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I’ve been to the grocery store a dozen times since Noah’s death. I’ve battled the reflex to grab his favorite gluten-free foods. In the beginning, it was so painful that I had to abandon half-full carts and run out crying. I’m stronger now and it’s been a while since those days. But something tripped me up Friday night when I went to restock my kitchen. Something about the Ian’s chicken nuggets next to the gluten-free waffles that Noah loved so much, made me….just absolutely and completely furious. It was as if a switch had been thrown inside me and I could see red.
I recomposed myself and continued shopping, all the time thinking about what this feeling was and where it came from. It wasn’t until I was pushing my cart out the door and the tears came that I realized I was angry. I was angry! I don’t get to buy Noah’s favorite foods anymore. I don’t get to make him dinner, balance his meals, bribe him with cookies in exchange for a clean plate. No longer do I have this joyful, bouncing little ball of energy with whom I can witness and share in the joy of childhood.
Of all the people in the world, all of the terrible people…murders, child molesters, prisoners on death row who are slated to die quickly and painlessly. Drug traffickers, rapists, abusers and pedophiles. Of all the people in this world who might, by whatever standard, “deserve” to meet their end…it is my lively, quirky, funny, joyful, innocent little 6-year-old boy who had to die that day. And at the bottom of a filthy swimming pool.
Yesterday evening, I was explaining all this to my therapist. I said, “you know how there are all those stages of grief? I think I’m experiencing anger now.” Her response was “Well it’s about time!” HAH! I love her. I was already having a bad day, crying off and on all day and my depression was really showing. Yes, I have my beliefs about what happens after death. But what if it’s all B.S.? What if I will never actually get to see him again? What if all these occurrences and dreams that I think are glimpses from him and the universe are just my mind trying to reconcile this horrific truth? That he’s gone means he’s gone and all the things I’m looking forward to after my own death is for nothing? I can’t handle that! I left my session with the advice to try to realize that it’s just my depression talking and not really what I believe and what has been proven to me through my experiences.
Then, as if to further underscore that, I had a vivid and amazing dream last night. I woke up bursting with it. Sometimes dreams are difficult to put into words or lay down on a timeline, but I knew I had to get this one down before I forgot. As I type these words, I have been writing for two hours trying to get this dream, and then this blog post, down in words. I had to bullet-point it, then go back and put it into order. I hope this recount of my dream speaks to you as loudly as it did to me:
- a memorial was being held for Noah at my old apartment to commemorate a foundation or something that had been established, possibly by the MTN or the company I work for. He was saving more lives through this foundation or project and through it, he was creating a legacy of sorts, the details of which were very fuzzy to me in the dream.
- it was somewhere in the mountains
- I had to drive around a bit to find the right building – I almost didn’t remember where I had lived. It was a completely different apartment complex from the actual one in real life but in the dream it felt familiar and I knew when I was at the right place.
- Chris was Hurley from Lost
- at the memorial, Jason and I were planning to have a “divorce ceremony” to celebrate our divorce. this all felt very normal – like it was something everyone did when they divorced. the ceremony was to take place in the same manner as a wedding but shorter. the pastor who married us was there to perform the ceremony.
- when I got to the apartment, I fell apart. there was a small metal tub set into the floor of the front porch and in the dream I knew this to be the place where Noah had died. with the help of many others, and after collapsing many times wailing and tearful and crying, I made it inside. it felt like I had lived there but it also felt kind of foreign.
- I explored every room in the apartment painfully, crying. it hurt my heart so much to do so but I knew, and everyone around me knew, that I had to get through it. I was surrounded by friends and family: my mother’s friends from MTN, the emergency service workers who tried to save Noah, all the doctors and nurses, the Chief of Police, perhaps everyone I have ever known or met. They gently guided me through the rooms and memories. the lady who lived in the apartment had just moved in or out and there were boxes everywhere.
- in Noah’s old room (which was nothing like Noah’s actual old room), there was a crib where I imagined him laying peeking up at me with a silly grin on his face because he was too old for a crib.
