It has been 10 years now that the world has been without my beautiful little boy. Time has softened the rawness of it, and yet for some reason this year the fact that has been 10 years has reopened the wound a bit. I wonder how it can be that my tiny five month old twin babies have now become older than their big brother who was nine years older then them. Gabriel's three younger siblings have now surpassed him in age.
In the beginning I played a cruel game with myself. I have long since stopped the game of "What if". For years I played the "What if Game". "What if I hadn't take the kids to the movies?", "What if that stupid deer had not come in front of the van", "What if there had been no black ice", "What if I had just hit the deer and not braked", "What if those boys had not been going so fast", "What if those boys had been paying attention and seen us, like the car in front of them had", so many what ifs that make no difference to the outcome. I have long since stopped torturing myself with the "what if" game. I also no longer play the "what would he be like now" game. "Would he have been handsome", "Would he have a girlfriend", "Would he have gone to university", "Would he have been taller than his Dad now", I would see other children that looked around his age, see them doing things and wonder what Gabe would have been doing. I no longer torture myself with that game either. Now it is just the longing, the missing. I still miss that smile, that laugh, that funny little boy. If I close my eyes I can almost imagine that he is standing behind me, about to wrap his little arms around my shoulders and settle his chin on the crook of my neck, like they were puzzle pieces that were meant to fit.
In the 10 years the pain has lessened to a tolerable amount. I still miss him, but I don't want to sob every day. I no longer drive around screaming in my car with the windows up tight, lest no one thinks me to be insane. I no longer look at other people's children and wonder why it was mine who was taken, mine who was so bright, who was so kind, had such an amazingly bright future in front of him. The pain still comes, but with less cruelty to it. It no longer draws blood, but scratches a bit. There are the times when I know that life will be difficult. I know that beginning in December, until his birthday on February 2, it will be hard. I know this and I prepare myself for the onslaught of pain. All of this said there are still sneak attacks. Sneak attacks are the times when something will bring the pain out of the blue, a smell, a sound, sometimes nothing at all. The sneak attacks are the hard ones.
I have found the 10 year anniversary of Gabriel's death to be a sneak attack. Christmas snuck up on me this year, I was so busy that I forgot to prepare myself for the pain. Christmas came and went with such a flurry of activity that I did have time to feel the pain of missing my little man. It was a few days later that the pain smashed into my unprotected walls. It was a sneak attack. I was unprepared for the degree of pain and loss I would feel. 10 years is a long time, and I think that is what is the hardest part of this, this year. It has been 10 years. I forget what his voice sounds like. I forget how he smelled. I am terrified to forget what he looked like. I am not just mourning his physical loss, but now I mourn the loss of his memory.
Right now is a very difficult time, but this will pass. In the beginning I wondered if I would ever again feel joy and not feel staggering guilt for allowing joy to creep in. I do not feel the edges of sanity being slashed away with the grief as I once did. Most days I can feel like an ordinary mother, an ordinary wife. Most days I wear my strength like a badge of honour. I passed the most horrendous test a parent can live through. I passed with minimal damage. I came out stronger with more focus, determined to be a better mother to my living children. Perhaps this overwhelming drowning grief I am feeling is actually in some deranged way a gift. It is a gift to have loved someone so much that it feels like when they went they stole a bit of your soul. How many people can know that they have loved anyone that greatly. To have loved him that greatly and to feel his loss so deeply means that I had something wonderful to loose in the first place. My child, my stolen boy was a gift. He taught me how to be a mother. He taught me patience and compassion. He filled my life with joy. So for right now I think I will just allow the grief to take hold, to let it leach at me. I know that if I can live through the nightmare I lived through, I can manage this. I just need to give myself permission to feel the bad as well as the good.