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.

Archive for January, 2010

Getting Jordan Ready

Jordan and I at his sixth grade graduation ceremony.

I had always shopped for my family’s clothes. There were family jokes about my shopping prowess, even with my extended family when we were all together. I remember one Thanksgiving when my brother-in-law looked around my parents’ family room and observed, “Jackie dressed all of us.” Everybody looked down and realized they were wearing some article of clothing I had picked out for them as a gift.

I always liked the fact that I could shop for my teenage sons and they trusted my taste. Jordan would seem a bit surprised at times when I would come home with a t-shirt or sweatshirt that was exactly the kind of thing he would have picked for himself. I still remember when I bought him a t-shirt with a picture of Tupac Shakur on the front. Jordan loved the shirt and asked how I knew he was, “Into Tupac?” I told him, “I’ve known you for a long time. I notice what you’re listening to and reading.” I would also jokingly add, “I wasn’t born with the name “Mama”, I used to be a teenager too.”

“The funeral home needs the clothes for Jordan.” My sister-in-law Cheryl leaned down and gently whispered these words to me when she came back from running an errand. Cheryl had told me before that they needed the clothes by Tuesday, but I had been unable to collect them or ask anyone else to do it. The time had come for me to dress my son for the last time. When Cheryl came in, Mark and I were sitting in the living room with our family friend Larry who had come over to meet with my sister Julie. She was going to assist Larry in writing the obituary for the memorial service program. Julie could provide details that only family would know. When Larry arrived, Julie was at our church with Mark’s other sister Leslie. They were meeting with our Pastor to finalize arrangements for the memorial service.

We’d asked Larry to write Jordan’s obituary not because he was a professional writer, but because his son Matt was one of Jordan’s best friends and Jordan spent a good part of most weekends at their home. Matt’s house, more correctly, Matt’s basement was the hangout for Jordan and all of his friends. I used to tease Larry and his wife saying that there were times that they saw more of Jordan than Mark and I did. I knew they loved and respected Jordan. Larry was Jordan’s little league baseball coach and took as much pride as we did in his academic accomplishments. He was the first person to come to mind to handle the task of giving account of the life of our sweet boy. We knew that Larry would do Jordan’s short, but full life on this earth justice. Jordan had vacationed with Matt and his parents on a trip to Mexico when they were in elementary school. For the trip, we had to fill out forms giving Larry and his wife permission to carry our son to a foreign country. They were Jordan’s “In Loco Parentis (in the place of a parent)” for the trip, and trusted caregivers for the rest of his life.

“The funeral home needs the clothes for Jordan.” I knew that when Cheryl made the request this time, I could no longer avoid picking out clothes for my son. We were having a private family viewing of Jordan’s body on Thursday before the cremation and before the memorial service on Saturday. Cheryl had to take the clothes to the funeral home that same day when she and my in-laws went to make sure everything was in order for the viewing. There was no time left. For me it was the first of many things that I would deem as my “last time as his mother” gesture. I understood the finality of my task but I didn’t know how I was going to get through it. With all of my apprehension I didn’t ask for help. I needed to get the clothes alone. I knew that picking out clothes this time did not signal a party or celebration no matter how hard I tried to will away October 12th.  My “mother self” was in control and compelled me for this last time to pick out clothes for my son the way I always had.

Mark and I had decided Jordan would wear a suit because we knew that is what he would have wanted. Even as a boy, Jordan was transformed when he put on a suit. He stood taller, acted more mature and emulated his dad. The first suit Jordan wore that wasn’t from the boys’ department was for his eighth grade dance. He had to accompany me to the store because he had grown taller and needed to be measured for his first suit in the men’s department. He and I went to Men’s Wearhouse and I explained to him how they would take measurements to determine his suit size. As we looked around, Jordan picked out a black suit with a grey pinstripe. I was surprised at the conservativeness of his choice, thinking that he would pick something more colorful and flashy that matched the suits of the athletes and hip- hop stars that he liked and saw on television. When I expressed my surprise to him about his choice, he just shrugged and explained he liked the way his Dad looked in a suit and that was the look he was going for. The evening of the dance, Jordan came downstairs tie in hand asking his dad for help. Prior to this occasion Mark or I would tie the boys’ ties, but this time, Jordan wanted to learn so that he would be able to do it himself. I sat watching for a few moments as Mark simultaneously tied Jordan’s tie and provided verbal instructions. I jumped up to get the camera realizing that this was a special father/son moment-Mark showing his oldest son how to tie a tie- that we’d want to capture and be able to look back on as a milestone moment.

