This past weekend, Walker and I had dinner with his grandma and aunt who were in town from Florida. I was married to his dad for seventeen years and my ex-husband's mom and sister will always be a part of my family. It's always good to catch up, but this time was especially nice because it was just the four of us which is an extremely rare occurrence.
While at dinner, the conversation turned to the boys (as it always does). We remembered sweet moments and bragged about the hilarious ceramics that Garrett made each of us. I currently have a large white vase sitting in the sunroom that Garrett gave me one year for Mother's Day. It's perfect for for that room , you see, because he added his own rendition of the the twin towers on 9-11, painted in black paint. Just for me. On Mother's Day.
That kid was just the best. Oh, how I miss him.
As we strolled down memory lane, I realized that I just completely blocked entire chunks of time from my memory. I don't mention my previous marriage much for many reasons, largely because I am a vastly different person than I was during that time in my life. There came a point back then when I started to chip away miniscule fragments of the painting that was my world as I began suspecting that my relationship was a farce. I became a kaleidoscope of fractured glass who was constantly trying to decipher what was real. From a kid who got married at nineteen to a stay-at-home mom in her mid-thirties, I did eventually emerge a single mom with three beautiful boys (and not long after, a 4th!). Although it felt traumatic at the time, I would soon realize that losing my marriage was a drop in the bucket compared to losing my children.
Sometimes, when we lose things we find something even greater. As clichéd as it sounds, losing that marriage allowed me to find myself. I wish I could say that it made my boys' lives easier. Of course, it didn't. Deacon had to grow up too fast and the boys didn't get to have the stability that I always wanted for my babies. Funds were constantly tight and even though I tried to make the best decisions possible, the best outcomes were seldom achieved. Through it all, though - we loved one another more than any obstacle. At the end of the day, our favorite place to be was with each other.
It's one of the million and one reasons why I miss them so much. My boys have always been "Home" to me. When I married Dan, he and Natalie, became a part of that for all of us, too. Without the boys on this earth, there are massive pieces of me (us) that are forever displaced. Giant shards are missing.
It is this way for M. and C., too. Before we said our goodbyes, we stood on the sidewalk for a bit and spoke of our grief like other people talk about the the weather. This is what it is like for a traumatic griever. It's what I mean when I say the term, NATURALIZE GRIEF. I heard many of the same words that I see written on grief sites and whispered in chat rooms like "they want me to move on" and the many other tidbits of expectations that balance on the tongues of others like a seesaw.
If you are a fellow griever, it is really important to me that you hear me when I say the next few sentences. The world might not understand. People around you might think that you are sinking in your sadness. Or maybe, it's worse than that... maybe, friends have told you how happy they are to see you smile and be "happy", or even, how proud they are that you have made it through to the other side.
I. Know. There. Is. No. Other. Side.
I'll tell you what makes me proud.
Did you put your feet on the floor today?
Make a cup of coffee?
Go for a walk?
Meet a friend for lunch?
Listen to your body and stay in bed for the day?
Drive to the grocery store?
Take your kids to the movies?
Say "yes" to a date?
Explore on vacation?
Rest on a staycation?
I don't care if it has been 1 month, 1 year, or 10 years. The hours might rotate, stretch out, and trade places with one another, but depending on the day, all of the above occurs along the journey of a traumatic griever. I cannot guarantee that I speak for all of us, but I feel confident in saying - please do not try to put our grief in a box labeled "It's Time". She will never, ever fit.