Mourning a loss is not poetic or romantic like in old movies, where the heroine lies back on her soft pillows in her silk gown and weeps gently while the hero kneels by her side delicately holding her hand. In real life there is no accompanying sound track and there is a lot more emotional mess. Screaming at an empty room, sobbing over an empty chair. Lots of red, swollen eyes, running noses and balled up tissues. Lots of unwashed hair and socks. There is no one holding your hand, because anyone close to you is trying desperately to hold themselves together. There are piles of unwashed dishes and clothes and food going fuzzy in the fridge. For weeks and months these things are not important. We manage to shower and go to work and function there and then we come home and we lose all our strength…we just pour ourselves into a chair or onto the sofa and pray for sleep that night. We have gotten better about eating together again.
But the system breaks down on the weekends when I might wear my pajamas for 36 hours straight and lie on the sofa crying at movies; when my husband weeps and fusses to himself and to his son as he mows the grass; when neither of us has the energy to shower or cook or shop but somehow we manage to do those normal things even when we don’t have to go into work.
But not only is there no accompanying, melodramatic sound track in the presence of real grief and loss, there may not be many accompanying friends. It’s not easy to be around the mother of a suicide. I know that; I understand the reluctance of many previous friends to reach out. And this makes me even more grateful for the ones who do. I was grateful especially when they asked about my son and his death and asked how I was doing, knowing that I might actually tell them and they wouldn’t be able to leave for a while. Now, after a year, I am grateful when cousins bring his name into conversations and stories are shared. And I am grateful when people remember his anniversary and his birthday and aren’t scared to acknowledge them.
Right now I am physically run down and developing minor health issues, recurrent sinus infections, boils and rashes. I need to sleep better and eat more healthfully and avoid stress. I know…that’s a joke. But we are taking three days over July 4th weekend to go to the coast. And I love being by the sea. I long just to sit and stare and watch the sunset and remember good times with our two boys playing sandcastles and going Island hopping on the sand bars at low tide at night carrying flashlights and chasing sand crabs.
I remember us all sharing one bedroom in the apartment and being able to watch my boys competing for space even in their sleep. And as the years passed wondering if they were too old for me to kiss them on their cheeks at bedtime and waiting til they slept instead. And watching them play in the pool with their dad. Big tackle. Big, big smiles. And I wonder what ever happened to my son’s joy.