I don't look at pictures often. I assume it is a survival tactic. We haven't put pictures of Ben around our new house yet, and I don't carry one in my wallet. They cut to the core. When I break down and look through iPhoto, I smell him, feel his soft, innocent skin and curly blond hair, hear his laughter. It's too much of an emotional roller coaster for most days.
During my writing session today, I was trying to describe a particular vision -- sleepy-eyed Ben in his alligator pajamas. I scrolled through iPhoto searching in vain, for it wasn't there. Then, my eyes stopped on the videos and pictures of him over July 4th weekend. It is beyond belief how happy we all were...loving, innocent, naive - so much time ahead of us for laughs, vacations, kindergarten graduation, soccer tournaments, snuggles, kisses. Then, as I scrolled down, the pictures jumped to blue flowers at his funeral. The space between those two sets of pictures is beyond my comprehension. Isn't it a basic human fear -- to go from A to Z in an instant and not understand how? To feel someone on a Sunday, then they are gone Monday. To hear giggles, and then they are only echoes in the wind. Maybe it is the pain in that space that holds something very integral to life and human existence -- how much we can truly and deeply love others and fear loss. To this day, that feeling still keeps me from making new connections with friends, opening myself up, or considering having another child. Is it better to love fully and risk the pain of losing that? I hold my girls tighter and tighter each day, now that I know....there can always be that space between pictures.
It is rare that I'm brought to sobbing, but pictures do it to me. It is painful to realize that all I have left is a life in pictures. After that quick glance today, I realized -- Ben in his alligator pajamas...that wasn't even a picture. It is a memory as vivid as life itself, hovering in my mind each and every day, an unfolding vision of the last moment I saw him, touched him, smelled him. I will always have the memories....
Yes, the pain of missing Ben is strong today.