The wheel of time can spin sunshine into a frozen shroud, making the heart cold and weary and the eyes reluctant to look upon the day.

As the spring begins to unfold, I can see how degraded the fabric of my life has become. It is unbelievably frayed; in fact, it is completely unraveled. I still have the yarns that attest to how amazing it used to be. Although they are just tiny fragments of a continuous strand, each vivid memory is a testament to life’s former grandeur, the grandeur that preceded my son’s death last summer.

Today, I can barely hold onto the tatters that remain. There is no longer a point to the drudgery that so seamlessly wove it all together. It becomes exceedingly difficult to attach any value to something that has fallen apart.

The warm weather has not brightened my days in the least. Instead, it has darkened my mood exponentially. I used to delight in the warm weather that follows a brutal Michigan winter. But this year, it is simply something else to dread.

The promise of spring has become an assurance of continued suffering. My son is gone and I am frozen in time.

Even the birds have changed their tune. No longer do they seem to sing sweetly. Instead, they emit the foul shrieks of mourning. The sun on my skin is yet another reminder of just how quickly the seasons can change. It was a beautiful day in July when Brandon was admitted to the hospital, and an equally warm night in August when he passed away.

It was an immediate transition from a fruitful, abundant life to a desolate age of absence and isolation. Where the hemisphere of grief spins out of control but never moves beyond the bitterness of perpetual winter.

The sorrow is deep and my thoughts are continually drifting. The weight of my sorrow accumulates quickly, releasing an avalanche of despair. I just keep falling back to those glorious days, the bliss of sixteen summers, longing for the tranquility that the season used to bring.

When the weather was unbearable and the streets were desolate, I saw my emotions reflected in the snow. The solemn stillness of the morning and the long bitter nights were a physical manifestation of my emotional state. The howling winds gave a voice to the unceasing anguish that continues to emanate from the bleakness of my soul.

But even now, despite my frosted outlook, I can’t ignore the profound message that is conveyed by the spring. Death in the forest is just an illusion. Only by experiencing and enduring the harshest elements of life can we appreciate the miraculous transformation, from the utter desolation of every barren hollow, unto the splendor that accompanies the fullness of rebirth.

I have also come to realize that it is the warmth of strangers that brightens my day. Even though we gather in the same deep depression, our varied stances enable us to support one another, through grief’s unrelenting emotional storm.

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John French

My name is John French. I was born in January of 1968. I own and operate a small remodeling company in Highland, MI. My wife Michelle and I married very young and we celebrated our 20th anniversary in May of 2009. We had two amazing children: Veronica, who is 20, and Brandon, who was 17. We worked very hard to build a life that would afford us the luxury of giving them all the things we never had, including a stable home, committed loving parents and every material thing imaginable (within the means of a middle class family, I should add). Over the last few years, it seemed we had finally arrived, and living was easy. Then Brandon passed away in August of 2009 from an undiagnosed heart condition. The devastation of that one single moment has crushed our view of reality and cast us down into a state of perpetual winter. I’ve been writing all my life, though not publically. Brandon’s death has so overwhelmed me that I can no longer contain my thoughts. Although my stance is undermined by despair, and frosted by the bitterness that follows the loss of my son, I will labor to plant some seeds of promise in the barren future that I'm so unexpectedly tilling. Perhaps something beneficial will stem from my mourning. If you can gather even a grain of hope from my reaping, it may help to sustain you through your own emotional storm.

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