Today marks 8 weeks since my son Dylan’s death and there are a few things I’ve come to realize. Much like after a fire ravages a forest, in time, healing and life finds a way to begin again and new and beautiful things begin to grow. So too have I begun to discover new and wonderful gifts this deep sorrow has begun to bring about. I’d like to share them with you.
1) When we got the news of Dylan’s death, my 19 year old son Justin was staying with Jim and I and thankfully, we were all there to hold and support each other. He said that morning that he needed to fully feel this pain and vowed then and there that he would never touch another substance again. Jim, Eden, Justin and I all made a sobriety pledge that morning and without exception, we have all stuck with it since. Being 100% sober to walk through this firestorm together has allowed us to be emotionally clear with ourselves and each other. I can’t even begin to imagine how stunted all of our growth would be if we were pouring alcohol or drugs on top of it. Sobriety has deepened my relationships with both Justin and Eden. It has been an amazing and beautiful gift to us all and I hope it continues for a very, very long time.
2) My relationship with Jim has blossomed more than I could have ever imagined. We are entering our 4th year of being together and have enjoyed more than our share of happiness and fun but we had never had to endure hardship or pain. As an elderly patient of Jim’s once told him “people are like tea bags… you never know what they’re made of until you get them in hot water”. Jim has been such an amazing and supportive partner to me throughout every moment of the last two months and not only for me, but for my children, my mother and even my ex-husband. He has been a rock and a guardian of our hearts in our darkest hours of need and for that I will be forever grateful. I knew I loved him before… but now… Oh my!! My children always liked Jim but now – they LOVE him and when we get married on October 10th this coming year, it will truly be a blending of families.
3) Eden has chosen to move back to Kelowna to live with Jim and I to finish her last year of high school. This August, it will be almost 2 years since I moved to Kelowna and at the time that I moved, all three children chose to stay in North Vancouver. I have missed Eden so much and am so excited to have her living with us! We both look forward to helping her explore her musical gifts and just have a wonderful senior year.
4) I have learned that in a time of deep crisis, I am a strong person. Until now, the only death or loss I had ever had to endure was losing my grandparents in their late 80s and 90s. While their deaths were sad and I miss them, it was part of the natural circle of life. Dylan’s death blind-sided me completely and throughout this grieving process and the ceremonies associated with it, I learned that I am a strong and supportive woman. I planned the memorial services, designed the program & bookmarks and created the website and bursary in his name. It is a tremendous relief to know that in a time of difficulty, I can choose to be strong for those who need me.
5) I have learned to be a more compassionate friend. There have been so many beautiful and wonderful moments I’ve had with friends and family in the last 2 months, I know that when the tables are turned I will be a much better friend than before as I now have a much deeper understanding of loss.
6) I truly do not take one moment for granted … for myself or for those I love. This new perspective is helping me to live each moment more fully than I ever have before. Life is richer and far more precious.
Last Wednesday (while camping for the first time) was the first full day that passed without one tear since Dylan's death. It felt weirdly disloyal to his memory when I realized it but more and more I am having whole days with fewer and fewer tears. I know life goes on and am finding my way, one precious day at a time with deep gratitude to Dylan for these gifts that are helping me learn to live life more fully.