There’s lots to sort out when you’re dealing with the death of a child, I’ve found. Since we lost Ezra, I’ve learned that my tolerance level is not nearly as high as it used to be— tolerance for everyday life’s nuisances and inconveniences, for the things that you’re forced to deal with, but would rather not because the grief just takes up too much emotional and psychic space. Really, it can be anything, such as social niceties and small talk, a particular annoying person, or dealing with unwelcome news, or filling out long forms, you name it.
Yesterday evening, I was ruminating over this random assortment of issues when the doorbell rang. A middle-aged Black woman stood there with a small box and a picture of a beautiful baby girl. The woman told me that she saw my light was on, so she thought she would ring my bell. She explained that the photo was of her granddaughter, who had just died from crib death. The box was for donations, because the family was trying to collect money to cover the cost of the burial. My heart melted, and I told her that I was very sorry for her loss, and that we had lost my son last year as well. I gave her a contribution, and told her a number of times again how sorry I was that she lost her granddaughter.
The woman left, and as I felt her grief, then it hit me—I just miss my boy, that’s all. I really miss that little peanut boy. The pain is much different from a few months ago, when it was all-encompassing, debilitating, a large gaping hole that sucked all of the joy and all of the life out of me. Now, the gaping hole is still there, but now I am faced with trying to live with the hole, perhaps attempting to partially fill it up when I can, and incorporating the hole into my daily life. The past six months have thrown me off of my bearings, and now I am trying to play catch up, trying to figure out my purpose, and what my life means to me and to others now that the ground has shifted under my feet. It’s hard to walk in a straight line when you’re blindfolded, but I have no other choice.
And later this year, we’ll set Ezra’s grave stone, just as the ancestors in the Jewish branch of his family tree had planned it. But what does the future hold? I don’t know. Who really knows? But I will try my best to live it just as vigorously as I buried my son with that shovel back in September.