My 15 year old and I are sitting with our friends. A discussion begins about the hairs on my son’s thighs – my son laughingly complains about the way they are growing (randomly) and our friends gently tease him about them.
I say “They’re the same as Papa’s leg hairs”. “Did Papa have hairs on his chest?”, he asks. Gosh, …. I struggle to remember that part of his body and I’m shocked. “He had hairs around his nipples, and I think he had a little tuft right in the middle of his chest but right now I can’t quite remember.”, I answer slowly.
So often at night as I’m waiting to fall asleep, I roam around his body seeing if I can still remember what it looked and felt like – if I can remember all the little details. As I struggle to remember his chest clearly, I notice my fear that he is starting to fade in my memory.
I acknowledge the part of me that wants to keep him alive in my mind for as long as possible. That night, as I lie waiting for sleep, I linger on his chest in more detail, gently letting my tears fall and giving myself the space to miss him and long for him.
In the dark, with my daughter sleeping by my side, I grieve freely. No-one here to feel bad for me, no-one to look at me with pity in their eyes, no-one to tell me the grief will ease over time, no-one trying to make it better for me, just the space to grieve without being comforted and without feeling the need to explain.
Just the space to be with what is.