September is here. For most of us, the best way to describe this month is “back to school”. This means shopping for school supplies, wrapping books, buying new clothes. It also means increased movement on the roads resulting in traffic jams. September fills the bus stops with children and adolescents dragging around their heavy backpacks. It also announces the end of Summer. I had envisioned this month as the most beautiful month of my life as our girl was about to be born (Due September 5th), but everything turned out to be so different.
Since Sahar left us, the most simple and obvious little things I encounter have the power of bringing me new perspectives on our lives, our loss, our grief and even ourselves. This time, the typical marketing bulk found in the mailbox for the “back to school”-season, is what brought me this new perspective.
A child’s backpack is typically stuffed with pencils and pens, study books, notebooks, maybe even a laptop or an iPad, lunch and a few snacks to get through the day. The grief-backpack is filled with sadness and tears, but also sweet memories, a huge amount of nostalgia, and a boatload of pain, both emotional and physical.
When my mind re-enters the conscious world that moment when I wake up in the morning, that backpack sits on my heart. I get up, have breakfast, go to work, and try to smile as much as I can. I try to make every day count, and absorb the little things. The backpack always accompanies me, stapled tightly to my heart.
I don’t know how it is where you live my dear reader, but here, the load that kids carry on their backs every day to school is huge. I’ve seen more than one parent complain about this to the schools and the teachers. Just like that, my backpack of grief puts an enormous ballast on my heart and soul, every single day. It’s the void of her absence, the observation of silence around us, the unfulfilled desire of raising my child that I carry along each day. As the ache of that weight increases, grief manifests itself more. I cry, I weep, I hurt and I break, all over again. Unlike school and backpacks, I don’t get a break from grief. I can’t take it down, leave it on the floor, and rest while I rebuild my strength. I don’t get weekends and holidays off, it’s an everyday struggle.
Although I don’t get breaks from its weight and impact, I notice that very slowly, that backpack is starting to weigh less. I remember that when I started wearing it, it was unbearable. Slowly, with time, I’m building more and more strength to endure its weight. This clearly manifests in better days, where I manage to remember Sahar with love and not break down completely. It shows in days that I can enjoy life, and focus on creating memories for her while she can’t. It’s demonstrated in the hope for our future, growing slowly but steadily.
Some days, the classes at school line out in such a way that you have to pack an impossible amount of stuff. You have trouble even lifting that backpack from the ground. That happens in grief too. It comes without a schedule, completely overwhelming me at the most random moments. I can literally feel the weight on my heart, the pressure in my chest. On days like that tears are unstoppable, and the world transforms into a dull, dark place again. Those days are exhausting, but necessary too.
Grief is like a backpack, only, you can never take it off, leave it in a corner, and go on without it. It’s a lifetime partner. You do build strength and get accommodated to it’s weight, and that’s when it starts to feel like you can live life again.