Since Jordan’s celebration on Saturday, I’ve had the eerie, awkward feeling of “now what?” Now what do I do to keep Jordan close to me? Planning the event and being able to talk so freely with others about Jordan without feeling self-conscious was a relief. A fear that I’ve had since Jordan died is that he would be forgotten. Being with family and friends, receiving cards or calls around Jordan’s birthday was comforting and reassuring.
Intellectually I know that I’m not the only one that misses my son. Still, on days when I sit quietly and others are rightfully back to their daily lives, my mama heart surges and wants the world to know “Jordan was here!” I’ve been having surreal Mama moments over the last few days. I’m feeling myself winding down from the emotional intensity I felt during the beginning of August with the girls’ birthdays and Jordan’s 21st birthday and celebration. I’m also aware that I always feel a wistfulness. I’m starting to realize this wistfulness is a new part of me. I will always miss my son. The intensity of the longing ebbs and flows but it is living inside of me. I’m not going to fight this new system coursing through my body. It is making its place next to my veins, arteries and major life organs. It is a major life system. My knowledge of anatomy didn’t prepare me for the physical changes that grief would bring. I can’t fully describe the physicality of longing but I feel the change within me. I feel it the same way I feel my breath, my heartbeat, and every ache and pain.
I never thought I’d say this, but I’m grateful that I have lupus. It has given me a guide to chronic conditions, and allowed me to accept the chronic nature of certain aspects of grief. I spent the first 15 years of having lupus in denial. Every time I went for long periods without a flare, I deemed myself cured. Then when debilitating fatigue, swollen joints and fevers would return I was always shocked and angry. I spent so much energy fighting my illness which only made it worse. It wasn’t until I decided that I would take care of myself as best I could and live with lupus instead of fighting against it, that I start to live a healthier, whole life.
Grief feels a bit like lupus to me. I can’t pretend that because I’ve had several days (sometimes longer) of feeling functional and hopeful that I’m done with the soul shaking, debilitating parts of grief. My experience to date lets me know otherwise. Grief does not follow a linear path. There are minefields that bring me to my knees no matter how functional and at peace I felt before. If I try to deny that sorrow will return with varying degrees of force, I hurt more than if I allow myself to feel what I’m feeling and know that just like flares from lupus, I’ll get through my flares of grief. I’m wistfully learning to accept my new normal.