The numbness was overwhelming. Why could I not feel anything? The stress and tragedy had taken its toll on my 38 year old body. It was hard to go on but, I must. A 5 year old blue-eyed little boy depended on me.
The story is complicated but yet so simple, so common. A young man at age 41, my husband, my son’s father had taken on the beast, fought a tough, brave battle, pulled out all the weapons available but lost to the opposition, CANCER.
The name of the Cancer is long Neurofibromasarcoma. A name so long that it
exceeds in letters in dog years (7 per 1) the brief 41 years he was on this earth. But in retrospect, the number of people he touched in those brief 41 years well exceeds them both.
August 20th and 21st were a blur from waking up on Friday morning (the 20th) to greeting family and friends at the funeral and funeral home to the morning the day after. Even to today, I recall some of the people that came by the house, gave me a phone call or hugged me as they went through the line at visitation. I wish I could remember each and everyone. I wish I could remember everything that everyone said. I can’t.
I don’t think I cried. I don’t remember. The feeling of numb, I do remember that, numb to the world, numb to emotions, numb to reality.
I viewed him. All alone in a room in the funeral home. The casket was open, he was so peaceful. I touched him. I may have even kissed him. I don’t remember, the numbness was there. I remember the ring. The ring I placed on his finger almost 20 years earlier. “To death do us part”. We meant those vows. We stood by those vows. No regrets, we had followed through on our promises to each other. The golden band would remain upon his earthly body for eternity while the promises it represented would join his heavenly soul as the jewels he wears in his crown for the wonderful son, brother, friend, father and husband he had been.
If you were there and I seemed a little distance, I’m sorry. The numbness consumed me.
As I said, I don’t remember much about those two days or many days that followed. I wanted to be alone. Family and friends offered to stay with Hampton and I. They offered for us to stay with them. “No, we will be fine,” I would say. I do remember the strength I breathed in from the love and faith of family, friends and strangers.
Sunday morning came (August 22nd), Hampton and I got ready and attended church, the regular routine. We sat in the same spot where we had sat as a family of three. I was still numb, but I remember the loss that I felt. The loss was church wide. The smiles the congregation wore were as mine, a mask for the sadness that shown through our eyes like a shadow of darkness.
I made it through it. I may have shed some tears, I don’t remember. The numbness.
How would we spend the day? We had been restrained from doing some things over the past few months due to Stacy’s health. We didn’t mind, we were together as a family. I decided we would do some things that Hampton loved to do. It is my job now to make him happy, be both mother and father. I could do it. God did not put more on us than we can handle.
We went home, changed clothes and went to Rome. I don’t remember the drive. The numbness was present. We went to the pet store. The pet store where you could pet the Guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, cats and dogs. Hampton enjoyed it, but it was different to him too, I could reach in and get the animals, but that had always been dada’s job. Hampton didn’t say anything but behind that smile was the same shadow I had seen behind the smiles at church earlier.
With the trip to the pet store completed, we decided to see a movie. Hampton always loved going to the movies (still does). There was a new Spiderman movie out (he and his dada had made plans to go see it). I asked if he wanted to see it, he said, “yeah” and away we go.
Upon arrival I remember him saying something about dada wanted to see this. I choked back the tears and told him he would be watching it with us from heaven. Hampton smiled. I don’t remember much about the movie, not even which number of Spiderman it was. The numbness.
The thing I do remember, about half way through the movie, we were both ready to go. Hampton was 5, but he realized something wasn’t quite right. We left, I think he went to sleep on the way home. I think I carried him in and laid him on the bed. I don’t remember. The numbness.
I don’t remember a lot about the day after Stacy died. You know by now, the numbness. But, I do remember the solitude that I once searched and wished for, was now a sea of darkness in a world that use to be so full of color.
Just remember, we are okay. The numbness still rears his ugly head from time to time and the sea of darkness is still visible from afar but neither are things I see very often any more.