Jordan getting ready for 8th grade dance.

For every occasion after that initial “man’s” suit, Jordan held true to form and always went for a look that could have easily taken him to any courtroom, or boardroom. He always looked so grown up and so handsome in a suit and he knew it. I used to tease him about learning how to accept compliments. Whenever he would come downstairs preparing to go to a dance at school or church, or other special occasions, we would all tell him how nice he looked and he would reply in his deepening voice with an exaggerated, “Yes I know” and we would laugh. I always told him how much like my father he was at these times. Daddy’s response to the same compliment was always with mock indignation, “You don’t have to tell me, I know I look good.”

“The funeral home needs the clothes for Jordan,” echoed in my head as I walked up the stairs, leaving Mark talking with Larry. “You can do this, just get the things and give them to Cheryl. You’re okay.” I repeated that phrase over and over as I went up to Jordan’s room and opened his closet door. I knew exactly what he would wear and that there would be a set of headphones in his pocket. Jordan never went anywhere without his Ipod. I wanted to make sure he would have headphones in his pocket to symbolize that fact. I immediately went to Jordan’s dresser hoping he’d left a spare set of headphones in his room. I looked in his dresser, feeling uncomfortable like I was snooping. In his top drawer I quickly found a spare set of headphones and placed them on top of the dresser so I wouldn’t forget them. I stood for a moment and then opened his closet door. I picked up the hanger that held the black suit he had worn to his high school graduation. I then picked out his goldenrod colored shirt that he wore for his Senior High School portrait.

He loved that shirt. That past summer he told me that one day during his internship in DC while on the train he had been complimented by a lady who told him that the color looked really nice on him. I then pulled a tie from the rack on the side of his closet. It was a tie that he picked out for a “Sadie Hawkins” dance at his high school and had worn numerous times after that occasion. All of these clothes were still in Jordan’s closet because he had left them behind when going back to college in August. His intent was to take his more formal clothes to school when he came home for Thanksgiving.

I touched his suit and shirt and was overcome remembering all the occasions Jordan had worn a suit. My mind started racing, “What am I doing?”, “How did this happen?”, “Not Jordan, not Jordan.”  I leaned against the closet door clutching the hangers that held his clothes and tried not to fall down. One small moan escaped my lips and then I said, “No” directed forcefully to me.  I was determined that I would dress my child for the last time. I was his mother and I needed to have this last chance of doing what I had always enjoyed doing, but what was now so heartbreakingly ceremonial and final.

I looked through Jordan’s dresser trying to find a white t-shirt to go under his shirt because that is how he always wore his shirts. I couldn’t find one in his drawer and thought to myself, “He probably took all of his to school with him. I’ll just get one of Mark’s.” As I walked across the hall to my bedroom the absurdity played out in my head, “He doesn’t need a t-shirt, it doesn’t matter anymore.” I shook my head as if that would knock loose the reality that these clothes would be the ones we saw when we walked into the funeral home viewing room, and they would be the ones he wore when he was cremated.

Just as these thoughts overpowered any notion I had that I could do this task alone, my sister came upstairs and asked me what I was doing. I told her that Cheryl needed to take Jordan’s clothes to the funeral home and I was getting them together. She asked how she could help and I told her I couldn’t find his dress shoes. Once again the voice in my head said, “He doesn’t need them anymore.” I continued looking for a t-shirt and black socks with, “He doesn’t need them anymore” ringing in my head. I met Julie outside of Jordan’s room where she held the shoes. She shakily said to me, “When I bent down to get his shoes, I smelled the clothes that were on the floor and they still smell like him. I tried to make a joke and said, “Those are dirty clothes he left behind, be careful.” She continued in her somber, trembling tone, “I don’t care they smell like Jordan.” I tried to keep going.

