"DON'T CRY BECAUSE IT'S OVER. SMILE BECAUSE IT HAPPENED."

Hey there - It's Jonni.

10 years ago today I wrote a brief email newsletter that started with: "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." The words of Dr. Seuss were in my heart.

That's because on July 16th, 2012, my only child, 22-year-old Connor, was killed in a crosswalk, when a distracted driver ran a red light.

It may have been a decade ago, but it feels as though it was last week. I know now, it's likely it always will.

 

Every year when July approaches, I watch myself put up prickly buffers, not wanting to be too close to comfortable and false certainty. I stay awake more. I feel the edge. Logically, I know I'm still shell-shocked, so I have a lot of patience and love for myself. 

One of the most difficult aspects of grieving the loss of a child, especially one who had passed the threshold of being a child, is facing the loss of the future, the next stage of their growth and evolution. As I move along day after day, month after month, year after year, the pain becomes less raw because I've learned to absorb it into myself. The pain becomes a part of who I am, not because I've chosen it, but because the depth of the earthly pain feels like a direct correlation to the depth of the love.

I can’t change what happened 10 years ago, but I can get up each day, get dressed, make meals, water the garden, work... because I have to. Yet in all the normalcy of daily life, the knowledge that my future/Connor's future/our future, is over, is constantly present. More than most things. 

Whenever I used to imagine my future, it always included my son. Our bond was blissfully tight, so the future was jointly infused. I used to imagine watching it unfold. I fully expected to live life intact with the gratitude of it all. But when I lost his earthly form and the future I had envisioned, no matter how I've learned to absorb the pain and go about my daily earthly life, redefining what future is, has clearly been a challenge for me these past 10 years.

Last year I read a quote by the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard: "... the most painful state of being is remembering a future, particularly the one you'll never have." It's not the memories I mourn. It's the future I'll never have.

It's one thing to miss the love of your life who's left their earth form. It's quite another thing to miss the future that will never happen. To miss never ever hugging him again or laughing with him or cooking with him or walking and talking for hours with him. To miss meeting his beloved choice of partner, holding his newborn, watching him become a middle-aged man with silver in his hair.

That's the future that will never happen. That's the future I invested in so deeply, willingly, and lovingly. That's the daily pain that never leaves but forces me to wake up each morning and live another day without it. 

That pain keeps rearing its head because the future still asks me to live in it. Without him. And I would be lying if I told you that I can't stop experiencing the pain of a future I can't have.

And that's life, or at least the process of living.

 

I have some very very good days. I have an incredible relationship with the soul of Connor who's alive and thriving 'off grid' in the afterlife. But I don't have an earthly physical daily relationship with him. I don't have the earthly future.

Ever since the world paused and restarted a few years ago, I've watched the exposure of so many atrocities and injustices surface. I've witnessed the collective joining together from MeToo to BlackLivesMatter to EveryChildMatters...so many. It's the unearthing of a grieving that's individual and collective. It's a pain vibration I know well. So many do.

Grieving has a purpose: to process us through the past into the present in order to create change for the future. 

All the stages and layers of grief are being felt and experienced right now on the planet. I just wanted to share mine. It's one voice in 8 billion. And every voice matters.

 

Love, Jonni

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