Of Precious Memories and a Chocolate Orange

Have you ever purchased something almost as a way to give yourself permission to “live” in a memory for a while?

I kind of think that’s what I did last weekend.

Jason LOVED chocolate. Chocolate chip cookies (mixing, baking, and eating) and chocolate pudding pie with graham cracker crust were just a couple of his many favorites. One year for Jason’s birthday, we had chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, topped with triple chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce. Did I mention he loved chocolate?

He also loved chocolate oranges.

I used to buy chocolate oranges once in a while as a special treat – to put in Christmas stockings, in Easter baskets, or just an “I’m thinking of you” time. I haven’t been able to buy them since Jason died. I just hurt too much.

There were lots of things I found that I couldn’t do any more after Jason died. For example, I couldn’t go into a scrap booking store. I’d have a panic attack and have to leave. We all loved taking and looking at pictures of family and friends, and I had been working on the scrapbook from Jason’s high school graduation when he died. I didn’t take pictures for nearly a year. I just couldn’t do it. I could hardly even look at a chess set or certain board or card games. I couldn’t watch certain movies.

I couldn’t make chocolate chip cookies or chocolate pudding pie because they were his favorites. I couldn’t buy apples or Jason’s favorite snacks. I couldn’t make french toast for quite a while. I couldn’t buy Pillsbury Orange Sweet Rolls with icing, another of Jason’s favorites. I couldn’t listen to any music by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra or Collective Soul. You see, we used to crank up the CD player in the car to “A Mad Russian’s Christmas” by Trans-Siberian Orchestra or “Heavy” by Collective Soul. Jason would play the Trans-Siberian Orchestra well past Christmas, because…well, because there is no season to great music. We’d drive along and rock out to music together in the morning as I took Jason to catch the bus to college.

I couldn’t, I couldn’t, I couldn’t do so many things. There was so much overwhelming grief from Jason’s death and all of the secondary losses/issues that I didn’t have the resources to handle things so very closely associated with Jason. They hit me too painfully right in the heart. They took my breath away, made me feel panic-y, made me want to collapse on the floor and not get up again. I had to deal with things in stages over time. I could only handle what I could handle at the time, and I avoided some things for a while. Some things just hurt too much to do for a long time, and there may even be a few things I will never do again.

But, this past weekend I saw dark chocolate oranges on the shelf of a gift store, and so I bought one for the first time in over ten years. There was no conscious thought process to it; I just bought it. When I got home, I opened the box, rapped the orange foil-wrapped confection on the counter to break apart the segments, unwrapped the foil, and put one of the chocolatey-orange segments into my mouth.

That was when I realized I was just sitting, staring off into space, remembering a long ago time when the small things like sharing a chocolate orange and just being together were some of the most precious times – something I may have taken for granted at the time, something that I will never get to do with again with Jason. Maybe buying that chocolate orange gave me permission to sit, wrapped in that precious memory for a while.

I miss those times. I miss my boy with all my heart.

© 2012 Rebecca R. Carney

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27 thoughts on “Of Precious Memories and a Chocolate Orange

  1. I wish Jason were able to enjoy the chocolates you bought for him. I wish you did not have to sit and stare into space instead of sitting to have a chat with him while enjoying a chocolate chip cookie. Of course you miss those times. You miss your son so very much. It is not fair. You should get as much chocolate and as often as you like. And never feel a jot of guilt about it!

  2. You write so poignantly and hauntingly about the simple things in life that become so hard…I feel for you, Rebecca. I’ve had my moments of those after my mother passed away. Some things are never the same again.

  3. Losing a child is like no pain you will ever experience. Time will never erase the grief, closure is an ugly word that no one really understands, how can you close out the memory of part of you that is no longer with you? God bless you, I understand your feelings and yes, you can teach yourself to live with the loss, but you will never get over it – as I have been told. My son died 5 years ago on September 25, I will never forget him.

