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