Let me begin by stating that no matter where you may be on your journey in grief, that is where you should be.
I have experienced anguish in my life prior to losing my son. I have had moments where I thought that life couldn’t possibly get worse; I was clearly wrong. Before losing my son, death happened around me but it not as often as it is for some. I lost a grandfather, great-grandmother, uncle, and great-uncle in my 20’s, but other than that, I was blessed with the vast majority of my family. Growing up, I lost several classmates, and I experienced loss through my husband (then boyfriend) when someone near to him passed. Death didn’t paralyze me, even if I was close to the person. Death didn’t scare me or worry me. I guess because of the other experiences in my life, my faith was strong enough to endure it all. I was saddened with each loss but knew that they were in a better place and were no longer suffering any earthly woes.
Losing a piece of you is a little different though. I don’t think anyone around me really knew just how deep I was falling down a rabbit hole when we first began this different path. Everyone knew I was sad or depressed but the severity of it, not so sure. Growing up with a troubled sibling taught me how to “fake it ’til you make it.” As a child, I was great at this. It was a coping mechanism; it was a way of survival. As an adult, I dropped those walls and lost my ability to hold a poker face. Regardless of what I said, you knew my true thoughts by looking at me. I was free of the burden I felt I had to have when I was younger. I felt that I had to be strong all of the time. I felt that my parents were enduring enough; they didn’t need me to be weak. After years of this, I finally didn’t have to do this anymore. My parents never expected that of me anyway; I did that on my own. There was such freedom in dropping those walls and becoming transparent.
August 18, 2014 happened. Wall back up! This wall was a little different though. They were so many people in my life that didn’t know me from the great acting years of 1994-2002. They knew the spunky, bouncy Heather that spoke her mind and wore her emotions on her sleeve. Slipping back into that role that I had learned to play so well was going to be more challenging, so I took the other route. Instead of bottling it up; I started talking about it, about the pain, about him. You want to talk about vulnerable. I’ve shared a lot about my life, and I’m really an open book about most things, but this is such an out-of-body experience, sometimes I can’t make sense of what’s happening.
I wouldn’t call myself an optimist anymore, but I still challenge myself to find a positive in every situation. Sometimes I’m successful; sometimes, I’m not. At times I just want to sit and talk about Wyatt all day long and on some days, I don’t want a single person to mention him. I don’t want to talk about him or anything associated with him. That’s ok. I’m learning that on the days when I don’t want to mention him, I’m not forgetting him; I’m not being a bad mom; I’m hurting and I don’t want to deal at that time. That’s ok.
So, where am I on this journey? If this is a road trip across the country, I’m just pulling out of the driveway. Some of you probably think I’m way down the road, but you’d be wrong. You see my smile and hear my laugh and think I’m better. You see me doting over my other sons or my friends’ children and you think it doesn’t bother me anymore. You see, in my “driveway” I’ve learned that these acts don’t lessen the sorrow I hold for not having Wyatt here. I don’t perform these acts to mislead others or pretend everything’s alright. I’m learning how to “Live Happy” in a world where I’m sad every day. I’m learning that my purpose is different, and I just haven’t figured it completely out; or maybe my purpose is to help others on this road trip.
I still cry; I still smile; I still laugh; I still frown; I still scream into pillows; I still pray. I always will. With love- Heather
Wyatt’s garden at our house