Friday, July 11, 2014

Post-Pilgrimage: Now What?

My pilgrimage to Europe on Noah’s behalf was packed with more pleasures than expected, though bittersweet. I managed to enjoy many sights, tastes, and experiences, especially when retracing Noah’s steps in France. I talked and mourned a lot with Noah’s French host mother; it was comforting to know she is still grieving and trying to understand, and to see reminders of Noah in the family home. We exchanged memories and photos and I met a few more of Noah’s French friends. I felt his presence most when alone on the family’s houseboat; I could almost see his long legs loping along the deck or bounding up the stairs, feel his energy reveling in a new life and language there. Some of my saddest moments were airplane departures, a reminder of Noah’s ultimate departure and the leavings and endings that have become so difficult. At those times, I felt alone and vulnerable, intensely missing my husband, my dog, and my living son. No wonder my husband has been unwilling to travel.
            The problem with going away, of course, is that you have to come back. I came home to the same unbelievable, unacceptable, incomprehensible, heart-sinking fact of Noah being truly and forever gone. Nothing had changed. There it was in my face again, undeniable. My husband’s loving welcome blunted the harshness a bit.
Jet lag mingled with let-down. I had completed my mission to reconnect with Noah’s French family, which I had yearned to do for more than a year. It felt like closing a chapter. What now? What more can I do—what more do I need to do--to mark this death and move through this grief? I am waiting for the addition of Noah’s name to a stone in our local Children’s Memorial and Healing Garden . I am starting to think about the daunting task of transforming this blog into a book. But in the near term, what is the next step in the journey, the next milestone to set? And what is there to look forward to with summer still ahead and no family vacation planned?
I knew I’d see my living son a couple weeks after my return, on what would have been Noah’s 23rd birthday . I held onto that. It was an unsettling weekend of downs and ups; then he left and the let-down and dis-ease resumed.
Maybe it’s finally here, the depression I’ve been warding off for months. A normal part of grief, I know. Since Noah’s suicide, I’ve been flooded with sorrow, yearning, anger, guilt, remorse, but have usually resisted numbness. Yoga, music, prayer and meditation have helped keep it at bay and reconnect me to the flow. I will keep trying for balance and line up some summer pleasures. But it’s taking more energy now to push back glumness. Do I let it in?

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