another mom was standing nearby and saw my struggle. “Must be picture time for all of your boys.” I nodded, grinned, and just walked away. She didn’t know and was probably going to offer me some great tips, but I was done.

Every “first” that we’ve experienced since his death, we’ve survived.

Holidays and annual events are still challenging, but I’ve learned to how navigate those situations. After this summer, family vacations will be join the list. I find that my list of uncomfortable “firsts” are typically very joyous occasions.

Guilt rears its not so pleasant face. How can I truly enjoy these moments without him here? That is the only way I’m going to make it without him here, enjoying other moments. I have to honor his memory while we’re making new memories, and he would be having the time of his life.



  • Heather Welch

    I am a mother of 3 boys, a wife, and a teacher. Anytime I get to talk about my sweet Wyatt, I know he is smiling. I want the conversation about child loss to not be one that we are scared of. We can learn so much from each other by talking, writing, or simply just being with one another.


    • Ginger

      July 14, 2017 at 8:31 am

      Thank you for your post. I am still trying to grasp the reality of losing my 23 year old son to an accidental overdose eight months ago on Thanksgiving day. In the first months, I thought about how I’d answer the question, “How many will be attending?” (a wedding or a Thanksgiving dinner, for instance). It’s now three instead of four. Right now, I am thankful that my younger son’s girlfriend fills the empty seat. I thought of what I’d say if people ask how many children I have. The answer would be two boys. I still have two boys; one just resides in heaven. I recently had a tattoo of a triangle placed on my left wrist. It is the same tattoo Michael had on his chest. He said he got it as a reminder to keep the fire burning within. So I include Michael in my every day when I kiss my wrist and say hello to him or when I tell him that I love him or when I am struggling to finish my laps in the pool. I look at my wrist and I talk to Michael and tell him that I will carry on and keep the fire burning within for our entire family of four.
      Thank you,

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