It is Monday of the 12th week since my son’s death. One of his friends visited with us this weekend. He is in fact the friend that was with our son the day he fell. We tiptoed around each other in the visit. It was uncomfortable on both sides. I don’t know exactly what he is thinking and right now I don’t want to know. I feel impotent.
My role as mother in this family has been to be the hub. Well greased and running as smoothly as possible, it was my job to make sure everyone else accomplished what they needed as much as it was within my power. Meals, bills, clothes, necessities – the business aspect of living. My husband the father of this family makes the money we spend. He has done a great job providing us with a secure living. Our partnership has been a good one, and amazingly has stood the test of many stressors. I serve also as comforter, listener. My time by my own choice is available to my family to be spent on them. I like being with my husband and children and many potentially frivolous activities have occurred because of my desire to just be with them. I have learned much about my son, daughter and husband because of this choice. I treasure what I have learned and store it up in my heart.
When our son died we followed his wishes to be an organ donor. That meant that his body was not available for funeral/memorial services for a while. Once it was released we had his remains cremated. A memorial gathering was planned for the weekend to allow his friends and colleagues to make it available to attend if they so desired. The day of the gathering family began to arrive at our house. It was terrifying. Suddenly there was talk and laughter and all the air was being breathed up in the house. Our son was conspicuously missing. My husband, daughter and I would retreat to our bedroom, dazed and shaking.
At his “gathering” I went into mother mode. His beautiful friends and colleagues needed comforting. I held them. My husband held them, our daughter hugged and held them. We cried down each other’s back. We repeated the platitudes that come unbidden. “He would would want . . .” All the time I am thinking , he would not want this. He would want to be with his friends drinking beer at the local hangout. He would want to be shooting pool and talking climbing and philosophy and politics. I wanted to scream how unfair it was for him not to be with us though he would have hated the crowd, for crowd there was of over 300 people. It was the most surreal party. Here we were with all of our friends and family and he was represented by some papers, a box of ashes, his climbing gear and pictures. His music played in the background. His beloved friends spoke about him when we gathered for a few minutes in the chapel. A passage was read from his favorite book, a statement read from his father, a poem from me, a prayer was offered for the comfort, for the hope. Outside the rain had soaked the town, and as we left the chapel the sun broke through the clouds. I could have soaked the town many times since with tears.
There is a box with well over 350 cards in it. Lovely thoughts and sentiments are expressed in those cards. Well meaning, generous friends and acquaintances have taken the time to think of us, some to grieve with us because of similar losses in their lives. One visitor at our son’s gathering summed it up the best. She had not known our son but came with another friend of ours for moral support. She, a tiny person looked directly in my eyes and hugged me in surprisingly strong arms, “this sucks!” she said pointedly. I had to smile. “yes,” I agreed, “it does.”