9,478 days

All the books say the three-month mark is especially hard after a death. We’re rapidly approaching that date, and I can see how this may be one of the uglier parts of loss: AKA REALITY.

The reality is that Ethan—son, brother, friend, more—is gone. We’ll not see him again in this life.

Pictures bring reality to the forefront and are hard to see now. Watching videos is still out of the question, but I’m thankful they exist and are there for me when I’m ready to watch them.

Spiritually, supernaturally, I believe with all my heart that he is OK.

Friends and loved ones have reminded me that “our days are numbered” on God’s calendar. When the Grim Reaper pops out of your particular advent calendar window, that’s that, the jig is up. According to my calculations, Ethan had 9,478 days on this earth, almost 26 years.

It’s the blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things, but there it is.

I do believe in an afterlife. I believe God has a plan that is full of overwhelming mercy and grace we tend to be too small-minded, critical and judgmental to comprehend. (Let everyone in??? No way!!! Where’s our wall???) I also believe—and science agrees with me—that energy cannot be lost, only changed. What that energy changes into is subject to interpretation (and all our interpretations are probably inaccurate on one level or another.)

What’s hard now is the realization I’m not going to see Ethan’s sparkling blue-gray eyes twinkling over a joke again, or his bright smile telling me everything would be OK, except in pictures. I’m not going to get to pester him about his dreadlocks, his braided beard, his weird tattoos, or his strange attire (he never failed to shock me with a new, strange accessory or outfit in 25 years). I won’t get to argue with him about philosophy or religion or whether humanity is worth trying to save. I’ll never cuddle his children (he had an appointment for a vasectomy scheduled, I found out after his death), and I’ll never be the mother of the groom at his wedding. That said, I know his spirit/soul visited me in a dream after his death. We argued vehemently about how long toenails should be. Believe me, if the subject had come up in the flesh, the conversation would have been the same.

I keep running across random FB posts and think, “I should share that with E!” And then I remember he won’t see it unless he’s surveilling social media from the ether. Somehow I think (hope) he’s beyond that inanity.

When will we ever be closer to grasping the weight of the afterlife, the eternal, the love of the Creator and the time to come after death? When is the veil between eternity and reality ever thinner than now, in the midst of grief?

That doesn’t make talking to God or resuming a prayer life any easier. When your prayer journals are clogged with promises and pleas for the safety and protection of your children, and one of them dies anyway, it’s a little challenging to return to your doctrinal theories. I’m trusting God understands my hesitation and will lead me in the way I should go, whatever that looks like.

Ethan was a torch. Not just a bright light, not just a flame. He was a TORCH. To ignore his absence is impossible. At the same time, I have four grandchildren and one on the way in February. I have much reason to rejoice and to celebrate. My three living children deserve all the love and care and comfort they can get this year. I want to do more for them than ever before, yet I know there’s nothing I can do to ease their pain. As an only child myself, I don’t even fully understand their loss, and I’m aware of that.

I miss my Ethan, in all his crazy personas, many of which caused me untold stress, embarrassment and fear. I’ll miss my firstborn son for the rest of my earthly life. That said—and this may sound awful—I don’t miss WORRYING about him every single day. I don’t miss fretting over his future or wondering if his next sword-swallowing gig would be his last. But I do miss HIM: his presence, his calm spirit, his ability to argue for hours without losing his temper. I hate that he’s gone and that his “numbered days” ended before he’d accomplished all I believed he was capable of, but I know that’s no excuse for the rest of us ceasing to live life to the fullest. He wouldn’t want that, not for any of us.

I was going to skip making penuche this year because it was his favorite Christmas treat, but now I can’t skip it. If I don’t make the penuche, I’m letting death win. So I’ll make the penuche, for him and for Vanoy, who gave me her recipe before she passed from this realm, and we’ll call it good.

One thought on “9,478 days

  1. ellene says:

    Niki, your authentic, transparent words speak volumes to those who need to hear them. Even though much more time separates me from my own raw story, I can relate to every word. Thank you.

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