I went to a grief counselor. I’m still not entirely sure why. It’s nice to talk about you. Your life. Your death. But it makes me cry. As you know, I’m not one to cry. I hadn’t for decades, really, until Sara died last November, and I was crushed. And I hadn't over the past few years as I watched you slowly deteriorate. I was sure I’d be ready for when you were finally done. I thought it was be a natural progressive. Mom gets old. Mom starts to deteriorate. Then it speeds up. Then she’s gone. And I move on.
You lived a good long life. Eighty-one years. A really good eighty-one years. Two kids who loved you to the hilt. A number of different careers. Lots of friends and family. You traveled. You ate well. You lived in a beautiful house, on a beautiful street, in a beautiful town. You had a happy marriage for many years, then, even after it fell apart, you picked yourself up and moved on. You were a survivor. Over and over. Especially after that fateful night on February 14th 1988. No need to discuss the accident. You lived it. You survived it. I was there with you as support.
So I was supposed to move on. But it’s not quite as simple as that. They don’t tell you that. They don’t tell you about the finality of a mom’s death. They say it’s part of life, that nearly every person will experience it once and often twice. I found no comfort in that. It had been such a long time since I experienced death. With Poppy. With my friend Steven. With your father. With your mother. But those deaths were so many years ago. When I was young, and couldn’t fully comprehend loss. And those losses were spread out over so many family members and friends.
The grief counselor suggested I write this. She thought it would be good for me to express my feelings. As if you were here. But, of course, you’re not here. You won’t be ever again. And maybe my words will remain hidden in a computer file. Or maybe I’ll dare to let people read it. It almost doesn’t matter. It would only matter if you could read these words. Or if I could read them to you.
Jenn and I put on a classy memorial service. Jenn had poster-sized prints made of our favorite photos of the three of us, and our favorites of you alone. We also had beautiful memorial cards created, with a beautiful poem that we wrote on one side, and our favorite painting of yours on the other side. The funeral home played a photo montage of you on the monitor in the viewing room. And I delivered an outstanding eulogy. It was tough to get through. At the end, Jenn finished the service with the adoption poem that you had read to us as children, but which I hadn’t heard or read until we were going through that old trunk had held your wedding album, photos and other knickknacks. It was tough for her to get through, too.
My eyes are welled with tears. They have been as I’ve written this. I’m proud of how Jenn and I helped take care of you at the end of your life. I’m proud that we were exactly what you deserved: Two supremely devoted children. These things mean a lot to me because it shows how much Jenn and I loved you. I know you knew that. But even after you were gone I wanted to show people--the world--that you were a mother who deserved every bit of the love that we could give you.
I don’t know if you saw all this. I don’t know if there’s a heaven. Or an afterlife. I don’t know if you’re over my shoulder--and will always be for the rest of my life--I just know that you deserved our love. And I was so proud and honored and so goddamn lucky to be your son.
Mom, this hasn’t been easy for me. For all my life I’ve worn the “never cry” belief as a badge of honor. That has fallen by the wayside. I cried the day you really became incapacitated, one month before you died. And I cried a number of times sitting by your bed, wondering if you knew I was there, wondering if you knew who I was. And I’ve cried a ton after you died.
As I am now.
I may write you again. I don’t know. This hurts. And I’m not sure if it helps. But the grief counselor tells me that over time the pain will ease and I’ll be able to think of you from a different--happier--perspective. I’m sure that will be true. I just don’t see it on the horizon now.
So I will go.
I love you, Mom.
Your son, Alfred