My Gorgeous Benny,
“Do you have kids?” she asked.
And there it was. Out there. The question that I dread the most in the world, and even more this week.
I suppose it was bound to happen attending a networking event (what was I thinking?!…), and I’ll admit, it’s a great ice breaker and one I’ve used many times before – although not anymore.
It’s funny how the ‘kids’ topic almost always comes up in conversation but it’s a lot less funny that I am still never prepared for it. I never seem to remember my lines.
Don’t get weird, don’t get weird DON’T GET WEIRD!! I commanded myself. And whatever you do, DON’T CRY! I took a deep breath and then stumbled over the words, “I lost my son four years ago”. I forced a half-smile to make her feel better.
My response was less than smooth buddy, it’s been a rough couple of weeks.
I have learned so much since you moved on.
I have never been more self-aware.
I have never felt more alone.
I have never been more guarded.
I have never felt less trusting.
I have experienced emotions I never knew existed – and with no clue as to how to manage them.
I have also realised the power of real love.
I have felt the drive to make a difference.
I have learned the value of kindness and compassion and to appreciate it when I see it.
I have learned how to shift the focus from me to helping someone else and experienced how good that feels.
I have drawn on an internal strength that I didn’t know was there.
I have come to know it’s always the little things that mean the most.
Yesterday you would have been 20yo and the lead-up just about broke me this year.
I am starting to think that I can never really prepare for how I am going to feel.
I was reminded of other things I have learned.
Grief never really leaves you.
It might lie dormant, but you carry it with you always.
Every day. Everywhere. All the time.
The things that used to mean so much to me no longer matter and things I hardly ever thought about now mean the most.
I am acutely aware of the energy I bring into a room and the energy of those around me. For this reason, I sometimes avoid interacting altogether. Do you know how exhausting this can be?
I frequently disappear into your eyes in the photos I have strategically placed around the house. No matter where I am, I can see you, and I wonder, were you really here? Then I feel the constant dull ache in my chest, sometimes like someone just sat on it, and I know that you were… and still are… here.
I thought a lot about how to make this post an uplifting one as I consider it to be one of two each year that are the most difficult for me to write, but that need to be the most meaningful. I even read over last year’s post in the hope I could create something as powerful.
I’ll be honest though Benny, a part of me is emotionally drained. These last few weeks have battered me.
I have by all accounts, done a fantastic job of externally holding myself together while I have slowly fallen apart inside … until I just couldn’t anymore… and I literally had to get away… I needed to breathe.
And ironically the only thing that makes me feel slightly better is drawing on my connections with other mums who are also falling apart. My own stuff feels somewhat lighter when I can be there for them. And I feel a little less alone. You do whatever you need to do… I tell them, thinking I need to get better at taking my own advice.
I have also eaten my way through a day. I have also thrown my brain at the TV… And I know like them, it’s all in a desperate attempt to dull the pain and shut out the deafening silence of not hearing your voice that I can’t seem to escape.
Sometimes I feel like I have a permanent subscription to a state of being, that renders me temporarily incapacitated, unable to think straight, and emotionally shattered.
No matter how far along on the journey we are,
we NEVER stop missing our kids that have died.
And OMG Benny, I have never missed anyone like I still miss you. It never ends.
It’s not all bad though. I can honestly say I have gotten to a stage where most of the time I am at peace, happy, and even energised. Sometimes I feel like I’m actually making a difference!!
It’s quite a thing feeling like you are two very different people in one body.
So, what can I tell you and the world today? And how do I turn this post around without continuing to impersonate Eeyore? Whilst I do love the dopey donkey, I have never been one to stay down, and would hate for anyone who has stopped reading, to have left thinking I am pessimistic, gloomy, or depressed. I am none of these.
So now what?
I just keep going! I just keep doing what I’m doing – trying to make a difference, trying to make it count, continuing your legacy, and trying to create my own in the process.
I am proud to share our story and it is OUR story.
There are so many wonderful things happening in my life right now and I have so much to be grateful for – and I am. But I don’t forget for a single moment that you are playing a part in it all and somehow we are creating this together.
Benny, half the time I have no flipping idea what I’m doing but I promise you this.
I will keep going. I know I am still here for a reason, and I will make my time count.
I am the luckiest woman in the world because you chose to spend 15 wonderful years with me.
Stay close gorgeous boy. I will never stop needing you and your wisdom.
Not a day goes by that you don’t enter my mind.
I love you more than words can ever express.
Happy Birthday beautiful boy… I love you… Always and forever…
Lots of love
Mum xx 💙