I went to visit my son today. But I was too late.
As I pulled into the cemetery, the tall gates stared at me. My son was 20 yards from me. And I couldn’t see him. All I wanted was to touch his grave, run my fingers over his etched name, remind him I loved him.
That lump in my throat crept up—the lump that reminds me how often I hold back my tears. And then the guilt hit. I should have left earlier. I shouldn’t have stopped at the store beforehand. I should have remembered the cemetery hours.
Eleven years ago, Joseph died. I held his teeny, tiny warm body and said goodbye. It was a goodbye that was too quick, said by a traumatized first-time mother and father who thought the faster the nurse took our baby away, the faster we would forget the nightmare. Within two days, I realized that goodbye was not enough. I begged the mortuary to let me see my son. They told me he was in a freezer. He was cold. I wouldn’t like that I saw. I was too late.
For many years, I associated how hard I grieved with how much I loved Joseph. If I was happy, then I didn’t love him. It’s a hard thing to admit. It was a horrible way to live.
Does time heal? I don’t know. But what I do know is that you have to work to create joy in your heart again. As hard as you have to work to navigate through the grief (when people talk about the stages of grief, yeah, that’s no joke), you also have to work to bring happiness into your life again.
So as I left the cemetery, I looked up and saw the sun peeking through the clouds. It created a pink sky. I took long breaths, swallowing that lump in my throat away, as tears made their way down my cheeks. They were tears of forgiveness.
It’s not too late baby boy. Tomorrow I will visit you.
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