There are days when I don’t know how to feel. Every other pain in my life I’ve gotten over. Breaking up with a boyfriend, a friend, a husband; losing jobs, unrequited love, feelings of inadequacy, etc. Those feelings were fleeting. I knew that they would be replaced with a new joy: a new boyfriend, friend, husband, job, requited love. But how does one get over the loss of one’s 24 year old child? Death is not reversible. A child can never be replaced. Death is permanent, unchangeable, the only true thing in this life. The only thing we all have in common; the only guarantee in this life. For the first 27 years of my life I did not know Nick. I felt no void then. But now that I had the joy and privilege to have him in my life for 24 short years, I could never ever feel the same again. That’s why I never understood the whole concept of the story of Job: after losing all ten of his children, God blessed him with more. A million children more in my life could not fill the hole in my heart left by Nick’s passing.
I remember when my sister told me about her sister-in-law not being able to get over the death of her 16 year old son. At the time, I felt bad, but could not understand exactly why she couldn’t just pick up and move on. You see, the idea of losing a child was foreign to me and subconsciously so far removed from me, that I didn’t even dare imagine what she was feeling.
And now here I am. And I have no clue how to feel. Most days, people would think that I’m ok. Most have called me strong. I get up; I go to work. I joke; I smile, even laugh. I search the internet and post everything I can find that would help in the fight against addiction. I try to get anyone who would listen to me to change laws in how we deal with drugs and addiction. I tell people that I know that Nick is in a better place. The truth is I don’t know. I have no clue where Nick is. And not knowing where your child is horrifying. All I know is that on February 11, 2014, my son Nick was at my house, kissed me goodnight and told me he loved me. The next morning I woke up to find his lifeless body, blue and cold to the touch. In front of me was just an empty body. And I don’t know where Nick is.
I know the body is at Maplewood Cemetery. I imagine that it is slowly rotting away. Notice how the body of the dead is referred to as “it”. It is no longer human. It is no longer Nick. So where is Nick? He was Christian, so I’m supposed to believe that he is with God, or Jesus. But the truth is I’m like Thomas. I need to see to believe.
What I know is that I’ll never see his body moving again, that his lips will never again kiss my cheek. That there will be no more hopes that maybe next Mother’s Day, we will go out for lunch. No more hopes that he will get his life together, beat this disease, get married have children. There are no more daydreaming of him surrounded by a loving family in a backyard firing up a grill, watching a Yankee game. No daydreaming that he would come to my house and take care of me in my old age, as he had promised.
My mom always says that hope is the last thing you lose, but she didn’t tell me what do to do when you lose that hope. Sure, I hope to see him again when I’m no longer walking on this Earth. I guess that is the only hope I have left. But forgive me if I’m bit skeptical. Now I know that hope can be lost, how can I be certain that I’m hoping for naught?