Most moms can relate to those mornings you just can’t get motivated to take off your jams and put on your bra. Foundation garments symbolize you’re ready to take on the day by venturing out of the house. No bra means I have permission to read a book, knit, write, and drink coffee endlessly from the comfort of my favorite brown chair. It may be awhile today before I put down my coffee mug and put on regular clothes.
Today is the six month crap-versary.
Six months ago today, we lost our beautiful, sweet, fuzzy-headed boy. Really, six months doesn’t seem very long, not when there’s the rest of my lifetime stretching out ahead of me, a lifetime to love my son but not hold him anymore. Six months, half a year, is a whisper. Who knew a whisper could be so damn heavy?
To the parents who refer to the day they lost their child as the “angel-versary,” I’m glad that works for you. Frankly, I’m not down with that euphemism because it’s theologically incorrect and it implies there was something peaceful about my son’s death. Peace is something I long for but haven’t found yet, at least not consistently. I’ll have moments of it that I sort of string together, but this morning, that’s definitely not what I’m feeling.
What I’m also not feeling is social, or terribly generous, or even willing to go outside. Living in Southern California, the constant sunshine is also a constant guilt trip for not being on some kind of outdoor adventure. What I need is a wet, gray day that would justify quilts and Joni Mitchell and tears. Not that I need a reason to cry but sometimes, a lot of times, I need to give myself permission to let the tears come.
Yesterday I read something, some advice from Anne Lamott. She’s one of my top five favorite writers on a very carefully considered list. Upon turning 61, she’s discerned some important truths. One of those truths was about loss:
“Death; wow. So f-ing hard to bear, when the few people you cannot live without die. You will never get over these losses, and are not supposed to. We Christians like to think death is a major change of address, but in any case, the person will live fully again in your heart, at some point, and make you smile at the MOST inappropriate times. But their absence will also be a lifelong nightmare of homesickness for you. All truth is a paradox. Grief, friends, time and tears will heal you. Tears will bathe and baptize and hydrate you and the ground on which you walk. The first thing God says to Moses is, “Take off your shoes.” We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know.”
In Greek, “hagios,” holy, means different or set apart. That’s an apt description for how I feel most days now, and especially today. I don’t feel especially sacred, but I definitely feel different: different from other moms, different from what I was before, and set apart from the humming rhythm of a world that keeps moving. It’s a strange feeling of otherness that I haven’t had since high school, when I floated between social groups and kept to the edges.
If I showed up at our homeschool co-op, falling apart, snotty, even braless, I know the other moms would gladly open their arms. They would cry with me and pray over me. They would ask how they could help me. If I called a friend, or my dad, choking out words and finally giving up and sobbing, it would be OK. They would have something reassuring to say and would linger on the other end until I could dry up a bit. I don’t feel rejected or marginalized by the people I’ve invited into my life, in any way.
But today … today I just want to hold my memories close, to not talk, to not share. Today I just want to stroke my grief and even nurse my sad-anger a little. Today I want to be separate and allow the tears to baptize me, to create a sacred space for what was and what won’t be. I’m still not able to linger over photos and videos; what plays in my mind is vivid enough to remind me, and sharp enough to hurt me.
Today I’ll curl up with my husband and maybe we’ll talk about him. Maybe we won’t. Words aren’t necessary to make our son present or to feel close to him. He still exists so clearly in our shared memory, at least now, and we don’t have to articulate our memories to know they abide in that space between us.
For now, I will linger. I will linger in my PJs, over my coffee, over my keyboard, with so many thoughts of Kai. I will linger in this holy moment, on this holy ground, that has been bathed and baptized and hydrated by tears. I will linger in my PJs while the sun is shining and absolve myself of any guilt for holding this day close to me.