March 3, 2022 is just around the corner, really only a couple of days away – the 20th anniversary of Jason’s sudden departure from this world. I can tell the day is getting close, as I can every year. It’s like I have an internal clock that reminds me, even though I don’t intentionally remind myself. I don’t need a calendar. I feel it in every fiber of my body.
All of a sudden I feel like I’m having a panic attack. I can’t breathe. I want to escape somewhere or to run to some place, but I have nowhere to go. There is no place without the pain of grief. Or a song comes on and tears spring to my eyes. This is generally not uncommon for me, but it happens more so this time of year. My emotions are much closer to the surface – not only grief, but all kinds of emotions. My patience is short, I am more easily frustrated or on edge. Out of the blue, I find myself incredibly sad. Situations that occurred during that time in our lives come to mind more often, even in dreams.
I dreamed the other night that two people – a gal in our homeschool group that I considered to be a friend and her daughter who was a friend of our daughter – had decided that they needed to write letters to me to apologize for the way they had acted when Jason died. They kept trying to give me their letters, but I was still so hurt by their actions (or lack thereof) that I was unwilling to read them. At the same time (in my dream), our landlord – the one who so unceremoniously kicked us out – drove by. His vehicle was full of other homeschool people we knew. With our landlord being the loudest, they were all leaning out the windows and yelling over and over, “I’m sorry!!!! I’m sorry!!! I’m sorry!!!” And then I woke up.
Over the years, I have worked hard on forgiveness, even though with one or two exceptions there have been no apologies, no acknowledgement of anything. At the lowest and most vulnerable place in our lives, we were left so alone for a lot of the time. I have written about some of what we all went through, but I am not at liberty to share all. I have to keep my mind from going to certain places. If I want to (and even sometimes when I don’t really try to), I see things that happened during that time so clearly in my mind and can step back into that time so easily. I don’t want to be a bitter person. I’ve read other bloggers who talk about incredible support. I’m happy to hear about bereaved individuals who have support, but, as you know if you’ve read any of my writings here, that necessarily wasn’t our case. It’s been a long, rough journey. There have been some kindnesses, to be sure, but a lot of loneliness and a lot of residual secondary losses/grief.
We watched a movie the other day called “Free Guy.” It’s a comedy starring Ryan Reynolds, who plays a character in a video game. It took a little while to get into the movie and decide whether we liked it or not, but, in the end, we enjoyed it. As we were watching it, I kept thinking, “Jason would really like this movie.”
Jason liked playing video games, even learning to play his favorite game of chess on an Atari game console when he was little. In college, he took a video game programming class. His professor wrote to me several years ago, saying he still had a copy of the game Jason developed and got it out once in a while to play it. It’s nice when people remember…and tell us about it. They say moms – family members, too – are the keepers of the memories.
I’m looking forward to getting our things out of storage when we move into our new house. We don’t have much left. About half of what we have in storage are photographs and momentos. My goal is to put together a scrapbook in memory of Jason – things that I saved from his time here on earth. Swimming awards, Awana Bible memory awards, things he’s written, pictures he drew, photographs, little everyday things that represent who he was. They are poor substitutes for Jason himself, but they are what I have, along with my memories.
Oh, my precious boy. I can’t believe you have been gone twenty years. I’m so incredibly sad you aren’t here. I miss you so much and I love you without end.
© 2022 Rebecca R. Carney