For some reason I couldn’t find black socks in Jordan’s dresser or in Mark’s dresser. I was becoming manic, turning over the socks in Jordan’s drawer trying to find a plain black pair, then going to Merrick’s room looking for plain black socks. I was on my way back into my bedroom when Mark came upstairs and asked what I was doing. I told him, “Cheryl needs Jordan’s clothes to take to the funeral home.” Mark quickly replied, “Baby why are you trying to do that by yourself I would have helped you.” I was adamant but had started to tremble; I shakily said to him, “No, I always got his clothes and I have to do it this time too.” I then said to Mark, “I can’t find black socks, I can’t find black socks.” It was too much. I couldn’t keep going. I couldn’t gather my son’s funeral clothes as though I was helping him prepare for a special occasion. I remember Julie saying, “She’s gonna fall Mark do you have her?” As I crumpled down, Mark grabbed me, holding me so tightly and gently at the same time and carried me to our bed. All I could do was scream “no”, “no”, “no.” Mark lay on the bed with me. We faced each other and clung to each other as he soothed me and whispered in my ear, “I know how you feel”, “I know how you feel.” My screams brought both of our families into our bedroom. I felt hands touching my hair and face and rubbing my back as I wailed and moaned and asked Jesus to help me.

As I began to calm down I felt Mark’s grip on me tighten and he suddenly moaned and said, “I always tied his ties. You weren’t supposed to get his tie. I’m his dad I tied his ties.” I held him as he had held me moments before. I whispered in his ear, “I know how you feel”, “I know how you feel.” We lay that way clinging to each other on the middle of our bed with our families touching and soothing us. Suddenly I heard my sister’s voice in my ear as she hummed a song from our childhood church that she used to sing. As she hummed, “Everything Will be Alright”, I felt my breathing returning to normal and the words of the song easing the sorrow that was weighing me down. The words to the song echoed in my head,

“If you put your trust in Him, although your candle may grow dim. After the storm clouds all pass over everything will be alright.”

Mark and I lay there hearing the humming and the soothing, loving voices of our family. We were able to release each other and sit up. They laid hands on us, encircled us and gave us strength to keep going.

Jordan's senior portrait

Jordan and I after his high school graduation ceremony

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Wish You Were Here

“Jordan should be here.” The ache of sorrow that courses through my body can be boiled down to that one statement. He should be here because his birthday came and went and we celebrated his life without him. He should be here because there were no calls for his siblings or his parents on their birthdays. He should be here because of the empty seat left at our table at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and because of all the presents I didn’t get to buy that would have been perfect for him.

Clothing, pictures, videos, anything Jordan ever wrote, have become my treasure chest of memories. I rediscovered what is now one of my most cherished pictures of my son and I together. It’s a picture taken on my birthday about 4 years ago. It is the birthday I received an iPod nano and felt I could share in the music “techy” talk with my sons and husband. Jordan sat next to me as I opened my gifts that year and leaned his head on my shoulder as I looked at my gift. I look at that picture many times during the day seeing the joy on both of our faces and wondering what laugh we were sharing. I touch his face, I whisper to the picture “you should be here.”

Jordan and I sharing a joyful moment on my birthday.

I watch my 17 year old son Merrick as he prepares for his final exams, full of his typical anxiety as he has never felt comfortable with tests and becomes more nervous the closer the exam date gets. The attempts his dad, teachers, and I make to ease his anxiety are met with compliance some days but on other days when it’s all too much, the cavalier bravado that only a teenager can master rises to the surface as an annoying weapon as he yells out from his room on the mornings he’s running late to school, “I’m keeping it real.” He’s “keeping it real” and I’m standing outside his door not knowing whether to bang my head against the wall while screaming, curl up on the floor and cry or bang his door down and drag him to school myself. Fortunately, these scenarios happen only in my mind. I breathe deeply a lot and I go downstairs determined to ignore his attempts to push my buttons and try to sift the chaff from the wheat, the grief from the typical teen angst. I stay calm on the outside because I know we’re all suffering and ignoring his nonchalance, which covers so much pain and confusion seems the best tact to get him out the door and started with his day. We’re all changed. In our own ways our behavior, words and sleepless nights echo what we’re all feeling and hoping could be true-“Jordan should be here.”

