Tuesday was his birthday. I had been dreading it. I cannot express why adequately or sort through all the feelings to find out which one fostered such dread. I think it was the combination of the holidays lining up one after another, culminating in the final one – his birthday – without him being here.
Facebook served as a reassurance. So many people reached out to me and my family. Some of his friends wrote on his “wall”. Others responded to a message I wrote. Some simply “liked” what I wrote. It was a simple keystroke for them to “like” my message and yet I wonder if some preferred to do this simple thing because, after all, what is there to say?
I read somewhere recently that we alter memories. We change them and can even have false memories. I know there are some things I think I remember but in hindsight I think it is because I have heard the story so often that it makes me think I remember.
I have in the past made a point of remembering some things. One memory is from my early childhood. We were vacationing on the outer banks of North Carolina. I was standing in the bathroom of the house my parents had rented. I was wearing a little two piece short set. It was orange and yellow with overlapping circles. I was standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom by myself and I remember saying out loud. “I am going to remember this moment.” I remember other things about that trip. There was a person who portrayed biblical scenes in driftwood. The figure were all made from driftwood and terribly creepy. All over their house they had set up these scenes. I remember walking around looking at them with my family and wondering if I was the only one who was creeped out by these twisted forms dressed and posed in tortured ways.
I remember standing at the window of the den with my son a few weeks before his death when the straight line winds swept down the mountain breaking the big oak tree. I remember my son standing with me at the window as we watched the trees bend. I was ready to run to the basement but he insisted we stand and watch.
I remember watching him on the path ahead of me a few days later on the trail in Panthertown. The sun oh his left shoulder touching his hair as he walked ahead with his dogs. I revisit those memories remembering the sound of the stream, the sun, my son’s ambling gait and his dogs at his heels.
The kindness of those he knew reminding me of his love and affection enhances all the memories when I recognized those feelings in him. It is good to be reminded of his love. It is good to know that others think of him, remember things I never knew about him, dimensions that I as a mother did not see.
I do not fear being forgotten, but I do fear my son being forgotten. Perhaps it is because there was supposed to be so much more for him. Weddings and other life events that occur among his friends will not be his to experience, nor ours to experience with him and selfishly I wanted to collect those memories.
There is a temptation to try to imagine, but then they become my imaginings and nothing close to what would be reality because of his own unique twist on things. I hear myself think, “had he lived, I wonder . . .” And just in saying it I feel the heaviness creep up and threaten to engulf me.
I bore this baby who grew into a marvelous man. I love him fiercely and always will. This February will pass and be replaced by another that I either will or will not see. Very little makes any sense or even remotely promises to.
I wish, desire,covet more time with him and rail against the fact those days here in my life will not come.
This is the way my life is going to be now – for now – because it will change again before it ends, or I end. Some times I do imagine him beside me – telling me to get up anyway and stand at the window – to face the fury of the storm where trees break like twigs. It is frightening but I try.