Losing someone is, of course, difficult. The thing is, it’s difficult in different ways depending on when you lose them.
Unrealized Potential ←→ Lost Reality
When you lose someone you’ve known for a long time, someone who has lived for a (relatively) long life, you miss who they were and what they did. You miss the inside jokes, the memories, and the times you shared together.
When you lose a young child, of course you miss the time you had together, however brief . . . but there’s a wider issue that breaks your heart: the unrealized potential of who they would have been. As the song says, “I wonder what would you name your babies.”
It kills me to think of who Jack would have been had he grown up. All the wonderful potential he had inside him. What a great man he would have been. The family he would have had. The difference he would have made.
I’m saying this poorly.
As much as I miss the real person Jack was, he was so young, so just-expressing-a-real-personality, that it almost hurts more that I never get to see his first love or first job or first victory or first child. It’s all those potential moments you dream about when you think “This is what it means to be a parent. This moment is why I do this.”
I have my list of what those moments are. You have yours. We both know how important they are and you can imagine, having been able to share these moments with your own kids (or eagerly anticipating doing so in the future), why it hurts so damn much that I’ll never get to share them with Jack.
He was my son and he had all the potential in the whole goddamned world.
And I love him.