Sharing my mourning journey as my family learns to live a new normal after the death of my 19 y.o. son in an auto accident on 10/12/08.

Dear Jordan

Jordan standing atop a memorial during his first day at Amherst College.

Jordan standing atop a memorial during his first day at Amherst College.

Dear Jordan,

It has been a year since you died. It is still hard for me to say the word died and your name in the same sentence. Even as I struggle I feel your spirit near me. I felt it on Mother’s Day from the moment I woke up. It was a day that I approached with dread but all I felt was peace. You were with me the whole day. I had all four of my children with me. At the end of that day as I went to sleep I thanked you for always being my son and for letting your spirit so strongly be felt that day. Your spirit feels near so much even as I struggle to learn to live without you on this earth.

I know that it was no coincidence that on one cold, cloudy day last winter as I sat curled on the couch crying and screaming out your name that you had a hand in what finally calmed me. Receiving a letter that day from your freshman year roommate written on notebook paper with perfect penmanship, he apologizes for taking so long to check in on us. His letter so beautiful talked to me of all the things he felt he had learned from you. Studying hard, but also looking up from the books and his sport’s commitments to take in all that college life had to offer. You made him embrace the whole of his experience. His letter ended with a request that I cherish to this day. He asked if it would be okay if he wore your birth date as his football jersey number for the 2009 season. He sent me a picture recently and 89 is prominently and proudly displayed on his jersey. You my dear son made such an impact and I continue to be proud and amazed by all you did in your 19 years, 2 months and 3 days of life.

Your influence has been felt in mundane ways that I know that are not coincidence. I know you’ve played a role with your sisters and sports. You know how competitive your sisters are. During soccer season last year, the last game of the season, just weeks after you died, one of your sisters had made numerous goals, and one had none. All your sister wanted was to score a goal. There we were, the last game of the season and I’m asking you as I stood on the sideline, “Come on Jordan, your sister needs a little help. Please help her score a goal. She needs to feel that joy.” Minutes later, there she is in front of the goal and with ease kicks the ball in to score. Everyone cheered, no one louder than I, but I also looked away to compose myself and wipe away the tears. I knew you’d been there.

For softball season last year the last game arrived and once again we were faced with the situation of one sister with hits and one without. She had walks, strikeouts, foul balls too numerous to count, but no hits. All she said before the last game was, “I haven’t had a hit all season.” Her last time up to bat I walked away from the group and I talked to you. “Jordan, your sister needs a little help. She wants a hit, help her get one.” The next thing I hear is the crack of the bat and your sister racing to second base. I looked up and thanked you because I knew what you had done. Even without seeing you, I felt your presence.

We continue to think of ways to honor you and feel you near. Your dad and I have started a meditation garden in your honor. We pulled weeds, cut back ivy and planted a tree as a start to the garden. We plan to sprinkle some of your ashes in the garden to always have a part of you at home. At the front of the garden is a statue of a child hunched over a book reading.

Statue we found in antique shop for meditation garden.

Statue we found in antique shop for meditation garden.

You always loved to read and I always loved watching you read. You better than anyone I know seemed to have mastered the art of relaxation. Relaxing in a chair, iPod and noise cancelling headphones on playing your favorite music, and your book of choice. You always managed to look so peaceful and so cool at the same time.

Jordan always with a book handy.

Jordan always with a book handy.

It’s ridiculous really to imagine you in the meditation garden. If you were here, we wouldn’t be preparing such a space. If you were here, the sadness that lingers in every morning and evening would not be fathomable. If you were here, your brother would not have retreated so far into himself and work so hard to catalog every memory he made with you. His birthday just eight days after your death would not be a day that now ties him up with ambivalence. As much as your presence is felt, there is no denying how much you are missed. I can’t explain the longing that seeps into our house some days. It affects all of us. We’re missing your energy, your deep voice, your silly dances, the distinct teasing you had for each of your siblings.

