Yesterday’s date was 28 December 2014. The date is probably not significant to anyone else, but it marks precisely nine and half years since James died. That is half his life span of nineteen years (for the pedantic, it is not exactly half his life as he was only two months short of twenty when he died) ….. but the point is, we have now lived almost half his life span without his being here.
How incredible! – when at the beginning, time alternately seemed to creep by or race past at an unquantifiable rate, the days blurring into weeks and months of grey sadness; when living without James’ lively presence seemed an impossibility.
Yet somehow, we managed.
We got up each morning, we went to work, we shopped, cooked, drove, walked, went out, stayed in, watched TV, did all the ‘normal’ things that we take for granted.
But the timescale in those early months seemed distorted. I felt slightly out of step with the calendar and often had to check what day of the week it was. The autumn and winter of the year James died passed me by almost unnoticed. The first year of loss became punctuated by thoughts invariably prefaced by “This time last year, James was …..” and this made the year feel exceptionally long.
Today, I recognise that time feels as though it is passing normally for me again. I often write of the return of anticipation, and thinking about pleasant events to come has undoubtedly moved me forward in this respect.
As a family we have been fortunate to have weddings and births to look forward to and there is no doubt that these events, though invariably tinged with the poignancy of the absence of James, have been another saving grace.
In the early years, I found it easy to go away for breaks or holidays – being in different surroundings made for some respite from grief. On holiday I did not wear the ‘bereaved parent’ badge in the same way as I did at home, with those who know me. It was easy to be with strangers – or not – as we chose, and the breaks were beneficial for our relationship. They represented the ordinariness we craved at the time.
Moving house two years ago probably set the seal on the recognition of my new normality; I was ready to move away from the last home James shared with us. My fears that he would not ‘come with us’ were unfounded; the memories moved in with us and in fact I find it easier to live in an area that is not invariably associated with his early years, as was our previous home.
I lived nearly thirty years of my life before James was born, had him for nearly twenty years, and have now lived almost another ten without him. Knowing we are approaching the decade anniversary of his death is indeed a strange feeling….