"Onward through the fog" -Oat Willie's Slogan
I never thought that this would apply to me. See, #OatWillie's is a headshop (of which they are proud) in Austin, Texas. They were around long before I attended the University of Texas, and are still there today. If interpretation is based on your knowledge of their inventory, then it is pretty easy to apply meaning to their slogan. However, in the year since Peyton's suicide. I have begun to se it differently.
The fog is what many of the survivors live in, especially for the first year after the suicide of a loved one. The fog seems to envelop everything we do. We forget things that happened recently as well as long ago, as well as names and faces. Events that once held relevance, such as our own birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas, no longer do, On the other hand, new things such as the birthday of the lost soul and the monthly anniversary of their passing, develop great meaning. We count off the number of days, weeks and months since they left us, much as one does with the birth of a new born child. We begin to dread any day that marks a new milestone, such as their first birthday since their death, or what would have been the day they graduated. We tend to look at others, and try to understand how their lives can go on when ours have been tragically impacted.
As survivors, we are left behind to pick up the pieces of our lives. Some of us become advocates for the dead. Because of the pain we live with, we vow to keep the same from happening to some one else. Some of us withdraw from society, we become Boo Radley or Miss Havisham, shutting off contact to the outside world and locking the door behind us. Others climb inside a bottle, bong or syringe. We long to banish the incredible pain that we live with daily. Others will follow in the steps of their loved ones and are driven to join them rather than live without them. Regardless of which path we choose, we are surrounded on all sides by the fog.
Unfortunately, like any fog, the survivor's fog begins to burn off. As it dissipates, we begin to truly see again. What had once shielded us from painful reality, is gone, and we are left to deal with what is truly before our eyes. The empty room we walked by is now a clear vision of what will never be, as we look at the trophies that whisper of the lost potential. We see the last picture that we ever took, and realize there will be no more, that they are going to be, in my case, Forever 13. We hear about the achievements of others and are left to wonder "what if?". The more fog that burns off, the greater the reality becomes. The pain that we thought we had learned to cope with comes back in waves. Once again, we don't want to get out of bed, we break down at the songs on the radio, and we look for answers that will never come.
Now I am dealing with the pain all over again. I find myself crying over little things such as Peyton's final school picture over the stairs . I have a huge pit in my stomach as Christmas approaches. I have even started to lose interest in things that once brought me comfort. As we creep closer to the holidays, I am not looking forward to time with family, presents or good cheer, but the time to be alone and envelope myself in silence, and lose myself in a video game, movie or book. Something that will make the hours pass while my mind is some where else other than the loss of my only son.
Now I am faced with the task of dealing with all the obstacles that I blindly ran into during the first few weeks and months after Peyton's death, only this time, they are vivid reminders of what happened, "“So [I] beat on, boat against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”