People say that experiencing a tremendous unexpected loss is like living a bad dream. It is in some ways. Reality seems to blur with dreams and memory into a surreal haze. When Jonah was alive I had occasional nightmares about losing him, or forgetting him somewhere. I would wake up in the middle of the night, with the feeling of loss in my heart, only to be reassured by his rhythmic breath in the other room. Some days my life feels like I've awakened from a bad dream, but the harsh reality is too potent for that feeling to persist.
I feel a new disorientation now. I try to hold onto my memory of Jonah. I try to see him, even recreate him perfectly in my mind. I can't remember him as he really was. I can't piece together a perfect chronology of his events and days. The memory of his laugh, his smell, his smile are all slightly blurred by my imperfect recollection. His existence feels more like a beautiful dream to me, the kind of dream that follows you into your day and lingers in your heart.
His dream settles on me when I walk to my car, and it as if I remember a dream where I walked to the car with him holding my hand. When I kneel down to clean the bathtub, I remember a dream where I watched him play in the water and washed his beautiful blond hair. When I walk into his room, I remember a sweet dream of his hands in mine as we rolled and rocked on the exercise ball and he giggled. I have moments where I catch myself wondering if he was ever even really here with me. It breaks my heart.
The evidence of his life is all around me, his blankets, his toys, his clothes, all should be proof to me that he was here. But these things are products of the world, and are not part of him. I cling to the evidence of his body, the vanishing smell of his dirty sweetness on his blanket, the stains from his sweaty head on my down vest, the crusty boogers on his blanket, and the small smeared hand prints on our windows. I cannot get rid of these things, at least not yet. I may become like those crazy women in Grey Gardens. Maybe people will begin to whisper about my dirty windows, and how I cling to the past. I will take my chances. His hand prints connect me to reality. They remind me that this is not a bad dream, and that he was really mine for a beautiful moment.