January 11, 2012
I hate cold, rainy mornings like this one. Dark, grey sky even before daylight. And I know it is going to be this way all day.
I am chilled to the bone. Was running late, so didn’t dry my hair and the car’s heater didn’t warm up fast enough to keep me from getting this cold.
Part of the shiver, I know, is due to this annual 44-day countdown. I have never liked that either. Reminds me of what Alex used to say as a little boy when I asked him to do a chore, like picking up his toys. He’d turn to me and say, “I don’t wanna like that!”
This annual countdown from December 18th to January 31st is something I don’t wanna like. But it comes. Every year. For 18 years now. The last 44 days of Alex’s life.
Yes, I counted them a few months after the funeral. When everyone else returned to the routines of their lives. God bless them. They took time out to walk with me through the worst of it. But now, they’ve gone back to their usual lives and I no longer know what a usual life is.
I do know that for a very long time every young man in his twenties that I saw going about his daily life – at work, at the bowling lanes, driving down the highway – I was so angry with them. Why are they still alive? What are they doing with their precious lives?
The real question is always, what was I doing with my life during those last 44 days of my son’s life? If he’d had cancer, I am sure I would have been right there with him. If he’d been in an accident and had life-threatening injuries, perhaps in a coma, I would have been there – holding his hand and trying to connect with him in even a slight way. But “all” he had was severe depression. Which I foolishly did not see. I did not appreciate the depth of his pain. I had no idea he was falling into an abyss from which there was no return.
Cold, grey days are especially hard for me this time of year. It is much like the January of ’94 which had been cold and snowy and icy for weeks.
And the dread that I remember, each year, is like a freight train off in the distance. I see it coming. It is headed right for me. There is still time to move off the track and let the train pass on by. But I am stuck in place and the D train is barreling on. Every day of the 44, the train comes closer, closer, so painfully closer.
Nothing to do. No escape. Reality and history are not kind or gentle. Gut-wrenching. Looking for something to fill the space – the void created by a child gone. My child. My own child.
Come on, Train. Go on by. So I can go to the peace of silence. A silence that is broken only by the sound of my own beating heart.