A Decade Without You

“Dusk is just an illusion because the sun is either above the horizon or below it. And that means that day and night are linked in a way that few things are there cannot be one without the other yet they cannot exist at the same time. How would it feel I remember wondering to be always together yet forever apart?” ― Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

The twilight sky was filled with streaks of gold, rose, purple, and indigo, as the sun met the horizon on the night of June 4th, 2009. It was one of the most beautiful sunsets that I have ever seen. You had taken your last breath in the early evening, and your father and I hoped that the vibrant sky was a sign from you, telling us you were finally free and happy.

In the hospital room earlier that day, I had held you until the pink faded from your cheeks and the warmth left your skin. With the sky now blazing before me, I wondered how there could still be color in the world. I wondered, after the sun set on the last day that you were in the world, how it could ever rise again?

The blackness of my grief came with the darkness of night. I didn’t know how to breathe without you. I refused to shower because I didn’t want to erase your scent on my skin. I wanted time to freeze along with my cold, shattered heart. I didn’t want the morning to come.

But, even though I did not understand how, the planet still continued to spin and the sun continued to rise. One day without you became two. Somehow I kept breathing. Somehow a month passed, then a year and then another…and those years have turned into a decade. 3,650 sunsets without you.

In the past 10 years, the color has returned to the world, although not as bright. Every joy our family experienced – from the births of your little sister Lucy and brother Will to the everyday milestones of school graduations and dance recitals – is tinged with sadness. We’ve become accustomed to the bittersweet as our status quo. We’ve learned to live with the pain of your loss, but we miss you every day.  Our lives have moved forward, but we will never move on from you.

This morning, Will crawled into bed with me, and I kissed his forehead, and for a split second, I was with you again. Your memory lives in his skin. I see your light shine in Lucy’s eyes. I hear your voice in their laughter.

But, my baby boy, these glimpses of you are still not enough for me. If you are the day, then I am the night. Linked together but forced by life to be apart. I dream of meeting you again in heaven and never letting you go.

Saying goodbye to you 10 years ago today was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Today, the disease that took you is almost eradicated. My only regret is that we couldn’t save you. Time wasn’t on our side then, but time continues on and will one day bring us back together.

As I explained the significance of your 10th Angel Day to Will and Lucy, my eyes filled with tears. Not wanting me to cry, Will put his arms around my neck to comfort me. He leaned close and whispered, “I don’t want you to die and go away like Andy.”

I reached out and touched his chest. “Andy is right here in your heart, and, God willing, I’ll be here with you for a long, long time,” I said. “You don’t need to worry.”

With a searching look, he questioned, “But, when you do go to heaven, will you be a dragonfly, too? And visit me like Andy does? And maybe you can sit on my shoulder and stay with me?”

I replied, “I’ll be whatever you want me to be, baby. I will always be with you. I promise.”

And, Andy, as sure as each new day dawns, I know that you are with us. I’ll let the warm June wind embrace me today, and I will remember you in my arms. We’ll keep looking for the dragonflies, and we’ll see your reflection in the sunset. We’ll live the best life we can for you.

I love you and miss you, baby boy.

Love, Mommy

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2 Responses to A Decade Without You

  1. Erin says:

    Love you.

  2. Rosemary and Glenn Perry says:

    Beautifully written and spot on in the grief we all feel -but, you and Alan feel the deepest. He was yours and became ours. I love you both for making Lucy and Will and seeing that they have the life that Andy would have had. We will always have 3 grands named Butler – always and forever!
    GiGi and PaPa

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