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.
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.
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.