I don’t know why, but today feels like a day for remembering. It’s not an anniversary, or a birthday, or a special day for any particular reason. But I feel like I’ve been so caught up in the here and now, so busy assimilating all the new experiences of our first Spring living in the Devon countryside, that somehow my remembrance of James has slipped down the page.
How’s that for an admission? I can almost hear a sharp intake of breath from the recently bereaved.
“What did you say? You can’t be a very good mother. How can you possibly forget? How can you not be thinking of your son every waking moment?”
Well, hang on a moment, don’t get too carried away. Is it so wrong after nearly thirteen years, to allow myself to shrug off the mantle of grief now and then? Is it wrong not to feel guilty for doing so? Letting go is not the same as forgetting.
Perhaps it’s time for a chat with James to clarify things.
“Gee, thanks, Mum, nice of you to tell the world you’re forgetting all about me”.
“Now, I didn’t say that, did I?”
“No, but you implied it. Are you, as they say, ‘over it’?”
“Never, James. I can never be ‘over it’.
Let me tell you how it is.
How could I forget 19, nearly twenty years of your life with us? Those 19 years still underpin everything I see and do. Trust me James, I don’t waste my days, and do you know why I don’t waste my days?”
“Is it because you feel you’re always having to make up for me not being there, or is that too vain?”
“Very mature observation, son. You’ve obviously grown more sensible now that you are in your thirties!
No … I don’t feel that I have to make up for your not being here, in the same way I don’t want anyone else who knows and loves you to feel that.
But, and it is a big but, any parent who has lost a child, indeed anyone who has lost anyone close, will live differently to a new default setting. We must value the life we have left, for none of us knows how long that may be …
After all, we have a better understanding of how life can be snatched away in an instant”.
“I think I get that mum. Are you happy these days, would you say?”
“Yes, son, I can truly say I have attained proper happiness again. It has taken a long time. It has taken a lot of working through the trauma, distress, shock and pain of grief. But the joys in life seem heightened when I allow myself to really embrace them”.
“How have you arrived at that point, mum?”
“Wow, James it has taken so many different directions to reach the place that is comfortable, it would take an age to list them all.
But most importantly, I have had to learn to trust in the renewal of optimism and positivity.
I have had to learn to have faith that things will get better.
I have learned that I can step out of the darkness, into the mourning light”.
“Do you still see things that jog you into memories of me, Mum?”
“Yes, of course I do. Why only today, I was in a shop and I saw one of those wooden artist’s mannequins, you remember you had one? You can pose it into different positions and draw it …Something like that takes me back instantly to remembering you. Whatever else might change, those memory jogs certainly don’t. And of course, some music always takes me back immediately.”
“Ok, you’re beginning to convince me”.
“It’s simple, really. I know that by remembering you, you are with me always. But like I don’t need to be in a Church in order to pray, I don’t need to be remembering you every moment in obvious ways …”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, if I am out walking, I will see something that makes me think of you and smile. You know we moved to Devon last year and the road we use most frequently takes us through a place village called Bolham. I can imagine you … you would have called it Gollum, or Bottom, just to make me laugh. I can picture that. Those sorts of personal memories are very special”.
“I’m glad you are happy, mum. I’m sorry not to be there to share more stuff with you but I am pleased that you can enjoy life in a new way. Does anyone in Devon know about me, by the way?”
“Ah, that’s an interesting question. You will recall that at the start, I wanted to tell anybody and everybody. These days I am more selective and I choose whom to share you with.
I’ve made a new friend, and I told her recently, because I knew she wouldn’t react negatively … some people can’t handle others’ ‘stuff’ – but she gets it. And that’s comforting. I will always need a variety of go-to people, and what is interesting that many of them never met you, but they all feel they know you!”
“That’s good to hear, mum. I am glad I left my mark”.
“James, you have no idea. Sometimes on a clear night I look up to the skies and marvel at the stars. You are one of those stars, and your light shines brightly in all those whom you left behind, with love, and optimism.
My appreciation for your life, transforms the years since your passing into something bearable. I hold what was so precious and special in the past as treasure deep within my heart and soul.
This is my truth and certainty at today’s point in the process of living with loss. So, even if you aren’t top of my ‘to do’ list every day, rest assured you’ll never be forgotten. Got the picture?”
“I get that Mum, thanks for checking in with me. Talk again soon. Love you”.
“Love you all the world, James”.