Before Hayes passed, I thought I could imagine what grief felt like, I was so scared of it and justifiably so, I had no idea the depths of pain it would cause me. Now it is all that I have left of him. The other day I was putting laundry away in the boys room. I opened up the closet door and that pain punched me in the gut. There on the floor in the corner of their closet is a pile of grown out clothes. A pile of clothes Hayes once wore. I fell to my knees, picked up each piece of clothing and remembered what we did when he wore them. That is grief…a pile of his old clothes in the closet.
I remember last spring, when Hayes was going through treatment and I was browsing the toddler boys section of Target. I remember seeing a sweater and thinking I should get matching sweaters for the boys to wear in the fall, when Hayes was done with cancer. I never thought I would be that mom, but I loved buying their clothes in two so they could match. Very clearly, I remember for a brief moment fearing buying two of the same because what if Hayes wasn’t going to be around. I remember the distinct feeling of being disgusted with that uninvited thought. Of course he was always going to be there. So I bought two of everything I wanted for them trying to force the guilt out of my mind, to will that thought out of my head. Grief is looking in their closet now and seeing all those duplicates still with tags on the collars.
If you go into the boys room, it is still distinctly both of theirs. Matching cribs, matching bedding, matching “H’s” above their beds. A thoughtful design to keep them connected. His crib is still there. His “H” is still hanging. His bedding is still neatly folded next to all his stuffed animals in his crib. Grief is seeing Heath grow bigger every day and realizing with dread that I will one day soon have to take Hayes’ crib down to make room for Heath’s “big boy” life.
Soccer teams, tee ball teams, late night giggle fests, triplet birthday parties, learning to ride bikes….everything in groups of 3. Everything I never knew I dreamed of. Grief is the what could have beens.
As the school year came to a close last week, I found myself reflecting on what my kids just fought through. It was a rough year academically and socially. I find myself being ok with a “C” on their report cards or being ok with them falling behind in their reading abilities and being ok with them acting out at school. I try to talk them through it as best I can. We are all treading unknown waters so I let things slide and hope for a day when sadness won’t overtake their school work. Grief is watching your older children struggle academically and socially because of their loss. And along those lines, grief is feeling guilty that my other children need me and I don’t know how to be there!
Tonight I went out and sat on my porch. The sun was setting and there was a light warm breeze twisting and turning the “Hayes” wind chime that hangs on my front porch. The street was quiet, no one was in sight. I just sat in the chair and listened as the wind chime sang to me. Tears flowed and I felt Hayes close. Grief is feeling him in everything. The wind, the sky, a smile, the rain….
The odd thing about grief is that it never gets easier. It hasn’t gotten less painful with time. In fact, it feels like it gets more and more painful each day. How does the world move on? How can the world function without my sweet Hayesey. Grief is watching the world move on and realizing I still have a lifetime without him. I am sure pain will come few and far between as the years go by, but it is hard to find solace when I feel like my heart breaks more and more each day! I promise I will continue to choose joy, but on a day like today, Memorial Day, where we remember the fallen, I am choosing to feel everything I have left of him.