He didn't cry or spit-up or soil his diaper at the moment we were ready to leave the house. He didn't demand my full attention in the midst of C.T.'s special morning. His eyes didn't go wide to see and hear the school buses, the loads of children tumbling out. Our hearts didn't soar with pride with photos captured - our two boys together - on the first day of school. C.T. could not kiss him goodbye. I could not talk to him about the sights and sounds in the neighborhood as we took our first stroll alone together, this (school) year.
My phantom child walked to school with us this morning. (I tried to keep at bay the tendency to see my phantom, almost eight year old, because really, how much can I feasibly lament at once?)
Oh, how I wish that sorrow wasn't Zachary's mark on today, on C.T.'s first day of school. But he died and it has literally shattered our world. Selfishly, today was going to be the first, of many, long days alone with my sweet baby Zachary. It has been seven months and it is still not okay that he is dead. I had accepted one dead son, have worked hard on that, for years. I made something akin to peace with the fact that we would live all our days without B.W. I would grieve, always, but I would accept it. But, my heart just won't accept this. Not this. Not Zachary too! How can this be? He was just right here, in the flesh. They say that young children have a difficult time understanding the permanency of death. I have to say that even I, as a full grown, thinking adult, am having trouble with the damned persistency of Zachary's dead-ness.
With every new thing I do or participate in, without him, the mother in me is still shocked at the rediscovery. Zachary is still dead. He is never coming back. Watching C.T.'s baseball game, purchasing a bike and riding together for the first time, stepping into someone's home or a familiar spot we haven't visited since "before", the first day of school. Every time, another layer of the reality of Zachary's death, in the here and now, is painfully revealed. I work myself up to these scenarios. I often know when they are going to happen and might even anticipate how I might react. Even so, I cannot seem to dull the pummeling realization, the bitter pain and the feeling that NO! I am not ready for THIS. Here I am. Without him, again.
Buried with my grief, in my inability to accept Zachary's death, there is a nagging compulsion to get out, get away, to pack up and move to a place entirely different than here. To sneak away and escape this devastation. There are so many memories here, so much expectation, and sadly, so much life that should-have-been, here. Maybe if life changed dramatically, if there were all new faces and places,..., well, at least we wouldn't be confronted so pointedly every day with the "old" life and the promise it held for Zachary and us. Maybe leaving would reflect and give voice to how permanently our life has been affected by his life and death. Maybe I wouldn't feel like I'm going insane because in a new place, there would be no expectation for me to return to the old Gretchen.
Ack. It is all useless. He is dead. We are here. We miss him desperately. It hurts to live life without him. Life will never be the same. There is really no running from it.