Grief Journal: 13th Birthday, a Little Late

January 17 would have been Charlie’s 13th birthday. (Thanks, English, for baking the grief right into that sentence).

I didn’t post then, not because it wasn’t a big deal–it was. The truth is, I’m deeply and nearly overwhelmingly depressed.

I had been doing better for a while. Friends commented I seemed “lighter” and maybe I was. I don’t know. Was I? Or did I just have more energy to fake it? I’m not sure what’s causing this darkness.

I see Charlie’s friends and peers growing up. These are kids I care deeply about, even love, so of course I’m happy to see them thriving. Yet, it’s hard to see puberty starting to lengthen their faces and bodies, the men and women they are going to be starting to emerge and knowing I’ll never see Charlie as an adult.

My daughter turned nine last November. She’s in third grade. She’s an awesome kid, growing up more every day. Yet, the reality that soon she’ll be turning 10 and going into fourth grade makes me realize just how ridiculously young Charlie was when he died.

And it’s been a rough few months. It’s winter, with all of the snow and bitter cold that brings here. There’s the general COVID malaise and burnout that everyone I know is suffering. Physically, I’ve had to deal with COVID myself and the fact that I seem to have some “long COVID” symptoms. Add on a concussion and the flu, and my physical reserves are at a very low ebb. It feels as if there are large, heavy concrete blocks chained to my arms and legs. All I want to do is nap, or perhaps huddle under the covers playing games on my iPad.

I don’t even have the bandwidth to read a book; it’s tough to skim news headlines, much less read an article. Apparently, I have concrete blocks chained to my brain, too. I find myself insanely jealous of my husband. He’s in charge of helping our daughter with virtual school, and she just went back in person two days a week. Meanwhile, it’s busy-busy at work, as I kick off annual marketing for eight different clients at once. I confess, I struggle most days just to do the bare minimum, which sends me into a total stress and shame spiral. I’m so sad and tired, I don’t even have the energy to cry.

I hope these chains and weights drop away soon. But right now, in the deep dark valley of my depression, it’s hard to imagine. They are forged of grief, sorrow, and regret and like Jacob Marley, I will drag them behind me as long as I live and beyond.

Meanwhile, I miss this face more than any words can express.