The ache in my chest is so acute, I gasp for air. I tell myself that the intensity won’t last long. I can do this. How many times have I done this before?
Those bursts of grief are shorter now, the intensity still sharp but less something.
I no longer hold myself hostage for the what-ifs or blame myself for parenting errors. I left that in its wake years ago. What good would it do? Moments of guilt do happen still but it’s a short sting and then I remember that I have forgiven myself.
The ache that seizes me so many years later is different. The drugs and suicide were part of the story but at this point, it’s not the cause of death, I just miss my child. I miss seeing my son’s head full of beautiful curls bobbing in the wind. The hugs that took my heart prisoner. The fits of laughter in response to something he said so violent I thought my ribs would break.
He’ll never get wrinkles and look older, forever frozen at age 20 in photographs that will one day look dated and already feel like it was a long time ago. I now know healing isn’t a destination but a continuous journey. I have learned to move forward. I have learned to live with grief. And I’ve learned to love a child that no longer lives in the same world as I do.