I had to relearn how to be alone. How to pee alone, brush my teeth alone and drive in the car alone, but the hardest of all caught me off guard. The first time I grocery shopped alone my heart felt so much pain that I almost ran out of the store. When I finally did get to my car I sobbed and sobbed not knowing how to move from that spot at all, except for the fact that there was a car waiting for me to back out. So, I pulled away and felt more empty than I have felt since the day I left my son at the hospital right after he passed. For me this was a moment of realization of devastation. Making all the horrific events that had just occurred real instead of some bad nightmare that would end. Truthfully, even when my cart is full with my little ones now I still find being at the grocery store one of the easiest times for grief to sneak up on me.
Shopping at my favorite grocery store, Trader Joe’s is something Patryk and I thoroughly enjoyed. He wasn’t a lover of food, but he was of people and when you shop at Trader Joe’s the people are always so friendly and conversational. Well that was the perfect place for my outspoken ball of sunshine! He loved to talk to everyone and he would carry on conversation like he really wanted to get the most out of every moment with that person. He would even talk about people he met later on and remember names I could barley remember them saying. So after we were done filling our cart with groceries, finding shelly, getting suckers and balloons we would proceed out the door and when we reached the car is where he did something that always warmed my heart. He let the balloon go and all on his own said he was sending it to the kids in heaven, every time! This was not prompted by me, this was all Patryk and he amazed me with his heart of gold every day. Well now I’m crying typing this! He was beautiful, his soul is amazing and I am truly blessed to have had time with such a great teacher.
After Patryk’s passing the conversations became excruciatingly foreign when I reached the register. Not knowing what to say or how to respond to that one question, “Do you have kids?” I could never say no, so I would respond by saying, “yes, one.” My heart would jump to my throat praying I could redirect their attention to another topic so they wouldn’t ask any further. Then most of the time the next question was, “how old?” I could not bear to pretend my son did not exist or say no to make the conversation less uncomfortable. So if that second question was asked I responded with, “he recently passed away at five years old.” I know this response was too much for some to handle and most responded with kindness and respect. Still to this day, before Katia was even born, while out with Maxwell if asked I would say, “I have a two year old at home and a five year old in heaven.” As difficult as it is for me to say and as difficult as it might be for others to hear I just can’t bare to not acknowledge all my children. That would feel like added devastation to my heart that could not bear anymore pain.
I didn’t just lose a child, I lost my only child. I was a parent, yet I couldn’t be one. What to do with myself, my husband and I spent a lot of time together during the first two years after Patryk passed. He was the only other person on earth who understood exactly what I was going through. It was comforting to be around each other. We could break down and the other would understand without any explanation needed. We could converse about our child without all the weird awkwardness from strangers or sadness we felt from others. We leaned on each other to hold on to a small amount of normalcy that really didn’t exist at the time. We stayed busy riding bikes, attempting to play tennis, buying our first puppy, walks, running, painting and decorating our first home. Anything to not have time to be bored, all while being bored out of our minds every day. We were mourning privately, together and alone all at the same time.
I remember filling my cart that first time after he was gone and I kept putting everything and anything into it. No matter how much I put in that shopping cart it felt completely and utterly empty. It was missing the best item of all and I would never be able to fill that space. I have realized that is just like my life now, I can try to fill my heart with as much love as possible, but there will always be an empty spot. I’m missing my shopping buddy and that space can never be replaced or filled with other items.