Tuesday, July 27, 2010


It's been a year and a day since I found out my only child had passed away. I still look toward the door each evening, thinking he will be bounding through it any minute now. Sometimes I pick up the phone to call him, to tell him something he might find interesting or amusing, only to realize when I begin dialing that he is no longer here. Each instance of recognition is like learning of his death all over again.

A year is a milestone. As a society we celebrate birthdays, anniversarys, and holidays on an annual basis. As I think back with a year's worth of perspective to those terrible early days of shock and disbelief I realize now that they will never fully leave me. Those days will always be with me, as will Colby's absence. But his life will also be with me. The good times, the memories, will be there. I continue to be amazed at all the people he touched, the lives he changed for the better. Not a week goes by that someone lets me know Colby made a difference in their life. I am so proud of my son because I know it was often hard for him to stay positive when he was hurting inside so badly.

Two days ago, on the first anniversary of his passing, some of his friends and my friends planted a tree in Colby's honor and memory. It was a peaceful, communal effort in a quiet spot by a creek where Colby played as a child. After, everyone stayed to visit and catch up, and some placed personal mementos on the tree's branches. It was good to see everyone. Good to know Colby is still remembered. Good to know others cared about him, and his life. Good to know how much he was loved. Is loved.

Some friends, both his and mine, were not able to be there and while I missed their presence, I understand that grief is an intensely personal journey. This past year has taught me that I have no idea from one moment to the next what I will be feeling or thinking. Sometimes I might be up to facing a group of people, more often not. Those who were not there know where the tree is planted. Several have told me they have already visited it privately, as I will also do.

Many parents who are ahead of me in this process of grief tell me the second year is often worse than the first. This is because the shock has worn off and the finality of the tragic loss has set in. I don't see how anything can be worse than this past year, but time will tell. Today, I can see that I have progressed in my journey of grief. I have not come very far or very fast, but I have had movement. All I can hope for is that a year from now I can look back and see that I am further along the trail than I am now. That's all I can expect. Hope.

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