Every day, the sun still rises and falls, but I am trapped at 6:08 p.m. When Isaac was taken away from me on Aug. 4, 2020,
Five months ago, my son passed away.
They are so nonsensical that they may as well be in a foreign language when I write these words and read them over and over.
I read them over and over, unable to grasp that they are related to me, that they are part of my story. These words are part of a book or a tragic news story about a poor family that I’m never going to meet, but for whom I have sympathy for a moment before returning to my life. They can’t be life for me.
I can’t be the one people look at and thank God in silence that my life isn’t their own.
Needless to say, I’m nowhere near the grief acceptance process.
On a daily basis, I keep bouncing in and out of the land of denial. The surprising way my son Isaac died – in the Beirut blast, one of the biggest non-nuclear blasts in history – is part of the challenge.
All happened too soon. One minute I sat with Isaac singing nursery rhymes at dinner, the next I found myself in the house of my in-laws in a suburb of Perth – as far away from Beirut as you can get – without him.
I know there was a lot going on in between – the blast, the hospital, the difficulty of getting flights out of the country.
Yet it is a blur. In seconds, like a house of cards, our entire lives came crashing down around us. What happened was so immense and so incredible that my mind couldn’t believe that I was seeing it. I feel like I’m seeing myself in a movie when I think about the day and the days immediately followed, instead of recalling the actual events.
The failure to understand the explosion and the death of Isaac at the age of two years and three months means that I can’t understand this new reality either.
In this universe, I feel like an intruder, an observer but not a participant. It seems unreal and unnatural to me to live this life in suburban Perth.
It’s like I’ve fallen into a parallel universe and I’m just waiting to fall back into the “real” universe, the universe where Isaac lives and where our entire family is. When it dawns on me that I’m actually here in the Perth suburbs and this part is genuine, I wonder if my past life and Isaac were just my imagination. Was life just a beautiful dream with Isaac? Or am I in a never-ending nightmare at present that I can’t wake up from? There is such a stark difference between my two existences, the events that brought me to where I am so unreal today, the blow so cruel, that I can honestly not reconcile this new reality with my old one, so only one must be valid in my mind.
The hallucinations I get as I go through my day are the only thing that binds the two realities.
The squeals of children playing conjure up the cries that filled the hospital hallways, and a quiet moment brings back my last sight of Isaac’s face, terrified and confused. A loud noise makes me run for cover. The people around me are going to work, having parties, spending time with their kids. They laugh, they weep, and they think about problems of their own. Their lives go on “normally,” oblivious of the little things that lead me back to that horrible night in Beirut right away. Whilst I remain frozen in time, they live their lives.
The way we want it to, time does not relate to grief.
The sun still rises every day, somehow.
It’s always fixed somehow.
Life as I know it, however, ended at 6:08 p.m. On the 4th of August 2020, and that’s where a part of me is left. As incomprehensible to me as the blast itself is the fact that five whole months have passed. How did I survive without my little boy for five months? I spent a total of three nights away from Isaac prior to his death. The first night, when he was eight months old, I was in the hospital with a bad stomach virus.
I remember sitting in that hospital bed at NYU, breast pump hooked up because I was still breastfeeding, crying my eyes out.
Isaac was no more than a mile away, safe at home with his father, and yet it felt like he was a million miles away. The second time was when he was 18 months old…