Monday, August 10, 2015

Wish You Were Here

As a bereaved parent who has lived without my child for over a decade, coping with grief or navigating bereavement is not a daily experience.  Most of the time my days are as "normal" as a non-bereaved parent - changing diapers and breastfeeding, negotiating with a seven year-old and mediating tween and teenage angst. At times all of this parenting is done with the recognition that I am doing it in the absence of one of my children but it is a brief moment that flashes through that particular moment in motherhood and I continue on.

What I discovered this past April however is that my brevity in daily grief is not the same while on family vacation.  After years of promising it, we finally took the children on a family adventure to Florida and to Walt Disney World. While we watched our boys (the baby still way to young) enjoy the rides, shows and daily dips in the pool; I was reminded moment to moment who we were missing. 

I think vacations have always been a little more difficult for us. This time the intensity of it was palpable and I wondered what was different?  Was it the first time flying as a family that added to some inner anxiety and touched on the grief bringing it to the surface?  Did leaving the country play on some unconscious belief that we were leaving his presence and all representations of him at home? With the birth of our daughter our family was complete, did this new dynamic shift our bereavement and our inability to parent the family that was born to us? I truly do not know what factors contributed to me missing Flynn while we were in the happiest place in the world, but I know that for me all I could think while we were away was "wish you were here."

While grief is mostly cast in the light of sadness, depression or despair there are also moments of light, comfort and joy.  Just as my daily musings were turning to thoughts of sadness at missing Flynn and feeling his absence, there was a moment at the end of the day at Disney that reminded me that if I wanted Flynn's essence to be with us I need only to wish it. My friend took this picture of the baby over my shoulder (the shoulder that has the tattoo of Flynn's butterfly) and when I saw it with the light shining on us, I knew we were not really without him and silently I said "thank you for being here."

Just three days after this picture was taken we sat in our home on what was the thirteenth anniversary of his birth and death and remembered Flynn and the family we have today.

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