"Why don't you write holiday letters anymore? I used to look forward to your letters."
People ask me this all the time, and I always say something like, Oh, I've just been busy. Because it's not socially acceptable to speak the truth, and it confuses people to hear it: Because my child went missing over 12 years ago, and I've been dead for a while now myself. It's confusing because you can still see the surface of us both, even though we've been gone.
Sometimes I find Sully in crowds where I know he isn't. He's in a group home with 24/7 staff, where autism took him. But sometimes I when I drop my daughter off at school, I see a kid who is built like he is, and I pretend I've just dropped them both off, as it should be. Or there's this high school kid who works at the grocery store, and he is as tall as Sully is and has Sully's complexion. Every time I see that kid, I think: There Sully should be again. Every time I get this crushing pain in my chest because Sully and I got cheated.
My heart really does hurt and has been hurting for at least a week now, but I'm not going to get it checked because I don't care. It is broken. I don't care that my job takes me into drug houses or domestic violence situations or through the worst neighborhoods or straight up the side of a loose gravel mountain road or down a clay mud road where everybody's cooking meth. Yeah, I'm good at what I do because I'll do about anything. I'm not afraid of any of this because the worst thing that could've ever happened already has, and the rest of this stuff is just shit gravy. Finish me. I don't care.
I realize that some consider it negative thinking to look at what's gone and that the focus should be on what still is, but those folks need to realize that his hard drive crashed, and everything I had was on it. And if you want to talk about what still is consider that my son still is not with me and likely never will be again. It's been over a year now, and the pain still is. There's no escaping it.
The only way to relieve this pain in my lifetime is if he's somehow restored. I need him to be restored. My mind goes to this a lot. Okay, he's been away a very long time now, and it's time for him to come back. I need him back. I miss him. What's the key? I need the puzzle solved now. All I wanted was this one thing. This one thing that I lost and probably can't ever have again.
He was only two when he went away, and I was just getting to know his personality when it was wiped out. I know, though, that he would've been a well-rounded kid. Probably the type that would play both sports and piano. I should be going to his games now, see? He's perfectly built for basketball. He should be watching football with me. My dad should've taught him to hunt and fish by now. Would he prefer a bow or rifle? Or would he be like me, unable to shoot anything, worried about how the fish's mouth feels after it has been captured and released?
Yes, I love him for who he is. Yes, he's still perfect to me. Yes, I try to embrace the present, but I'm not going to deny that we started out beautifully, and life has kicked the shit out of us. I'm tired. I feel like I've lived about three lifetimes already. We've been doggy paddling in choppy seas for at least 12 years. The only reason the sharks haven't eaten us is probably because were so damn beaten that we appear to be dead.
I haven't been worth much here lately. I hold it together and do my job. Helping others is a wonderful distraction, but once I'm home, here it all is, and here it all isn't too. But I recognize the gift of winter and stormy days, the void that makes depression not look so dark. We can tunnel down into this and sleep for hours, for days, and maybe if we go deep enough and stay peaceful enough, come springtime some tiny sprout of hope will poke through.