08 Mar It felt like he touched me!
2 years 5 months
882 days … without Ben
‘To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken.’
⁃ CS Lewis
I was standing at the kitchen sink last night washing the dishes when I felt a gentle touch on my arm. I spun around quickly expecting it to be Paul – but there was no one there!
No one that I could see anyway!!
I knew instantly it was Ben – not because I could see him but because I could feel him. My heart was racing.
I burst into tears and whispered his name.
I often wonder if he sees my tears. Does he know that he’s constantly in my thoughts; that I miss him so much it hurts; that life without him just isn’t the same; but that he is worth every moment of pain and sadness?
‘Tell me where it hurts?
and with my palm to the chest, all I could do
your name!’– Wilder
I’m still surprised by how easily I cry. It’s like tears are always hovering expectantly just beneath the surface, waiting for the next trigger. I think I’m so used to crying now that I don’t even realise I am! Gone are the red puffy eyes that lasted for days – instead salty water seems to trickle down my face as naturally as breathing.
I’ve read that ‘tears are messengers of overwhelming grief… and unspeakable love.’ That sums it up perfectly!
During my therapy session earlier in the day we had been discussing my fears about Ben slipping further away. I was describing how terrified I am that I’ll start to forget – that life will move on without him. But my lovely therapist assured me that it can’t and won’t happen because Ben didn’t stop existing when he died. Almost like when he was away travelling – he may not be physically present but his spirit remains. His light burns as brightly as ever. Our love keeps him alive!
That little message of hope is for every broken hearted parent desperate to stay connected to their darling precious child.
“They that live beyond the world cannot be separated by it. Death cannot kill what never dies.”
⁃ William Penn
Love simply never dies!
So I believe that it was Ben’s beautiful little gesture of affirmation; he really did touch me!! He knew I needed a sign. He was in the kitchen right next to me. His love is so real and strong that every now and again it must have the power to supernaturally break through.
We find it in those special signs that are significant only to us – the dragonflies, the feathers; the robins; the blue dots; the tennis balls; the random songs; the angel friends … it’s called synchronicity!
We’ve always had a house filled to the brim with children and friends and family. It wasn’t perfect – like most families there were good days and bad days, happy days and sad days but every day – despite all our flaws – was bursting with love. Everything we did was driven by love. The foundations were built on love.
We tried to live like this…
‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.’
– 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (The Bible)
Now our home feels empty. The children have grown and that pure simple love has turned bitter sweet – it’s tinged with fear and overshadowed by sadness. The love is still there and still underpins everything we do but it has become like a beautiful flower trapped in a thorny bramble bush or a stunning rainbow surrounded by black stormy clouds.
We could never have anticipated this.
“When we lose someone we love, we must learn not to live without them, but to live with the love they left behind “
I used to relish the safe comfortable feeling of arriving home; sitting quietly on the driveway for a few minutes before getting out of the car, just looking at our home and soaking up the love. I felt so blessed; so thankful: our house looked peaceful – cared for and happy. The garden (Paul’s skills not mine) was (and still is) full of colour, fragrance and beauty.
I still take time to soak up those moments – but the emotions have changed. The aura is different. I often wonder if we’re known locally as ’the sad house’. I can still hear the anguished sound of sobbing trapped in the walls as I relive the day Ben cheerfully walked out and never came back. It’s a beautiful home and I still love it, but it doesn’t feel quite so safe any more. Thankfully the beautiful sounds of grandchildren playing and laughing often mask the sadness but memories will always be tainted by grief.
Even the front door that I painted sunflower yellow to remind me of Ben’s gorgeous smile, looks like it’s trying to force itself to smile through tears; faking happiness!
Beauty and brokenness ; love and grief; joy and pain.
Life can never return to how it once was. We can never be a complete family again – someone will always be missing. It’s still good and we still have so much to be thankful for but everything has changed. Now everyday is a challenge. Whether we like it or not we’re having to relearn to live – alongside sadness. We’ve each been marked by a deep sorrow that has left invisible scars. There is a dark shadow behind every smile. We don’t want it to define us but how can it not?
A chapter unfinished!
‘That’s the thing you learn as you grieve deeply: when you lose someone you love, you lose a bit of you…
A part of you dies too, and so you want the person you love returned to you because you want that piece of your identity back—and you know you can’t have it.’
⁃ John Pavlovitz
Then I remember I’m not alone!
I may be just a very ordinary mum forcing myself to live with a broken heart but I’m also part of an extraordinary group of people all sadly having to do exactly the same. Hundreds of shattered lives sharing the same impossible pain – the same grief!
And the incredible thing is that we find strength and a weird kind of beauty in our togetherness – new friendships; kindred spirits; hearts united with an agony only a grieving mother can know. And the more we instinctively reach out to support each other the more comfort we get back in return! I’m so thankful for each and every one, even though I hate what brings us together.
It’s our garden of compassion.
And the scary thing is that somehow we all look and sound normal – we blend into a world that largely hides from our pain. A world that stopped in shock with us for a time, then moved on… but we didn’t!
So many broken hearts beating to the same tune; living the same nightmare; trying to survive behind a smile. I know our pain makes others feel uncomfortable because our stories are a stark reminder that what happened to us can happen to anyone. No one is safe or exempt from tragedy!
We know only too well that in the blink of an eye everything can change.
But our longing for things to be different never goes away. It’s there every minute of every day.
We can’t go back
I can’t rewrite my story
So I keep writing about the only one I have!!
‘Writing also means … screaming without sound.’– Marguerite Duras