Thanksgiving day 2019 was beautiful and started with a hike in the mountains. Dinner was amazing and festive.
There’s a familiar dull ache and heavy feeling that comes over me. I see our family together and know how much Charles would have enjoyed it. More than anything, that child loved family and the get togethers that brought us all together.
He’d have been outside today with those kids playing badminton and he would have orchestrated a corn hole game after. He’d have insisted we all go outside and build a fire and would have loved on the new puppy my nephew and his girlfriend now have.
No matter how many years it has been from the death of my child to the family event where I find myself, there are tears and that ache of grief–the future I was cheated of. No one asks, “So what is Charles up to these days?” Why would they? To everyone else he’s already a yellowed photograph and distant memory.
I see him in my mind so clearly today. My imagination inserts him in the scene and plays movies of him wrestling with the dogs, laughing at the table, making jokes and laughing, those loose brown curls framing his boyish face. In those thoughts, he’s forever frozen at age 20.
I should be sitting back and enjoying what he had become. Instead the sharp nick of regret on my soul burns a little more and that familiar replay of his last phone call prior to his suicide tugs on my conscious. I won’t let it stay and torture me having learned long ago how to pull myself from that dark cave. It only occasionally nags at me now but always hurts the same.
This is the last holiday my in-laws will host family in this house, a home where Charles spent in summer, a place where he found joy, peace, love, and lizards.