June and Older Grief

June. June with all its beauty and its terror.

It hasn’t hit yet. The swell of grief. Perhaps it hasn’t had an opening yet. Life has become so busy, busy, busy.

I caught up with an old friend the other day. Someone who knows the pain of missing a loved one like a limb.

She said that in the first throes of grief, it touches everything. There is no part without pain. It seeps into all parts of life – family, work, friends, sleep. Everywhere and without escape or reprieve. It’s why the early stages of grief are so exhausting.

But gradually life builds around and on top, gradually there are places where grief does not live. Where you can work, talk and play and not feel the tug of it. But the grief itself has not actually receded. It’s still there – a foundation for some things and still in the centre of others.

When the anniversaries come, when the reminders happen, you find yourself back to the centre. When grief first claimed the landscape of your life.

I am not there now. But I am waiting for the pull.

Right now, Xavier has nestled into my heart and my mind and I talk to him often. Not with sadness, but with warm affection. He acts as a guide.

This is no doubt a manifestation of my own thoughts. I re-examine my ideas through the imagined prism of innocence and wisdom. It is where I gain a different perspective. And even if this is a complete fiction, it allows me a positive relationship with my son.

Nature abhors a vacuum (Aristotle said this first Google tells me). There is no space so big and empty as the echo of a lost loved one. I have chosen to fill my vacuum in this way.

While other things have fallen away. Things that used to fill that space.

When we first chose Xavier’s grave, I couldn’t understand those that seemed untended. How could a parent abandon their child? In the first while, it meant so much to find things for him, to try to make that space beautiful. I poured all this excess love into it and into other creative expression.

And yet, I haven’t visited in so many months. Not because I have abandoned my child but because it’s no longer where I feel him close. I feel it’s important to understand what leads to closer connection and what does not. So often I did things that had become empty motions for longer than I should have. Not because of Xavier but due to a sense of obligation to what I believed grief should look like.

But even the beautiful things that facilitate real connection – the writing, the creating – have taken pause. Hard to fit into a busy life that has grown around grief.

Is it now one thing or another? A gentle, abstract relationship during most of the year and then thrown back into the centre of grief when birthdays and anniversaries come?

I don’t think so. I think the birthdays and anniversaries are a bridge. A way back to the centre. There is more choice about whether to cross that bridge and how far to go as the years pass and grief changes shape.

This too is part of the relationship. A way to re-establish connection before there is too much distance to cross. The pathway to memory and an opportunity for those that don’t have a continuing relationship to love a beautiful baby gone from their lives too soon.

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