  4. My stomach dropped just reading this, Becky. Somehow I think I can imagine how it would be impossible to ever again enjoy certain things that would only trigger a flood of feelings that would overwhelm. As a mother, all I know is that the hardest thing in my life would be to experience what you have been experiencing for a long time now, and the “things” that we connect with your children would be extensions of them bringing them close, but so painfully out of our reach. I am happy to read that the chocolate orange was a very special moment for you. Anything that gives a moment of release is good, I’m sure. oxo

    • It’s funny how ordinary “things” can trigger such strong reactions, isn’t it? I think we all have them – songs that take us back to a certain place or time, movies that remind us of something. Smell is a powerful trigger, too. As a bereaved parent, I found that I was hyper-sensitive to triggers, at least at the beginning, and that brought huge waves of grief and such a feeling of loss. I find now that those triggers still bring feelings of great sadness and loss at times, but they also bring precious memories. I will always miss Jason, and I will always wish he were here.

  5. I bake biscuits (or cookies) in remembrance of Clea. We have even concocted special heart-shaped ‘Clea biscuits’ which have pink icing in the middle. Once, one of my sons wanted to place one of these biscuits on Clea’s heart in the cemetery because hers didn’t work anymore. When we travel, I still buy little gifts for Clea. I wear a red coral ring which I bought for her in Mexico. There are things I do not do, there are places I do not visit, particularly children’s parks. We will always remember and we will always miss our children. Eat as much chocolate as you like.

  6. Beautiful post as always. You had a precious relationship with your son with special memories, which I’m sure makes it harder to navigate each day, each year. There’s always something to remind you of him. And yet, there’s always something to remind you of him.

  7. I will think of Jason when I listen to Collective Soul “Heavy”, “A Mad Russian’s Christmas” by TSO and when I eat a chocolate orange. Your last sentence was profound.

  8. Blessings to you and your boy, Rebecca. I have never thought of how food–like a chocolate orange–can be so associated with a loved one who has passed. Thank you. You have a beautiful blog here honoring your dear one.

  9. Reblogged this on saifsnicujourney and commented:
    This brought me to tears. I think it has comforted me to know that no matter why or when your child is taken, the feelings I’m feeling are normal…..and that it’s never easy…it seems like you never get over it but I’m inspired to see that by having memories and carrying those with you ,even in the form of a simple orange chocolate, can give you …even if for a moment, comfort and a sense of your child being with you in spirit .

  10. I am so glad you found me because now I have found you…. I am so, so very sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine. I hope you continue to find comfort in your writings. I know you are helping so many others. Thank you for sharing your writings. I look forward to reading more from you. You’re in my thoughts…. :))

  11. Thank you so much for joining Life Beyond the Picket Fence! Your space here is one with much hope for others who need hope. It will be one I will refer others to not only in blogging space, but as a counselor working with hurting people. Thank you for connecting !

  12. Just came across your blog. My daughter Amy was 21 when she went home to the Lord. She had Cystic Fibrosis and lived a full life. Going to the grocery store was torture for me for some time. I remember for me, it was yogurt I could not buy. I still think of her everytime I see her favorite flavor. there were other things I couldn’t do that now bring a sweet memory. We never forget these precious ones. I really related to this post.

  13. Beautifully said and expressed. The love we felt and feel, the things we shared and can no longer physically do so, the memories whether from years ago or today’s, is what keeps us moving on, living and not merely existing. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

  14. My son Zach died Nov 23, 2003… He was 21 years young… Ur journey is similar to mine… This year near Valentines Day I saw a Valentines card….. It shouted ‘Zachary’ from the moment I saw it….. I bought it for Zach… I wanted to… I had to…. It made me feel good to buy him this card…. I kept it…. I can see his smile and hear his laugh as he reads the card.

    It may seem silly.. But it warmed my heart to buy the card for him… I know I cannot not hand it to him, but I feel his presence in my heart and know he understands…. Thank u for sharing… Ur blog is helping me keep my son close after losing him too long ago… Dina

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