My son, Phillip, took this photo when he visited me in New York, back in 2009.
Today marks the first anniversary of his death. Over the past year, I’ve discovered many things about grief and about how awkward giving and receiving condolences can be.
People offer condolences and I reply, “Thank you.” People ask how I’m doing and I answer, “Fine.” Then, there’s that hush because…where do you go from there? Do I just carry on and start talking about the weather? A class I’m taking? My grandkids? Oops, I’ll never have any grandkids. So many taboo subjects now. Touchy, delicate subjects where there used to be none.
Right, it’s been a month since Phillip passed away. Four short weeks that feel like a lifetime. I’ve had lots of sympathy, condolences, notes, calls, offers of food, help, or companionship.
My friends, both Chilean and gringo, have rallied around, watched over me, and listened to my long-winded stories about Phillip, family, and everything in between. Mostly, I’ve just needed to talk about it. Whatever, “it” is. I am so grateful for their willing ears.
It’s been a strange time. I’ve had almost no energy. It’s slowly coming back, but very slowly. In a country where the party begins at 10pm, I’ve often been in bed, and asleep, by 9pm. I can’t make myself care about what I might be missing.
He called himself “Sid,” the kid I’d named Phillip thirty-four years ago.
He crawled at six months. He walked at nine. He made his first whole sentence at 18 months. In a restaurant in Fredericksburg, Texas, where trophy animal heads hung on the walls. “Me see moose.”
He was the boy who dragged home stray kittens and puppies. And wanted to keep them all. He was the one who loved bedtime stories from comic books. Snuggled together in the rocker, with his yellow baby blanket, we read page after page, night after night, until he was too big to fit on my lap.