This was to be Zach's graduating year. This has affected me in a way I wasn’t quite expecting, like walking headlong into a biting head wind. There is always that part of me that wants to deny the intensity of my sadness and calm it into submission, but it’s wild and fierce and horribly unpredictable—and, well that’s just the way it is. Grief cannot be tamed and the kindest thing I can do for myself is to just let it roll in. To resist it is like trying to fight against a riptide. The fighting against will lead to eventual drowning. I have to keep reminding myself not to chastise myself for not being further along in this grief journey. At times, it feels as though I haven’t even put a dent into recovering from the loss of Zach. I have to constantly remind myself of how far I’ve come and that intense moments of grief are only temporary resting places. I don’t camp there, but I must visit there and honour my mourning process.
But his graduating year falls on me like a tsunami. I am so proud of all his friends, yet at the same time it intensifies my pain to see them in their suits, full of promise and joy. My Zach should be there too. I wish I could just fast forward these hard anniversaries that pummel me into a sinkhole of sadness. I find for the most part, my day always has dollops of sadness and the missing never goes away, but dollops turn into aggressive attacks that take me down dark paths. I wish for what is lost and cannot come back. Soon I will get through this painful place and I will recalibrate my life again. But Zach deserves to be missed and mourned. When I lean into the intensity of my loss and make the decision not to run away, I am showing myself self-compassion. I am and will always be a mom who has lost her boy. I look forward to the calm that inevitably follows these stormy episodes, but for now I am at peace with mourning. I will not fight against it no matter how ugly it gets.
To the graduating class of 2015—I pray your lives are full of joy and peace and that you love deeply and pursue your dreams with unrelenting passion. To Zach’s friends—I am so proud of each one of you. I couldn’t bring myself to go to the graduation events, but I saw many of you at the athletic banquet. I was overcome with emotions—both happy and sad. But one thing is for sure—I was proud of you all. Please take some time to remember Zach’s life—his smile, his compassion and his refusal to give up when things were unbearably hard.