The Dark Dog Days are Over.
Note: I penned this on April 15th...and then I had a change of heart and simply didn't feel like making my "private day" into a public one. But now I'm beyond the dark days and despondency that unwittingly overshadowed far too much of my April and I know what an important message this still is, and so...I'm sharing. I hope with all of my heart that if it resonates, you'll share it as well. (I can also hear Cole yelling into my ear, "For the love of all that is holy, hit publish, Mew!" He is unrelentingly persistent, even moreso in the afterlife, if that is possible.)
This is a song I LOVE by Florence and the Machine. Until a month ago, I thought they were
singing, "The Dark Days are Over." I'd belt it out in my car, or dance around in the CVS aisle
if it came on over the loudspeakers. As it turns out, they are actually singing "The Dog Days are Over." haha Close enough. I'm still sticking with my version. ;)
Today is the anniversary of the day that we said a formal and public "goodbye" to my son, Cole.
I didn't want to call it a funeral. And I didn't want to call it a "celebration of life." Both seemed so cliche' and ordinary. One far too religiously staid and somber and the other far too "let's-release-balloons-on-the-beach-at-sunset" new age-y for my tastes. Plus, he would have had a plethora of snarky comments regarding either choice.
I didn't know what to call it. And three years later, I still have no words to describe what it was,
exactly. Really, I guess it was a play. Another one of the performances in which Cole participated, often stealing center stage. And that feels right to me.
It's been a rough week. Rough. Every time I've used that word in my communications with friends or family this past week, it is clearly not a strong enough word. It feels ridiculous and sticks in my throat. Rough is what you say when you're taking a science final in high school.
"How was your science final?"
"Man, it had three questions we never reviewed in class! it was rough."
I stumbled upon an article recently entitled something like, "what I wish people knew about losing a child"...and I understood everything the author was expressing.
First, it's not comparable to any other loss. I feel anger ~ Yes! Anger! ~ when I hear it compared to a job loss. Or the loss of a pet. Or the loss of a parent once you're over the age of 40. Or really the loss of anyone who didn't live inside of your body for nine months. There's just something very bonding about having a person inside of you. And intercourse doesn't count. I mean a human taking up residence there. Full time.
Second, the thing that hurts us, as parents, greatly, is to have people not mention our child anymore. As if they never existed. All I want to do is to talk about Cole and keep him "alive." To share memories of his weirdness and wondrousness with others who loved him. To share memories of his laughter and his smile. If you think it's going to hurt us or stir up sad memories, please, put on your thinking cap. Do you really think we have forgotten? Do you think we're actually NOT thinking about our child every day. And especially on their birthday, anniversary of their demise, holidays and every other freaking day of the calendar year?
Third, we have often lost the support and connection of various friends and even family because it is too painful for some of them to be near us. That might include you. And it's shocking and unbelievably painful for us. But it's not unusual at all. It's a common occurrence. Just try to imagine what that's like. Double whammy. Squared. To the 10th degree.
Lastly, we are not the same person we were before this happened. We are generally less patient
about listening to the little BS complaints of everyday life. In fact, as I like to say, "If it's not terminal cancer or a catastrophic brain injury, it's not that big of a deal." I have definitely become more grateful and empathetic and spiritual, but I will admit to the occasional sprinklings of bitterness and jealousy and impatience. I may be evolving, but I am not Mother Theresa. (I've heard she was actually a tad pissed off and bitter in her final days, after having spent her life being so uber- selfless and probably not having all that much in the way of fun...so perhaps she's actually not the best example.) :)
I often describe myself as, and genuinely feel like, the "luckiest unlucky woman" in the universe.
I jokingly say this will be the title of my ultimate memoir, but since I've been saying it with increasing
regularity, I'm thinking I'm not really joking. Get ready to pre-order. ;)
So this is my little public service reminder to the rest of the world:
PLEASE, if you know someone who is grieving, especially "top-of-the-grief-list" losses like the death of a child or a spouse, please don't stay away from them. If you're thinking of the person who's gone, or of the person who's still living...let them know. Tell them. Text them. Talk to them. And talk about the person they're missing. Call them. If they want to talk, they'll answer. If not, they won't. Either way, the gesture is nice. Spend a few minutes and write something. Send something snail mail. Spend some of your actual LIFE CURRENCY...YOUR TIME... showing that you care.
In today's world of a disturbing and escalating lack of personal contact...we are all, from what I am witnessing, starving for human contact. The sound of a voice, the touch of a hand, or words written on paper.
All are a tonic for the soul.
Nothing will ever replace the human voice. The human touch. The human interaction. *
At the end of our lives, none of this other stuff that seems so urgent and important will mean much of anything. All we're going to be left with is our memories of those human moments.
And hopefully, if we've lived well...a lot of smiles, warmth, love and laughter.
* Cole wrote a paper not that long before his departure entitled...The Human Interaction. One of his teachers read it as his funeral. I mean celebration of life. I mean...final act. And it was fabulous. I'll post it here sometime, because it is worth sharing.