Today is my middle son’s birthday. He would have been 27 years old. Living with loss is a funny state of being – we fight it at every turn, always dimly aware that it is inescapable. We create habits to keep us from losing our keys, our place in a book, lists so that we don’t forget one of life’s latest ingredients, we play puzzles to keep from losing our memories and thus, our minds. All this effort to avoid the ultimate equalizer of death. Justin died of SIDS the week before he would have been 6 months old.
Like anyone, I did not want a tremendous loss to be part of my reality. Not me, I don’t belong in this club. A good mom, a great mom…she’s not the mother of a dead child. It’s odd how I let the words of other people sometimes reinforce this falsity. I have to remind myself, they just don’t get it. All of us, regardless of your beliefs, we are human and must investigate our surroundings, our relationships, our relationship to everything through our unique perceptions and abilities. We are not meant to be perfect. If we are lucky we maintain the ability to shift and learn through the lifetime process. If we are luckier still, we have love in our life that is not lost but transformed and weaved into our story. Is it always joyful? No. An easy road? No. Is it worth the risk? Yes.
In past years I’ve often marked anniversary dates with poems to record my feelings regarding the death of Justin. I’ve never wanted to proclaim myself any more knowledgeable than another person on how separation by death feels. I felt that poetry was vague enough to easily be molded to others’ perceptions so that they could decide if there was benefit in my words. I still believe that to be true. Today is different. Today I want to risk being more direct about my feelings regarding Justin. I want you to know about him and the importance he plays in my life and who I am…and who I am becoming. Yes, he is sometimes seen as that tear you want to hide from – sometimes that silly smile as I sing along with an old song – he is part of me…every day. I want you to know so that you can understand why I am celebrating today. Like my other sons and all the important people in my life, Justin is worth celebration.
Please do me a favor as I honor his memory and place in my life and take time today to celebrate those that matter to you. Celebrate them if they are standing next to you, across the country, across the world, in a different belief system, a confusing time in their life, a confusing time in your life, in a difference of opinion, or simply in your memory. Allow me today to be bold enough to proclaim the importance of loving, deeply, with your entire self, even at the risk of losing it all.