traversing this life

In just a few days, we will be enduring the one-year anniversary of Caemon’s diagnosis. This month is excruciating. Last summer with Caemon was so beautiful, and yet, when we look back on last August, it’s impossible not to see the little boy who didn’t feel well for no apparent reason, the boy with all the bruises and the dark circles under his eyes, our little boy who was, indeed very, very sick.

A year ago this weekend, we took him to an air show. He had fallen in love with a local air museum here last summer. That was, in fact, where his tattoo obsession began (they gave him a bunch of air museum tattoos). He was so sick that weekend. He didn’t even want the rare treat of frozen yogurt we offered him. We thought he was just reacting to an antibiotic. We were so wrong.

It is so hard to express the pain this month has brought. I find myself trying to stay busy only to find myself too busy, too overwhelmed with projects and ways of bringing meaning to Caemon’s life and death. And how busy can I stay, really? There will always be another date looming ahead. After the diagnosis anniversary will come Caemon’s birthday and then the holidays and the anniversary of his transplant and the anniversary of his relapse and the anniversary of his death. And in between will be every fifth of the month marking yet another month I’m missing my boy in my arms. This month it was six. Six long months.

There are days in between when I’m okay, days when I even laugh and go about my life as though I’m a normal human being walking the planet, but I am finding the hard days are just as hard if not harder than before. I find myself struggling just to bring words to the page, but I want to, so here I am, not a lot to say, not a lot to share because it’s all so oddly, freshly painful once again. I’m learning yet again that this is how grief works. There is no straight line from beginning to end. It’s a tangle of bumpy roads and well-worn paths and plenty of cutting straight across untouched, sometimes seemingly insurmountable terrain. The kicker is that I never know where any of these paths is going to take me. I just keep walking.

Below are some photos from last year at this time:

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14 thoughts on “traversing this life

  1. Thank you for taking the hands of others who are grieving and sharing with us. Your posts are so wise, honest and healing and it means so much to know that you’re not alone.

  2. I can only wipe the tears from my eyes and know that I get to hug you both tomorrow. Thank you for sharing this gut-wrenchingly honest post. So many people ask me how you are. THIS is how you are, along with doing absolutely incredible work to help others and to keep Caemon’s light and legacy shining. And we just wish he was still here, dammit.

  3. I cry every time I visit this page, and still my “stranger’s” grief is one millionth of what you’re going through. This should be a time you’d be buying school supplies and thinking ahead to the more introspective days of fall, and now . . . every season will hold its dark anniversaries. Again, I say this: a mother to any is a mother to all, and my mother-heart holds your son’s memory and grieves for you, holds you, holds all of you.

  4. keeping you daily in my prayers and sending you warm and loving thoughts. I bought a new flashlight yesterday, and thought of Caemon. I suspect I will always think of him and his love of flashlights.

  5. Thinking of you and your wife and your loved ones, all the time. I hope and pray you are surrounded by love and light during the darkest nights of this month, and always.

  6. Just a few days ago I was counting the months since Caemon passed. Hard to believe it’s been 6.

    My sister has been gone nearly 9 years, and I still can get caught up in the grief, like a swift kick in the gut that steals my breath. It is, indeed, a curvy road, but I’ve found the curves get less sharp; still a curve, but not so jolting. She died on a rainy Thursday, October 7th. I used to think of it every Thursday (it’s been X weeks since she died), but that has faded. I used to think of it every time it rained (it was just like this when she died), but that too has eased. The 7ths of the month go by easier, almost too easily (and that makes me sad too, knowing it’s been so long that I’m nearly numb to the 7th of any month), but October 7th and the days I don’t anticipate the grief are still the sharpest curves.

    May you path be straighter…but not too straight, because realizing you forgot to remember is hard too. 🙂 I love your posts, I love your honesty, and I’m so sorry for your pain.

  7. These dark days sound so dark as you are missing your sweet beautiful Caemon so much and grieving for him and all that you have lost. I’m glad that you are finding so many ways to honor him, but it sounds really tiring also. Those pictures, which show a boy who we now know was sick are luminescent none the less. Thank you for sharing them and sharing your feelings with us. I want to bring you comfort, but I know that is hard to come by without Caemon. Big huge hugs to you both.

  8. So many mountains to climb, and then there are the days when the best we can do is lay crumpled by the side of the road. I wish I could ease your burden but I know that’s not possible. I can’t truly know what you are both experiencing, but I care, I care deeply. ❤

  9. These beautiful photos bring tears to my eyes, and yet I’m only a stranger. Thank you for sharing. Every post, we’re right there with you. Your words may not come easily but they’re very eloquent. Thinking of you both and Caemon today.

  10. I can only imagine the grief you carry with you, and how it will always be a part of you. It’s going to be a heavy burden to always carry, but I hope the memories and love you have for your son will be equally comforting. His legacy will always live on.

  11. I first read about Caemon when many of the blogs I read by other lesbian moms honored his passing. Although I am a stranger, I mourned the loss of suh a young, beautiful, bright child, and could only imagine what that type of grief must be like, even as reading about it rubbed against my own experiences of grief. Today I was directed back here by 1invermillion and have read back over the last almost year since Caemon passed away. Your writing is beautiful and haunting, words that don’t adequately capture my feelings as I read. I appreciate your honesty and the raw emotion and the details. I smiled through tears at the idea of a manual for grief for the rule-breakers by Jodi, as I have often felt that conventional advice books have not been helpful to me. I empathized with the descriptions of grief as wearing heavy boots–I have felt that too, and the way sometimes it feels it gets heavier, not lighter with time. I have an anniversary coming up this January, of the loss of my undergrad mentor. It has been three years, but sometimes feels like yesterday. Thank-you for sharing your story and allowing those of is who did not know Caemon to know him through your memories even after death.

    One thing that I will definitely keep with me is the idea of “leading with love” and not fear or anxiety.

    Finally, you probably know this poem, but I kept thinking of “Heavy” by Mary Oliver as I was reading and wanted to share it here. The first line is one that I return to over and over in my own experiences.

    That time
    I thought I could not
    go any closer to grief
    without dying

    I went closer,
    and I did not die.
    Surely God
    had His hands in this,

    as well as friends.
    Still, I was bent
    and my laughter,
    as the poet said,

    was nowhere to be found.
    Then said my friend Daniel
    (brave even among lions),
    “It’s not the weight you carry

    but how you carry it –
    books, bricks, grief –
    it’s all in the way
    you embrace it, balance it, carry it

    when you cannot and would not,
    put it down.”
    So I went practicing.
    Have you noticed?

    Have you heard
    the laughter
    that comes, now and again,
    out of my startled mouth?

    How I linger
    to admire, admire, admire
    the things of this world
    that are kind, and maybe

    also troubled –
    roses in the wind,
    the sea geese on the steep waves,
    a love
    to which there is no reply?

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