23 Years of Grief and Growing

It’s amazing to me how you can grow up somewhere, spend your entire childhood there and feel absolutely no connection to that place. Maybe I’ve been gone for too long. Maybe the memories have faded too much. I’m not entity sure.

I’m sitting on the ferry leaving the place of my youth and I feel nothing looking at the beaches that I used to play on. Maybe I’m just getting old and have lived in Massachusetts for too long. Maybe it’s because that childhood chapter of my life closed when my father died yesterday.

I’m still pretty numb, because that’s what happens after death. Grief is so damn complicated for me in general, so this is going to take time. Our relationship wasn’t perfect, but he was my dad and now at 40 I’m an orphan. Which sounds ridiculous but no one prepares you to lose both of your parents.

When we lost Bennett we lost our hopes and dreams for the future. Losing both of my parents now I feel like I’m losing my past. I’ve always really struggled with not knowing much about myself when I was little because my mom was gone. I constantly look at my kids and wonder if they’re like me.

So I’m sitting here on the ferry, a trip that I’ve taken a million times before in my life and I’m taking a moment to breathe. I’m taking a moment to enjoy the rumble of the engine and the chatter of the people around me. I’m taking a moment to realize that this is once again out of my control.

I’m going to sit here and smile for the life that my father lived. He did whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, unabashedly. While I didn’t always agree with his choices, he never stopped being who he was. Before he was sick, he certainly lived life to the fullest.

So this is going to be sad. And this is going to suck. But this moment, right here, right now, this moment is ok. Maybe it’s the calm before the storm. Maybe I will appreciate his death for what it was, because he didn’t suffer like my mom. Who knows what grief path I will take now. I do know that for the first time in my life I feel prepared and emotionally healthy enough to deal with this one head on.

It’s taken me 23 years to even begin to understand grief and how it affects us. And I’m still learning. This is a process that never ends, just like your love for those lost never ends. And I’m finally beginning to come to terms with that.

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Happy 7th Birthday

A little delayed…

Dear Bennett,

I cannot believe that you would have been 7 years old last May. I still picture you as a chubby and adventurous toddler. I’m at a loss at how to wrap my head around who you would be as a 7 year old.

I think of all of the first rights of passage that you have missed at this age. First day of school, first best friend, to name a few. It makes me so sad to think of all that you have been robbed of.

Every once in awhile I see a boy your age and I pause. I try very hard to see you, who you would be. It’s hard. There was a boy at the playground your age with your name right after your birthday. But I’m sure you already knew that.

If you were still here, you’d be enjoying your summer break and gearing up to enter second grade. That seems impossible to me. You’d probably play all kinds of sports and we wouldn’t know what to do with your fearlessness. My anxiety kicks into high gear just thinking about it.

It’s tough to watch your siblings grow and mature and only have those 18 months of memories with you. My mind cannot sometimes understand why that is. These 5 and a half years have really messed with my natural perspective on time.

It’s been rough. It’s hard to think of what it would be like because so much has changed. I have changed. When you died you took a piece of me with you and that’s ok. I wouldn’t want to be the same. I couldn’t be.

Keep sending those signs buddy and keep looking out for us. We need your love and guidance every day. Love you forever.

Love, Mom