Two years ago I hugged my middle son good-bye for the last time. A couple of hours before that last hug I heard him say “hi mom” for the last time. I told him to be careful going home for the last time. I heard his voice while he chatted with a neighbor for the last time. I watched him walk away, toward his motorcycle, for the last time. I listened for the roaring of his motorcycle as he raced down our road for the last time. I received a text that he was safely home for the last time.
I’m sad and angry about this. Parents should not have anything but childhood last times with their children. I wish my last times only included sticky hand prints on glass doors, or crayon marks on walls, or arguments with siblings having to be refereed, or spelling tests studied for, or good-night hugs and kisses, or bedtime prayers spoken in hushed tones. Those last times bring a rush of satisfied joy to me. Having to say I watched one of my children walk away from me for the last time because he was killed the next morning on his way to work brings nothing but anger, sorrow, frustration and confusion to my utterly broken heart.
I wish I could say I feel like I am moving toward accepting this tragedy that has come into my life, but today I can’t. Today I don’t want to. I want him back. I want to undo this. But I know this is like saying I’m chasing the wind and I expect to be able to catch it sometime soon. It isn’t going to happen. But I keep running after it. This relentless battle is exhausting, wearying, and pointless, but I can’t seem to stop. I am wearing out. I feel like my energy for this fight is just about sapped. But it feels more like resignation than acceptance. I can resign myself to living with this because I have to; I have no other choice. I can’t seem to accept it, though. Why? Why can’t I accept what happened nearly two years ago?
I did a little research on the words “resign” and “accept”. Following a trail of multiple definitions, I deduced that “resign” means to accept, and “accept” means to believe. That just about sums up this battle – it comes down to making my mind believe what happened really happened. It’s not just a bad dream; he’s not out on deployment and will call when he is in port. He died. Yes, he is in heaven and I grieve with the hope of going to him someday. But that doesn’t change the fact that I and my family are grieving a terrible tragedy that has left a hole in our family and has caused deep, unrelenting pain.
The last day I saw him alive was the last time I can remember feeling light-hearted and happy. The next morning was, unbeknownst to me, my first day as a bereaved parent – a title I hoped never to have and I greatly despise it. I hope someday to heal past feeling consumed with the reason for that title, but for now, that is how my life is. I lost one of my children. He was deeply loved and liked; he was someone I enjoyed hanging out with, talking with, learning from, cooking for, and so much more. I miss him so much my heart aches sometimes.
That last day was an unforgettable day. We enjoyed him so much that day. He was happy to be riding his motorcycle out to see Mom and Dad and little sis. I can still hear his voice and feel his arm around my shoulders when he walked in the door into our kitchen and said, “hi mom”. We don’t realize how precious those moments are until there will never be a moment like that again. The everyday mundane things are the things that we remember when that is all we have left to hold onto. That last moment with my middle son means the world to me. Nothing in this world means anything but our loved ones. We must remember that and cherish them. We must cherish every moment with them.