A visit from the “past”

Had dinner tonight and visited with a friend from my “before” life as I have now come to see it after this evening. Let me explain…
This is a woman I have known for about 13 years. We met when our kids started Kindergarten together. Her oldest and my youngest (at time, there was to be an addition for me a few years after). We got along well and a friendship started that grew. We were Scout leaders and Parent Advisory Council volunteers together. Our kids took Karate together and were friends too for many years. She was, like many, many people in my life, a daily part of my life almost. She was, like so many, someone who knew “me” well and my family. Birthdays and holidays celebrated together. Support for each other through divorces and sicknesses and job loss and the myriad of stressors that make up a regular life.
Then my son died. My world tilted and fell off balance and altered in immeasurable ways and a new path was set in motion for me. A path that was one of my choosing and a direction that I consciously chose to follow. Changes in not only my immediate family structure ensued but a re-location to a new city, a new job and a shift in my lifestyle. Changes that I had spoken of wanting for years but “life” had always gotten in the way and I had never made those changes that I wanted so badly. Ironically, a loss so great as to literally feel like I couldn’t live anymore, brought me to a point where I knew I had to live differently in order to go on. So I made choices and set in motion the actions needed to bring those choices to fruition.
It’s been 9 months since I moved and I haven’t seen any of those people from my “before life until tonight. Realistically, it was a few months before the move that I distanced from everyone. With the death of my son I was in shock and denial and simply, in survival mode. I was pulling on every reserve I had to go from one day to the next. I wasn’t able to connect or be with my friends. I felt distant and “different” from who I had been and that translated to me not feeling like I fit anymore where I once did. They didn’t know what to do to help or how to treat me or talk to me so they, slowly, started to retreat as well.
So now I reflect on the feelings and emotions brought up this evening by the visit and I have so many thoughts and emotions… It hurt, so much to see her and her boys and be reminded, so brutally of all that I “was” that’s now gone. She represents an entire life that feels like it was lived a million years ago. The loss not only of my son but of all that I was then is glaring when sitting with her. As I listen to her talk and I hear myself answer it is painfully obvious to me that it is small talk and chatter…that there is a weight sitting over us that neither of us will say… the immensity of the change is palpable and yet purposely ignored. We try to re-capture the banter and the connection we had but it’s strained and faked. I see myself almost from a third person point of view and come to the truth that I am different. I’m not the person she used to be friends with and that causes a disconnect. In a way, it’s sad…the loss feels complete now to me. I grieve the loss of my son and that pain is unchanged and as raw today as it was the day he died…but the loss of my life before; that grief is lessening and that pain is softening as I come to a new realization. That I love where I am now. The choices that I’ve made have been hell and they aren’t perfect but I have done what I needed to in order to bring myself closer to living true to myself and my values. I can’t change what happened that has brought me to the point where I was driven to make the choice to move and to change, drastically, my life, but I can try to embrace this new life…this life “after” and live it in the way that will fulfill me and bring me joy.

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