It’s still there. The spot where the accident occurred. So close to home. I still drive by it a couple times a month on my way to this or that, running errands of one sort or another.
At first, it only represented pain. Just two days after Eric’s passing, I elected to go visit the scene of my son’s passing, which I had avoided until that moment. It was Mother’s Day, 2017, and as I stood in our home filled to the brim with mourners and flowers, casseroles and pastries, I texted my husband whom I could not locate in the house. He said he was at the accident site. I told him I’d be right there, and despite my surviving kids’ objections—after all it was Mother’s Day—I headed over, driven by my eldest son, Nick.
I’m not sure how long we stood there. Time absolutely stood still. Somehow, I continued to breathe. I
That must have been what I hung onto…where Eric’s new life had begun. Already, there was a shift in what would normally have been nothing but devastation.
Oh, those tread marks—a constant reference to the day that changed our lives forever. Various people commented on how upsetting it was to still see them there. A couple of exasperated friends made calls to the city demanding someone paint over them. What were they waiting for? Get rid of that eyesore, that reminder of such a huge loss!
Eventually the city did paint over them. Yet, there was still a hint of the tracks which showed through the paint. Still there! Persistent. Almost as if Eric was making sure he would not be forgotten. No worries there, son, you will never be forgotten. That’s out of the question.
For the first few months after the accident, in my deepest grief, I did avoid the spot. I found alternate routes. But then I started letting myself drive by. I’d turn my head each time to see it, the arc, the path that led to an end, yet also to a new beginning of something beyond my full comprehension. For those few moments that I allowed my eyes to rest on that painful truth, time stood still. There was a heaviness in my heart, a stillness in my being, yet also a surprising connection to something more, something indescribable. Weird, but somehow driving by brought me a feeling of closeness to my son, like I could feel his energy in the car with me, maybe sitting next to me and smiling at me as if to say, “I’m with ya, mom.”
Was that wrong of us? Did the fact that we weren’t spilling tears mean we’d lost our love for our son-in-spirit? Were we being disrespectful?
Hell no. Like a mama bear defends her offspring, I will always defend my eternal love for my little cub. I know of some grieving parents who would be appalled by this. They would find this disloyal. But there is no part of me that feels even an ounce of disloyalty. I miss my son with every ounce of my being. What I would give to see him again, hug him again, and laugh with him again. But I did shock the hell out of myself recently when I drove by and didn’t realize till I had passed the landmark that I actually forgot to look over and say hello! What?? I felt a little bad and quickly uttered, “Sorry Eric,” to the air around me. And then I laughed. Shoot, too many unnecessary things on my mind that day. But disloyal? Not even. My journey had simply shifted.
The journey. Allow it to shift.
Grief expert, David Kessler, says there is no right way or wrong way to grieve. Just your way.Your grief is your grief. What you choose to do with it is your business. How you choose to live this journey is up to you. I can’t tell you how to do it, and you can’t tell me.
Everyone reading this has gone through grief, loss, major challenges, gut wrenching experiences. How do you put those feelings into words? How can you get others to really understand how you feel or why you do what you do?
You can’t. No one can truly get your experience. I can’t fully comprehend someone else’s pain, and they can't fully comprehend mind. That’s okay. We don’t have to understand why people choose to do what they do. Just witness, support, and allow them to be where they are.
Now, some six years later, I have made peace with that stretch of road. Not everyone who knew Eric has, and I completely respect that. Whether or not they do or ever will is none of my business. If they do, it will be in their own time. Besides, Eric drove up and down that road countless times for happy reasons—on his way to visit friends or catch the freeway to the beach or (borrowing the lingo of the day) to a sick music event. I like to think of those times.
On that saddest of all Mother’s Days back in 2017, as I stared up into the awesome and endless star-filled night sky, I did get a glimpse of something beautiful and mystical, a sense of an alternate meaning for this spot: where Eric’s new life began. I’ll hang onto that. It will carry me through until that day when it’s time for Eric to meet me and take me to where my new life begins.