“I’ll be thinking of you, thinking of you
Though we’re far apart, you’re in my heart
And there you’ll always stay
Till we meet again someday
I’ll be thinking of you”
Jordan is always on my mind, always. Some days the comfort I get from feeling his presence in my heart and surroundings is like light and warmth all at the same time. I freely talk to him telling him about my days and asking him to watch over and encourage his siblings. I remember silly things he’s done and am able to laugh, feeling his laughter too.
On other days, thinking of him makes me wish that there were some way that he could come back, that a horrible mistake has been made and he’ll find a way to return. I’ve even gone so far as to chastise myself for having him cremated. “He doesn’t have a body to come back to, what were we thinking?”
Still more, are the days when I’m so angry not only at the accident that caused his death or at his friends who lived, but at Jordan. A litany of “Why” outbursts cascade through my mind as I lash out at him for not surviving.
- Why were you sitting in the rear passenger seat?
- Why did you fall asleep?
- Why didn’t you stay in NY instead of tagging along to Baltimore?
- Why didn’t you stick with friends your own age?
- Why didn’t you listen to your dad and I and stay vigilant when you’re riding in the car on long trips?
- Why didn’t you tell me how tired everyone was on the day you were going back to school?
And then the anger fixed on Jordan turns to me.
- Why didn’t I listen to my gut and call you to check-in while you were on the road?
- Why didn’t I buy you a bus ticket for NY instead of allowing you to drive with your friends?
- Why didn’t I get angry when you changed plans and off-handedly told me about it in a text message?
- Why did I let you make your own choices and decisions?
The last why is the conundrum that threatens me most. I’m raising my surviving children to be just as independent and to live fully the way Mark and I taught their brother. Am I doing right by them? I pray they will live long, happy lives. I’m proud of them for their resilience and that they continue to embrace life with exuberance and hope. The love and pride I have for my children doesn’t change the nagging thoughts that undermine my beliefs in what being a good mother means. It still stings when people tell me I’m a good mom. Sometimes all I can give in response is a nod as I lower my head. They’re saying, “Good mom.” I’m thinking, “Cautionary tale.”
My oldest boy is gone and as hard as I try I can’t completely shake the feeling that I should have been able to save him. Yes, it was an accident that took his life but there are so many intersections of time where things could have been different. A bus ticket, a phone call, saying, “No, you can’t go,” would have changed the trajectory of my family’s life. I know his death can’t be undone and facing that reality is a part of who I am now. Yes, I think about my son everyday and today happens to be a “Why” day.