There has been so much about this one-year anniversary that has been making every day harder than usual. I was doing so well for so long, and lately all of the tiny little pieces that I was slowly putting together began to crumble again. Lou has been going through the same emotions. One year later and the pain of losing our son feels so much more real. It feels like we spent a year surviving, getting by, learning to smile again, escaping... and now we are faced with the reality that it still hurts just as much and the only difference is that 365+ days went by and he still isn't coming back.
I got in my car last night and it was the first time there was a real winter chill in the air. I drove around thinking about how soon these trees would be covered in snow. Then I tried to remember last winter, and I couldn't dig up one single memory. I thought to myself, "I know I lived an entire winter without Ty, but I can't remember how? What was I doing every day?" Technically, I know the answer of course. But in my mind it's like it didn't even happen. Apparently, I am not alone in this phenomenon. I keep in touch with other grieving parents and I guess this whole one-year sinking-in feeling of all-around awfulness is part of the grieving process.
I have also been weighed down by tremendous guilt lately. Guilt that in my heart of hearts I know I don't deserve, but I can't stop it from suffocating me. I am consumed with thoughts of Ty's suffering. I was his Mommy. I was supposed to make it better. To protect him. And instead, I stood by his bedside, helpless, holding his hands while he begged me to stop the nurses from sticking needles into his chest. And those needles were the least of the horrors that he endured, all while I stood by watching. Whispering "I love you, everything is going to be okay." Lies. It was all lies! How can I even live with myself?
When he was home during his healthier cancer days, we still had to go to the hospital to get accessed for bloodwork every week. He always seemed to know something was up.
"Mama?... Where we goin?... Mama?.... Where are we driving to?" with worry in his voice.
"I don't know baby, just for a drive," I would say, so he wouldn't scream and carry on the entire 20 minutes. Every time I pulled into the parking lot the tears would flow and screaming ensued. He would beg me not to go inside. I wonder if he felt betrayed. One time he got so physical with me, he "escaped" down the hospital hall - scooting away from the blood lab and screaming "no, no, no I won't let you do it!" How defeated he must have felt every time to have NO CONTROL in those decisions. He was proud to have gotten so far down the hall, only to have me reluctantly march over and pick him up to bring him back to the room. What choice did I have? I wonder if I should have handled that differently. In hindsight, I think there are a lot of things I should have handled differently.
Please understand that this is a cleansing for me. It feels good to release the truth about what I'm thinking when I reflect on Ty's treatment. I know that we did all we could do. Every decision we made for Ty was made out of pure love, with his well-being the most important factor. We had such tremendous hope that all of his suffering would reap the greatest reward and he would go on to live an incredible, inspiring life. Now I just need to learn to accept that we didn't make any wrong decisions. That the outcome was never predetermined, and we did all the right things to try and save our baby. It's just so unfair that we even had to make such decisions. It's even more unfair that he won't be putting on a costume tomorrow. He was just a little boy. A sweet, innocent, perfect little baby. And he was mine - I consider myself the luckiest person alive, regardless, because of that fact alone.
Our entire family has been pretty in sync lately. Even Gavin was having one of those days today. He mentioned his brother twice today, once when he saw the letter "T" and once when he was telling me about how he wants to draw a family portrait for Lou's birthday present (Lou's bday is next week).
"I will draw you, me, Ty, Mely and DAD-DY!" he said proudly
After his bath he made a sad face in the mirror. He asked me if I remembered when he cried for Ty and said "I want Ty to stay." I said, "yes, I remember, and I wanted Ty to stay, too."
"Bad God! I am MAD at God."
"No baby, don't be mad at God. God helped Ty get better by bringing him to Heaven."
"No! I say BAD God, because I wanted Ty to STAY! I wanted him to go to the HOSPITAL to get better, not HEAVEN! AARGH!"
I pulled him up on my lap and told him that heaven is better than the hospital and that he will get to see Ty in heaven some day. He started to ask me about Heaven, and I never know what to say.
"What's it like in Heaven? Are there ladybugs?"
"I think so," I said. "And rainbows, and lots of other children, and all the candy you could ever want. I think heaven is really beautiful. And FUN!"
He seemed okay with that. My sweet boy just misses his brother. I can certainly understand that. Halloween will never be the same, but I vow to enjoy it with Gavin because Ty wouldn't want it any other way.