Love Is Enough

My son Shale lived for four years, ten months and 17 days.

As of Saturday, August 7, 2010, he's been dead for four years ten months and 18 days.

He's now been dead longer than he lived. And my heart is having trouble coping with that fact. The reality of that date passing actually means little. Shale is still gone, lost in the ether of love and memory and our lives proceed onwards as though nothing has changed.

But a lot has changed in the time my son has been gone.

I've changed, my husband's changed, my kids have been forever altered. The person I used to be no longer exists. She was buried beside her son and it's taken me all these years and tears to claw my way out of the grief and find myself again.

Friendships have dissolved and new ones created, family members have moved on, a child has been lost, a new one has been found. Our world no longer resembles the one we left behind when we said goodbye to our son.

But through all of this, he's never been forgotten.

I worry now, as time ticks slowly by, his memory will fade into oblivion. I wonder if my children will remember their little brother when they are fully grown and have children of their own. I fret because there is no way I can make my youngest understand he has a brother he'll never know. I wake up in a cold sweat still, all these years later, because I just remembered my son is dead.

I had hoped that the passing of time would mean this pain we carry in our hearts would lessen.

Instead, the pain is as heavy and cloying as a wet wool blanket, threatening to smother the joy we work so hard to fill our lives with. It's the memories of my son which are fading. I can no longer remember his smell on command or immediately recall what Bug's laughter sounds like. Time is not robbing the pain but instead thieving the memories his life created.

And I can do nothing to stop this process other than grieve the inevitable loss.

Will *I* remember my son when I'm old and crippled?

There is no expiration for grieving, I know this, but I'm tired of the sadness. I'm tired of remembering I'm a mother to a dead kid. I'm exhausted from saying I have four children when people can only see three.

My son's absence has now shaped me and our family as much as his life ever did.

This past Saturday, I said goodbye to my son, again. I let him go. I promised him and myself that I would never forget him. I will always love him, with every breath I ever take. But I had to let the pain of his passing go. I can't spend the rest of my life hauling this burden around with me, weighing my happiness down.

I can't change the past. I can't bring Shale back.

But it took four years, nine months and 18 days to say good bye to the pain and guilt I've harboured since I said goodbye to him in a darkened emergency room. A million wishes can't undo his death and all the what-ifs in the world won't help us heal.

I will always mourn my son and wonder what life would have been like if he lived. But for the first time in all these years, I finally feel at peace with his fate and mine, and feel like I can spend the rest of my life loving him like a mother should.

No matter how many days pass, I will always be Shale's mom. And I will always love you, Bug. I promise. I finally understand, I may never have new memories with you, and the ones I have may fade like an old photograph, but the love I have, it is enough.