“THEY” say… that the second year is the hardest.
So I braced myself.
Stealing the words of my husband, he says, the second year is more reflective.
Does that make it the hardest?
Sometimes I look in the mirror and see my reflection and I am pleased with what I see; and other times, well – you know… I do not like what I see.
So perhaps it is so.
The second year may be deemed the hardest because it is reflective; reflective of both the good and the bad.
We, who grieve an overdose death, know that there are both kinds of memories. The before-drugs-and-addiction-memories and the after-drugs-and-addiction-memories. Built up hopes and dashed hopes follow too. PTSD is residually strong, even with a firm foundation in Jesus Christ.
Two years in, things are changed and being remade. Holes in the walls are patched up, his room is repurposed, his clothes and car have a new owners, and his garden space is reclaimed by nature. One small shelf in the kitchen holds a tiny basket of Caleb’s trinkets, his photo, his Bible, and exudes his constant presence.
Occasionally I flip through his childhood album. I can hear the chuckles and the family babble as I turn each page that reflect the early years of my son’s life. I can feel the energy and surge of pride, passion, and compassion as I turn each page during his athletic accomplishments. I see his heart as I pause at his baptismal page and strain to recall the words he spoke as he commited his life to Jesus. Graduation pictures fill the last pages. Yes, all good memories and tears flow as I wish for a 3-D hug with my son. The before-drugs-and-addiction-memories are so sweet.
Yes, missing the good memories is hardest.
Yet, often, my mind rolls the not-so-good times over and over: the angry, scary, anxious moments, the hurtful, deceived, numbing moments. The things I did, that I thought I would never do moments. These are PTSD fuel. The “what-ifs” and “whys” flood like the 40 days of rain and my raven never seems to come back. Dents in appliances remain as constant reminders of hard times, for him, and for me. Regrets fall like dominoes across my heart: more PTSD fuel. The after-drugs-and-addiction memories are painful.
Yes, reliving the moments that have left scars is the hardest.
All the grace and heartfelt help, spun with urgency and love so deep, built up hope – hope for a redeemed future! The “Mentor” sweatshirt he earned in detox, friends made at the soberhouse, a job with a second chance, and a wedding to attend… hope on the horizon. Faith, that things would work out and that everything-would-be-okay, buoyed me along.
Then all hope was dashed.
Caleb’s own pain, his own suffering weakened him towards relapse; he knew it, he was scared, and the Beast overcame him that one night of mistakes…. despite our prayers and the prayers of many. My son died of an accidental overdose May 27, 2018.
Yes, dashed hopes are hardest.
A blue heart marks my calendar; one week til I meet the two year mark without my son.
Will the third year be any different?
I think not. I think every year will be the hardest. What do you think?
Time from here on in will be reflective over both the sweetness and the pain. This is life for me now.
Enduring the hardest times, God is still good and He sustains me and blesses me, even still. All jargon aside, the joy of the Lord is my strength. And so, I live on, taking the love I hold in my heart for Caleb and doing good with it, I hope, to honor his life.
…still loving you deeply, Caleb, til we meet in heaven!