Friday, July 14, 2023

When emotions don't hit the same

My oldest son graduated high school and we are busy preparing for college move-in day! Senior year and graduation were not nearly as emotional as I expected.  His whole senior year, I was waiting for the emotional toll of sadness and a sense of ending to wash over me and consume me. I envisioned tears upon tears and an unsettling sense of dread of losing him...BUT that didn't happen. I found some of the "last" hard - the last night before school starts jitters, the last football game, the last basketball game... those hit hard, but not because of my own sadness, but because of his.  Watching him realize these moments were fleeting and would be over before he knew it is what broke this mama's heart.  I felt nothing but pride in watching him... I felt so lucky that I was able to experience this with him; that he was here - alive and healthy.  As senior year was winding down, I sat on my porch one morning, trying to figure out why I was handling everything so differently than expected... why I was feeling more happiness than the sadness I anticipated feeling. Why were my emotions not hitting the same as the other moms? All I could come up with was that we "get to do this" with him. He is living. I know Declan's death has fundamentally changed me.  My perspective is so different now than what I imagine it would have been otherwise.  I look at this milestone and realize it's a step in his path toward becoming his own person and how lucky we are that we get to witness it. That this wasn't taken from us too. Even though I won't get to do this with Declan, I am blessed to be doing it with my oldest son. I have no idea how I will feel when my daughter (now going into 8th grade) graduates, but what I confidently say is that I enjoyed N's senior year and am excited to watch him navigate the next steps of his journey... to see the paths he explores, to watch his confidence grow, to see him become who he was meant to be.  I don't feel a sense of loss because I am not losing him... I will miss him and I will grieve the life I have known with him living with us, but he is not gone.

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