Adjusting to life after losing a child is like shooting at a moving target. Just when you believe that you have leveled up in the game, you fall through a trap door and you’re back at level two. Although there is never a day that I don’t think of my son, it isn’t always a moment that makes my heart stop. Sometimes, it puts a smile on my face to remember his quirky humor or how he put the empty cereal box back in the cabinet. Those thoughts often pass through my mind but, like an airplane, I am able to fly above the clouds and stay focused on the horizon. When the sky darkens, I simply keep moving until I get to the other side.
Yesterday, as I sat waiting in a physical therapy office for my husband, a mother and her young son came in. Her son was a lanky boy of 12 or 13, who had injured his arm playing baseball. I watched them as they sat together in the waiting room. The unspoken language of their bond drew me in and I felt myself beginning to slip through the trap door. They were engaged in a conversation just a few feet away, but I couldn’t hear their words. Instead, I heard my son’s voice, newly deepened, and his laughter played loudly in my head. I could feel his thin but muscular arms as he hugged me and tried to lift me off the floor. He was only a boy– almost 15. Still trapped between the man he would become, and the boy who wanted to hold his mother; he would be forever fourteen for me. I would never see how beautiful his smile would be without braces or watch him walk in a cap and gown. The life that was out in front of him fell over the horizon line and it took part of me with it.
My plane was stalling. I could see the ground rising up to meet me. I had the controls in front of me, but I sat paralyzed, unable to move as the nose veered straight down. Conflicted about whether to let it crash, or to save myself, I was rescued by interruption. As the boy was called back, I watched him walk away and realized how far I had fallen. I looked away for a moment, took a long deep breath, and the plane began to level out. I sat numb in a quiet daze. What felt like an hour, had only been moments of time that I had lost.
I suppose that I will always experience “stalls” in my momentum; times where I sit helplessly by and watch myself spin out of control towards the ground. It’s a sort of out-of- body experience and you can’t predict when you may be overcome by it. For me, it happens frequently when I see a mother and son together in the grocery store, or at a shopping mall or restaurant. There is a unique bond and a closeness that I relive when I see them, and it sometimes makes my body ache from the loss. In those moments, I try to breathe in gratitude for the life I have, breathe out the pain, and look out over the horizon again. Sometimes it takes more than a breath or two, but at least I’m still in the air.
Sometimes You Stall was originally written by Amanda Blue for Survival and the Silver Lining. Check out her blog to read more beautifully written pieces “for those living with loss and a life that may not have gone the way they planned.”