IN SEARCH OF HOME
Last night I went on a date with my sweet wife. As we were driving we saw a beautiful sunset and pulled over so we could enjoy the canvas of light that was disappearing before our eyes. Mitch was a fan of sunsets, too, and we couldn't help but think of our little boy and how he would have enjoyed seeing what we saw.
To our left was a most beautiful array of warm colors as the sun was slowly descending; to our right were storm clouds (not seen in this image) that had all manner of deep blues – the contrast was stunning. As my wife walked down a dirt road to take in the sky I couldn't help but think of our journey to find a new normal. Though I didn't see Jupiter with my eyes, I could feel its tug nearby.
Later that evening I posted this photo I took with my phone to Instagram with the caption, “In Search of Home” making a veiled reference to a recent post about our journey from Jupiter, “Should I live out my days marooned in some place between the punishing gravity of grief and the near weightlessness I knew before, I will count myself blessed.”
This image isn't meant to be sad, nor is it a cry for help; rather, it is a symbol of progress, our journey with grief and our search for a new home. It shows we no longer live on Jupiter with its thin air and crushing gravity, though it is close by and the pains of loss shuttle us there often. The point of this image is we don’t live there anymore yet we search for a new home in an unfamiliar place.
For us the world remains unfamiliar on so many levels. The most mundane things remind me the world we once knew is no longer. When we go out to eat or see a movie as a family and we’re asked how many to our party, I often say “six” then quickly correct myself … “Oh, I mean five.” I never knew a simple number could hurt so much. And then there are those who naively say, “It’s been a year, it’s time to move on” … yet they know nothing of such a loss. They remind me that even the people in my life, however well intentioned, live in some other place much different than my own.
What I've come to understand is the journey of grief is as unique as the individual bearing it. I have known death; I have lost a parent, family and best friends, but nothing has acquainted me with deep grief like the death of my child. That is an altogether different, catastrophic sorrow – there is simply no comparison. Yet, I think I have discovered something about grief: we don’t make a journey through grief … instead we make our journey with grief. Once we appreciate the force of that distinction we realize we never get over the death of a child we just learn to carry it differently.
I have witnessed how having a child changes one’s life forever. In life there is simply no equal to the experience of having children. As I've noted earlier, 12 years ago Mitch didn't exist and I was quite content without him … but now that I've had him I find myself struggling to find a way to live without him. Because of Mitch, and my other children, my world has forever changed.
In the grand scheme of things, it seems humanity needs our children as much as they need us – for we are both teachers and students to each other. My children have taught me patience, sacrifice and the deepest meaning of love. Had I forgone the opportunity to have children I would have missed out on the greatest miracle in all the universe.
I have so many new stories to tell about Mitch and his journey. I don’t tell these stories to wallow in sorrow and I don’t tell them for fear my son will be forgotten – I tell them because they are what’s in my heart at the time … and if someone else can find their way through their own struggles, it is well with me.
Though I may speak of grief [often through my grief] know that I do not live in a constant state of sorrow. Let this image become a symbol, not of sadness but of progress … that the journey continues as we search for a new home and a new normal.