How many times did I hear the words? How many cards echoed the sentiment?
He is not really gone. He is always in your heart. No matter what, you will always remember your son, your baby.
I would gather up those words, try to make sense of them. Examine them over and over again in the hope that some comfort would eventually seep out. Instead, the words became nonsensical.
How could I ever forget my child? How would that even be possible? How could my heart, which had expanded with love for my son, ever contract? And he was gone. Stolen away at two weeks old, suddenly and unexpectedly. My aching arms were empty and he was certainly, most certainly
Those sentiments were offered with good intentions. The people who gave them to me desperately wanted to impart hope and support. But to those that told me I would always remember my son, I wanted to say, “Of course, I would no sooner forget him than I would my living child, but will you? Will you remember my son? Will you think of him on his birthday? Will you wonder what he may have grown up to be? What he might have said on his wedding day? Where he would have travelled? What the life snatched away from him may have been? I will remember him always, but will you? Will you hold his legacy with me?”
I never uttered those thoughts. I accepted the platitudes that people offer when loved ones die. I whispered thank you and added words to a growing pile of truisms and double edged swords. Nearly three years after his death, those blades are still sharp.
He is always in my heart. He is always around me. When I see a butterfly or the light filters through the trees in a certain way, I think of him and smile. When I see a rainbow or hear a particularly beautiful piece of music, I feel him near. And, for a moment, those sentiments given at a funeral, now so long ago, make sense. But having him as a constant in my heart is not always so poetic. It means darker things. When my littlest boy took his first shaky steps, I ached for a moment I would never have with my middle son. When my eldest talks fearlessly and protectively of Xavier, I watch the pain and the pride battle in my husband’s eyes. As my lost little boy’s birthday and anniversary near, I feel my mind descend into the shadowier places of grief. This is not a choice. This is the life of a bereaved parent. It gets easier. The colour returns. But it is never the same. Because they are always in your heart and missing in your arms.