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 Ms. Moore,

The Class of 2011 recently had an election to elect Honorary Members of the Class of 2011.

Jordan is fondly remembered by the class and received an overwhelming number of nominations. He has been chosen to be an Honorary Member of the class.

Each honoree receives a cane and a certificate and we would like to send these onto you. Please let us know the appropriate mailing address.

We will be announcing the honorary class members on the campus Intranet and at the Senior Dinner in early May.”

Tears came as I read the email from Jordan’s classmates. They are making sure that he will always be a member of the class of 2011. They haven’t forgotten him and are honoring him at a time when everyday I wish that he is still among them, readying himself for graduation. It has been so hard to come to this time of year and know that 4 years ago at his high school graduation party we all talked about how fast time goes. Merrick was entering high school and Jordan was entering college. My mom said to me, “Just think before you know it, we’ll be having another party sending Merrick off to college and congratulating Jordan on his college graduation. It’ll be here before you know it.”

Four years later we’re still here. Merrick contemplates having a graduation party. He tells me, “All I wanted to be able to do was call Jordan and tell him where I’m going to college. I know exactly what he would have said. I miss him.”

Every morning I wake up with my first thought being of my father sick with lung cancer. “Daddy please live until Merrick graduates. Don’t die before his graduation.”

Dates are looming for Merrick’s graduation but also Amherst’s graduation. I’ve decided that for my own sense of peace I need to mourn not being able to see my son graduate from college on May 22nd. Trying to suppress my disappointment and sadness and throw all of my energy into Merrick’s upcoming graduation is not providing the distraction I thought it would to ease the burden on my heart. I am the mother of four and I need to give all of my children my attention. I must grieve the specific loss of the Amherst College commencement ceremony, which will not include my son in the way I dreamed.

It wasn’t until last week that I knew the official date. The end of May was all I knew. I thought if I didn’t know the official date it would be easier to get through the month, especially as many of Jordan’s friends prepare to graduate. It took courage but I wanted to face my fear and open my heart to the hurt that was orbiting it. I stopped the wondering and  went online to see the date of graduation. There are so many hopes and dreams that May 22nd, 2011 was supposed to capture. All the weeks I’ve tried to ignore it’s coming only brought me anxiety and pain. It is a day to be recognized and for me that means tears not of joy but of sorrow for what doesn’t get to be. I don’t get to see my son throw his cap into the air. There’ll be no pictures of him receiving his diploma. The smile that would have graced his face can only be imagined now. We’ve been kindly and graciously asked by the Amherst administration if we would like to attend the ceremony. I know if we did they would do their best to take good care of us. I can’t go. Hearing the names called and waiting, hoping that somehow Jordan’s name will ring out and he’ll appear ready to take on the world is more heartache than I can bear.

When I was driving home today after taking the girls to school, I didn’t take my usual route and ended up on a street where I passed a series of trees with white ribbons tied around them. “Huh, wonder what the ribbons are for? Are they in memory of someone, solidarity for a sick neighbor….?”
I wasn’t sure but those ribbons helped me with an idea of one of the things I need to do as May 22nd approaches. I’ve decided and I’ve told those around me who I love and I know that love me, that the only way I’ll get through what should have been Jordan’s college graduation is to mourn what can’t be. The huge catalpa tree in front of our house will be wrapped in a purple ribbon as will Jordan’s tree. Purple is Amherst’s school color and it will be our recognition of the day. I would be so honored by any of you that choose to put a purple ribbon on a tree near your home. Please send pictures if you can and I’ll post them here on my blog.

I’m not sure how I’ll spend May 22nd. I’ve given myself permission to cry all day if I need to, to stay in bed or sit amongst Jordan’s things and just remember. Mourning the loss of what would have been is my right as Jordan’s mother. I’m unselfishly loving my child in the only way I know how, by honoring him and grieving my loss. For my family May 22nd will be a commencement, a moving forward, just not in the way we had imagined.

purple ribbon "J"


Comments on: "Good Mourning Commencement" (12)

  1. Jackie,
    In our front yard we have a maple tree that is flame red in the fall. This past fall, I thought of you as the leaves changed, because the color is called, “October Glory.” I so wished you could have enjoyed my tree and had another October joy in addition to Merrick’s birthday. On May 22, I will tie a purple ribbon around my maple tree in honor of Jordan. On May 22, as on every day, I will think of you and wish for peace.

    Big hugs

  2. I, too, will add a purple ribbon in our front yard on my favorite dogwood tree. I hope that Merrick is able to celebrate his special day in exactly the way he needs to in order to honor his own hard work and I’m betting Jordan will find a way to show up for him somehow.

    Love and light.

  3. I am so sorry for your profound loss. I pray that God will comfort you during this painful milestone.

  4. I think I would feel exactly the way you do. My children aren’t with me. They are alive but don’t live with me and on their birthdays every year I buy a small cake and say a prayer for them. It is my way of dealing with the separation. I don’t have a tree to tie a ribbon to, but with your permission I would like to design a purple ribbon and display on my blog linking back to this post. Thank you for sharing this. It takes courage to write about your pain and so many will benefit from your words.


    • What a lovely idea! If you make the ribbon a button, I’ll put it on my blog as well…(I have a hard time with wordpress with buttons sometimes…)

    • alwaysmomof4 said:

      I love and appreciate your idea so much. Thank you and of course you have my permission.

  5. I will get it made as a button that people can add to their sites and once I get it posted up on my blog (most likely tomorrow or day after) then I will come back here and drop off the link.

    Does that sound ok?

    If you would like it to say something specific can you please email me at dafeenah (at) gmail (dot) com so that I can add that to the button?

  6. My heart goes out to you. I will find a purple ribbon for the tree in my front yard.

  7. I didn’t realize Jordan went to Amherst. That’s where my husband attended college which may have enhanced why this post brought so many tears to my eyes. I’m glad his classmates have included him and just wistful and sad that it’s necessary. The purple ribbon idea is wonderful.

  8. I cannot begin to imagine what you are going through. I have never lost a child to death. I was separated from my chidren when they were smaller for several years so I know the pain. What a great tribute to your son. I lost my younger brother when he was 16. I place the purple ribbon button on my blog.

  9. I can’t tell you how sorry I am to hear of your loss – I read about it on Dafeenah’s blog. I lost my 31 year old brother this past May. I have posted your purple ribbon on my blog.

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