Grief Journal: The Light of Possibility

I didn’t post anything here in the fourth anniversary of his death. I tried, but I just couldn’t. I couldn’t figure out why this year is so damn hard. Then it hit me.

Our school district posted a picture of the Class of 2026 at their first day of high school. Charlie wasn’t in it.

Every back to school day is hard without him, but this year has been particularly difficult. Going to high school is a rite of passage, a major milestone on the way to adulthood.

I see the pictures of his friends and classmates. They are all so tall! Their faces are lean, their bodies much closer to the men and women they will be. You can catch glimpses of the babies and toddlers they were, if you know them well, but it if it’s been a while since I’ve seen them I have to stop and think about who this almost-adult is. 

Not Charlie. He is forever 10, forever on the cusp of becoming. 

Ask me questions about 10 year Charlie—what he liked, what he didn’t like, what he cared about and what he wanted to do and be—and I have all of the answers. I can’t tell you anything about 14 year old Charlie. Would he be an art kid, into drawing and writing? Would he have found a sport he liked? Our school finally as an esports team; I’m pretty sure he would have joined that. What would he be reading, watching, playing? He was a creator at heart—would he still be using LEGOs as his medium or would he have moved on to something else? I don’t know. And it breaks my heart.

Fourth grade, 10 year old Charlie was nothing but potential—a light of possibility so bright it was almost blinding at times. Time, like gravity, is moving that light further and further away. I often find myself in the shadows and the darkness left behind. And just when the shadows are deepest, inevitably someone will mention Charlie to me, letting me know they miss him, too. I can’t tell you how much it lifts the darkness to see his light reflected in the love and memories of others. 

Yet, time moves on and his light recedes. My hope is that he will swing back around at the end, a comet burning bright, coming home to meet me so we can go round another life together. And he can tell me everything he became while he’s been gone. 

The last first day picture. Fourth grade.