Assigning the words random, senseless, untimely to your death will never feel right when I talk about you. Not a person like you, who I knew from the time you were 2 would bring wisdom, humor, compassion and light to the world. I’m still brought to my knees with the unfairness of losing you. I’ll never stop longing to have you back. Acceptance is a word that mocks parents who have lost a child. Why would I want to accept that my firstborn, my helper, my co-book club member, my emerging friend is gone from this earth for good? I’ll learn to tolerate your absence, to live through it, to survive. I’ll even come to a place where I hope I’ll be able to help others who’ve lost a child. To help them know that the pain lessens and we manage to keep going. There will never be a day however, that you don’t cross my mind, heart and soul. Never a day when I don’t long to conjure you up, make you reappear and turn all of these hurtful, mournful days into a nightmare that has finally ended.

On this day October 12th, 2009, the last of the firsts, I know we are slowly, carefully, forging our new normal. What will always be my truth is what has carried me since I learned of your death: You will always be my oldest child. I will always be your mother. For eternity you are my son. I love you. Eternally, I am the mother of four.



During one of our vacations, Jordan pointing to the vastness that lay ahead.

During one of our vacations, Jordan pointing to the vastness that lay ahead.


Comments on: "Dear Jordan" (10)

  1. Bill Rabinowitz said:

    Beautifully said, Jackie. My heart goes out to you and your family for trying to endure the most difficult tragedy that can ever befall a parent and doing it with such grace and honesty.

  2. My friend,

    Beautifully written….Jordan hears his Mama’s words this day and always. Keep writing and breathe… will keep going. Be still – although I know it may be the only thing you can do – God is with you.

  3. The lasts of the firsts. Amen.

    • Muriel, I agree with you whole-heartedly…


      Thank you once again for sharing in such a courageous manner. It is never easy when someone so close passes from mortal to immortal. I had my own ideas on how Jordan’s life would unfold, but there is no denying the impact he left during his brief earthly time. There is no question that his ripples will be felt forever. May you feel the joy, with each new ripple.

  4. Jackie, thank you for sharing your letter to Jordan this morning. As always you have touched my heart. I don’t know you and your beliefs and never would want to offend you, but I can’t think of any words to say. Except, trust in Jesus and his sweet spiirt.

  5. Jackie,
    Over this year of so much pain, so many unanswered questions, and no sense to make of losing Jordan, you have shown us that real love is the only constant. It is the only thing that is, and will remain, for those who give enough to earn it.
    My heart is with all of you.

  6. The Giles said:

    Beautiful Jackie. Our thoughts and prayers remain with you and your magnificent family.

  7. Beverly Lyles said:

    (Jackie , I mistakenly posted this under the Chime Ache as that is where my son was reading when he finally returned the computer to me.) This comment was intended for this entry…)

    What a year it has been. Indeed. Again, a beautiful tribute. As I read, ” the lasts of the firsts’, I let out a moan that my son could hear from his bedroom. He emered from his room asking, ‘What’s wrong?” I told him, I was reading your blog and had come to those words… I began to explain what you meant… He looked on and then came around to see what I was reading. I cursored through your entries and he saw the pictures of Jordan and his friends at his tenth birthday party and on the night of their prom. He saw your picture and thought you looked like you were thinking about something – we then saw the caption. I said, Jackie is a person who always has a smile and a kind word for everyone. If you saw Jackie, you saw a smile. The loss of Jordan has alterred her from the inside out. Her smile is less predictable right now because she is hurting too much… but it will return. The bright, honest smile that you see on Jordan’s face…well, that’s Jackie’s smile. With that, he asked if he might read something. I said, “Yes, read about Jordan’s friends. I thought of you and your friends as I read this.” I handed my lap top to him, and he began to read… By the time, I was able to get the computer back, he had read through several entries and was visibly touched and engaged by your expressions. He never reads anything that is worth anything. Twain can’t hold him, but you did…. Your words are a blessing in many ways…

  8. I don’t know if I can even read anymore of your posts. They break my heart. To see your son so handsome and full of life and to know the pain you are feeling. I don’t even know you and yet I am crying for you and your terrible loss! I can see from the pictures on your site that you have an amazing son. I know you will always keep him alive in your memories and in your heart. I am SO Sorry you and your family have to go through this.

  9. So glad to read your letter of love to your son. What a beautiful way to manage the grief. I know it’s something you have to manage. It doesn’t just go away. It becomes part of you. Part of your story. Part of the life you live.
    Thank you for living it with us.

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