A very difficult year is finally over, what should have been Mark's senior year. His friends have all left for colleges around the country. I won't have my breath taken away when I see them in person and realize how much they've grown. I won't have to listen to their happy parents discussing college acceptance letters. And I can go to the high school and not be slapped in the face by what they're doing that Mark isn't. It was a year to be endured, culminating in me sending very late graduation cards with heartfelt wishes for his friends to go out and be the best they can be. It hurts to think about all the things Mark isn't doing, but I sincerely want his friends to live wonderful lives, especially knowing how his death might have shaped their high school days.
Saturday is Mark's 19th birthday. How can that be? The anticipation of the day is the hardest part. I feel unsettled, erratic, like I want to yell at strangers for no good reason, smoke cigarettes, blast AC/DC and Aerosmith until the neighbors complain. If past years are any indication, I should be back to myself by Sunday--quiet, non-smoking and polite.
This doesn't get easier, you just figure out how to live with your heart split wide open. How to protect it. How to avoid those who can't see it. How to surround yourself with those who can. How to fall into the grief hole, climb out, brush yourself off, and breathe again.