To be a grieving parent.

Almost three years in. It is a journey. (Two years, eight months.)
I am a grieving father. That is a truth.
I live with grief.
I am a grieving dad, because I loved my son, and he is now gone. And that won’t change.
It isn’t something I can “move on” from or “get over”- and whoever I was before he died- I am not that person now.
But life does go on. And yes, I guess this gets “easier.”
I have learned how to function. I have become a much better actor. I am okay.

I can act normal. I can behave. Usually.
I can go to work and do my job.
I can laugh and smile. I can pretend.
I can talk about other things.
I don’t have to bring it up.
Yeah. I can do this. I am okay.
And it takes effort.
And I am now defined by loss. I am no identified with what I am missing.
I am a dad. I loved my son and now he is gone.

And although it is of some comfort to know that hundreds of people came to my son’s memorial, that he is remembered and loved and that my family and dozens went above and beyond to support me and my surviving family. That we were loved during those most difficult of days by a dozen loving family, co-workers, and dear, dear, friends. I can’t go back to those times and eat too many cookies or listen to songs or feel the hugs that go on and on- except in memory. People were here when I needed them.

But, they have all gone back to their lives by now.
It isn’t a criticism. People have been good. And their love has been essential.

Some knew that there was nothing to say. That it was good enough to sit with me, or with us and say nothing.
Some knew that it was enough to walk along with us on this journey. To listen. To cry. To laugh. To eat.
Eventually things have to go back to “normal” and everyone moves on and they need me to “move on.”
So I am not curled up in a ball on the floor. I go to work. I drive. I come home. I sleep. I read. I eat. I paint. I write.
I pretend to be normal.

They don’t come by and hang out with me too often. Or bring cookies. Or hugs. I am okay with that.

I don’t just call off of work because I am having one of those days.
And no one knows that I cry in my car almost every day. (Really, it still is his car.)
People don’t know that sometimes it isn’t sadness that consumes me.
It is emptiness.
And people don’t know that in the middle of a sentence, I have drifted off.
And it is stupid to think that I can no longer handle things
That life now takes extraordinary effort… or
That I need friends that will look after my better interests.
And tell me when I need to stop. Or rest.
Two years, eight months.
The seasons are changing again.
I walk the dog through the brisk autumn air and look at the tree with the bright yellow leaves.
And the air stings my lungs just a bit.

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