Merrick talks to me about wanting the week of exams to be over so he can rest. I remind him that junior year is tough and yes “you will be tired”. He always asks, “Did Jordan get nervous about finals?” I tell him “yes. “ Jordan should be here” because he is the person I would be calling now to give Merrick a pep talk. As a sophomore in college, he would have wise words for his brother about studying and not getting overwhelmed and telling Merrick, “you can do this.” Merrick would leave the call feeling focused and less burdened. He would have had the chance to complain about his dad and I and how “we’re on his back” in a way you can only do with your siblings. Jordan would have told him, “That’s how they were with me too.” The camaraderie they shared would have shored Merrick up and given him the boost he needed to get through that day.

I watch Merrick alternate between studious and weary and wonder how should I interject myself into my son’s process. He wants to do well, he has to study, but his mind takes him to so many places beyond the walls of high school and the upcoming exams. He sees the images of Haiti’s destruction and death and like his dad and I have a kinship with the grief we see on the faces of the survivors. A part of us reaches back to the first moment of knowing of the death of Jordan and we wail inside and shudder with the faces of the people of Haiti whose grief is so graphically displayed. After losing a loved one, viewing others’ displays of grief is with a lens tinged with fraternity and sorrow. I recognize the sobs and the wails, because I’ve cried them. I see the women holding their heads in their hands in grief and pain and I know it is done to try and block out if even for a second the new reality and life they must face, because I’ve held and still hold my head the same way. Total destruction did not befall my family. Our house still stands, food, water, medicine, all the necessities are in ample supply. But like anyone who has lost a loved one, how that person died is secondary to the tragedy of loss. There is an ever present longing to have your loved one back. Talking to mothers who have lost children in a variety of circumstances has taught me this lesson about grief.

As we manage our loss we are grateful for the friendships we’re forming with Jordan’s friends. As has become one of our new and treasured traditions, all of Jordan’s closest friends drop by whenever they are home from college. Two of his lifelong friends were over the day before they went back to school and sat and talked with Mark and I for a couple of hours. Football was on in the background and I sat across the room and observed Mark and Jordan’s friends watching the game together and talking about who they saw going to the Superbowl. Bouncing off the walls were the words “Jordan should be here.”  As the talk turned to how they were doing in school, and what they were thinking of majoring in they told us of their latest venture to form a music production company and the time they spent over break recording their latest mix tape. “Jordan should be here”, continued to echo in my head almost to the point where I thought I would have to leave the room. All of these young men, friends since childhood stepping into a new venture and maintaining the bond of friendship that saw them through grade school, block parties, sleep away camp and going off to college. “Jordan should be here.” As they got up to leave Mark and I walked them to the door, happy as usual to see them, but feeling all the while how bittersweet their visits are.

As they were leaving Merrick came in from hanging out with his friends and Jordan’s friends remarked on how tall Merrick is. I looked at him and realized he’s taller than both of them.  I wonder, “When did he get so tall?” and how is it I hadn’t noticed. I say my final goodbyes and leave them to talk with Merrick. I hear their voices in the entry as they stand and talk for another 30 minutes about music. I listen for a bit and hear how easily Jordan’s friends embrace Merrick into their conversation and respect his point of view. I hear the energy and excitement in all of their voices. For me, it is time for this day to end. I go upstairs with the words of the guys’ talk of their new music group wandering through my thoughts, knowing that Jordan would have played a big role in their group if he were here. I go upstairs only wishing to sleep and not linger too long on the thought that is permeating my being, “Jordan should be here.” As soon as I get upstairs I take the medicine my doctor has prescribed to help me get the sleep that has eluded me for months. I take it even as I hear the guys still in our entry talking to Merrick. I need sleep to come quickly. I need to focus on a new day. The unfairness that is surging inside me must be quelled. I’m hoping sleep will quiet the longing for my son, if just for a little while. Jordan should be here.

