By Ashley Nowell
I have found myself wrestling even struggling with the concept of time especially as it relates to grief and loss.
As we approach the two-year anniversary of my son Calaeb’s passing, I find myself consumed by fear. Fearful that time can move so quickly. Fearful that with each year that passes the more moments and memories that pass that will never be. Fearful for the memories that may one day be forgotten or that may fade.
It seemingly gets harder as time moves on. Something I attribute to the new lessons and hurts that you learn to navigate in your grief journey.
As you wrestle with all of this you have the spectators on the outside, society if you will, that is anticipating your return to ‘baseline’ the place you existed before your loss. Each anniversary is an opportunity to demonstrate your growth, resilience, and even worse ‘strength’.
This year in particular I am struggling with how the loss of a child abruptly stops all the growth and progression you as a parent have come to love, observe, and admire about your child. Yet time continues to lapse. Imagine a world where you are standing perfectly still and life is lapsing around you at great speeds.
Hung on my wall are pictures of my 16-year-old when he was 14. Each day I find myself struggling that those photos won’t ever progress through the years in the way that his spirit is. You hurt realizing that you don’t know who 16-year-old Calaeb is, and you won’t ever know. What he likes, doesn’t like, or whom he likes for that matter. How he wears his hair, or what style of clothes he chooses to embrace. And as thoughts set in about everything you don’t know about your child, so too do the thoughts of feeling distant and far from him.
I long to hang his most recent picture, to capture him as he is right now, but am perpetually crushed realizing that the ‘most recent picture’ will never change for as long as I shall live. No matter the years that pass, or how old I become he will only be but 14 as far as the pictures are concerned.
What might be just a photo to others is a painful frequent reminder of the growing space and time between the sweet boy I carry in my heart and the young man he was meant to be.