It’s that time of year again. We are standing in the middle of the school supply section of Target, along with several other families. My two teenagers efficiently place items in the cart, crossing them off their respective lists. They display a great deal of self-sufficiency this year, which makes this task way more simple than it was in 2001 when my oldest, Bryce, was entering kindergarten.
As I stand amidst the brightly colored folders and neatly packaged pencils, my mind wanders. The back to school transition triggers my grief each year, without fail. I think about the daughter who is not with us physically, the one who I do not have the privilege to watch grow up.
In its simple “everydayness,” this annual shopping trip is a painful reminder. It is incredibly difficult to watch my child grow up in my mind. She will always be a sweet newborn baby. This year she would be a freshman in high school.
The questions flood my mind: What activities would she enjoy? Would she enjoy English and music like her younger sister or might she excel in math and science like her older brother? These questions will only be answered in my imagination.
My mind snaps back to the present when Bryce and Savannah tell me they are finished. The task is complete for this year. I breathe a sigh of relief as we check out then load the bags into the car. Of course, there is still school registration, the first day of school, and parent information night.
Then memories of past years and the longing for what will not be are pushed away until the autumn gives way to the holiday season.
Amy Daly 2012
Thank you for this post, Amy. Your experience and training will help so many people. They will know, right away, that you speak from the heart.
Thank you for your kind comment, Harriet.
Back to school season has been traumatic for me this year. My son died suddenly 12 weeks ago and would have been back in his apartment starting his senior year of college, if he hadn’t been killed. EVERYTHING reminds me of him, but the school supplies at Target, the college items at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and the Ikea catalog are all triggers for my grief.
Thinking about what could have been and what SHOULD have been is devastating. I have no idea how many years it will take to not have such powerful feelings. Reading your post shows that a parent who has lost a child always thinks and wonders about what would have been.
I’m so sorry, sad mama. I still think about my daughter often but it is not nearly as painful as it was in the beginning. I remember go heart wrenching it was for me in the beginning. I survived and was able to re-engage in life. You will too. Gentle hugs and peace to you~Amy