Tonight we previewed Slumberland (spoiler alert). I had watched the trailer and thought it looked fantastic, albeit sad. It deals with death and grief. Seeing as how Fletch came to us tonight with his Dinosaur book in tears because the Dinosaurs all died, I figured this was something we should watch first. And I’m so glad that we did.
I bawled my eyes out through 40% of the movie. A PG childrens movie completely wrecked me. And I mean wrecked in the best way possible. It put into words how we deal with grief, how desperate we are to see our loved ones in dreams and how even when we are desperately sad, we can still find hope.
It touched on so many of my grief experiences. In the first few minutes of the movie, the main character dreams that her Dad died. I honestly believe that there’s a subconscious link between life and death. My Mom came to me in a dream to say good bye and moments later I awoke to our house phone ringing and I knew that she was gone.
The entire movie is based upon the main character wanting to find her dead father in a dream so that she can stay with him. My god, that is all that any of us grievers want. I sat there crying, begging for a good visitation dream. It’s been so damn long. And I miss my people. I want to find a pearl so that I can wish this dream into existence.
When that pivotal moment finally happens, when the main character can have her Dad back, she finds that she has to wish for something else. Something has become more important than her Dad. And it’s awful and beautiful all at once. Because she found hope. And in finding it she had to let go a bit. And that is really fucking hard.
I wish I could say that I thought this was a good idea for my kids, but it’s not. It’s too close to home. There are some scary parts too as well as a lot of drowning. We’re a little too sensitive over here and will have to wait a bit. But the overall theme of this movie is absolutely beautiful. Especially if you need a good cry.
‘Life is waiting for you, Nemo. It would be a shame if you missed that.’
This is one of the writing prompts for my HLH Journaling workshop tomorrow. And i can tell you, i know exactly where my grief is stored, my shoulders and my neck. Why, you ask? Because that’s where I like to bottle everything up and hold on to for later.
I’ve lost some mobility in my neck because of the block of knots that are my shoulders. I see a chiro weekly, a massage therapist monthly and I’m about to add my doctor shortly as I’ve started to get terrible headaches from the neck pain. My chiro told me that I need to add yoga so that I can breathe more. He can barely crack me, it’s so tight.
I workout, I try to stretch and relax as much as I can, but none of that changes my losses. None of that brings my people back. I feel like Atlas, carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. But instead of the world, that ball is the weight of my grief. Heavy and pushing me down.
It’s weird how grief can affect us physically. Part of mine is perhaps psychosomatic, as I was injured in my shoulders and upper body when my son died. The body has a memory for pain and injury. It can remember exactly how something felt. I can remember the sensation of being struck by my car and thrown down the hill. It was not a feeling of weightlessness, but rather like I was in the washing machine, stuck on the spin cycle. And the natural reaction is to tuck. And I feel like ever since that day I’ve tucked into myself, physically. I slouch inwards, as if in defense or protection. Almost as if I’m hugging myself. Or holding myself together.
So this results in tons of shoulder and neck pain. I’m constantly trying to figure out how to make it better. I’m a problem solver by nature, so I need to make it better. I need to learn that my body is a safe space and instead of approaching the world in a protective posture, I need to open my arms to it. I need to end my reign in flight or fight mode and open up to the possibility of joy and love. Because I know that I feel that in my soul, I just need to allow myself to be vulnerable enough in my stature to accept it.
It has almost been a decade since we lost our Benny. And so much in our lives has changed. And yet, somehow, things still seem the same sometimes. I can’t explain it, just like I can’t explain how surreal it feels to lose your child.
I gaze upon pictures of Benny’s face and it seems like it was just yesterday, and it also seems like a lifetime ago. There are moments when I wonder if any of it actually happened. And then I look at his picture and I remember what he smelled like, what the curves of his dimples looked like, what his little curlies felt like against my skin. His life may have been short but it was real.
I can’t explain what today is like. We used to have to leave town because I couldn’t deal with being in the house where he died. I used to want to crawl out of my skin because the reality of November 8th was just too much. The days and weeks leading up to this awful date used to send me into a complete tailspin. And I guess that’s not to say it still doesn’t, just in different ways.
It’s been 9 years of learning to live without my son. And I hate saying the word ‘learning’, because learning implies growth. No one should have to ‘learn’ how to live this way. So instead we move forward, slowly trying to figure out how to navigate what the hell this life looks like.
Now I usually find that I throw myself into projects leading up to November 8th and Benny’s birthday. Apparently I need some creative outlet, or some instant gratification to get through these feelings of grief. That’s how I’m built. I’m a doer and I need to get things done. If you look at the last 9 years of my life, my grief has physical evidence in the home renovation projects that I take on.
I’m not sure what today looks like just yet. We will go to the cemetery, maybe take the dog for a walk. Relax. Eat his favorite food, hot dogs, and just be. There’s a little less stress and angst surrounding today than there used to be. Sometimes I find that sad. Other times I think it means that maybe we have figured out this grief thing a little bit.
Missing my boy everyday, but today especially. Love you Benny ❤️🌻❤️