10 years ago this beautiful son of mine went down for a nap and never woke up. I can feel his still warm body, limp in my arms. Not breathing, not moving. Nestled perfectly into my sobbing chest.
How do you describe the pain of a wound that never heals? How do you cure the phantom pain of a missing child? A hand you will never hold again. A cry you will never hear. A little face permanently missing from your Christmas card?
I try to think back. To summon his memories and harken his image into my mind. He’s not even in my dreams. I notice his absence and my whole heart aches.
The anniversary of his death is a milestone that’s different from any other marker in our lives. It isn’t something we celebrate. It’s more like a sobriety chip. A reminder that marks the time passed, and makes me marvel, “how on earth did I get through the past ten years?”
Alex is never forgotten. He’s not that child that gets dusty on the top shelf. He’s more like that child right at eye level. The one you have to move aside to get to the granola bars and goldfish crackers. He’s at the top of my sock drawer, at the bottom of my laundry basket. He’s in my rear view mirror when I back my car out of the garage.
He’s ever-present and most of the time his memory gives me comfort and warmth. As he has been gone almost 10 years, I can’t crumble into a puddle on the floor. There are baseball games and zoom meetings. Life continues in a predictable, annoying continuum.
I take a deep breath and try to appreciate the two beautiful months we had with him. Too hard to remember, too hard to forget.