Last year I had a lot to say, and was feeling eloquent. The words, the tears, and the catharsis flowed. This year I have a lot of scattered thoughts but the words don't want to come. That's the way grief is: different from one day to the next, and different every anniversary, even seven years later.
You see, today Miles would have been 7 years old.
I have things to say. About how, despite my best intentions, this year Miles' birthday has neither a cake nor a candle. I made modest plans, in collaboration with Vivian and Bruce, to have cake and ice cream, and a game of Duck, Duck, Goose (at Vivian's request), with some of our nearest neighbors. But this morning came early, and Vivi was invited to an all-day outing to a Chinese wedding with our neighbors and friends the Zhangs. You know them through their son, Jia Heng, who I have written about before.
I have started to think that maybe its time to lay Miles to rest in some permanent kind of way. Believe it or not, right now his ashes sit in our bedroom in a plastic bag, inside a ceramic box, hidden inside a wooden chest made for him by his grandfather. His ashes have traveled with us from Oregon to Korea to China, for no good reason other than that we just don't know what else to do with him. Him. Them. The remains. Perhaps part of me wants to keep what little we have of him close, and perhaps I am a little crazy in thinking that he belongs with me, though all "he" is now is a pile of dust and bone fragments, and not a boy at all. I am thinking about a grave, a marker, a place in the earth, and wondering where it should be and when the time will be right.
I am also thinking about the other boy in our lives, our friend Zhang Jia Heng. He has become so much a part of our family that I will certainly face another loss when we move home to Oregon and he stays with his family in Qingdao. Today I want to cling to him, and pretend that we won't lose him, too, eventually. When we finally do make the move back to Portland, or anywhere else, Vivian will lose a best friend, and I will lose another child that I love.
I feel a little bit crazy this year, because it seems like I should have reached the end of the grief road, and recovered from the loss. But make no mistake: even after seven years, I have not recovered from the grief of the death of my son. I have only started to realize what we have lost.
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