I wasn’t expecting a visit from you today. As I watched my husband build a tall tower of blocks with our toddler, joy filled the room as Christmas cheer was in full effect. But, you found me. In the middle of bliss and laughter, a pang of sadness. You reminded me someone was missing. Just as my spirit settles, there you are, waiting for me.
Grief, you come in the most unsuspecting moments, when I am overflowing with happiness, almost as a limitation to my joy. “Oh no!” grief says, “You can’t be that happy. You can’t feel that much joy. Someone is missing, remember?” I used to mistake you for guilt. How can I feel joy when someone I love isn’t here? How can I smile and laugh when they can’t smile and laugh with me? I simply can’t, it wouldn’t be fair.
Even on the most simple of days, you surface. The first Valentine’s Day after my son’s death was unbearable. But why Valentine’s Day? Valentine’s Day always makes me think of romance and cheesy romcoms, so how could grief find me on this day of all days? But as I scrolled through my newsfeed, there you came, through the pictures of little ones in their “First Valentine’s Day” onesies, and sweet photos of pudgy babies covered with red lipstick kisses from their mothers. It was too much. Out of nowhere, you consumed me.
I once explained it this way when asked, “How are you today? I know this one is hard for you!” The fact of the matter is, every day is hard without him. Some days, grief may linger not so intensely as others, but the emptiness from the loss of my child never fills. Over time I have grown to appreciate the sting of his absence. To me, it validates that he once was here in my arms. He existed. He lived. My heartache proves a love that was so real.
And though grief may keep me as close company, I choose to accept the invitation. I see it as an opportunity to remember. I was given the honor to feel every nudge, every kick, every move he made. So I smile anyway, through the guilt and the grief, he will always be my little boy. Sadness can’t erase that. And so, for now, I cling to precious moments in time and hold them tightly in my heart, until the day my arms find him again.