The Day I Forgot My Son Died

grief amnesia

It was the day of his memorial. It sounds funny, but I remember it clearly because it’s the only day our house was full. Some of our family had started to trickle in so the sound of conversation hummed around me. I stood at my kitchen sink absentmindedly rinsing some dishes when my oldest daughter came bursting through the kitchen chasing a cousin. I looked up and smiled.

In my next breath I said, “Where’s…”. As my eyes lifted I met his bedroom door, my voice caught in my throat. The sentence finished only in my head, “Cameron at?”. It stunned me.

Where’s Cameron at?! How natural it still felt to say those words. I really had forgot! For a brief moment it was as if none of this was happening. Had anyone heard me? Did I really just say that out loud? Oh how I wish he was still in that bedroom or would come walking into the room.

This moment haunts me. It’s one I will never forget. The shock of forgetting so early in our grief journey. It jolted me. One of the few times I’ve been able to capture how my life felt before. Mundane things I would give anything to have back.

In my mind I try to recreate moments like this. Make myself believe he is just at school or in the other room. Sometimes for a moment I can feel it. Remember what it was like before. Then it quickly slips away. While I work hard to trick my mind into making these moments happen, I find it strange that I also have to constantly remind myself it happened.

The death of a child, especially your oldest child, can make you feel as if years of your life have been erased. Invalidated. Like it never happened. Cameron was 7. My girls were 4 years and 6 months. When people look at my family, they will only ever see 2 girls. It always feels like my first 3 years of motherhood never existed.

One thing I’ve learned about my grief is I’m so good at masking it I start to believe my own mask. It’s as bad as forgetting. I don’t forget. Not really. Yet, something will happen, something will be said and I will have a grief reaction. I get angry or feel guilty about how much it affects me and I have to remind myself I suffered a trauma. It happened. My son died. That’s a big deal!

His death has affected me deeply. It should. He made me a mother. He set the stage for how our family operates. Our entire foundation was built around him. He was my first everything. My oldest daughter is quickly approaching his final firsts. Soon she will take over that role of leading the pack. I can’t stop to let that sink in too far or I may fall apart. I wish I could make it stop, but time has a cruel way of marching on.

If I could freeze it all right now, I would. In this phase of our family I can still see him in his exact role. As it should be. Soon my girls will pass his grade, his age, and begin to reach milestones he never did. I fear those moments. There will be so many it feels overwhelming. So for now, I stand at my kitchen sink and focus. If I try hard enough, I can find a small moment where I forget and breathe him in.

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grief amnesia

6 Comments on “The Day I Forgot My Son Died”

  1. Emily, I cannot imagine this loss. May God’s peace surround you as you and your husband walk through your daughters passing Cameron’s last achievements. Thank you for sharing your story and showing others who walk this unwelcomed path that it’s possible to go on. Blessings.

  2. I recently lost my firstborn son as well. And it caught me off guard when i was reading this, but his name was Cameron also. He was only 4 months. Thank you for sharing.

    1. You chose a great name for your son. 🙂 I still get caught off guard when I see it. Or it seems now that everywhere I go there is a mother nearby yelling for her son “Cameron”. It makes my heart skip a beat every time. Sending hugs!

  3. We lost our son a year ago this past Aug.
    Our precious angel babies name is Cameron. He was 18 years old. Thank you for sharing this. We all to well understand your thoughts, feelings and words so much. Hugs and prayers for your family. Our minds play with us a lot. We struggle so much every day.

  4. We lost our Tristan two years ago in a car accident. He’s forever 20. I feel as though life has stopped for me. Happiness once filled our home with 2 children now 1.
    I cry everyday and just keep trying to keep going. His dad and I argue all the time now. The peacefulness of a beautiful family only remains in my memories. I’m not really sure what each day brings now but I’m trying.
    I can picture Cameron as a vibrant young boy full of energy and light. Just like our sweet Tristan. Im so deeply sorry for you. I pray God gives us both comfort. Hugs and love to you. Btw, we lived in Kissimmee.

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