1461 days without you

grief self portrait

At the friendship bench dedicated to Zoe at her school

In other years I have these posts written in my head long before the anniversary of the day you left us, but this year there just don’t seem to be any words, so this may be a little disjointed.

I’m borrowing some words from another bereaved parent, songwriter, author and musician Nick Cave, from the depths of his grief after losing his son: “I think I’m losing my voice… just file it under lost things. My voice, my iPhone, my judgment, my memory… isn’t it the invisible things that have so much mass?”

I’ve been having thoughts about weight, about mass and gravity. I have only to close my eyes to feel the physical weight of you as a newborn in my arms, as the toddler I would carry around with the groceries and library books and the scooter you had said you would ride. The 14 kg weight of you we tried hard to maintain while you were on chemo, drifting off to sleep on my chest, lulled by the soothing rhythm of the pump that fed you through your NG tube.

Later, when you were well, I still carried you often, 18kgs, long after the age others expected you to always walk. You tired easily after chemo, you always wanted to be close to your mama and I loved being close to you. The familiar mass of you would often appear in my bed in the middle of the night. You were six, you never got any older. Then there were the days when you became lighter and lighter, when once again you slept against my chest like a newborn, until we couldn’t keep you here, tied to the earth any longer and your soul drifted beyond our reach altogether.

In the book The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Tereza represents weight, gravity and meaning, Sabina represents a carefree existence of pleasure. In the end Tomáš chooses weight, chooses meaning. Yet both were the leitmotif of his life.

I carry the weight of you with me always. It anchors me to my life and gives meaning to it. And yet I have in the past year experienced moments of immense lightness, joy and tenderness, as well as moments of deep heartbreak and sorrow. These things have often been connected and can pass from one to the other seamlessly, each containing the other.

I am grateful it was you who taught me to accept that, that the nature of life and relationships is not one or the other, but both. You are the leitmotif of my life, the recurrent theme, my joy, my sorrow, my weight, my light, guiding me still through those moments.

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