Smoke and Mirrors


When your child dies, you don’t lose them all at once. You lose them by increments, microscopic particles, little by little, bit by bit, second by second, hour by hour, day by day, month by month, year by year. The immediate absence of their physical body is shocking; traumatic. I imagine this is the same whether your child suffers an illness or is ripped from your arms in sudden tragedy. Even if you know it’s coming, nothing can prepare you for that moment when their breath stops, their heart quiets, and a silence fills your Soul never to have sound again.

This is what I’ve been going through and why I’ve been on hiatus from this blog. It’s been too much to carry – to heavy for words. I survived Mother’s Day. I survived a birthday. We survived Father’s Day. We managed to make it through Nolan’s one-year anniversary. The days continue to be wrapped in darkness. The panic attacks are back in full swing. The nights are filled with terrors only to awaken to find that is has become my life.

I’m losing Nolan in pieces. Sometimes it feels like he’s just not home, and I have to remind myself that he’s not coming home. I look for him everywhere, in everything. In every tree, in every leaf, in every whisper of the wind. I try to see him in every cloud and bird. I search each rock and flower and blade of grass to find something – something – that calls out to me from him. I was laying at the lake last week, just watching the clouds and talking to him in my mind. I could swear the clouds spelled “LIVE,” and I started to cry. The eagle chose that moment to soar over the lake, and I almost believed it was real. Part of me knows that he is still trying to reach me, but the bigger part is so wrapped in pain that it makes those signs easy to rationalize away.

Pieces of him drift away. Slowly, quietly. The emptiness is becoming familiar, routine. I still cry every day. Every. Single. Day. Endlessly. I see all the posts about Grief online and they don’t help. Grief is the price of love and all that nonsense. I call bullsh*t on that. Love has no price, especially the unconditional love for a child. Grief is what rises up and engulfs the energy that you used to spend on that child. All those thoughts about them, the physical energy in taking care of them, the emotional devotion directed towards them, your hopes and dreams for them – it all just hangs there like a specter hovering in your heart. It becomes Grief incarnate. It takes over every aspect of your life.

I am beginning to see the understatement that “New Normal” really means. It’s that Grief encompassing every part of you – mind, body, and Soul. It pushes out all color from your life. You actually become used to it. The constant battle of railing against the pain and trying to find the sun – and your Son – begins to feel familiar. Your shoulders slump under the weight of agony, your back curves, everything hurts, but you begin to desensitize yourself to the sensations. The fight is gone. Surrender is the only option.

All this goes on behind the smile and the “I’m ok,” in response to your “How are you?” All this happens behind the laughter of a joke you told or a memory you shared. Smoke and mirrors. People become more comfortable with that perception. They want you to be ok. They want you to be happy. They want you to laugh, and so you do. Only those who look beyond that surface, only those brave Souls who travel the same path really notice the laughter never reaches your eyes. They notice you always deflect questions about yourself. They know it’s self-defense. Self-preservation. Even with all my devotion to being brutally honest about this Journey, I have somehow become a Master of Smoke & Mirrors.

7 thoughts on “Smoke and Mirrors”

  1. I love you, Amy. I see the pain in your eyes when we talk and you laugh. I know it takes all you have to show any other emotion but the shear agony your heart is feeling. You are amazing. You care about people. You still have those shreds of what you were before, because of the good you have inside you. Yes, your different, but your goodness is still in tact. That’s the part of you that is smiling or laughing and that cares about the people who are there to give your expressions a rest from the pain that overwhelmes you. This might not come across exactly how I want you to interpret it but I think you will get what I’m trying to say❤️


  2. That was a sign from Nolan. He was talking to you. If you want to see more signs, you must learn to put it aside– not the grief (use that energy as your passion to see) but rather put aside the rational mind. The world that we knew does not exist anymore. So naturally, to see these signs and messages, you must forget what you used to know and how you used to think. Your rational mind will not help you any further on this journey. Follow your heart, your grief, and the signs Nolan leaves around. You will see that they will take you somewhere you didn’t know existed. That’s why I’ve been following my pennies, my feathers, and all the other random things that pop up. It’s leading me somewhere really cool with amazing experiences and I know at the end of it all, Nolan and my grandmothers and Grampa will be waiting to hear all about it. So, pick up your grief and take it with you. Apply it to these signs and let Nolan show you your new journey. He is clearly encouraging you and I agree with him wholeheartedly: own it and be it; be a strong woman and a grieving goddess. I think that’s one of the most powerful things in the world. You could move mountains if you wanted, or you can sit and let it slowly kill you and Nolan’s death would have been for nothing. I think it’s time to embrace it.


  3. The honesty here describes our pain like no other loved one can do unless they too have experienced such a pain. I miss my Taylor every single moment of everyday. I try to take comfort in the thoughts of “she’s ok” “she’s joined with those who have gone before and after her and she’s happy” but sometimes I just want to scream that it’s NOT OK! That she had a great life here and she didn’t want to leave. I want it to be ok that I’m selfish and just want her here with me back in my arms. Your honesty is needed by so many. Never stop writing. I needed this today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amy,
      I get it… We lost our son Sean will be 2 yrs this August 9th., which is in just a few days. It doesn’t matter the age of the child, it’s still your child and the loss is enormous. In reading your thoughts you nailed it. It’s all encompassing, we look for them in the simplist things and realish if we get a chance to feel a connection. I find some days are better than others. My prayer for us is to be comforted as we travel this journey… I’m traveling it too! God has been traveling with me and carries me a lot of those day!


  4. Amy, I was not the mother, I was the sister and it was 13 years ago my brother left us way to early.I watched my dad break down that day, and watch him struggle with his happiness as the years have gone on. It’s not easy and I still look for signs of him. His favorite song, the clouds, certain smells. It helps me know he is with me and watching over our father.You’re not loosing pieces of him, he is helping you and others with the same struggle.


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