Am I Really Looking?

Dad and I found this seagull kite in Sedona last fall and bought it for Uncle Bart. The first thing he did after we gave it to him was take it out and attach it to his golf cart.  At first, the little seagull dipped and twisted like a drunken sailor and we laughed and laughed as the neighbors drove past or stood in their driveways and shook their heads.  Later, he went out again and drove up and down the street in front of the house so Gretchen could take a picture of Jonathan to send me.  He really made sure we knew how much he loved this silly gift.  Now that he's gone, I'm cherishing this memory of my brother's good heart.
It's funny, it's often not until after a person is gone, that we come to fully appreciate the little things they did in a way we never quite got around to while they were alive and here with us.  Why do we wait until they die to realize how precious they really were?  What are we waiting for?
Today, I'm wondering what kinds of things I might be forgetting to appreciate in the people I love.  Am I remembering to really look?  Do I have eyes that see?
Thornton Wilder captured it well in Emily's cry as she tried to re-experience the joy of  her twelfth birthday from the other side of the veil, 
 " Oh earth, you're too wonderful for anyone to realize you . . .
 Do human beings ever realize life while they live it?"


Dear Wynette

When I read your comment on my last post about Gavin, my heart broken wide open--just as it does every single time I hear of another mother thrust into this unimaginable land the two of us now inhabit.  You've joined a club to which you never in your dreams would have imagined you would belong--and you're now asked to survive every parent's worst nightmare. I want to reach out to you, put my arms tenderly around you, hold you, and whisper, "I know.  I know.  I know.  I am so sorry."  How I wish I could.  Thanks for reaching out.  I now how hard that can be.  I WISH I had discovered your post earlier today--as I'm just now racing out the door and really haven't any time to say all that I want to say to you right now.  So, for now, I'm going to post something that I wrote a couple of months ago to another mother I met on a grief forum/support group I belong to.  I encourage you to visit this site:  beyondindigo.com  .  The pain you're in is as deep as a mother's Love, and as precious and unique as is your relationship with your beautiful son.   You may find some understanding and comfort in the stories of other mothers who have posted on the site.   I'll write more tonight or tomorrow.  Until then, you'll be in my prayers.  I promise.
Dear Cory's Mom,
I am sad to think of another mother out there grieving over a beautiful boy gone from her life. I am so sorry and send you love and understanding.
We too have lost a son, our only son--by best buddy in this world. On June 17th (Gav passed away on Father's Day) it will be two years, so I've been through at least one anniversary and am coming up on the second. I still think about Gavin many times during every day, but I do that with my living children, too. That's just what mom's do, isn't it? 
As far as anniversaries go, this is what I've learned: At first, we are aware of how many days it' been since they left us, then as time moves on, our awareness of 'that' date stretches out to weeks. More time passes, and I find I'm still aware of the 17th of every month, and try to go a little easier on myself, take a little more time to remember that I'm still healing and acknowledge that. Anniversaries are important. They give me time to remember to honor myself as someone who has experienced a great loss.

On the one year anniversary of Gav's death, we made sure that my daughter, his sister, was visiting with her husband and little boys. We had lots of pictures of him out and we talked about things that he loved and the things that we loved about him. We shared a good meal. We had a family prayer. I had a big bouquet of balloons and we took them out into the front yard and whispered messages 'for Unkie' into them, one at a time, and then released them and watched them float up to heaven. (I know, environmentally stupid--but it's what we needed to do, so I released them with prayers that no creatures would be hurt.) As I watched each grandson whisper his messages into his balloon and send it heavenward, I felt a little more of my pain release. It was good to hear them speak his name and to realize that as we continued to do these types of mini-memorials with them, his memory would live on in their hearts.

I just recently lost my brother Bart, the other 'Golden Boy' in my life. His birthday is coming up on the 21st of this month. His widow and I are going to fly over to Hawaii to share this time together. We plan to visit the bay where my Bart and Gavin anchored before they sailed together to the mainland. We plan to picnic on the beach there and find a beautiful spot to throw a couple of leis into the ocean. We'll sing Happy Birthday and have cake and let our little grandsons blow out the candles. We'll do these things because they're uniquely significant to both Gavin and Bart's lives--and to us. I told my sis that she can cry all day if that's what she feels like doing. Nobody's going to hurry her, judge her, or tell her that "Bart wouldn't want you to cry." (I think that kind of talk is BS. Sorry, but I know Bart would want her to heal, and when we lose someone, tears are a part of healing.)

Anyway, these are the kinds of things I've found to be helpful. You'll find your own--those things that will be significant to your love for Cory. But I encourage you to use the day to celebrate his life on that day. The kinds of things that will act as meaningful reminders to those of you who love him that Cory lives on in your hearts, that he will NOT be forgotten, that it's OK to speak his name and remember his life. And it's OK to cry when you need to.

Now there's just one more thing that I need to post for me. On Saturday, more than 18 months since Gav's death, we finally cleaned out his car. We've found someone who needs it and we're giving it to her in his name. Afterwards, I stood in the laundry room and hugged a shirt that Gav had left in his trunk . . . how long ago? Long enough that his smell was missing. I searched for it, buried my face in that shirt, tried to imagine it there. It wasn't. But I did feel him in the thin, smooth cotton against my cheek, and I held it tight to my chest and cried--hot, yearning tears. I don't resist them when they come. In many ways, they're part of what I have left of my boy, and it's good to feel them on my face, taste their salt on my lips.
If, as a fellow grieving mother, I could leave you with one message it would be this: Your longing for Cory won't ever leave you. You're going to learn to accommodate it and 'live around' it, but it will stay with you until the day you die and the two of you can hold each other again. Not everyone around you will understand this. That's OK. Hopefully they won't ever get their turn to understand. But for you, it's important that you to know that it will always be there. And that doesn't mean that you're weird or deficient in any way-- You're simply (and significantly) a mother who has lost a child. Anniversaries will come and go. Some will be harder than others. You'll learn to have joys--even though you still miss him, and you'll learn to get on with a good life--even while you still miss him. But please, always give yourself permission to do those things that honor this truth: He is your son, and he is gone, and you miss him. And its right that you do.

Hope some of this helps a little. I'll keep you in my prayers. I know I couldn't do any of this without the Lord.
Annie, Gavin's Mom


Still missing you, Gav.

(Oh, how we would have loved this song, this video.)

I slept with your teddy bear last night. It wasn't enough.

Still missing you, my boy. 
All day. 
Every hour. 
All night. 
Every night.
Every rain, every snow, every misty morning.
Every bit of news of every old friend.
Every new flower or birdsong or fresh young leaf .
Every hike, every wave, every vista.
Every sunrise, every sunset.
Every moment of sun on my skin.
Or breeze on my face.
Every old song.  Every new one.
I think of you.
It all wants to be shared.
 With you.
Accentuates the loneliness.
Without you.

 So I slept with Gummy last night.
He wasn't enough.

But you were worth it. 
Every hour, every day, every night. 
All of it.
All of it.
All of it.