Saturday, September 3, 2011

Update 4 - Gabriel's Birthday

I honestly don't know what to say about this. Wednesday, the 24, was two years. I took the day off work, and it was good. I wrote out his birth story again, on Glow, and it was awful. I cried. And cried some more. And then I slept and that was largely that. DH and I went to dinner, and we didn't talk much about it until last weekend. Most of my emotion about it was spent two weeks before when I was more tense than can be imagined, when my temper was beyond frayed and my patience gone and I snapped at someone that if that goddamned department called me one more time I was going to strangle someone . . . and then from nowhere, I said aloud, "I miss him. I miss Gabriel. And I wish he was here." Ah, yes, I knew then.

It's something I felt oddly about. Most days, I feel at peace with it. Which is not to say I am ok with it or that I don't still feel all the things I felt two years ago - anger, sadness, terror, regret, guilt, love. I still miss him, who he would have been, who DH and I would have been, the life we would have had. I still see him out of the corner of my eye, and wish I could catch a fuller glimpse and drink in his features.

But I can't. And I think I've began to resolve that within myself. The things I felt two years ago are still there, but are more measured. They are a background noise, familiar and comfortable. I know that a fear I had early on that I was unable to articulate is that I would forget him. That I would cease to love him because he wasn't here to be loved, that he would become less important to me, and if he did, then he would cease to matter.

And something I've learned, two years later, is that the fear I felt then was unfounded. Gabe is my son, my darling little boy. How can I ever forget him? How could I ever stop loving him? I can't. And more than that - he won't be forgotten. He is remembered and equally loved by many people. Will that carry forward beyond our lives? Not with his name or mine, no, but then little will. The love that he inspired, the kindnesses that have happened in his memory, the acts of compassion, the children who were hugged a little tighter or loved a little more because their parents suddenly understood how fragile and tenuous it all is . . . those resonances are Gabriel's legacy. Those resonances will spread outwards further and further, reaching beyond our sight, beyond our lives, like water rings from a fallen stone. Who can predict that?

I have changed in two years, and so has DH. And I like to think we've changed for the better. Less judgmental, more compassionate, more aware of humanity and what it means. Kinder to each other, better sense of perspective, of awareness. I think, and this took me a long time to reconcile, that I like who I am now better than who I was. And I think that's ok. It's not that I don't want Gabriel back, in a heartbeat of course. But I do think that I understand he won't come back, not in that way. I won't hold him in my arms again, or finish the story I'd started to read to him. I can continue to commune with his spirit, to appreciate him as he is now. To be grateful for all that he has given me and taught me.

Do you know, Chris on Glow wrote a piece about a year ago (Simple), that said things so perfectly, so beautifully . . . he was two years out from losing his son Silas at that point in time. He wrote that missing Silas was something he did every day, that it was just a part of who he was at that point. I identified with that, with the need to laugh and enjoy life, with the perpendicular lines of reconciliation. With the small smile and admission, with the impenetrable nugget. . .

That is how it is. I think we would have liked to have done more, but we didn't know what to do. Gabe is so commonplace to us, but his death still so painful, that celebrating didn't feel quite right. We haven't hit on quite right yet, but we're getting there. Maybe next year I'll bake a cake.


I did want to note that I have some of the most wonderful friends in the world. They were checking on me that week, that day. A number of people emailed or checked in to let us know they were thinking of him, and of us - and I can't thank you enough for that. I need still to go back and thank you individually, and I hope to soon.

But my friends. Oh, my friends. They did some of the nicest things for Gabriel. There were balloon releases, with his name and birthday tied to the balloons. There were plants and flowers, his name feeding an orchid, his name with candles. And a wonderful story that filled my heart in a way that I can't quite explain. I'm repeating this entirely without permission, but I hope you don't mind T, because it was so wonderful it gave me goosebumps.

"We made him a paper boat, because two year old boys love paper boats,
and took it down to the creek so it could sail to the river and then
to the sea. The SS Gabriel had different ideas, however, and shot
straight across the current and towards the far shore where he was
lost from sight.

I think when you finally reach the far shore, you'll find him there
with sandy feet and a curling smile, wondering what took you so long
when he sped across so easily."

Somehow, I think she's right.


B said...

That story... it's beautiful. I'm so glad you shared it. xx

Meegs said...

That is absolutely beautiful, and brought tears to my eyes. Happy 2nd Birthday Gabriel.