Here we are again. Today I find myself really struggling to understand my feelings. For the past few weeks I’ve anticipated this day, the emotional waves would crash in and out like the ocean. As the day draws closer I find myself pacing in irritation. It feels like I’m wrestling with a large walrus sitting on my chest. Some memories are so vivid I can’t suppress them. Some memories have faded so much I feel like I am grasping onto a thin string of silk just trying to hold on to a piece of him.
I can’t remember his smell anymore. I do remember after his death smelling his sheets for days until they no longer smelled of him. It took me two years to wash the clothes from his dirty clothes hamper in hopes there might be a small scent left. The sad thing is, many of my memories are fading. Like any normal Mom, my memories of the infant phase smoosh together with no clear boundaries between each child. I know this is normal, but when you don’t have the opportunity to make new memories, it is painful to accept the fading memories over time.
While I struggle to remember his smell, sounds, and routine; I can’t forget my love for him. Day in and day out we seem like a normal functioning family and we are. But we each walk around with a hole in our hearts. A hole that can never be filled. The incredible thing about love for a child is I find it continued to grow even after he leaves this Earth. The feeling of pain from his absence still hurts as if the loss was yesterday. In fact, sometimes I feel the pain is worse now, because in the beginning you have these endorphins, denial, adrenaline and all sorts of people distracting you. It doesn’t hit me as often, but when it does the pain is so deep its immobilizing.
The night after Harrison died I was texting with my Mom. I can’t remember what I said to her, but I believe I was expressing a sense of feeling lost. Like I really didn’t know what to do with myself. I was so used to caring for an infant and juggling two kids, I just felt antsy to do something with myself. And my mom said, “You are a different person now. You will never be the same. You will have to figure out your new normal.” And she was right. In that moment her words seems so drastic. But I even knew then, she was right.
It has taken me years to adjust to our new normal. I am different, Jason is different, our marriage is different. All changes are not all for the worse, but it is change. Change that we didn’t choose. And it is change that we are not always in control of as we experience it. There are times in the beginning were I desperately needed someone to tell me when I would feel normal again. I needed a timeline, a light at the end of the tunnel. But there was no light, death is so final. No matter what, nothing would bring him back. I had to learn to make a life in a new tunnel.
If I had to describe life since his loss, I would say, it has been constant. Constant change, constant stimulation, constant fear, and constant appreciation for the people who love us daily. Thank you to everyone who has loved us through our journey. You have no clue how much you all mean to us! This experience has certainly taught me the need for human connection. I don’t feel worthy of all the kindness we have received over the past three years.
To sum up this rant of emotion I want to list a few life lessons Harrison has provided us.
- Spreading kindness in this world is therapeutic for the giver. The gesture doesn’t have to be grand. You don’t have to be overly creative. Just be conscience with your intention to be kind to one another.
- Be present when you tell your children good bye. Don’t just do the hug and kiss routine. Drop all the thoughts roaming in your head, look at your child, get on their level, and just BE in the moment.
- Never hesitate to show affection to your child. Hold them longer, snuggle more tightly, kiss them, tell them you love them, and tell them you are proud of them. Tell them how important they are and how happy they make your heart.
- There are only so many hours in the day, so choose to spend your time doing the things that bring you joy. For me, cleaning house, cooking, laundry, and dishes are not the priority. I do them only after I enjoy my kids and if they don’t get done, life does move forward. So if you come to my house unannounced (or even sometimes announced) just know my mess is intentional and it means, I love my kids! Also, if you invite me into your messy home there will be no judgement. (I probably won’t even notice.)