Over the past months many people have asked me how will I handle the absence of Wesley in the huge milestones in my life and the lives of others. Birthdays, weddings, funerals, graduations and all of the other moments of joy or sadness that, God willing, will be a part of my life. My answer is that I have no idea.
We have survived a handful of events this spring and summer including our anniversary, multiple birthdays of loving family and close friends, the birth of our newest nephew all of which would have been occasions of joy and his absence at these happy moments has been acutely felt. As I have said before Wesley loved a party and took great joy in celebrating the happy times in our and other people’s lives. But I know that I have only begun to face the events and celebrations of which Wesley will not be a part. At least not in the way we had imagined a mere 5 months ago.
But it is not in the momentous occasions that I find his loss most pointed so far, it is the smaller moments, those simple and mundane details. Reaching to grab a case of Dr Pepper in the grocery store only to remember that I don’t need to buy that anymore because there is nobody to drink it, setting the table and grabbing one too many plates, holding my phone to text Wesley some funny detail of my day only to realize that I’ll not get a reply back. And it is crushing. Because in that small moment I have forgotten.
I’ve failed to remember how much our lives have been altered and in that instant it is like every other day in our lives, the life that had three not two people living in it. When the harsh facts click back into my mind and the fast rush back to reality begins to set in I’m dizzied and can hear the blood rush in my ears. It often sounds like screaming. These everyday thoughts are like muscle memory and the involuntary breathing in and out but I’m having to find a new way to draw breath in a chest that is heavy with worry, sorrow and doubt about my life. In those moments of forgetting for the briefest of instants mine and Julia’s lives and the lives of those we love are not inexorably changed. It is just another Saturday or Tuesday afternoon and Wesley will be coming home soon. I think, “Maybe I can get him to make meat loaf tonight if I get the mashed potatoes to go with it.” But that is not real and in my heart and head I know it. I have the lie to take solace in until I carefully place the extra plate back in the cabinet, put my phone in my purse and take the Dr. Pepper out of the shopping cart. Then my eyes usually pricking with tears re-focus and I step away from the fantasy and into the reality.