It’s been a year now since losing Sam overnight at the sweet age of 16 to a little-known synthetic drug, 25i-NBOMe. Now comes the second year but what heartache, if any, has dissipated? None, it’s just different is all. In the first year, every morning is waking up like Ground Hog Day, the movie with Bill Murray. Then with daily realization that you've lost your son, the memories then continuously come straight on at you with every twist and turn you naturally make. Every time I pull into the garage, I remember that last time Sam and I cleaned the garage and how he was listening to music on his headphones while using the blower. How well we had worked together and accomplished much in a short amount of time. Then as I step out of the car and begin my path to the house, I pass his moped remembering that he last drove it that fateful night that he went to stay at a neighborhood friend’s and never came back. I see the moped’s glove box has fallen opened and Sam’s hair brush is leaning out; he always had to make sure the hair brush was there as it was a requirement that one fix their hair just so after arriving at destination and taking off helmet. It was Sam’s way whether his hair was cut summer short or approaching that Jerry Lee Lewis wavy, crazy length. In the house, in the laundry room, Sam’s hoodies hang as always on his chosen wall hooks. From the hallway, when I enter the half bathroom off the kitchen and look in the mirror, I am reminded of the picture of Sam I shockingly saw on TV one night unexpectedly. Sam had taken a mirror-selfie in that bathroom and used it on Facebook and it was then staring back at me on my TV screen. I ponder how many others know what my main level half bath looks like now; knowing I really don't care but that doesn't erase the initial shock I had. And as I sit in my home office daydreaming, I remember the after-school routine where Sam, as soon as he was home, would round the corner in the hallway outside my office to head upstairs and how he would say something about the day, what he was going to do next or any other amusement, like a song lyric that was stuck in his mind that he couldn’t keep from boasting to me as he took the stairs two at a time. Then there's Sam's bedroom that I walk by countlessly knowing what is and isn’t on the other side of the door now. And next to Sam's room, is the double-sink bathroom that he and his brother, Nick, shared but now it has a sink that is no longer used. And I’m going to stop there; that is a mere impression of a day, year one.
And a day in year two; well last night was about par for the course. I waited to go to bed until I knew that I would close my eyes and hopefully, instantly, be off to sleep. Then two separate times I woke up with a start and the sweats from the fierce imaginings that I was having while it was pitch black and deadly silent in the night. I have learned never to look at the time when I awake in the night because then I will instantly think about Sam dying overnight and at what time according to his death certificate and whether the time now was before Sam died, the hour that Sam died, or that Sam was already dead at that time of the night. There is no acceptable thought to any of those. And the sweats that bring dampness clear through my night clothes and drench the back of my hair quickly cause chills. And by the second time I awake with the sweats, a headache has kicked in full force. Finally, knowing I won’t be able to sleep no matter how exhausted I am, I roll out of bed and feel the nausea come on. I try to eat something which sometime works to settle my stomach although it is not an empty stomach that is causing the nausea. It is the thought of the worst day of my life, the day my son died; then the funeral and his body in the casket. Those thoughts clash with the wondrous pictures of my son in my mind and happy feelings that came when we were alive together. And then it becomes about survival; getting by the next hour of the morning somehow.
I remember picking Sam up from practice once and he asked me if I had had a bad day; I was quiet contemplating handling something professionally was all. I think of that now and I know when Sam asked me that question how ill-equipped at the time I was to answer it. I had never known a bad day then. I consider that further when I hear someone saying what a bad day they are having because of a parenting dilemma, a not-so-nice family member or friend situation, or their workload, schedule, etc. or even that a personal outcome they were seeking led to havoc instead. I hear the tone of their voice; the frustration, the disappointment, maybe anger… and I think how temporary that all is. In year two, I live in imaginary ways because on Earth, death is not temporary. Life is. #muchlovetosam