My granddaddy died last month. He was a great man; married to my grandmom for almost 69 years.
Because we moved so far from home, we couldn't make it back for his funeral. Hannah and I were in the midst of a pretty yucky cold and flying would have made for a terrible time. I know my family understands, but I'm still very sad that I couldn't be there.
And my grandmom, his wife, died just last weekend. We were unable to make it down for her funeral as well.
At various points throughout my day, I 'remember' that they're gone. I'm not there to see that they're gone and I wasn't there for their funerals, so the finality has not hit me. I don't feel their absence like my dad and mom, or the rest of my family does. I often 'forget' that they're no longer living.
It's a little bit like when my friend from high school died. I had just moved to out of state and it didn't feel like she was gone, because there was no difference in my daily life. I was two states away and she was no longer a part of my day to day life. I couldn't see the hole that she had left behind. The way my mind processed it- she was still living back home; still alive and well, but I was not able to be a part of her life because I had moved away.
My thoughts have been similar since my grandparents died. The year of magical thinking...
These thoughts have caused me to think differently about Owen's life and death and made me wonder.... I wonder if, because his life was almost invisible to others, it's hard to see or feel his absence. Is this why people often refer to Hannah as my first child? Is this why it seems like he is easily forgotten? Or not sorely missed?
Owen's life was lived in me, unseen by our eyes. But-
But I felt his life. I lived his life with him.
When he died, an Owen-shaped-hole was created. I could see, feel, and taste his absence. It consumed my every waking moment, my every thought. I was his mom, he was my little boy.
After almost three years of living with my son's death, God has given me more grace, more understanding when friends or family 'forget' and say or do things that hurt. I know Owen is not always on everyone's mind. I can't expect that. And I'm beginning to see how easy it is to 'forget'.
There really was no Owen-shaped-hole in many other peoples' lives. Everyone was waiting until he was born for his life to start. There are few friends who talk about Owen like they had a life with him; like they knew him like Chris and I did. And it always warms my heart to hear them talk about him this way.
It's so easy to talk about someone you have shared memories with, someone you spent 15 years with, but it's not always so easy to reminisce about someone you never saw beyond their pictures.
I think of the trouble I have processing my grandparents' deaths and I find myself having more grace with people when they 'forget' Owen/when they fail to mention him. In my mind, my grandparents aren't gone- they're right where I left them. I've known them all my life and can't imagine them being gone.
It must be hard for people to conceptualize and process the death of someone they never met, but who was so vitally important and undeniably real to their parents.
It is one week until Owen's third birthday; less than one week until the anniversary of the day he went to Heaven. These new (new to me) realizations have come at a good time. My heart and head ache with his absence and though I've probably done a terrible job at verbalizing my thoughts, I feel a little bit lighter tonight. Grace feels good.