By Kelli Tucker
A few nights ago, I stepped into Marik’s room. It was on a Sunday night, like most before it.
I was extinguishing the candle that had been burning for several hours, which is somewhat of a Sunday tradition in our home. George had gone upstairs already, and it was the first Sunday of the new year.
Most Sundays, I can walk in, take a breath, and walk out before the tears hit. On this Sunday, that wouldn’t be the case.
I walked in, and straight lost it. I was beyond ugly crying. I was ugly heaving.
I was standing in the door of his closet, hugging his clothes. I was clinching hoodies and jackets. I was moving my face from item to item, breathing deeply, trying so hard to smell him.
To smell anything really.
The more of those precious items I sniffed, the harder I cried. Nothing. Nothing but fabric. No lingering scents of Old Spice, Dove body wash, or Axe body spray.
The faint smell of his hair on the collars of his shirts, all but a memory now.
I rarely let myself drift into this space. The uncontrolled type of grief that is frightening and hard to pull myself out of.
It is almost always when I am alone, mornings, drives, and showers. Even my best friend, and the person I trust most with my feelings, my sweet husband, seldom sees these sacred moments.
I turned off the light, closed the door, and whispered, “Good night, Man, happy new year.” And I made my way upstairs.
I was feeling exhausted and emotionally spent when I stepped into the shower. As the hot water washed my tears away, it hit me. The variations of happy. I will never be that kind of happy ever again.
The kind of happy, where no one is missing. The kind of happy where you feel whole, complete. The kind of happy where there is no, “if only.”
I have been happy, joyous even since Marik left us. The day Shellbi graduated from Boot camp and A school. The day I hugged Tori tight when she arrived for the wedding weekend. The day I watched my beautiful daughter marry a boy I genuinely love.
Ya’ll, I have been extremely happy. Giddy happy. But, I will never be that happy again.
I think that is hard to take. It is like a whole new kind of loss, and honestly, it’s exhausting.
It is exhausting learning how to parent a dead child.
As horrible and as blunt as that sounds, I am learning to be a parent all over again, and to a child I can no longer see. Even in the brightest, lightest moments of my life, my heart feels his absence, and there is no changing that fact.
It’s something I learn every single morning when I open my eyes.
Today I will do my best.
Today I will be happy.
But it will be a variation of a happy that I will never be again.