Every year I make a pact with myself and swear that the anniversary of your death will be easier to deal with. And every year I usually sit here in the still hours of the night realizing that I am such an idiot for thinking this could (or should) get easier.
It’s been so long since I’ve seen your sweet face.
You would be 7 this year.
James was 7-years-old when you died.
He looks so little.
Your casket looks littler.
A casket should not be that small. It’s so very…wrong.
I know that I never talked to you like this when you were here, but it’s nice, every so often, to do. Because I have to believe that you are here somewhere. No matter how bitter, how filled with rage and despair and anger I have been, I have always believed that you still exist.
I refuse to believe otherwise.
You were too wonderful to just end.
So, here I sit.
Alone in the middle of the night with a lake of tears on my keyboard.
Aching to talk to you.
7 years have passed since that horrible night I held you in my arms in a trauma bay and broke into more pieces than I will ever be able to put back together.
I feel like I have lived several lifetimes since then, held completely still and gone around and around like a broken record all at the same time.
I look at other 7-year-olds and think about what you would be doing, how many teeth you would be missing, how you should be going to school next door and how I should see you from our kitchen window waving at me from the playground at recess. You should, and would be doing all the things other 7-year-olds are doing. (Only you would be much better looking and talented than them all. What can I say? You were utterly adorable, son. I am just speaking the truth, here.)
I try to picture what you would look like and I am usually at a loss because I keep picturing you as my sweet little baby.
I miss you so much it physically hurts, Matthew.
I’ve been ok, really. Most of the time it is doable.
I laugh a LOT.
I just…I feel so tired tonight.
Just worn to bits.
The things I think about and remember would make anyone tired.
Sometimes, not often, I look at photos from then.
In some ways it was easier right after I lost you because how I felt is obvious just by looking at me. I see my face in these photos and see a girl who could crumble to pieces with a gust of wind. Raw emotion is all over me. (And usually everyone with me. Especially your dad. He loves you so.)
When we were at the Mortuary with you–
During your funeral–
And the day after your funeral and I went to help your cousins get ready for Homecoming–
We all carried the weight that was your loss in every inch of us.
We still do.
I still do.
I am still this–
Whether I want to or not, I still carry this woman around with me every single day.
I probably always will.
(For the record, I think she could stand to lose a pound or two to give my back a break. And can someone tell her that the cast of Friends called and they want their hairstyle back. Just sayin’.)
I have found small ways to cope, though.
(Like inappropriate humor, for example. ;P)
Little things that don’t seem like they would help comfort anyone and yet they do.
I’m such a tangible person.
‘Things’ matter deeply to me.
I don’t know why this is and often, well, it kind of makes me feel shallow.
Even though I know I’m SO not that way.
Gifts make me feel like I am important to someone. It doesn’t matter overly what it is, it could be as small as a letter or a pack of my favorite gum. It’s what is behind it. Objects make me feel tied to someone. It’s almost like all my memories of them in something I can hold, touch and smell. In high school, when he was at one of his endless rehearsals or football practices, I used to spray my boyfriend’s sweatshirt with his cologne and wear it while slow dancing with a pillow in the dark to a mixed tape of “our songs” before writing poems about my pain.
(For the record, I am aware that I was a total tool in high school, son.)
Things can bring me a lot of comfort.
I went to a conference this week. It was a big change for me. I’ve never been away and around a lot of people near your anniversary. It was actually very helpful. So many people were kind and listened to me mention you a bit. They were all so lovely. After confessing to everyone how much I loved her handmade ruffled bags, a lovely lady told me to come by her booth and pick out any bag I liked. It was a good thing she did, too because your father would have hit the roof if I purchased one. more. handbag.
(Somehow, Bug, I know if you had been given the opportunity to grow into a man and marry a wonderful girl with a penchant for red hair you would have been TOTALLY understanding about a girl’s need to buy fabulous handbags. Because you are awesome.)
This is the one I picked.
(Photo courtesy of The Fancy Farmgirl)
It made me so happy when I saw it.
I bet you know why, don’t you?
And why I chose this particular bag this particular week?
Or as I like to call it, “Bug Orange”.
It reminds me of you, Matthew.
I could never find an orange outfit to dress you in and it was frustrating, but I would have dressed you in orange every day of your life if I had the ability.
There was so very little I cared about after you died, but I knew that I wanted orange at the funeral. And as I look at the photos from that day, I see it peeking out everywhere-from flowers, to clothing to your little things that we brought with us to hold and love on as we said goodbye to you.
It’s kind of like that book and movie, Pascal and the red balloon when I look through your photo album, only with orange.
Even the bag piper that we had play the pipes in Celtic tradition to guide your soul off to heaven wore his plaid with orange in it (though it looks more red here, it.was.orange.)
I know it seems like such a small thing, but I am so tangible and this color has given me so much comfort over the long years here without you.
I buy orange as often as possible.
When I wear or use something orange it is like having a little bit of my sweet Little Bug with me.
And I always, always, ALWAYS think of you when I see it.
The same goes with ladybugs because well…that was your nickname.
Because they are YOU to me.
And they have brought me a lot of joy.
And so have the people that loved you.
And if they didn’t know you, they love you through me.
Those people loving you has helped save me, Bug.
I love them.
It’s why I sobbed my eyes out today when I opened a package and reading the sweet note enclosed from a dear, sweet, lovely friend. She is lovely and listened to me talk about you and orange and lady bugs this weekend. And then she flew home and made this little bug I can wear with “Always” stamped on the bottom.
And it’s true.
It is for “Always”.
Because you will always be here with me. I may be the most tangible person alive, but I don’t need one single object to remind me of my unending love for you, Matthew. You are my son. My little one. My light and life and love that will never stop being a part of me and a part of the people that love you so very, very much.
I miss you.
I think about you.
I love you.