Since Johnathan died, I’ve had this internal struggle between wanting to be closer to everything that reminds me of him, while at the same time needing to be further away from it all.
Our family and friends want us to move back to Kentucky which initially sounded like the best option. Being surrounded by people who could just take care of us and make things easier on us. But then since we buried Johnathan and have gone back to visit a couple times, it just feels worse to be where he was born and raised for the majority of his life. Memories of Johnathan taking his first steps, riding bikes with Michael, or walking hand in hand up the hill to Grammy and Paps. It’s just a constant reminder of what we had and now no longer do.
I am sitting at CVS MinuteClinic today for my last shift. I enjoyed the job at first. It taught me a lot about my own abilities to lead and run the show independently. I got over my fear of talking on the phone and now I can confidently run labs and give medications in addition to my ER skills and knowledge. But I was standing here when the school called me about Johnathan’s nose bleed. I raced the mile from here to him in a panic, unable to breathe, but trying to explain to my manager that I needed to step away for a minute. When I came back, I explained to the nurse working about what had happened and she was kind to me and understood my quick reaction to leave. We continued on with our day like nothing happened. I got a few picture updates from AJ of a smiling and happy Johnathan and told myself that everything was going to be ok. My next shift was filled with re-telling the events of the day prior and coming down off of that adrenaline spike when a parent thinks something is wrong with their child. I fortunately had the next three days off and I’m grateful they were spent holding and snuggling Johnathan. He was held and loved and given every bit of our attention for those next 48 hours.
I didn’t step foot back into work for a month. My manager said to take the time. The day I tried to come back, January 19th, 2021, I had a panic attack. I had prepared myself in the days prior for seeing co-workers and talking to patients, but when the time came, I couldn’t do it. It felt like everyone was looking at me and talking about how my son died. I know they weren’t.
It just feels that way.
I’ve never liked accepting help from people, but when your child dies, it becomes a necessity. I don’t believe individuals are created with enough strength to survive this kind of loss alone.
I give all the credit of strength and survival to God and my faith in Him to walk me through the storm. But I believe He gives us people on this earth to help us in a tangible way and shows us signs through nature and the world around us to give us peace in our most troubling of times. Just finding a nice quiet place to breathe and re-focus my mind away from the pain and emptiness can help.
I have stayed home from work for 4 months now, only going in on a reduced schedule every couple of weeks. I thought that with time, the triggers would lessen and it would be easier and easier to come into work. That hasn’t happened and I don’t think it ever will.
So today is my last day.
Sometimes I just want to break into our old apartment and lay down on the floor where Johnathan was bleeding out while they did CPR. I want to lay there and just soak in whatever energy or remembrance there may be to make me feel better. The last time we visited Johnathan's grave, I sat down on the ground and was hoping for just a moment that I would feel closer to him and maybe feel like he was with me. It didn't feel any better or any worse than sitting on the ground in North Carolina. There seems to be no escape, but also no comfort in staying.
Part of me feels like I’m just running away, but I know that putting more space and peace between myself and these triggers will help me with my overall grief journey. no matter where I go, Johnathan will be with me, but maybe it will be less overwhelming to sit in places that I know he has never sat before.
Maybe it‘s not running away, but I definitely need to keep moving and can’t let the grief incapacitate me.