An open letter

Dear Son,

I watched a video clip of you last night that you sister had taken in 2007.  You were laughing and rubbing your head, messing up your hair as you so often did.  Your dog came and sweetly attacked you, licking you.  You had on your gray socks.  It has been right at 150 days since you left, and I still can’t believe it.

It was good to hear your voice, your laughter. I will try not to spend too much time watching the clip.  I don’t go into the room where your clothes are to breath in the smell of you as often as I did.  It is not because I don’t love you.  It is because I am still here even though you are not.

I understand that I carry a big part of you in me.  There are brain cells somewhere in my gray matter that contain their own form of audio/video clips of our time together.   I apologize if I ever took you for granted.  The living are so handicapped when it comes to that.  We assume too much, and get so used to things being the way they are and expect to stay that way.

I have talked to your dad and sister about this.  We heap guilt on ourselves if we don’t grieve 24/7 because of some warped feeling that by not doing so we are dishonoring you.  I know, it’s crazy.  I can almost hear you say just that.

It snowed here yesterday.  I thought about the fact that you would, if you were here, have the dogs hiking up the mountain.  I pictured you there yesterday and it felt okay.

I use lots of little tricks to divert me from thinking about you on purpose.  It feels wrong to only think of you with tears.  You have always been such a positive influence in my life.  I think the tears are for me, not for you if I am honest.  It is what I am missing out on that makes me most sad.  You fascinated me.  You and your sister always have.   I revel in the fact that you both like me, love me and want to be with me.  I have constructed a whole world on that foundation and I have not regained my footing yet.

It seems wasteful to keep all your clothes.  I just can’t bring myself to sort through them yet, though.  There are some tee shirts I won’t part with because I saw you in them so often.   They were the ones that you were attached to.  You weren’t much of a fashion statement, that’s for sure.

I am working hardest at trying to remember everything you taught me.  I have been writing this blog and I worried at first that you would not approve, but I know you love me and want me to keep on doing whatever it is I need to do.  So I’ve not mentioned your name, or your sisters or father’s on purpose.  Some who read it know us, so I guess the premise of anonymity is a little bit of a farce.  I know how much it annoyed you for me to talk about you (brag about you) to others.   It invaded your privacy and you are certainly a private man.

I see that I keep switching between the present and past tense as I write about you.

That is the hard part.  There are things about you and I that are in the past.  It pains me to think you are not in the present nor going to be in my future.  The stopping point was too abrupt.  Whatever that is about the living that makes death such an unbelievable thing I don’t understand.  You and I never faced that in this way together, and I really would like to hear your insights concerning this.

Your friends have kept in touch.  They miss you too.  I am so proud of them all, they are focused.  I know that they can’t keep touching base with us indefinitely and they probably struggle a bit with that because of their love for you.   This is tougher than you can imagine, son.  None of us had any idea of how tough.  We were not prepared, and I’m not sure what kind of preparation can ever be made.

I liken it to the clean-up after a storm or maybe even a major war.  Nothing is like it was.  The world is not like it was for us.  The trouble is, on the scale of things in the world our loss of you was such a small event.  The ripple is past.  We want to keep making waves because we are so frustrated with our grief concerning you and most folks just want us to calm down, it rocks their boat too much.

That actually seems appropriate in some ways.  In your own subtle way you were a boat rocker.  Your sense of right was like a compass.   I love the fact that you listened to that voice of reason in matters that truly mattered.

I could not and would not have tried to dissuade you from rock climbing any more than I can stop your dad from riding a motorcycle or me from climbing stairs.  The world out there might think the latter not treacherous or fraught with danger, but you and I know better!   I just really hate accidents.

I know you showed me the videos on climbing and they were shocking and frightening.  I don’t know if you derived some devious pleasure from seeing me so freaked out, or if you were trying to desensitize me.  You told me that falls happen.  You told me outright that it would happen if you climbed long enough.   I guess my idea of risk taking is not on par with yours.   I thought you might experience a fall one day, but somehow I expected you to survive.

I ache for you sweet pea.  Sometimes it is like the throb of a cut finger, and sometimes it is just a twinge.   I am glad you cannot hear me or see me in this state. I really would not want to make you feel guilty or unhappy.  I know this didn’t happen on purpose.

Some days I just pretend that you are still here somewhere, and just haven’t had time to call yet.  I don’t  try to use that very often, because the reality is a cold hard slap.

I am glad we were able to tell you how proud we are of you.  How much we love you, and to hear in return your love and appreciation of us.  I hate it when other people loose their children doubting that.

You were a pretty stinky teenager at times.  Rebellious , acting out and sneaking around doing things you probably should not have done.  When kids die during those years, it has to be difficult for the parent, to not get to see how they would have eventually come out the other side, as you did.   And they would have, bit by bit.  At 29 you were a joy.  Still a bit crazy, but a good kind of crazy.

Your sister is such a wonderful person.  She has taken on so much responsibility concerning the things that had to be done with you gone.  Your dogs have completely adapted to the situation.  They are doing very well, and your sister loves them.  I think they have helped her more than you can imagine.  They have sustained her through this time for now.   She and her husband are going to make a good life together.  I am glad she is married, and has that to focus on.

She misses you in ways I can’t imagine.  She really liked living there with you.   We share memories of you sometimes.   I know you loved her so much.

Your dad is struggling.  He uses his ability to be very busy to get him through the day.   Sometimes I think it is his sorrow that hurts me more than my own.   He is such a tender man and it takes him a while to resolve things in his own mind.  It is just the way he processes things.

I have explained you two to each other your whole life.   You are so much alike in so many ways.  I could not make happen for either of you the things you seemed to want from each other.  But I will say this, there was never a doubt that you loved him and that he loves you.   I agree with you, he is the most generous man anyone will ever meet.   I have always thought him a man after God’s own heart, but then I think that of you too.

I really am trying to keep moving forward.   When you came home that weekend after I fell down the stairs and took care of me, encouraged me, soothed my fears, I don’t know if I thanked you adequately.   When you stood with me the day the storm came through and we watched the wind try to uproot the trees, splitting the big oak, I realized how much strength I borrowed from you.  Your sister and I, and your dad, we miss your strength, the calm centered person, because we all operate with our edges slightly frayed.  I don’t know what you got from us.  I like to think it was a solid foundation, a reassurance of acceptance that gave you the confidence to do the things you were able to do.

I see that in your sister too, and I think that maybe we did a little something right.

I regret what happened to you.  I try to not think about the accident and the time following because I prefer the laughter in the video.  I think I will use it for that purpose, if you don’t mind because that  is the person you have been for all these years.

I love you.  I miss you.



About pathfinder

Artist, Writer, Walking wounded.
This entry was posted in Coping with the Death of a Child, Death, Dogs, Family, Friends, Pets and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s