Most days we are functioning a little better now. Yesterday we had our first sled hockey event, just an equipment inventory, and it was way more emotional than a hockey event like that should be. Today Kathie went to her workout and about a half hour in caught herself checking on Paul repeatedly (he used to go to the gym with her and hang out). Just as Roxanne came on the music list. A little too much all at once. Weird things like that sneak up on us.
Neither of us are all that good at just sitting still. Paul’s death made us stop and sit for a while, for sure. Not a mode we are used to being in, but we are doing it occasionally when needed and I think it is healthy. Little things set us off to crying, so we take time to cry. Different things for Kathie and different for Paige and for me, and at different times. A card with a story from a friend, a post from one of Paul’s friends, a song, or a place Paul used to like to go. We call it the “Daily Kick in the Gut”. It is not totally unpleasant to have a memory and a feeling of loss and to think of Paul. We have learned to let each other have that moment to weep or just sit – it is OK to feel that way. Then you catch your breath and move on. Sometimes we can find reason to laugh at a fun memory, or at ourselves.
Kathie and I have been searching for other parents that have lost a child and for groups that we can share our experience with. We pragmatically search for ways that have worked for others to cope with the grief and with daily life. We are not the first to experience loss of a loved one, and losing a child seems to be an exclusive and different group. We have found many people who don’t think about it the way we do. We don’t think that all things happen for a reason, or that we won’t get more than we can handle. These ideas offer no comfort for us. We would love to be able to hand this off to a higher power, but we can’t. We know this works for some of you and we wouldn’t try to take that away. We know we are not the only ones who suffered a loss when Paul passed away.
Kathie found an article I like very much about losing a child. There is a paragraph or two about finding a brief moment where we can remember Paul, “without the veil of sorrow and allow the comfort of happiness to flow in”. There was, and is, a ton of happiness with Paul, and we want to access that. This idea spoke to us and how we want to remember Paul, and maybe how we can move forward with life. It reminds me of meditation. Put our minds in a safe place, to be disciplined in how we let ourselves think about Paul. Not to hide from the pain or the grief, and not to hand it over, but to hold the prism in a different way.
I read that pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. Suffering depends on us clinging to what is lost, unable to think about it as anything other than a loss never to be regained. Pain from losing someone awesome doesn’t have to be experienced that way, it can be remembered as a special part of a life and celebrated. Even though it can’t be regained, it can be recalled. And if we allow ourselves to be open to it, other things can happen for us that are great, too. For us, Paul will always be there with us for those things. We are now sometimes saying to each other “Paul would have loved that”. And then we think about his smile and it helps us smile too.