Today is day four of the Jennifer Aniston “don’t wash your hair” look from the movie “CAKE”; 2nd day-in-a-row for wearing my “Just Do It.” t-shirt. I'm comfortable with that. But where have I been this past year marking that I’ve made it through one more day and then months and now an actual year in May since my son, Sammy, died. I think about him all the time. When I hear someone, like his brother Nick, say his name out loud retelling something Sam said, I desperately reach outside of myself to remember what it was truly like when Sam said that and how I felt then… alive.
What my sons’ said was a common day, even hourly, occurrence just over a year ago and now one of them is silent and I am no longer hearing his voice, seeing his eyes, watching his movements. The laughter that was there in all of us now falls as deafening silence around me; within the walls of my house that I try to find again, still, my home. So much silence that I can hear the “tick tock, tick tock, tick tock” from the clock hanging on the kitchen wall. I didn’t realize it was so loud before. Our voices carried over it then. Now I know.
Outside today it is beautiful with the sun shining and the rays’ warmth attempting to sink into my skin. Out of the sun’s purview, I perch on our screened porch in a lounge chair that overlooks the backyard basketball court where I’ve watched from daylight to dusk, over the years, many games of one-on-one, two-on-two, three-on-three as well as the routine of individual shooting drills my sons picked up along their basketball journeys. Sam liked me to rebound for him as he would quickly get on a roll that way. Today, sitting in my once-favorite lounge chair, it is Nick, his year younger brother, that I am watching. He prefers to mix up his shots and get his own rebounds to facilitate that. And with every basket that he makes I give my usual positive feedback and for those baskets missed, equally encouraging words. Distance and the porch screen separates me and the basketball court so the pain that appears as tears running down my face are not visible with every positive and encouraging word for Nick as simultaneously, there are tears shed silently for Sam.
As my thoughts drift, I’m recalling a few weeks ago a dear friend just marked the second year that her daughter passed away. I haven’t experienced the two-year mark yet but when I went to take her flowers on a day she’ll never forget, as soon as she opened the door, I recognized the look on her motherly face. And as she dried her eyes to greet me, I hugged her and tried to comfort her but I couldn’t stop myself from blurting, “It doesn’t get any easier.” And she in her ever-honest reply tells me, “No, it doesn’t.” I couldn’t stop hugging her trying to provide some shelter from the pain I saw when looking in her eyes. As I left her and drove away, I reflected, “if not year two, when?”
And as I sit here today just after one year, with stifling pain… feeling cold, tired and ragged… on a day that is full of sunshine, warmth and promise… I pray to live again before I die. #muchlovetosam