Home

Nanny holding me as a newborn

My grandmother who I always called/call Nanny is the one person in my life that loved me unconditionally. Not everyone gets an unconditional love person but I was fortunate to have such that. I never felt judged by her. She always made me feel smart and pretty and funny and loved. She didn’t live with us year round, but always had her own bedroom at our house. She lived in another part of Ohio but on her breaks from being a first grade teacher, she lived with us. Holidays, spring break and summers she spent at our house. She also managed during the school year to visit once a month for a weekend. On many of her visits to relatives and friends my sister and I were her willing travel companions. She was the grandmother in the neighborhood that all of my friends called Nanny and more than one told me they wished she was their grandmother.

When Nanny was in town, she was the person I went to at night when I couldn’t sleep. Sleep never came easy to me. Before I knew the word insomnia I had it. I would toss and turn and try to get back to sleep. As a young child, when Nanny wasn’t in town and I couldn’t sleep I would call, “Mama, Mama, Mama” until my mother bleary- eyed would come to my room and sleep with me. She would promptly fall back asleep and I would lie awake, grateful for Mama’s warmth but still wide- awake. When Nanny was in her bedroom next to mine, on my sleepless nights, I would climb into bed with her and whether she was asleep or not she welcomed me into her bed and talked with me until I fell asleep. In those late night talks she was the consummate storyteller. I learned of her elopement with my grandfather, of her pregnancy that ended in miscarriage. She talked about the son she lost who would have been a sibling to my mother had he lived. She told me about growing up in West Virginia as the oldest of ten. I know how she helped care for her younger siblings, and the antics and fights with brother and sisters closer in age. She talked lovingly of her “Mama” and “Papa” and growing up in a “God fearing” home and the importance of her faith. Because of her I felt I knew my grandfather who died at the age of 49 when I was a baby.

Nanny had her surprises too as she whispered about her teenage years, and sneaking into the shed to smoke cigarettes, Camels to be exact. She told me why she didn’t like to attend sporting events, that is until my sister and I started playing soccer. She recounted the story of attending a Friday night basketball game, which was the social event for the town, and becoming so enraged at the cheating going on by the referee that she resolved never to attend another game because she didn’t like getting swept up in the mob mentality that ensued. She was a kind, generous, practical joker, hard to anger woman, who prayed every night on her knees at her bedside (a practice that Jordan shared even though my grandmother was the only one in our household who prayed in this manner). She loved me like no one else ever has. My memories of Nanny are rich and in Technicolor. I talk to her often, and carry one of her handkerchiefs in my purse, just as she did. Nanny had hundreds of handkerchiefs, some she bought, some she made and/or embellished with crocheted lace around the edges. I carry a handkerchief to remind me of her love, and the strength I gained from her.

Our talks went both ways. She was my confidante as well. We talked weekly when I was in college. She would pray with me over the phone when I worried about a test or was feeling overwhelmed and homesick. The two scriptures, Psalms 121 and Philippians 4:13, will always be embedded in my brain and heart. She always asked if I was reading my bible and reminded me to pray.

Nanny experienced a stroke my sophomore year of college which affected her right side and her speech. She was 69 years old at the time and still teaching. I remember coming home to see her and visiting her during the summer as she regained strength at a rehab center. Even after her stroke, I would lay my head in her lap as she sat in her wheelchair and she would stroke my hair with her “good arm” as she called it. Our conversations became limited but her love for me was never stronger. She was the first person I told that I was getting married, even before my husband of 21 years knew. She and I sat together when I came home for our annual family reunion. I told her about Mark, the man I’d been seeing for two weeks saying, “I’ve met the man I’m going to marry. He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s the one.” Her response to me as she smirked and shook her head positively was “Hmm.” I’d never talked to her about a boyfriend before so she trusted my assuredness.

Her love for me was truly unconditional as she weathered my teenage years with more grace and patience than I deserved. I remember once when she was staying with my sister and I while Mama and Daddy were away for a few days. Nanny was already up when I came into the kitchen to get breakfast before going to my summer job.

