The word anniversary has become a charged word at my house. My husband and I sat on our porch last week talking about the fact that the 1-year anniversary of Jordan’s death is approaching and how we’ll prepare our children and ourselves for this day. As we sat and talked I looked up at him with a sudden memory and said, “We’re skipping September and going straight to October. It’s only September 9th. We’ve forgotten about our wedding anniversary.” We both stopped and looked at each other. Our wedding anniversary is September 17th and we had both forgotten about it. Anniversaries have different meanings now, those to celebrate, and those to endure.
I’m struggling now to figure out how October 12th, the day of Jordan’s death will be spent. I say spent, not remembered or commemorated because it is a day I just want to get through. His birthday was the day we honored and celebrated his life. What do you do on the day your child died? October 12th this year is Columbus Day. All of my children have the day off from school. The fantasy I had was that I’d take the kids to school, and that Mark and I would be home and just be still and let whatever emotions were inside wash over us and spill forth. No, to be honest that scenario is my second choice. My first choice is to find a way to make 10/12 disappear. I don’t want to relive it again even though I relive it regularly. It has become more than a memory it is part of my fiber. As the day approaches my resistance to reliving this day grows fiercer.
I don’t want to remember the phone ringing at 1:33 am with a call from our local police telling us two officers were on their way. The call came because the police showed up at our old address, the address on Jordan’s license. When the dispatcher called she said, “Two officers are at your door. My husband replied, “No, I’m sorry you’re mistaken.” Then the banter back and forth about addresses and finally the mix-up is fixed and the dispatcher says, “The officers are on their way.” Then she hangs up. Mark gets up throws on sweat pants and goes downstairs to wait for the officers. We have no idea why they’re coming. Had someone tried to vandalize or break into our old house that was currently on the market? Is that what they needed to tell us? A problem with the house was the only thing that entered my mind. Mark went downstairs to wait. I stayed in our bedroom, which is at the top of the stairs near the front door. I laid there thinking-“Why would they come here if it’s about the old house?” “ Wouldn’t they tell us to meet them there? “
The doorbell rang before I got any further into pondering the police. I heard them ask my husband his full name. Then the officer’s voice was so low, a murmur so quiet that I couldn’t make out words. I sat up because the quiet talking was making me nervous. I started to pull on sweat pants so that I could go downstairs. Whatever they were talking about I wasn’t going to stay upstairs. Just as I was pulling on the sweatpants I heard the word “Massachusetts”. Whatever they were talking about was about Jordan. He was our Massachusetts. Nothing else in Massachusetts mattered to us. Thoughts raced through my head, first concern, “had he been hurt in an accident?” The next second it was anger, “that damn boy if he got into trouble and is in jail for something stupid he did with his friends I’m going to kill him.” All of these thoughts raced through my mind but not once did the thought of Jordan being gone ever enter my brain. That thought even now seems impossible. Not Jordan. By the time I was heading down the stairs I heard the tail end of what the officers were saying and I heard Mark scream. Scream isn’t the right word; he let out a guttural moan that I had never heard before. I reached the bottom of the stairs and saw Mark sitting on the bench in our entry with the two officers standing nearby one with his hand on Mark’s shoulder. When Mark saw me he got up to tell me what I’d already heard from the top of the stairs. I put my hand up and in a shaky voice said, “No, they have to tell me.” I stood on the rug under the light in our entry and I looked up into their faces daring them to say it again. I already had my arguments ready to show them they were wrong and they didn’t know for sure. I let them talk.
“Ma’am at around 9:30 pm eastern time your son and three friends were travelling on I-91 in Holyoke MA about 20 minutes from their destination. The car veered off the road crashed through a guardrail, dropped 30 ft and landed on the road below. Your son didn’t make it.”
I challenged them, “How do you know he didn’t make it? How can they be sure it’s Jordan?”
They kept calling me Ma’am. “Ma’am he had identification on him and his friends at the scene identified him.”
I knew it was true when the officer said Jordan had identification on him. Jordan always had his wallet with him. He always had his wallet, Ipod and phone wherever he went. I couldn’t make what they said untrue. I was out of questions and out of stalling tactics. I had to let the news in-Jordan is gone. Somehow Mark was standing beside me. I looked at him as he cried. He told me the other boys were pretty banged up (I later found this to be untrue. All three of Jordan’s friends walked away from the accident) but that Jordan didn’t make it. Then we cried together. We held each other and cried even though all my brain was saying was NOT JORDAN. NOT JORDAN.
Our cries and moans woke our other children and in less than 10 minutes we were telling my son and daughters what happened to their brother. We all stood huddled together crying and comforting. My 16 yr. old son like me tried one last time to make the news untrue. “ He’s just hurt right, he’s not gone.” I had to tell him again, “No baby he died in the accident. He’s gone.” All we could do was cry.
October 12th, 2008 the day Jordan died. Now the anniversary of that day approaches and my mind won’t release me from that night. The day is coming no matter what I do. My husband and I are thinking, praying and consulting with others about how we’ll get through this day for our children and ourselves. I know that we’ll talk as a family about what we’re feeling and not hold anything inside. No matter how much I wish I could shield my children from the pain of this day I know I can’t. They will feel their pain and look to their parents for comfort, and we will absorb as much of their pain as we can. Right now it hurts as much as it did then. Not Jordan. Even as a year without him approaches I still say Not Jordan.