Roads We've Traveled

The New Me

I miss my son.

I miss his face. I miss his bright blue eyes. I miss his gentle manner.

I miss the way he would crawl around the house. I miss his smile. And I miss his laugh. God, I miss his laugh.

And, I must say, I miss me.

Carrying more weight

Before Aidan died and before I got cancer, both within three weeks, I was a different person. I was far more carefree and, while I knew through my career in journalism that the world was full of violence and tragedy, that tragedy hadn’t hit me. I was more ignorant as to just how random and unfair the world can be. I didn’t have the same cares and worries about cancer. I didn’t have anywhere near as much pain and grief that I carry now.

Now, I look at the world differently, which I guess is expected.

Yeah, I survived it all. As of now, I’ve survived cancer. And, again, as of now, I’m surviving grief. But I’m not the person I was. Sara’s not the person she was. Michael is not the little boy he was.

The experience has given me a terrible gift that weighs on me every day. And even with a new and wonderful joy in our lives, Arianna – who is 18 months, and beautiful – I still miss my son. And, obviously, I always will.

The new me

There’s a new me I’ve had to get used to, and sometimes I really don’t like him all that much.

I don’t like his quick temper or his anxiety. I don’t like how sometimes he sinks into an absolute sadness that can last for days. And I especially don’t like how his PTSD can sometimes make me feel so out of control.

The new me is often called strong. Strong for surviving and strong for not being full of bile and rage. But the new me is very, very angry and twice as resentful.

But the new me has some good points. The new me, despite some glaring exceptions, like having utterly no patience for the moralistic and the self-righteous, is more compassionate and empathetic than before. Don’t get me wrong, I was always tried to be kind — emphasis on “tried” — but after dealing with what I’ve had to deal with, I feel I have more insight that I could never have had otherwise. It doesn’t make my life any easier, but it has had a profound impact on my willingness to judge others, in that it’s tough for me to do because I’m all too aware of my weaknesses.

And, at the same time, the new me can be a tremendous asshole. Yeah, the old me could be too, just not as much.

But the very fact that I’m so aware of my flaws gives me some hope that someday, I hope, I will be happier and more at peace.