It's been a hard week. A week where I have been digging and digging for joy, and finding only despair.
Everett turned three! (And Atticus wasn't there to see it.)
My younger sister gave birth to a beautiful, healthy girl! (And now there is someone in our family who never has, and never will, meet Atticus.)
Some days are easier. Or maybe they aren't, but my powers of imagination are stronger. I can get up and go about my day, driving my (two remaining) children places, making small talk, cleaning the kitchen, writing book reviews, and not falling apart. I know Atticus is gone. I always, always know that. It is my background, my never-blue sky. I am always a solitary word away from tears. But I can see beyond it, if only a bit. I can see Everett and respond to his request to play the "You Evie, I Mommy Game!" (wherein I pretend to be Everett and he pretends to be me, and much hilarity ensues). I can see Damien and his sweet heart, his desire for real conversation and his elaborate creative plays/games that allow him to control the whole world. I can be their mom, and things are ok.
But it has been difficult, increasingly difficult. Last night, triggered by a nasty surprise in the movie Arrival (not just aliens and linguistics: also a mom and a child who dies of a rare disease), I completely lost it. I took my own medication to stop the panic attack, and when that didn't work, I called my mom for some of hers. I also called an over-the-phone therapy service, cleaned the living room, organized my entire Barefoot Books inventory, watched 4 episodes of "Orange is the New Black" (because I've learned my lesson and will never again watch something I haven't seen previously) while playing online trivia, Sudoku, and crossword puzzles. And crying hysterically. Hurting, hurting, hurting. I stayed up until 6:30 in the morning, and then turned Damien and Everett over to my mom for the day.
The truth of it is, I don't know how to live my life without Atticus. He was the center of my everything. I didn't realize until after he was gone, how very much more care he needed than his brothers. That had been my reality ever since I became a mom, which was my only job until I started with Barefoot. And the time that wasn't spent physically doing things for him (feeding him, driving him to appointments, calling insurance again and again and again, sitting in meetings, carrying him down the stairs, closing the closet door...) was spent trying to make the world a better place for him. The advocacy, being active in politics, even my work with Barefoot. It was for all three of my children, yes. But it was largely for Atticus. I love Damien and Everett so very much. But they don't need me on that same level. They need me emotionally, of course. And all children need someone to fight for them, to make the world better for them. But every playground is accessible to them, and the end of the ACA isn't the beginning of their doom. I feel unmoored, adrift in a sea of children who have their own lives and will grow up to live almost entirely independent of me.
Our rental house doesn't even have a changing table. I will, most likely, never have a changing table again.
I have never felt so purposeless. Never felt so lost. Never felt so lonely.
I miss you, my darling Atticus. I would give anything to have you back. I'm sorry I wasn't enough to keep you here.