I was too hard on him. I didn’t have the patience to be gentler in my tone or my words when he was just being a four-year old. And now I am remembering that—knowing he is gone and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. I wish there was a way to take it all back and replace it with calm and loving-speak. I am the adult, not the one going through yet another phase of development nor am I going through what must be a confusing and uneasy transition time. I should have known better, should have been a better father, should have been better to him.
I know this kind of thought is destructive but what is a grieving father to do: remember, reflect, regret. It is a difficult time. I am going through the stages of loss and grief. I’m not sure where the regret fits in. I suspect it is buried somewhere within stage 4 of the Kubler-Ross Model of the Five Stages of Grief, courtesy of Grief.com—yes there is such a site.
I have been trying to figure out how the model works so I can gauge when this will all be over and life will get back to normal. Like yesterday, as I quietly sobbed to myself while passing through the train station among the hundreds of other commuters, I suspect it was part of the Depression stage, but that would mean I have passed through the Anger and Denial stages already. I can assure you that that has not happened. It was just this morning that I imagined the ill things I would say to the man who bumped into me on the street and just kept walking, “you have no idea of what I’m capable of right now!” I vacillate between denial, anger and depression. I am not one to dabble in the third stage, Bargain, though maybe the regrets and the desire to re-write the story is me moving in that direction.
Unfortunately there does not seem to be any rhythm or reason to the stages. Like how does one find themselves so lost in the depression phase that they don’t seem to be able to get to the Acceptance stage, where the sufferer “begins to live again.” How is it that some people sink to the depths of depression finding themselves on the rail of a bridge or stepping off the edge of the curb in front of a passing bus? It all comes at me so randomly–anger, sadness, regret, fear, helplessness, and at times the want to move on. These stages are anything but linear. There are times for example that I feel like the air has been sucked out of my lungs, I’m walking along and looking at the ground and have the sensation of wanting to just sit down in the middle of the sidewalk in my suit and tie and wait for the moment to pass. What is that?
For the first week I was in the avoidance phase which seems to be part denial, part depression. I couldn’t seem to open the door to anyone including my family. I was letting the phone ring, responding minimally to e-mail and texts, and above all else, avoided facing anyone in person. No one at work knows except my boss and that was only because I had to leave work early on the day of our son’s departure. I didn’t want to have the “I’m okay, I’m okay, I’ll be okay,” talk.
But the last few days I have been taking baby steps. I have spoken to a few people and done so without breaking down. I am beginning to recognize that I am not the only one grieving, that those around us too are grieving. They don’t know what to say to us or what to tell their children. They want to help us but don’t know how. I realize that by allowing them in and even by giving them an opportunity to do something for us, it’s better for everyone. So, I finally said yes to help—that it would be nice if people cooked dinners for us. And on Saturday we let some good friends take Lucas for the night. It didn’t make everything alright, but it got us out of the house and gave us some time to spend together. It’s all just baby steps.