- I kept finding things that were his: old shirts, a shoe, a toy. I would imagine him there with me in every room. I reviewed my memories of what happened in each room.
- Then we rehearsed the divorce ceremony, though Jason had not yet arrived. During rehearsal, I learned that they had planned not for an official divorce ceremony between Jason and I, but for an unofficial wedding for Chris and I. Instead of rings, we were to receive pins commemorating the foundation. Well I wasn’t about to marry anyone, unofficial or not, so I called the whole divorce / marriage ceremony thing off and decided to make it a slideshow memorial for Noah. It felt like that’s what it should have been all along.
- I hugged and kissed everyone afterwards as they left.
- The lady who lived in the apartment seemed eager for me to leave as more and more people were leaving. I was scared to leave because I would again have to walk by the front porch basin where he had died. it would be too painful and I didn’t know if I could handle it. I thought about going out the back door, but my dad gently encouraged me not to devalue all the work and progress I had made in coming there. I had to be brave and face it all right then and there. When I finally stepped out the front door, flanked on all sides by those closest to me, Noah was with me and I realized that he had been with me the whole time. I had just been so distracted and caught up in the event that I didn’t see him. The memories I had relived in each room were actually him, there with me. I was scared to touch him, or to acknowledge him to anyone around me – I didn’t want to make him leave. This time, I didn’t just walk past that metal basin in the floor. I crouched next to it, put my hands on it. I marveled to others that I thought I remembered it being deeper. I cried but not as hard this time – Noah was beside me, smiling and comforting me.
- When I got in my car to drive home, he was still with me. Finally alone with this apparition, I gushed about how much I love and miss him. At one point, I asked him if he were my angel and he just smiled and shook his head – not to say no in response to my question – but as if there was just so much I didn’t understand.
- driving home from the memorial, I could see Noah right next to me in the passenger seat. I was looking at him every chance I got and he was smiling: bright and joyful. when he reached his little hand out to take the steering wheel it made me nervous and I thought he was goofing around. until I realized that he had taken the wheel to swerve out of the way of a semi truck that had drifted into my lane. I looked at him after that, shocked, and he just smiled proudly.
- instead of going home, we decided to meet up with Zoe at some street festival. people were camped out in their tents and RVs, which we parked behind. Zoe hadn’t seen him yet, but I knew Noah was still there somewhere. I wanted her to see him but knew he had to do it in his own way. I told her all about seeing him and that he was there with us. While the other festival spectators were trying to get a view of whatever show or festivities were going on, we were straining to find Noah. Finally we saw him, but he was smaller, posing behind thistles and blades of grass…peeking between the blades mischievously. I pointed him out to Zoe and was thrilled that she saw him too. my instinct was to grab my phone to take photos; he was so cute!
- To my surprise, he allowed Zoe and I to take several photos of him. I realized almost immediately when I woke up, that he was being a bunny (Noah had a special connection with that animal and it always seemed like wherever he was, a bunny or rabbit wasn’t far away). Demonstrating, in a way. Then Zoe and I, realizing that it was ok, just shamelessly started taking photos of him against the backdrop of the mountains, telling him to smile, come back up the hill a little so he didn’t seem so small anymore.
- We all went home and continued to play with Noah and take photos the entire way. We learned that we could touch him, talk to him, interact with him and he was still there. He showed us things in our minds that I cannot remember now. We were overjoyed to be all together again.
This may not make sense to you, but to me, it speaks volumes. It reminds me of who I am, what I believe and why I believe it. To me, it is a message from Noah, reminding me who I am. Reminding me that he is here, guiding me. Protecting me.
The laws of physics tell us that energy cannot be created or destroyed. I hope – no – I believe and KNOW that Noah’s energy is still here. HE is still here. There is no die, no death, no finality. He holds me up, still, with his playful spirit. Just in a different way.
…and I’m still kind of pissed off. I’m only human, right? 🙂