“Want me to fix you something?”, she asked.

“No that’s okay.”

In typical impatient, exasperated, teenager fashion I found it annoying and not at all helpful that she was in the kitchen when all I wanted was to be quiet, sullen and left alone before starting my day. I got my breakfast (toast or a pop tart or cereal) and sat down. She sat down across from me quietly and didn’t try to make much small talk. All I remember thinking is, “Why can’t she take the hint that it’s too early in the morning and I don’t need company.” I kept looking down at my food and she sat absently wiping crumbs off the table and then she looked up at me and said, “You look real nice.” I looked up at her and mumbled, “thank you.”

I looked nice. Compliments were scarce during my gawky teenage years especially about the way I looked. She was certainly changing the morning routine. She had startled me out of my mood. There I sat thinking of ways to make her leave the room and she said the one thing that was so unexpected for me as a teenage girl. I felt her graciousness and love for me and looked up from my food to fully embrace and exchange the love she offered. I do know that after her compliment I came out of myself and talked to Nanny and let her into my day. She had to have noticed my “ugly” (as she would have called it) behavior and the way I was acting towards her. She looked past it and saw the granddaughter that she loved. I think Nanny telling me I looked nice was the first early morning compliment I had ever received, at least that’s how it felt. I knew she loved me.

One of my most cherished memories is the first time Nanny met Jordan. Mark, Jordan and I came to Ohio for Jordan’s first Christmas and what would be Nanny’s last. As we walked into the family room with me holding Jordan, Mark captured every moment. I had already told Mark to have the camera focused on Nanny. I wanted to forever be able to look back at her face the first time she saw her great- grandson, and the first time she held him; a permanent record of these two generations touching and being connected. Nanny reached for Jordan with her “good arm” and I placed him in her lap. He sat and looked up at her expectantly and she looked down and at him with love and just hummed to him. They were both content. I was so relieved. Nanny meeting Mark and being at my wedding had filled me with security. Having her hold my son, her great-grandson completed a circle that I desperately needed to form.

Nanny and Jordan meeting for the first time.

That Christmas Nanny made a gift for Jordan at her Adult Day care class. The gift was a playhouse constructed from plastic board through which she wove green, brown and yellow yarn.  I remember how nervous she was as I opened it for Jordan. I looked at it and immediately showed it to my son. Once again Nanny’s love showed in every part of her gift. I watched the anxiety on her face ease as she saw the joy I had in showing my son the homemade gift that only Nanny could have given him.  Even as a young boy he recognized the significance of a gift from a great-grandmother he knew only through stories and pictures. He treated the playhouse with care and made sure that it was never damaged. Jordan played with it as a little boy and kept it on a shelf in his room when he outgrew  it. To this day it looks as good as it did when Nanny made it for him. It was a gift that Jordan cherished until he died.

Nanny became ill with congestive heart failure and had to be hospitalized in the winter of 1990. By the time I came to visit her from California she was in a coma. I brought Jordan with me on that visit, knowing that between visits to the hospital my parents and I would welcome the life and energy a baby brings to a home. When Mama picked me up at the airport she tried to prepare me, describing that Nanny was on a ventilator, was uncommunicative and that her eyes were always closed. Even though I couldn’t get a full mental picture of my grandmother in this state, I was still ready to see her; I needed to see her. Mama told me that a family friend would watch Jordan while she and I went to the hospital. I had no idea she had arranged babysitting. I told her I thought she would watch Jordan while I went to see Nanny. She told me she wanted to be there when I saw Nanny. We dropped Jordan off at our friend’s home on the way from the airport. I lingered watching to make sure that Jordan was comfortable and wouldn’t fuss as we left. My mother’s friend teased me saying, “I’ve taken care of babies before, and I can take care of Jordan.”

After dropping off Jordan, Mama and I went straight to the hospital. When we opened the door to her room, I was glad Mama knew best and was there with me. Seeing Nanny in the bed, eyes closed, with the hum and rasp of the ventilator as the only sound in the room brought me to tears. I went to her bedside, kissed her, and whispered in her ear how much I loved her. I then pulled up a chair as close to her bed as I could and talked to her the way she had talked to me so many nights. I told her about her great-grandson, I talked about my husband, grad school, and all the things she would have asked about if she were able.

