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Just the Gift I Needed
Written December 2018
We are rounding the 5th anniversary of Ben’s passing. It is a milestone I am dreading. The wounds from that day still feel so fresh and raw. And yet, I sense the distance; the passage of time. It is getting harder to remember the touch of his hand in mine, the sound of his deep belly bellows, the way our eyes would meet and I would know a connection, a love, a joy, a determination, a courage stronger and deeper than I could ever have imagined knowing in my life.
It is hard to explain but there is a fear attached to each milestone, each holiday…. a fear that seems to exist simply because of the passage of time. Maybe it is the fear of forgetting or maybe, I think, it is a fear that I may never truly feel again. Since Ben died, every feeling has dulled and much of the time I feel like I am operating somehow outside my being, never really present, never really me. It is like all feelings, happy or sad, circle around me but I can never really possess them. The holidays seem to exasperate the fear. So much of the world is walking around all “merry and bright”. My merry feels checked and my bright just not brilliant.
And then today, a tiny package arrived from Pennsylvania. An unexpected gift. It came in the form of a butter dish, mailed by a fellow mom of another little boy with Sanfilippo. The dish had been her grandmother’s. She shared that each time she looked at the cow-topped container she thought of Ben, and admitted that the grief she feels for the children lost and the son she is anticipating losing overwhelms her. Still, this Christmas, she wanted to reach out, take hold of my sadness and give me a bit of joy. She honestly opened her heart to me and in turn, this pure act of kindness, opened me. And for a moment, I FELT, really felt peace.
It was just the gift I needed.
“Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed. They existed. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed.” – Maya Angelou