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.