“Wow! Look at those gorgeous colors!” I say to my 16-year-old daughter one morning while driving out of our neighborhood on the way to drop her at school. It had begun as a day where I was more tuned in to the nature around me than to my current task at hand.
“Mm-hmm” was all I got in response. Teenagers.
Since losing my 21-year-old son Ben in a vehicle accident twenty months ago, I feel I’ve gotten much better at functioning like a normal human being for the most part. Laughter, silliness, and excitement have slowly crept back into play, and I’ve learned to push back many of those twinges of grief that beg some attention at the most inappropriate times. I’ve even made it to a point in my journey where I can offer some support and hope to those on the journey behind me.
Despite the strength I’ve gained in learning to live with my grief in this new life, I still wake up every morning and wonder what kind of day lies ahead of me. Will it be a tearful day full of triggers where I must use every ounce of life left in me just to peel myself out of bed, or will it be a day where I feel I can take on the world and move mountains in honor of my baby? Maybe both?
I’m at grief’s mercy. I know this. I wait for grief to tell me which of its faces will be visiting me each day. I know I’m unable to fight it – I SHOULDN’T fight it. I know I must take a seat with today’s visitor, maybe have some tea with it…or a beer. Anger seems to like tequila shots.
A part of me has even come to welcome these visitors when my life falls into over-scheduled chaos, as I know they are all a result of the love that I will always carry for my child. As we know, grief can only exist where love lived first, and sometimes that love just needs some special Mommy time. These emotions are the last parts of my son that I will ever get to feel; I must embrace each one that arrives, feel it, honor it, then let it go.
As I drive my daughter to school, I wonder what kind of day lies ahead of me. I don’t have any concrete plans (a big no-no for my sanity), so I guess I’m leaving myself wide open for a visitor. I drop my baby in the round-about at the high school entrance, then feel a wave begin to overcome me as I pull out of the school lot, like the onset of a seizure.
Well, hello there.
Damnit. I was hoping I’d get a good workout in today. Maybe some home décor shopping for my master bath currently under renovation. Oh well.
So, to home, I go. I walk in my front door and see the pictures of my Ben on the credenza. On most days now, I’m able to see those pictures and continue with my daily tasks. But today, my visitor has other plans for me. As if I’m being led by hand over to the credenza, I slowly walk over and pick up one of the pictures, running my fingertips down the glass of the frame in an unfulfilled attempt at caressing his cheek.
And I weep. I weep with force and pain and rawness as if it just happened all over again. I cry out loud. I fall to the floor holding his picture while the tears steadily fall. Tears I never knew could flow this heavily until I lost my son.
He’s really gone.
Today will be one of those days… and it’s okay. Amidst the craziness of life, these days of release are just as important as the strong days; the days you live with a fierceness and strength you never realized you were capable of. Your child knows. As much as they want us to continue living, they also know the importance of giving our souls a break in order to continue the fight.
I decide to take a shower, which has become my sanctuary when emotions overcome me. Knowing I can allow the water to wash away my snot and tears as quickly as they arrive, seems to give me permission to let loose even more. After drying myself off with a tattered towel, I pull on my robe and head back to bed.
I will spend this day with my son. Looking at his pictures, viewing the slides of his 21 years from his Celebration of Life CD, going through his Facebook and Instagram posts wondering what he was thinking each time he “liked” a post. I will talk to him as I wearily go about my day in a familiar fog. My phone will ring and texts will come through, but I will avoid those who normally tell me how much they admire my strength. On these days – I feel anything but strong.
As I lie in my bed, I realize that I have been in it for hours. Looking out the window through the sting of my tear-swollen eyes, I see the beauty of the sun beginning its descent. I notice that I’m still in the robe from my morning shower.
Sunrise to sunset is a blur, but another day down. I have accomplished nothing on my to-do list, and what might have been… I don’t remember. My former self – the “before” me – would have called this a lost day. But through my experience on this ever-changing journey, I know it is much the contrary.
Tomorrow’s sunrise will welcome in a new day. A day most likely filled with renewed strength and a sense of peace from the previous day’s cleansing tears. Tomorrow, with the blessing from my Ben to carry on, I will get in my workout and pick-up where I left off this morning before my visitor arrived.
I really need some new towels.
About the Author: Viki Fernandez-Knowles is a mom of six – five on Earth and one in spirit. She’s a wife to husband Michael, Nonna to two grandbabies, radiographer, aspiring writer, and a local adventure coordinator for those living with grief from the loss of a child, grandchild, or sibling. Originally from Miami, she currently resides in the North-Atlanta suburb of Canton, GA. She enjoys hiking, running, spontaneous getaways, and is a jack of many creative trades from the University of YouTube. You can read more about Viki by visiting her blog at LiveOnVilomah.com