Today October begins again and I can feel my descent into the memories. It started about a week ago when the weather began to change a bit. The cooler breezes starting blowing, the sky is a more brilliant blue, and the heat is beginning to subside. For me, all of these changes trigger my grief. It was a beautiful October Wednesday in 2004 when my journey with grief was set into motion. I had been to the ob-gyn and was told that we could induce the birth of my second son that Friday. My husband had a nice lunch planned with friends at the Ping golf factory. I was anxious to see him that evening to give him the news, but didn’t expect to hear the news he received during lunch. He had been under the weather, so much so that he had scans of his lungs done days before. While he was at lunch, the doctor had called him and told him he wanted to check into the hospital and they would bring all the specialists to him. As I heard this, I was still oblivious to what was about to happen to us. I was so focused on our new son coming into our lives that when I asked the doctor what kind of specialists he was talking about . . . the word oncologist flew from his mouth, through my brain, and then right out of my head. It must be a mistake . . . neoplasms on his liver? When did this happen? We are having our baby on Friday . . . he would go to the hospital the following Monday when I came home, when we came home . . . a family of four . . .
By the next October, I was a widow. We were a family of three again. He was gone. My baby would have his first birthday without his dad. I felt like I was in a nightmare. How could this be, we were just having a baby, everything was going well, how could this be?
Fast forward many years (seven years to be exact) and October is back again. I love October and I hate October. It is so, so beautiful here, but my memories are so painful. I still wonder how this is my life some days . . . but in October, I seem to feel it more. I seem to feel the loneliness, the brokenness, the grief more deeply.
This year, our baby started playing soccer. He’ll be seven in a few weeks . . . that’ s seven birthdays without his daddy now. As I sat on the soccer field watching him play, my sorrow rose. Another son playing without his dad to cheer him on, encourage him, and practice with him has begun. Another fall watching the families with dads has arrived and there are moments in my head and heart when I really don’t think I can do this again. I did it with Sam. Sam started playing the fall after his dad died. I made it through five or six fall soccer seasons with him. He stopped playing a few years ago, and I can tell you I was grateful when he stopped. I have not missed being the mother that the coaches don’t take seriously because there was not dad present. I have not missed sitting on the sidelines watching the “complete” (those with dads) families cheer on their kids. I have not missed feeling like an outsider in the land of suburbia. There’s just something about these family-type activities that just bring me down. I really don’t think people treat me any differently and I know I’ m not the only single parent, heck, I may not be the only sole parent there anymore. I can’t put my finger on it, but it’ s just too much. It throws me over the grief cliff. Many times I feel like I was thrown off the cliff without my parachute and rescue skills. All of these years later, all these years since Dave left, and I am still caught off guard by my grief and feel myself falling off the cliff hurdling toward the hard, unforgiving ground.
So this October, just like the ones before, I will make a vow to be gentle with myself and my children. I will make a vow to let the tears come when they do. I will make a vow to honor the deep pain and the deep gratitude that I have because I loved my husband. I will remember that October was not only a time of great sorrow for us, but also great joy because our son was born. It was not just a time of death lurking around us, but also a time of life beginning in our beautiful boy. I will remember that a bittersweet life is okay. It is okay for me to feel great pain because I know that the only reason I know such pain is because I felt love so deeply.
So as the leaves drop from the trees and the tears slide down my face, I will remember that it is just another step in my healing and understanding of who I am. I will remember what great faith my husband had in me to know that I would continue and raise our family. I will remember our October and look forward to an October when the cool breezes and blue skies only evoke the feelings of love and let the feelings of grief blow pass me with only a gentle nudge reminding me how far I’ve come and how much I was loved.