After seeing Nanny in a coma and hearing the prognosis from the doctor, I knew as I traveled back to California that the day would come, when I’d get the call telling me that Nanny was slipping away. When Mama called to tell me that the doctors didn’t know how much longer Nanny had to live, Mark, Jordan and I flew to Ohio so that I could see her for what would probably be the last time. Mark drove me to the hospital and waited in the hallway as I said goodbye. I went into her room to spend time with her by myself and she and I talked. I had what would be my last words with Nanny and I knew she could hear me. I told her that if she could understand me, to blink once for yes and twice for no. I asked her if she understood and she blinked once. I leaned down next to her and I told her I knew she was tired. She blinked once and then a pause and then another blink. She was telling me she was tired. Then there was a flurry of “yes” blinks. I told her I understood how tired she was and that it was okay to go if she was ready. She blinked once again and I stroked her hair and tried to comfort us both. I wanted her to feel some of the unconditional love that she had surrounded me with. “Nanny I love you. It’s okay to say goodbye.” She blinked at me again and I turned to leave. Mark came into the room leaned down and kissed her goodbye. I knew I’d probably never see her alive again. I didn’t want to go but it was time for me to go back home. I knew she loved me and I could feel our connection even though she couldn’t move and the fluttering of her lids is how she said goodbye.

During the days of Nanny’s illness, I always wished I lived closer to Ohio so that I could have come quickly when Nanny reached the end of her life. I would have made sure she didn’t die alone. I would have been at her bedside or in her bed. I would have stroked her hair, and laid my head on her chest in our typical pose and told her I loved her and that she wasn’t alone. All the nights she stayed up with me so I wouldn’t be alone, to give her that same gift would have brought me such peace. Saying goodbye to Nanny was hard but I saw her suffering and how tired she was. She was ready to “go home.”

At the other part of my family circle was the loss of my beloved son. Jordan left in the “blink of an eye” and I didn’t get to say goodbye. The thought that I couldn’t be with him as he took his last breath will always haunt me (I know it will). I take comfort in and have expressed my gratitude repeatedly to Jordan’s friend Edward for pulling him from the mangled car, taking off his own t-shirt to apply pressure to the cut on Jordan’s head, talking to him until the paramedics came, and for crying out in anguish when the sheet was pulled over Jordan’s head. Edward’s cry was my cry, Edwards care and words to my boy were the exact actions I would have taken. He fulfilled the role of friend, but also caretaker. He cared for my boy the way I would have if granted the access to be there. Jordan didn’t die alone.

Jordan is not alone now, he’s with Nanny and all the loved ones at our meeting place that went before him and has come since. Now they sit together again. I think of them often. I ask Nanny to watch over my boy. I know she does. I miss them both. There are moments of sorrow when I cry out through anguished tears, “Oh Nanny watch over my boy. I can’t stop missing him. I know you love him. Help me to relearn how to trust God’s love and peace. You taught me Psalms 120 and Philippians 4:13. Those scriptures helped me through college, grad school, multiple surgeries and near death experiences. Now, my faith is so shaken, my strength is brittle.”

Comfort does not come easy. I’m waiting for heartache to ease. Right now missing Jordan makes my sleep fitful and causes me to wake up in the middle of the night clutching Mark’s arm and saying, “I want Jordan hanging out in Matt’s basement with his friends, I want him sitting on our couch watching football with you, I want him home.”

“Home”, Nanny wanted to “go home” to be with her Savior and have eternal life, Aunt Frances, Nanny’s last living sibling cried out  just last month“I want to go home” as pain filled her body and 90 years on this earth felt like enough. I call out, “Jordan come home” and I want him on this earth, sitting next to me, going back to school, leading by example with all the energy and plans 19 years of life give you. There are so many ways to define home. My heart searches for the right definition of home to ease my worry and bring peaceful sleep. Jordan is home with you now Nanny. I know you are taking care of him with unconditional love.