It’s storming outside as I sit here, trying to find the words for my annual letter to you. Torrential rain lashes against the windows. The sky is foreboding and gray, punctuated with angry flashes of lightening. Thunder booms nearby, and the whole house reverberates with the sound.
I remember learning about “pathetic fallacy” in a literature class many years ago. It’s the attribution of human emotion and conduct to all aspects within nature. Given how I feel today, it seems fitting that this is the weather. That nature is so furiously mourning your loss too.
Tomorrow, June 4, is the seventh anniversary of your passing.
I am sitting in the living room as I write this, alone in my grief. My tears fall hard and steady. My body shakes as I swallow my sobs. There is a raging storm within me, far surpassing the intensity of the one outside.
In the first days after we lost you, my grief was all-encompassing and unrelenting. I was completely lost, unable to navigate through the pain. Because I felt, so very deeply, that I had failed you. As your mother, I was supposed to protect you. I was supposed to be your refuge in this life. But I was powerless to stop SMA’s progression. I couldn’t keep you safe. I held on to you with all of my strength, but I couldn’t stop disease from taking you.
My greatest fear was realized, and my anxieties swirled around me with gale force. Every time the skies seemed to lighten with relief, I’d be knocked down by another torrent of sorrow. It took a long time for me to find my way to shelter and to trust any feeling of peace. To smile without guilt and to laugh without remorse. To believe that the clouds would ever part and the sun would return.
Over the past seven years, I have worked hard to learn how to survive the tempests of my emotions. Anything can trigger a memory of you – a snippet of a song, a lingering fragrance in the air, a baby hat tucked away in the back of a drawer. And with those memories, while they are achingly sweet and fragile, come a downpour of grief. I have cried more tears than I ever thought possible. I miss you with an intensity that never fades.
But passing time has brought more periods of quiet between these storms. I find solace in the very things most take for granted – how easily your little sister Lucy and brother Will throw their arms around my neck for a hug, how effortlessly they scamper around the house, how fearlessly they face this world.
Right now, they are playing together in the other room. The weather has subdued them; Will doesn’t like the rain, and the thunder scares Lucy. They, however, are used to the storming of my emotions. It’s a sad commentary that my outbursts are part of their normal. That my tears are commonplace. That visits to the cemetery are just a part of everyday life. That a damaged mother is all they know.
But, they let me know every day, in so many seemingly insignificant ways, that I am all they need. They are certain in my love. I am broken and imperfect, but I am enough for them. That, in turn, has allowed me to believe that I was enough for you too. The healing light of this truth soothes my soul.
Thunder crashes again, and Lucy and Will rush down the hall towards my haven on the couch. They jump into my lap, climbing all over me and pressing their small bodies against mine for comfort. Together, we wait for the downpour to lessen, and the calm to come. I hold them close and remember again how it felt to hold you. I take deep breaths, inhaling the essence of them. The lightening illuminates their faces, so familiar to yours. I try to focus on the light once more.
As the storm quiets, I know peace will follow. The rain will stop, and the tears will dry. I know that the sun will peek through the clouds. I know that tomorrow will be a new day.
But, I also know that it marks the start of another year without you. We will continue move forward, holding on to each other, weathering the storms as they come, and looking towards the light. And we will find you there.
Andy, I love you and miss you more than the forces of heaven and earth combined.
Loving you forever and always,