I have feared this day for a couple of months now. Yesterday afternoon, Zachary's trunk was finally delivered to our doorstep. Just slightly bigger than a box which might have held Zachary's casket, it sits unopened in our foyer. B and I agreed we would wait until the three of us are together, with some intentional uninterrupted time, to open it.
I know how this works. We will inspect the trunk, our fingers will trace the inscription of his name, his dates, his painfully short story, as if this were his headstone. There will be tears and another cruel jolt of finality, the kind that no parent or (young) brother should ever have to feel, but that we live with,... now, times two. The next logical step will be to go through Zachary's things and place many of them carefully, one by one, in his trunk. We will pick a time to do that. Together we will debate what goes in and where it gets placed, reminding each other it can be opened, contents shifted and snuggled, whenever and as often as we choose. And then, we will shut the lid.
We will shut the lid, again, on our senselessly dead boy.
Instead of a wispy haired, sixteen month-old toddler running around with a sippy cup, instead of the giggling, squirming, pulsing with life, presence and personality of our Zachary, we will have a box. The stark contrast is never lost on me. This is not what I planned to do on the day that marks sixteen months from my son's birth.
It's the neverness that is so painful. Never again to be here with us - never to sit with us at table, never to travel with us, never to laugh with us, never to cry with us, never to embrace us as he leaves for school, never to see his brothers and sister marry. All the rest of our lives we must live without him. Only our death can stop the pain of his death.
A month, a year, five years - with that I could live. But not this forever.
I step outdoors into the moist moldly fragrance of an early summer morning and arm in arm with my enjoyment comes the realization that never again will he smell this.
As a cloud vanishes and is gone,
so he who goes down to the grave does not return,
He will never come to his house again;
his place will know him no more.
One small misstep and now this endless neverness.
~ Nicolas Wolterstorff from his book Lament for a Son