I can’t turn Charlie on

9 months yesterday.  Some days it feels like 9 days.  Some days it feels like 9 years.  What they say is the fine print is holding true.  Some days feel hopeless.  Some days feel manageable.  Some days, although rare, even feel good.  Some days have all of these swings in one.  The only feeling I have everyday is this void in my soul.  It’s there every second of everyday.  I can physically feel the emptiness.

I’ve spent the last nine months stumbling around with this feeling of emptiness still trying to process what has happened to us.  As I’ve said a thousand times over, Charlie was my everything.  I could never get enough of him and he could never get enough of me.  If I was running an errand, he was coming with me.  If I was going to do yard work or shovel, he was coming with me.  No matter where I was going, Charlie was going too.  And I cherished every second of it.  That’s not grief stricken hyperbole either.  That’s the truth.  And it’s why it hurts so much.  It’s why I can physically feel the emptiness.  I loved Charlie deeper than I knew I could love anyone.  My sole purpose in life was to be the best father I could be.  To me, beyond providing for him, this meant spending as much time with him as possible.  It gave me that unspoken bond I shared with him.  I wasn’t proud because I was a dad.  I was proud because I was Charlie’s Dad.  I loved taking him places to show him off.  I knew I had something special in this kid and I wanted the world to experience him too.

Then it was all ripped away.  In one short day, I went from feeling complete and whole to empty and shattered.  Everything has changed.  My life has been turned upside down, shaken up, and kicked to the curb.  I feel empty.  I feel cheated.  I feel violated.

Do you know how sometimes you have a dream that feels real?  The kind of dream where you wake up and you might be crying or experiencing that “pit in your stomach” feeling.  I’ve been having dreams in which I am chasing and fighting people.  I can never see who I’m fighting but it’s usually more than one person.  That empty feeling burns inside as I’m chasing after these shadows.  It rages as I pound them with my fists.  (Vanessa has mentioned how she can tell when I’m having these dreams b/c of my thrashing in bed.)  I don’t always catch these shadows.  It seems like I keep running after something that can’t be caught.  But when I do catch them it’s violent.  Lately, I’ve been killing these shadows with my bare hands.  There are many times when I get killed.  Most of the time, however, they manage to get away from me.  The majority of these types of dreams end with me feeling defeated and exhausted as I watch a shadow run further away from me.

When I wake up my heart is racing and my muscles are tense.  It feels like I just got into a fight but I don’t have the sore hands, face, or body that usually accompany a good ol’ fist fight.  The dreams feel so real.  I’ve read that dreams where I’m chasing someone signifies that I’m attempting to overcome a difficult goal or task.  I’ve also read that dreams about fighting may parallel a fight or struggle that I’m going through in my waking life.  Check aaannd check.

I still haven’t had a dream with Charlie in it.  I haven’t experienced any signs or “God winks” from Charlie either.  I can’t turn Charlie on.  Maybe that is what I’m chasing in my dreams?  A sign from Charlie.  I feel that void all day everyday.  There will be moments when my stomach drops because it feels like I forgot something important.  I become panicky and my heart feels like it’s going to pop out of my chest.  I quickly realize that Charlie is no longer with me.  I yearn for my stomach to drop in exhilaration instead of terror.  I need one of those “God winks” in a bad way.

These past few weeks have been my best stretch since Charlie went to heaven.  Hard to explain but I can tell you it hasn’t felt like I am going to be sucked into that giant void in my soul.  My guy Danno has been a BIG reason for this.  I still think about Charlie constantly, always injecting him into whatever situation I find myself whether it be at swim class or bedtime, but it hasn’t been reducing me to a sobbing heap of a man.  It’s the reason why I haven’t written in a while either.  Crying sucks and I can never write without crying.  So I’ve taken a break.

But the holidays are coming.  My sister Liz’s baby is coming.  A bunch of “firsts” that are the wrong kind of firsts mixed in with Danny’s firsts are coming. It makes me want to scream.  It makes me want to cry.  My life is a paradox and there is no relief in sight.  I need Charlie but I can’t have him.  I can’t turn Charlie on.

Charlie loved watching the videos of himself on our Flip camera.  He figured out how to turn it on and find whichever video he was looking for but sometimes he’d accidentally begin recording.  This is one of those instances.  Charlie was 2 years and 5 months in this video.  Five months before he went to heaven.

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6 thoughts on “I can’t turn Charlie on

  1. feeling your pain all to well (we are at 7 months on Nov 1st – but this week, Oct 27th is 9 YEARS since my dad left – still seems like yesterday sometimes) just tonight my mom was saying about Alexander “how can he be dead? it just isn’t right!
    Keep doing what you are doing taking it one DAY – one MOMENT at a time!

  2. For months I wasn’t able to sleep. Every time I closed my eyes the flashbacks would begin. Playing and replaying the horrible events that had taken place. For me, my dreams were what was just on the surface but what I pushed down all day long. I guess you just can’t keep it buried. It gets you. I was shut down and closed off to any future hope and the days were just as dark as the nights. I felt guilt for still living when she didn’t. Guilt the first time I smiled. Guilt the first time I laughed. For just being. And then it began to change.

    I always called Hannah my little ladybug. Some may think it’s silly, but everytime I see one I think of her. It’s my “God wink”. Look for Charlie in the ordinary—not the extraordinary. I pray you’ll find him there. If he was your constant companion in life, he just has to still be with you now. He just has to be. It’s when we try to address the questions of the universe like WHERE and WHY that we lose those connections. We don’t know where or why, when or HOW but he IS. He IS with you Bryan.

  3. My daughter died 2 years and 5 months ago. She was 34.

    I want to say first, your son is adorable. So sweet. I am sorry for your loss. And, a story to share. I wanted a “sign” from my daughter but didn’t think I’d ever hear from her. Well, I did get a sign of sorts. I blogged about it (even photographed it lol) and who really knows. I like to think it was from her and my Dad. I wasn’t expecting it.

    He is always with you. I know it’s hard…. it’s so hard. We love our children so much.

  4. hi my name is Sarah, my son aiden died 6 years ago in a house fire. i still miss him everyday! he was so beautiful, he had blonde hair, blue eyes, and an almost golden color complexion, he was my everything! he woldve been 7 in July. it seems like around holidays and birthdays things get worse for me! i still have horrible nightmares sometimes, i wake up screaming and crying the dreams just feel so real! i remember holding him in my arms and kissing and telling him how much i love him. i would give anything for just one more day with him. i just feel so empty inside now,i used to be so happy. i just don’t know where to go from here. i never thought this could happen to us but it did, the impossible happened i lost my little boy and still 6 years later my heart is still broken.

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