I will always be the mother of four. When people ask how many children I have I immediately say four and if they look at me with that “go on” look I tell them. I have a 16 year old son who is a junior in high school, I have 10 year old twin daughters who are in 5th grade and I have a son Jordan who was killed in a car crash on October 12, 2008 when he was 19. Since Jordan died I live breath by breath. I am learning that relationships are eternal. Jordan will always be my son and I will always be his mother. Grief is teaching me many things. This first posting is a glimpse into my mourning journey.
Waiting for the Mail
There is only one other time that I wanted to avoid the mail.
It was the day my oldest son, Jordan, was expecting his admissions letter from Amherst College– whether it would be the thick or thin envelope. If I even saw the mailbox I would know. If there was a bulging envelope, he was in. It was news that he should receive first. It was his experience and his news to share with others. I didn’t want to take that surprise or joy from him.
And, if it was the thin envelope I wanted to allow him the time to compose himself if he needed to before he had to tell anyone else that he hadn’t gotten into his first choice school. That day I made sure I didn’t drive by the front of our house. I didn’t want to see the mailbox, bulging or not. When I came home that day I drove through the alley and parked in the garage. It took everything in me not to peek; but I didn’t.
It was Jordan’s news to share and I wasn’t going to steal even a piece of his joy.
I busied myself while watching the clock. He would be home by 3:15. He would see the mail in the mailbox and he would know his future and soon after I would know. I waited in the den where I usually waited for him. I always sat in the same chair and he would sit at the computer. It was our way.
I had learned not to ask too much about his day, when I did the details were few and sketchy. But, somehow when I happened to be sitting in the chair in the den and he came in and sat at the computer checking his email and looking at ITunes, elements of his day flowed naturally and easily. He would talk about crazy things that happened at lunchtime, or something odd or wonderful that one of his teachers said. It was our time and it always felt like a sacred space.
As I waited that day for the Amherst letter, I heard the door open and then I heard him yell,YES! It was pure joy. I had the camera ready just in case and as he rounded the corner not having to call out or look for me because he knew where I’d be. I captured the joy as he held up the thick packet from Amherst with the most beautiful smile on his face. He was happy, relieved and on his way. It was a moment I’ll never forget. I told him how I’d come in the back way so he could get the mail. I wanted him to have his moment and he was awed my generosity. He thanked me as he hugged me in our sacred space.
April 6, 2009: I again knew what mail was coming. We knew the accident report detailing all the information of the October 12, 2008 car accident that killed Jordan would be in our mailbox today. I knew it would be here today. I knew I’d be home alone when it came. I promised my husband Mark I wouldn’t open it and I haven’t. But, I did get the mail and I saw the thick envelope from Massachusetts and knew what it was. I could have let the mail sit on the floor in the foyer.
But, I heard it drop through the slot and I knew it was here. We had waited 5 months for this report: the report that would give us all the information of that still unbelievable night that took our child away from us. Our attorney and the State Trooper told us the report would include the interviews of Jordan’s three friends who were also in the car and walked away without being seriously hurt, the interviews with witnesses to the accident and the report of the re-creation of the accident.
These would be the items contained in the big envelope that came today.
All I could think was, when we read it we’ll know what the last moments of our child’s life were like. The accident was a time that I wasn’t there waiting for him. It was the one time I’d give my life to hold him or to tell him to hold on. That night I couldn’t create a sacred space between my child and me. The first time I waited for mail for Jordan I was able to capture joy on his face.
This time I couldn’t be there to even say goodbye.
I’ll always wonder if he needed me. I hope he knew that just like the day he got into his dream school, with my heart I was as close as around the corner; always waiting and wanting to be there for my boy.
Two such different times, one where my heart almost burst with pride and now where my heart is ripped out and must mend in its own time. I have to figure a place to put this new pain. My relationship with Jordan is eternal. And as this pain eases, the sacred space that we shared will be renewed and I’ll find a way to share both the joy and the sorrow in that space.