I am participating in an online workshop given by my dear friend Tom Zuba called, “Living With the Holidays.” The workshop started on November 1st and the exercise yesterday was to:
Consider gathering a few items that connect you to the person (people) you love that have died. Find a space for them. In your bedroom. In your home office. Somewhere in your house. It can be a place you pass often…or it can be an out-of-the way place in your house. A destination, if you will. A place you consciously have to decide to go to.
I thought a great deal about what items connected me to Jordan. I have pictures of him that I love and chose a few of them. I knew I wanted one of his shirts that still faintly holds his scent. His Ipod is something that I love scrolling through reading the titles of and listening to the vast and varied music, so that is in my “Connectedness” collection. I wanted a book because of Jordan’s love of reading, but couldn’t figure out which one to choose. Last night I sat down in the chair on our 2nd floor landing, something I rarely do, looked down and saw a book with an encircled half-moon and stars on the cover. It is one of Jordan’s journals from his youth. I flipped through it seeing his early attempts at rap, the beginnings of short stories and a gratitude list.
I sat reading and rereading Jordan’s gratitude list, touching the page and smiling at his undeniable penmanship. I remember when he wrote the list. I owned a copy of “Simple Abundance,” by Sarah Ban Breathnach that I’d purchased right after it came out in 1996. I hadn’t followed it prescriptively but I liked the notion of focusing on gratitude.
One night when Jordan was in junior high and Merrick was in 3rd or 4th grade, the three of us sat at our kitchen table and talked about gratitude. I don’t recall what prompted the conversation but we talked about the aspects of your life, not just things, that you are grateful for. I told them about gratitude journals and getting into the practice of writing down what you are grateful for before you go to sleep. I was going to make my gratitude list, before I went to sleep and challenged them to do the same. They were both reluctant, “Why do we have to write it down? Can’t we just think about it?” I assured them that it was their list and they didn’t have to read it aloud or share it with anyone. The power was in taking time to reflect and to commit to writing those things you may take for granted but that bring peace and joy to your life.
I felt an instant connection to Jordan when I read his gratitude list. Even as I wonder how I can live in a world that took Jordan away, reading his list made me realize he is still bringing me peace and joy. In moments when I am so battered from the aches, tears, and sleeplessness that come from missing him, he reminds me about gratitude.
Here is Jordan’s List:
The List (Things I am grateful for)
- My friends and family
- My health
- The good neighborhood I live in
- My being able to eat every night
- My knowledge
- My good school
- My home
- Being able to concentrate at school
- People who care about me
- The luxuries I have that others don’t
Jordan drew a line after number 10 and then added the following:
11. My sisters
12. No homework
13. My bed
I found Jordan’s journal as I faced another sleepless night wondering how long I would hurt so much. Having to accept, not just know, but come to full agreement with my heart and soul that my child is dead is the hardest thing I’ve ever faced. It is a journey of recalculating what truth means, of acknowledging how much pain I hold inside me and it is about wanting to feel better even when it means saying goodbye to my boy again and again.
I read Jordan’s words last night and added my own to the list.
I am so grateful to be Jordan’s mother and still have the opportunity to learn from him.