Forever 19 or “What if?”

Tomorrow is Jason’s birthday. He would have been 31.

31. It’s hard for me to imagine Jason at 31.

In my mind, Jason will always be 19 going on 20. He will always be a young man with so much potential and a bright future ahead of him, the young man sitting on the kitchen counter telling me about his day while I fixed dinner.

Along with other memories and emotions, birthdays after a child dies are reminders of what might have been. The question of “What if?” raises its head. What if things had been different? What if he had just waited a few extra minutes before leaving our house? What if Jason hadn’t died?

What would Jason be doing if he had lived? Would he be married? Would he have kids? Who would he have married? How many kids would he have? Where would he work? Where would he live? Who? What? When? Where? How? Why? Questions, questions. No answers.

I can’t quite get a clear picture of these things. I notice the life progress of Jason’s peers and friends – getting married and having kids, buying houses, getting college degrees, getting or changing jobs, going on vacations, doing their daily lives. I can sort of conjure up an image, a life of what might have been. But it’s very fuzzy and out-of-focus. It’s all conjecture, anyway. My projections are just that – imaginary projections. They are based on the son I knew – the amazing 19-year old, funny, handsome, kind, courteous, thoughtful, intelligent young man – mixed with bucket loads of “what if’s” and “what might have been’s.”

I wish I had had the opportunity to know the “what if’s” in the life of our precious son. I wish I had had the opportunity to see “what might have been.” I wish Jason had lived.

Happy birthday, Jason. I love you with all my heart. I miss you so much.

© 2013 Rebecca R. Carney

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12 thoughts on “Forever 19 or “What if?”

  1. Birthdays are especially hard because they bring us back in time, and leave us longing for the future — all of the “what ifs” that can never be answered. And, so we pause, cry, mourn, grieve, and in the end we are so thankful for the time we had. I’ve often thought that God must have chosen me as a “special one” to have given me such special blessings as my children. Even though my time with some of them was far too brief, and the time I had with my sister was only 13 years — still it was so special. It hurts so horribly bad to say good-bye to our children because God knows how much we want them with us forever. But, I think it would hurt worse to never have known the joy of having them in our lives.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you as you celebrate the 19 beautiful years you had with Jason, and as you grieve the fact that he left far, far too soon. I wish so much your Jason had lived, too. Life is precious, but oh so fleeting and so very unpredictable and fragile.

  2. Happy Birthday Jason.
    Rebecca….
    I can’t imagine what it must be like losing a child but I do “get” what you mean as you;ve pointed out that when someone you love dies (or even actors… or public figures…) we remember them as the age they were. It’s funny to think of the fact that I am older than my dad now than the age he was when he died. I have a grown son and daughter but also had two miscarriages and sometimes think about how old they would be.
    I love that we have the hope of heaven. But in the meantime… may God bless you today!

  3. Happy Birthday, Jason!

    This is wonderfully written. “What if” really is one of our biggest mysteries.
    I turned a paper last fall into more of a historical fiction narrative from my dissertation sources. The main character was a girl, because that fit.
    My wife read it, and by the end of page 2, she said, “So that girl has to be Doria.” We always pictured her as a girl who would grow up to be outspoken, faithful, and caring. That’s exactly what I wrote for the narrative.
    I might have been right. I might not have. Obviously, I’ll never know. It was great fun to write, though, and a nice way to think about her.

    Thanks for capturing this so well!

  4. He was in your arms a short while but he will live in your heart forever. He is resting in the most beautiful place, and you will see him again.

  5. The ‘what ifs’ are such a hard part of our journey – their potential span so vast, and so sadly empty for those of us who have lost children. Sending you all love for Jason’s birthday.

  6. Happy birthday to your beautiful son. My heart breaks for all of the would-have-beens. Your Jason is shining so brightly through your words and as your angel. Thank you for sharing so openly.

  7. ‘What ifs’ are cruel – I too try to imagine on each birthday how she would have been if she was there and I try to pretend she was there ringing the door bell and walking in – that it had all been a nightmare, that she never died. Hugs.

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