Author: Bunnie Jacquay
"Let go of what could have been." Such an easy phrase to say and yet such a difficult task. You start out with such hopes and dreams for your child and in the blink of an eye, your world changes forever. In my case, I was anticipating a wedding and a happy marriage for my son, perhaps grandchildren someday. Oh, the anticipation of the things I had planned as the next generation, and those to come, would play out as I grew older.
One of the hardest things to face is the happy occasion/milestone: wedding shower, wedding, baby shower, college graduation, holding the new baby, etc. While it is something I do to feel 'normal,' it is hard to keep up the facade of being cheerful when inside I am screaming, "This will never be my life."
At one of the TAPS Parents Retreats the group was gathered on the beach and we were given a challenge: find a rock, write upon the rock a word or phrase representing something of which you are ready to let go, then toss the rock into the ocean. Know up front that at this point I am five years into my journey. After some soul searching and knowing that no matter what I do, it will not change the outcome, I chose to rid myself of the burden "what could have been." Don't think for a minute that I didn't have a good cry as I wrote the words, gently placed the rock in the sand, and left it there on the beach for good. And also know that later that night I wanted to somehow get back to that spot, grab the rock and continue to hold on to that burden. But I didn't, for the most part because I didn't have a vehicle handy but mainly because I had the strength of my TAPS family in my heart. I know that at any moment any one of them is just a phone call away.
The following week I fretted about how I would be able to emotionally endure the months ahead… knowing the wedding was rapidly approaching and that I had vowed to let go of what could have been. Yet also knowing that my biggest hope is that others also progress in their journey and live their lives to the fullest. And then I suddenly realized I no longer felt the burden of what could have been. Another layer had been peeled in my transformation to the new normal. I felt more at ease in my own skin and could feel the happiness and anticipation of the upcoming events. I decided that it felt good to be happy for others.
In the fall I am honored to be able to attend that wedding… not quite as I had envisioned, yet happy all the same seeing that each of us continues on our journey at our own pace. I am blessed to remain close to the friends of my son and am deeply honored at the respect they continue to demonstrate in remembering and honoring him, not only with words but also through their actions. I often tell people, "The mention of my child's name may bring tears to my eyes but it also brings music to my ears. Please don't stop me from hearing the beautiful music for it soothes my soul and warms my heart."