Two months (!?) into this journey of After, my grief has found a new place. It has a room in my mind or heart where I can actually close the door and get lulled into a sense of being able to cope. I am able to go through the routines of my day, shower, eat breakfast, teach, grade papers, and keep the door closed and the feelings at bay.
Sometimes I allow myself to open the door. I look at my son Tom’s picture and think about him. His jokes, “that” look, his puns, the laughter he brought to the house. And then I cry. Sometimes it is a single tear down the cheek with a half-smile that matches his. Other times it is a bursting, sobbing rant, and I am afraid the neighbors will hear. Generally, I only open this door at home, when I am alone or with my husband.
Sometimes someone else opens the door. They ask me how I am, or, not knowing he is gone, ask after him. I do my best stop the door from opening, like when someone is forcing their way into your home and you put your foot there or push back against it. Sometimes it closes; sometimes it does not.
And sometimes the door sneaks open by itself. Like it does not quite latch tightly and the grief finds a way out. Sometimes it leaks out and I can dodge it; other times it rushes out over me before I can stop it. That often happens when I am driving and a song’s lyrics connect with my conscience or sub-conscience. It happens when I think I see him walking across the high school campus. It happens when I allow myself to picture his final moments.
I am told it gets easier. Tears will come less often. Perhaps the door’s latch will get more secure, and I will not feel the need to open it as frequently. But the door will always be there, as will the memory of our son who left us too soon.
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