Grief is like a vice. I feel it squeezing in too tight sometimes. I feel it wrapping itself around my chest, then crawling it's way up into my throat, the dull ache and the too common stinging in my eyes until the tears are barely contained. I try to shut off the thoughts that bring it on, then I realize that it's no use. I might as well think them and go forth. I might as well feel the pain and cry the tears. And when it's over, then I can just breathe. In, out, in, out. Just breathe.
Another first today. The first day of going back to work in eight months. My employer has been so generous to allow me as much time off as I needed, and I probably wouldn't have had to even gone back today. But it was time. Time to just face it, do it, cross off another first. To feel the love and the hugs, to answer the dreaded "how are you" question, to drive the same drive, pray the same prayers, park in the same parking lot, punch the same time clock, walk the same halls as the day the phone call came. And all those ladies . . . if only they didn't have to be so wonderful, if only there weren't so many mother's with their arm's open wide who have been broken, too, for us the past eight months. Who have lifted up prayers and well wishes and really wanted to know how I was. Some smiled, some cried, some know my God, some don't, some agreed, too, that the world should have stopped when my son died.
I didn't realize how much I was stuffing until I turned back onto our road heading home after my shift and realized that I would walk in the door this time and hug all of my children who are still here. This time wouldn't be like last time. This time when I walked in the door I wouldn't have to ask if my son was dead or not. I wouldn't have to call my Mom or Traci or Jerry or go to Duluth. I could delight my children with fudgsicles instead and go play outside in the sunshine with them. I could live. If I could just stop crying. Just breathe, just breathe, just breathe. One. Breath. At. A. Time.