Fourteen years.

Life goes on and with one thing or another, fourteen years have passed.  

Is that even possible?

Your father and I have been married seventeen years.  In other words, if our relationship was a baby, that baby would be able to vote in federal and state elections next year.  That hardly seems to be possible either so I guess anything is up for discussion.

Some people say that losing a child makes you stronger.  It makes you appreciate your blessings more.  You don't take life and other family members for granted.  As I look around my life today, I wonder, Is that true?  

I don't know.  

In some ways, it's as clear and sharp in my mind as Japanese steel. If I think on it too long, it will cut me.

In other ways, I have to work to remember the date - on the date - instead of absentmindedly letting it pass by and noticing later because I've become so caught up in work and a thousand other things that need to be done. I have to remind myself that life is precious and wonderful and each one of these children that are running around in my living room, driving me nuts with their incessant chattering and making noise under their breath and disgusting habits at the dinner table, they are miracles which should be treated as such.  Even now, one of them is currently moping in the other room after a lost colored pencil and I really should get up and cheerfully help her find it, but I just want a minute or two to finish this thought.  I have to remind myself to be grateful.  The truth is, I don't always know if you've made me a better person.  I wish I could state the affirmative with more confidence than that.  Sometimes I think I have a different perspective on the world and I'm maybe more compassionate because of what you've taught me, but sometimes I'm not entirely certain.  

I think mostly people endure the pain of loss because they have no other choice.  And so people who don't understand that Loss look at them from outside of It and say, "Wow, he is so strong," and "I could never handle that like she has," but the reality is you don't get to choose and you don't know how you'd handle it unless you're handling it already.  It just happens and life goes marching merrily on and you don't get to say "Stop," or "I don't want to do this," or "Uncle."  It just is.  Yes, I know people can choose how they face a situation but the reality is life continues whether or not you want it to.  And so do we, with a few drastic exceptions.

I guess the fact that I'm not one of those drastic exceptions says something.  I'm not an alcoholic or a drug addict and that might say something small about me.  The fact that your father and I are still together... we didn't drive each other away and are relatively happy after all this time makes us part of a small percentage.  The fact that we still retain some personal faith and spirituality might shrink that percentage even more.  But it also might just speak to the fact that we're just poor and too lazy to make any real changes or examine our lives too closely.

I know I've posted this before, but I've never come across a more appropriate description than this: 

Becca: Does it ever go away?

Nat: No, I don't think it does. Not for me, it hasn't - has gone on for eleven years. But it changes though.

Becca: How?

Nat: I don't know... the weight of it, I guess. At some point, it becomes bearable. It turns into something that you can crawl out from under and... carry around like a brick in your pocket. And you... you even forget it, for a while. But then you reach in for whatever reason and - there it is. Oh right... that. Which could be awful - not all the time. It's kinda... [deep breath] not that you like it exactly, but - it's what you've got instead of your son. So, you carry it around. And uh... it doesn't go away. Which is...

Becca: Which is what?

Nat: Fine... actually.

It's still as true for me today as it was when I saw that movie five years ago.   

Loss becomes something you just carry around as one of those pieces of yourself, stored by accident in the dark recesses of the couch.  Something that others only see when they're close enough friends to look under the cushions one day while they're helping you move. It's always there, informing the comfort factor of the couch in some small way, but only a few really know about it.  It's what you have instead of your child.  Which is... fine... actually.