1987 – 2015
Yawning this morning, I rolled over in bed. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes. I’d woken up from a pretty good night’s sleep – at least a good night once I had cleaned up the vomit the dog left on our bedroom floor. Serves her right for stealing that slice of spicy pepperoni right off our snack plate.
Reaching for my phone, as I do most mornings, I was surprised to see that someone had already text me. I opened it up and saw it was from a dear friend. The text just said “Sending you lots of love” with a cute little heart emoji.
Huh, that’s nice, but slightly strange. We then had a conversation that went like this:
“Back at you!”
Two heart emojis in return
“What brought that on?”
“Just thinking about you”
I smiled, thinking about what great friends I had who would just randomly send love out. I was a blessed woman. Then I tapped on the Facebook app on my phone and I noticed my mother had tagged me on a post so I went to see what that was all about.
She had posted pictures of my son Adam and the post read “We remember with love, 1987-2015”
That is when I first realized that today was the anniversary of my son’s suicide.
I had forgotten.
That’s right, completely forgot.
To put this into perspective, the first anniversary, I started feeling more sad than usual at the beginning of July. It took me a while to realize it was because my whole being was dreading the anniversary date. The second, and third year, it got a bit better and it would be a hard week leading up to that day. Then, last year, I braced myself but my emotions were only out of control on the actual anniversary date.
But now I had completely forgotten?
I’m struggling with conflicted feelings. On one hand, I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty; what mother would forget something like that? Did this mean I was starting to forget him? Did it mean I was a terrible mother? Other people remembered, what is wrong with me? Surely no one else ever forgot the day they lost a loved one?
But that was only for a couple of minutes. Then I decided to take control of what I was thinking. I was not a terrible mother, I simply forgot. Perhaps it was a sign of my healing that I no longer has such a visceral reaction to that date? I’ve been in counselling with a wonderful psychologist and even used EMDR to deal with some of the trauma. Not being devastated was a good sign, wasn’t it?
As I had a chat with my mother, I realized something very important. I want to approach my grieving with intention. I can choose what is important to me. And do you know what I decided? Adam’s birthday is coming up on September 3 and I am going to not only remember, but I’m going to celebrate that day.
I don’t know if you are grieving, or if you are, where you are on your journey, I’m not saying you have to make the decision I made. But I encourage you to choose to celebrate your loved one in a way that feels right for you.
Carla Howatt is the mother of three adult children, a communications professional and an author. She wrote the book “Bearing Witness: One Mother’s Online Journey After Suicide“