I tried to adult today. It didn’t go very well. By adulting, I mean I tried to fill out paperwork regarding Dylan’s CPP death benefits. I also had planned on making some phone calls regarding his work pension and other financial issues but that didn’t happen either. Then, I thought I would try writing some thank you cards but after staring at them for at least an hour, I gave up on that idea, too.
I am numb. I feel as though I am walking around the house in a fog. I wonder if this is what a zombie feels like, what it’s like to be living dead. It’s morbid, I know, but these are the kind of thoughts that go through my head. I have no expression. My face feels blank. My eyes are dead. I see but I don’t see what could be right in front of me. It’s just the way it is right now. I know it will get better in time. I cut myself some slack because I promised myself that I wouldn’t put any unnecessary pressure on myself. I have to do it this way if I am going to survive this.
My stomach is in knots most of the time and I usually feel like I am going to be sick several times a day. I eat because Mark puts food in front of me but I do not taste it. It is just a means to an end, something I must do in order to survive this horrible and heartbreaking tragedy. Survive it I will. It is just going to take time.
Time. Tick tock. Tick tock.
I spent most of the afternoon sitting outside on the deck. Being in the house is claustrophobic and smothering. I cannot breathe properly inside the very walls that should be bringing me comfort and making me feel safe right now but they don’t. My chest often feels like it is going to explode if I stay inside for too long. The fresh air reminds me of Dylan and it helps me better understand what the outdoors meant to him, why he often told me that being outside was the only place he could truly breathe, could truly clear his head.
I have stopped pacing, at least. I stopped the minute Dylan’s ashes were returned to me. I know where he is now and that has lessened my anxiety tremendously. Thank goodness for small mercies. I know a blessing when I see one.
It has been a rough twenty-four hours. Ryan and his dad flew out to Edmonton early yesterday morning to pack up Dylan’s belongings and to decide what to do with his furniture and such. In order to do this, Ryan texted me several photos of Dylan’s personal belongings. When I first looked at them, I felt like I had been sucker punched right in the gut. I cried. I hyperventilated. I screamed inside my head. I was sick. I cried some more. And then I took a deep breath and looked at them as I would regard a shelf of store items in our local hardware store. Decisions had to be made for we only had a small window of time, less than twelve hours, to work in.
We went back and forth over several phone calls deciding what to do with everything from a few books to clothing, snowshoes to a rugby ball, blankets to food, furniture to a Star Wars shower curtain, a laptop to a bowl of spare change on his nightstand, receipts to a coffee maker, a television set to some video games. These were the things that made up Dylan’s life and now we were making arrangements about what we wanted shipped back to Ontario, back to home, back to me, and about what we would donate or sell. At least looking at the the shower curtain made me smile. Another small mercy for which I am grateful.
Dylan’s life was packed up into two boxes and two duffle bags this morning, not very much if you think about it. He lived a life of simplicity and was never distracted by material things. I always admired that about him and is something I will continue to admire. He tried to be present in each and every moment of his life and he enjoyed the time he spent with those he loved without being encumbered by things. “They are just things, Mom. They really don’t mean anything to me. I have only what I need,” he would often say to me.
But these things, his things are not just something to me, they are everything to me. These are the things I will treasure for the rest of my life and will keep close to my heart. I plan on having a quilt made from his many ‘town shirts’ and maybe even pillow or two which I can hug when I need to be near him. These ‘things’ are the small mercies to come out of a senseless and terrible and horrible and heartbreaking tragedy whose only purpose will now be to comfort me in the days ahead as I mourn him and miss him and remember him and love him and smile because of him.
Small mercies. Thank goodness I have them. Thank goodness I can see them despite my numbness, despite my grief, despite myself.