This is the last month of the year Sam was alive in. It’s been a year of firsts : much like the 1st year of his life except as each date passed, they were filled with sadness rather than joy. The milestones have added up – first Thanksgiving; first Christmas; first birthdays; first Easter ; first winter spring and summer: first year. All of these milestones we celebrated 32 years ago – but this year they were just filled with an emptiness – for me anyway.
It’s been the hardest year of my life. And as I navigate each day and each tear, it doesn’t get easier.
I’m told by other grieving parents that the second year is even harder. I don’t know if my heart can, or will survive it.
My thoughts of my son are obsessive: I can’t get him out of my head. I can’t stop the thoughts or the flow of memories. I’m afraid to say his name because it makes people uncomfortable. I used to speak freely of him, and of my other children in general conversation but, with death it seems that we are expected to not speak their name anymore. And I hate that. I’m proud of who he was just as I am proud of all of my children but it feels like I’m supposed to steer away from any conversation that his name would come up. Our society and culture has such an unhealthy attitude about death. I believe we should celebrate who our loved ones were in life even after they are gone.
But I started a ribbon campaign in my neighbourhood that starts tomorrow : many of my neighbour’s are going to tie teal and purple ribbons on a tree or fence post on their front lawn for the month of Aug. It is for Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention. It has opened a dialogue amongst us. The local paper is even picking up on the story in hopes that it reaches more neighbourhoods. So talking about Sam is having an effect, sadly, amongst strangers. For me, the ribbons are a way to celebrate my son but they are significant in bringing a lack of mental health awareness into the open : Sam will bring about an awareness of mental health and suicide prevention into the open. I hope that it helps to save someone, somewhere. I’m so proud of my boy.
The other night I was watering my garden and I felt like if I would turn around at that moment, I would see him standing there right behind me, with a big grin on his face. I wanted that so badly : just to have a brief moment with him. But I didn’t turn because I was afraid that if I did he wouldn’t be there and the vision in my head would lose any meaning. So instead, I just smiled at the thought. And it was special.