Today is an “I can’t believe he’s gone” day. The shock reverberates repeatedly through my mind and body. My baby? Dead? And every time I think that I hear his voice within me: “Mom! I’m alive, better than ever. You have to believe that.” And I say in my mind, “Yes Jesse I know. I know you are alive and well. But the life you had on earth was really important to me – your body, your personality, the six-foot-one guy who grew up from the baby I gave birth to at the dawn of that cold rainy December day in 1992, who Doctor Lehman, your brand new pediatrician, examined that day in the hospital room and said ‘He is perfect!'”
All those pictures testify to your constant presence in my life, though I need no reminding, of your established role in the family, your definite essence, all your stages and adventures, the absolutely solid place you occupied in my world. Everything since the day you were born, every decision I made, the way I scheduled my days, every plan, every thought, was connected with your presence. I shaped my life around you, your needs, your pleasures. No thought of present or future didn’t have you in it.
“But I wasn’t the only one in your life,” you might say. “What about Dad and Aaron?” Well the truth is, from the moment you were born you had an irreplaceable part in my life. In a sense you were my life: my child, my responsibility, my joy, the one I’d die for. And though I’d die for Aaron too and I love him with with a special flavor of love created just for him, he had to fit himself into a heart where you already were. Of course he and Dad have equal but different places in my heart but you Jesse – you had a place that cannot be replaced. Somehow you were my center, my pillar of purpose, heart of my heart.
So yes, I know you have only transitioned to a new life that we we all transition to, and it is a great comfort to me that you are happy and I rejoice that I will see you again one day. But I mourn what is truly lost: this life with you as my first-born son, the happy buzz of your exuberant presence, your ideas, your funny unusual take on things, your discoveries, your big plans, your surprises, your hair, your exquisite hands, the way you moved, the way you ate, that undefinable way you hesitated, the way you smiled, the way you sometimes didn’t smile but still conveyed satisfaction, the warmth of your warm physical presence.
I will miss my annual Christmas shopping for you – the usual socks and pajama pants and picking just the right jacket or book or special thing, and seeing you open your gifts, how you looked as content and happy about socks as about the latest hot technology. This past Christmas was the first time you came over in the morning instead of coming downstairs. Only one Christmas that you didn’t live at home. I know Christmas was not really the day Jesus was born but I wonder if they celebrate in heaven anyway, for the sake of the children, and because heaven is a place made for human happiness? Would God really worry about technicalities of human calendars? But maybe there are many celebrations in heaven and there probably are no months and years.
I had planned to bring another cake to your workplace on your 24th birthday like I did last year. What will I do for your birthday this year? I feel hollow without you. My chest hurts like a major organ has been ripped out. It feels like it’s about over for me. I feel like I have just enough life fuel left to tie up loose ends and then I can lock the door and go to the bus station and read a book or do some writing until my ride home arrives. I will wait patiently until it arrives, constantly looking at my watch.