On this stunning fall day, I wish I had you to talk to. There is so much I want to ask you about the sixteen years you have been gone. How is it possible that you have been in Heaven for as long as you were alive? It seems like yesterday that we had your 16th birthday party celebrating with family and friends. I know your brother, Austin, looked up to you as his hero. So much to look forward to, so many seasons to enjoy. The possibilities were endless.
In the springtime of your life, you walked at eight months and ran at nine. You were able to ride your two-wheeler by the time you were three. At four, you talked our ears off and moved non-stop. Starting pre-school was quite an adventure for both you and the teacher! The possibilities were endless.
You began kindergarten in the summer of your life with an amazing teacher (Mrs. Winters) who “got you” and started you on your way. Sports introduced itself into your routine and baseball became your life. You found video games (Atari, no less), movies (yes, you loved Elvis flicks) and music (I got you to listen to some country, but I really don’t know what you called the stuff you really liked!). The possibilities were endless.
In the fall of your life, high school was the best of times. You were part of the Positive Peer Influence group along with playing football and on the wrestling team. Your choice of music changed and so did the volume. You had crushes on girls, made countless great friends, and had a voracious appetite for Subway and angel hair pasta. Your kind and loving heart made an impact on those in your path.
You took driver’s training and got a car on your 16th birthday. You had just begun your junior year of high school and football season was underway. You and Austin were inseparable. I wish I could have been a fly in your car on your morning rides to school or home from practice. I can’t even imagine your conversations! The possibilities were endless.
Three months later, we received the call that no parent EVER wants. You were gone and the light was sucked out of our world. The possibilities ended.
The dark and dreary days of winter appeared immediately. Your crooked smile, bear hugs, silly jokes and hilarious antics were missing. Life became a series of too much sleep followed by crippling insomnia, manic schedules, under-eating and over-drinking, crying, guilt and anger. It, losing you, was not supposed to happen. The death of a child is not the natural order of life. A new normal existence began to form; one that consisted of relating everything to before your accident and after your accident.
Over the past sixteen years, you have given me signs of your continued spiritual existence and your love. I live for those special moments. You have connected me with people across the country who are living their new normal lives. Connections that I cherish as a part of my healing and your legacy.
Because of you, I know what I know and more importantly, I know what I don’t know. I know that the early years after you passed, I may have seemed FINE. Realistically, I was fouled up, insecure, neurotic, and empty. Underneath, there was always a current of what if? I know that I can’t change the circumstances of your passing, but I do know that I can change how I handle and process them.
In death as in life, everyone makes choices. You can choose to languish in despair and make friends with your grief. Or, you can choose to hope, smile, and remember what is truly important: the lives of those we love, and to honor them in our living.
With you as my muse, I will try my best (even when it hurts) to sprinkle positive messages of love, loss, and healing wherever my journey takes me. I’m proud of you, my son. I will love you forever, and a day. The possibilities are endless.