I am aware that today, and this past week, our social media feeds have been packed with back-to-school pictures. And I almost hate to bog you down with one more, especially since I was only moderately successful in getting a good shot of my boys’ first day at school this morning, but as I scrolled through my limited options I was overcome.
And not so much because I couldn’t believe how old they have gotten, what grades they are in or that it feels like it was only yesterday that they were in diapers; but because this is the second ‘first’ day that we have done without Colin and without Madeline. It is surreal to think that we have been plodding through life for this long with such a gaping hole in our chests. We have arrived at a point that this big day isn’t a “first” anymore. I know that this past summer holiday was technically our second without them, but to be honest so much of the previous summer was in a haze that it all still felt unfamiliar.
Now that the novelty of every first is over the raw emotion is right there with no cushion or diversion. Just the overwhelming fact that this is real life. This is our new normal and maybe not even that, as most things take much less than a year to have the shiny mint condition worn off. More accurately our altered normal which continues to change each season.
I anticipate that the uncooperative photo session this morning is a bit of foreshadowing for year two. Each of us has many things to work through. Some things that are untried and some things that are old aquatints with fresh faces. But this is the hope, right? That we would move through our stages and deal with our issues and heal. That we keep trudging through the grief moving farther and farther away from Colin and Madeline. Yet there is a big part of me that doesn’t want to leave this spot, that even wants to go back. Because that anguish is what I know and I’ve almost managed to get comfortable there or at least imagine it would be more bearable then the distance of a second year.
My practical and optimistic side reminds me that this can’t be totally true. That we will survive another year as we keep putting one foot in front of the other. We may hit a few more speed bumps or potholes, but that is expected. Or maybe not, maybe it will just be the same ones and we will just feel them more or actually recognize that they are there.
Either way I am trusting that time will build strength and that each day is actually bringing me closer.
At least I captured one where they are both smiling.