I went to group tonight. I don’t need to go to group like I used to. I don’t mark time by the space between meetings any longer. But sometimes, I still just want to go and find some purity. Sit with my grief for my son, talk about him and his story, quietly nod my head at the shared experience of other loss parents, and, in a sense, spend some time with Harvey. It is a sacred space. If he was here, I would make time to do things, just he and I but he isn’t here, my 16 month old toddler is still dead, and I still need that time with him. My heart does not ache the way it did most of the time I spent in that circle of parents and I often wonder now, what will I talk about? I often laugh to myself, now I need a divorce support group instead. But there is always something of Harvey alive in me. There is always a new phase of learning to live without him, there are always experiences that drag me under again, there are always things I am learning and coming to understand better about my experience and myself as a grieving parent. There is always more.
It was just me, another mother who is nearly two years out from her loss, and our beloved facilitator. This never happens, so few people, and both of us “veterans”. We still talked for hours. As usual, we laughed and we cried and we grappled and we despaired and we smiled and we tried to make meaning out of senselessness. We tried to come closer to learning how to hold two things at once.
I got in my car to drive home and my heart was full for the first time in long while. It was full of my family, my whole, broken family. My children and my husband were in there again, all together. All united by the love that began our family, that brought us two beautiful children and engulfed the four of us in something brand new, in a love bigger and wider and utterly different then when he and I began it. Much of the time I spend inside myself with my family is all befuddled now. I am often angry and confused and heartbroken and unmoored and afraid. But tonight, after spending some time with the purity of my grief, with the undeniable fact of my healing process, with my son, I could see a path out. I could see forgiveness and connection and love. Also bigger and wider and utterly different than I’ve imagined. I could feel myself, out there in the future somewhere, when the details are blurry and some forgotten, when the pain has dulled to a quiet murmur, when there is enough time and space for some clarity, some understanding and a whole lot of forgiveness. A place where I com forgive and love myself and my children’s father. Times when we will come together to celebrate the milestones of our daughter life that will be about the love that was once there that she was born from and into. Times when we will come together in the grief for our son, for the celebrations and the milestones of his life that we are missing. Times that will also be pure. When he and I can see each other again. And by “see” I mean know and remember and honor who we were and who we will be by then. Times in the future when we will honor our love, the love we had that created this family, as something that was real and true and of utmost importance in our tiny lives and in the cosmos. When we have each rewritten our stories so that we can sit comfortably in them. When we can be a family that broke, in several irreparable ways over a very short period of time but that none-the-less is still a family. It is the power of children. It is the power of love. It is what is left as the dust settles, as we do our work to heal and to live again, to live alive. And it is all that really matters.
I will wake up tomorrow, like I’ve woken up day after day for so long now: grieving and sad, angry and betrayed, confused and unmoored, unsure of how to proceed but proceeding anyway, amidst all of the painful details, all of the acuteness of the layers of this year’s grief, all of the fear and uncertainty left in its wake. But tonight for a minute, I sat in the future and my heart was full. I came into my house and I closed the door to the room of best friend, which was once our room, because she had left it open so she could hear if vesta called out. Then I stood in the doorway of Vesta’s room, that is now our room, and I saw my daughter sleeping in the darkness, and I felt the presence of my son represented in his picture on the bookcase and my heart opened up to include my husband, most likely also asleep but now on the other side of town. I stood there for a minute and felt us all where we belong, all four of us full in my heart and I took a breath. I took a breath to seal us in there, to create some space for this possible future I’d sat in tonight and to brace myself for the morning, when I go back to the mess of single parenting and divorcing and getting myself financially independent again. When my intense and mixed emotions inevitably return. I breathed in the purity of the love of this moment, the hope for the future and also the inevitable reckoning of all that we have lost.
All is not lost. All there really is underneath grief and anger and confusion and fear is love. I would feel none of these things if I hadn’t loved. All there is is love.