There are things that trigger episodes of grief. Specific songs, or smells, or places, that evoke memories and bring emotions that are strong enough to stop me in my tracks, to bring tears to my eyes, to steal my breath. And recovering from these sudden, unexpected attacks of sadness sometimes can consume the better part of a day. And so some days are devoted to grieving. Not every day. Not all day… but it runs through like a thread… like a theme… like the smell of smoke on your clothes and hair after a camp fire.
And there are days when nothing- nothing specific… triggers this heavy bad mood… this sluggishness and lack of energy… or a certain kind of crankiness and edginess… Those are gray, colorless, flavorless days. And it seems I just wake up that way, and can’t shake it. And even though I can make it through those days, I know it takes effort… like making it through a day after a sleepless night, or working through a day with a bad head cold.
And where some days, everything is devoted to memories… to remembering my boy, or him at this event, or his laugh, or the young man he became… other days I struggle to see his face, or remember the timber of his voice, to reach for a memory and find myself coming up short. And I start to question whether this really happened or whether in this strange life my son really existed…
And other days are somewhat “normal”… where I go through and smile and laugh, and it seems like life is good. I can go about my day with no anger and nearly no sadness. I can handle memories. Even listen to one of those songs without breaking down. And I can almost fool myself into believing that this bad thing had not happened 18 months ago. Those are good days. And they are more and more frequent.
But there never is an hour of any day when I don’t think of Ethan… when I don’t miss him. It is something that I am acutely aware and conscious of… And that is what I think my “new normal” is. It is missing him.