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Monday, July 25, 2016

Grief and reality

#CentralTeamRiley in Lassen National Park
This is one of those nights when I cannot remember what is real. When I crouch on the ground outside the garage and search for my son’s familiar face among the knots on the slats of wood on the fence. When I cannot remember why my husband continues to love me, even when I’m not a nice wife or friend or housemate. When one of his bear hugs cannot temper down the confusion and grief that hangs from my limbs like bricks.

This is one of those nights when I deserve to be all alone, abandoned. When I imagine my husband finally realizes that I’m not worth the effort. When I imagine he sees how hopeless I am, when he finally decides that I’m not trying hard enough to be a part of our family. When I escape to the shower to avoid watching a movie with them because sitting next to them, while they have a good time is too painful. Even though that’s exactly what Riley would be doing if he were here.

This is one of those nights when I question how I can possibly live the rest of my life without him. When the idea of being around people in any social situation that is not centered around grief is betraying his death and the horrors that he endured in the last days of his life. When I question my loved ones when they want to be with their friends in social situations that have nothing to do with grief. When they find a way to live without Riley.

This is one of those nights when I cannot remember who my safe people are. When I imagine what trades I could make to bring him back. When I cannot remember why anyone continues to love me, or want my company, even when I shut them out, don’t call them back, and am absent from their weddings, their birthday parties, their fundraising events, their going away parties.

This is one of those nights when I’m so confused because I’m so lonely, yet I don’t know how to let people be close to me. Because I’m waiting for them to leave me, just like I knew they would when they got sick of all this grieving. When they know that I know that they’ve wanted to lure me away from grief so that I leave Riley behind and get on with the business of being the old Suzanne, the goofy girl who laughed. The fun one. The one who was complimented for being so good at helping people feel included and comfortable in social situations. The one whose job it was to boost the emotional status of everyone in the room.

This is one of those nights when my body hurts from grief. It physically aches from the loss of my 11-year-old son. It’s weighted and sharp, and my lungs cannot get enough air. The pumping of my heart is strained, as if it cannot possibly continue on it’s own. As if it needs someone’s hands squeezing it so that it can take a break from all that responsibility of keeping me alive, even though I would reject any offers of help because I don’t want relief. I think of ways to hurt myself.

This is one of those nights when I hope it gets worse. Because I don’t want to get better. I don’t want to get better at living without my son. I want to suffer for the rest of my life because anything less than suffering means that I’m adapting to his death.

This is one of those nights when I know that while I understand things on an intellectual level, I’m not interested in understanding them on an emotional level. When I understand that my son’s death is permanent, but still hope that I can solve the riddle about out what when wrong so that I can undo his death. When I know that his face and his essence is not actually hidden in a wood knot on the fence, but I continue to stare at it anyway while asking him to forgive me again and again.

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