December 25th, 2020
Another holiday season is here and the fifth one without Ben. The memories seem to be farther away, but the hurt is always close by. It seems like I had another life when Ben was here and now, I’m living this one. One where I just put one foot in front of the other and basically waiting. Waiting … waiting for what, I don’t know. Perhaps more signs from Ben; perhaps to feel a strong presence from him; perhaps just waiting for things to fade away. I know some parents that have lost a child start over and try to find a new life. Some run away from the places where their old life took place. Some keep busy with new adventures and new beginnings. I can’t. I need to be where Ben was. I need to feel him close to me like we were in that other life. The more that time goes by, the more I realize that this could never happen again. I just find it impossible to grasp that notion; the fact that he will never be here again.
I’m not feeling sorry for myself as much as I am feeling sad for Ben for not having done so many more things he was good at or experiencing the joy of growing up, of finishing high school and traveling with friends. Working towards a career, getting married … and the list goes on. He worked so hard at everything he did. He put so much love and effort and time into all his endeavors and I know he would have been so successful at anything he set out to do. That’s one of the things that hurts.
I feel like I need to escape but with the Covid pandemic, I can’t. I need to wander this Earth in search of some kind of clarity, some kind of truth and reason to go on. Is the reason out there? Will I ever find an answer? Is there even an answer? What happened to Ben doesn’t make sense. It’s not right and it’s not normal. Why? Why does this happen to kids? I’ve spoken to many parents that have lost a child and they feel the same. The emptiness. The despair in the world. The absence of moving forward.
Yes, it sounds like I need help, but I’ve received it. Many hours of talking to professionals but there really isn’t much they can do besides listen and give you ways of coping. But when the hurt is so deep, it can never be fixed. Time is the only thing that can stop the bleeding but is it because of fading memories? Is it the distance from my life with Ben? Is it new memories piling on top and burying the old? Argh! Maybe I need to write a book. My father did. Ben did. Maybe it’s time I fill up some blank pages to try and reason through this nightmare.
One of the things that get me through some tough days is my job. As you know, I’m a teacher and have been for 36 years. I’ve taught all ages from 7 to 85, from grade 2 to university. The job itself is very stressful. As most teachers would attest, you have to be an educator, a psychologist, a doctor, a cheerleader, an entertainer, a police officer, a counselor, a parent and the list goes on… This is what keeps my mind on my job and out of my sadness. If any parents of my students are reading this, please don’t worry, my role as all the above is not compromised. In fact, I am even more empathetic to the children’s needs both from an educational as well as personal standpoint. But every day, yes, every day, when I walk out of the school and look at the sky, the flood of emotions hits me like a train and I get that slap in the face of not going home to my son.
As I look at photos and videos of Ben, I smile briefly remembering the time the photo was taken. Then the wave of sadness floods and buries the joy. I know many have said this before but it’s true, you just want one more minute with the one you lost; one more hug and chance to say how much you miss them and think about them and wish they were here.
I’ve said this before, but Ben would say I love you at least 20 times each day, every day. He would make a joke, as he had a great sense of humour, about me filming him and say, “Are you filming me?!”, in a deep menacing voice, and right after, in a calm, happy voice he would say, “I’m kidding, I love you.” I miss that.
*sigh* - …. for those who have continued reading up to here, thank you for listening. Thank you for being patient with my rambling of my feelings.
So here we are, the 5th holiday season without Ben. Can’t believe it’s been 5 years – five! I wish I owned a cabin somewhere remote so I can get away from everything for a while.
Happy Holidays and keep positive – life will return to “normal” soon. Take care and stay safe.
A Dad who's had to deal with the struggle and death, from cancer, of both his parents and his amazing son.