Tomorrow is Jason’s birthday. He would have been 39 years old.
I realized tonight as I got ready for bed tonight that I had felt such an emptiness all evening, like my arms were trying to reach out to hug Jason. He gave the best hugs in the world.
I wasn’t actually physically reaching out with my arms, but it was almost as if my whole being wanted to reach out, bring him close and hug him tight. But it felt like there was a huge, empty, gaping hole right in front of me where Jason should be, a void that could only be filled by Jason. My arms just felt so empty and there was such a huge ache in my heart.
We can talk about holding memories close. We can remember certain events and relive them in our minds. We can look at photographs and reminisce.
I remember what Jason’s hugs felt like. I remember his laugh and his smile. I remember his beautiful blue eyes. I remember so many things about him.
But a memory doesn’t hold a candle to the real thing. For me, there will be no more Jason hugs, more more memories to be made or events to be celebrated with Jason, no more Jason anything. I can’t wrap my arms around him and feel his wonderful bear hugs. And my arms feel so empty tonight.
I woke up Saturday morning in a funk that I had a hard time shaking for a good part of the day. At first, I didn’t specifically identify it and couldn’t figure out why I was so grumpy. Yeah, you’d think I’d realize by now. Mother’s Day was the next day.
Sometimes the day or days before an “event” – birthday, anniversary of Jason’s death, holiday, Mother’s Day, etc. – are harder than the actual day. Anticipatory grief takes the lead, I think, whether or not we allow ourselves to be consciously aware of the upcoming event. Since Jason died, I just want to skip over Mother’s Day entirely. It just brings up too much pain – pain of wishing I had been a better mother, pain of things that haven’t turned out the way I wish they had, pain of things and times long gone, pain of losing Jason.
I slept horribly on Saturday night. I laid in bed thinking about times when I could have done a better job as a mother, things I wish I had done differently. I woke up on Sunday morning and didn’t want to get out of bed. I stood in the shower and cried. I did the best I could at the time with what I knew at the time, but there are so many things I wish I could do over again, do better.
When I was in fourth grade, I remember our teacher asking us what we’d like to be when we grew up. The only thing I ever wanted to be was a mother, so that was what I said. For some reason, the teacher didn’t think that was an adequate answer and wanted me to think of something else, a “real” profession. Because both of my parents were teachers, that’s what I told him I wanted to be, just to appease his sense of what the “right” answer should be. But all I ever wanted to be was a mother.
My husband took me out to breakfast for Mother’s Day and, as the waitress wished me a Happy Mother’s Day, tears sprang up in my eyes and I could hardly speak. I’m sure she wondered what was wrong with me. She gave me a red rose when we got ready to leave, once again wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day – and once again tears filled my eyes. Roses always remind me of Jason.
My arms long to hug my precious boy. I long to have a close, fun, good relationship with our grandchildren. I long for good relationships with our children’s spouses; it would make things so much easier. I long for joy unshadowed by grief and regrets. I long to be close to family so we don’t feel so alone all the time.
My husband is a wonderful man. We went for a drive in the North Carolina mountains and explored. We talked about Jason and some fun memories of when he was a little boy. We talked about the girl we thought he might marry and how wonderful that would have been. We talked about how much we wanted good things for our kids and how we wish we had the power to make things better for them. We talked about a lot of things, but mostly just got away for the day. We ended the day going to our favorite Thai restaurant and then home to talk to our daughter on the phone and open the gift she had sent me for Mother’s Day. She is also a thoughtful, wonderful person and I love her with my whole heart.
Another Mother’s Day is in the books, and I’m glad it’s behind me. I will forever be thankful that I was given the gift of being Jason’s mom. I will forever miss him and wish he was here. My precious boy.
I rarely dream at all. If I do dream, I usually don’t remember them.
I haven’t dreamt much about Jason since he died. When I do, they are very vivid. I dream that it’s all a huge mistake that Jason died, that he is alive. I dream that I am looking for him, that he must be somewhere and I need to find him.
Last night I dreamed that the place we lived had a Mount Vesuvius-type volcanic eruption. Jason and the girl he loved had been somewhere together when the blast happened. I couldn’t get to them to protect them and, when the blast was over, I frantically searched and searched and searched for them. I ran through the ash-covered streets checking each person who had succumbed to the the volcanic eruption to see if it was Jason and his love. The ash was so deep that it made it difficult to tell what exactly the shapes were, whether they were human or an inanimate object. I looked in every possible hiding place I could find to see if they had taken shelter in one of them. I desperately wanted to find them alive and for them to be okay.
I couldn’t find them anywhere and kept getting more panicky by the minute.
And then I woke up. I laid in bed and thought about how much I miss Jason, how incredibly different our lives would have been in SO many ways had he lived.
No matter how long it’s been, I think our hearts always long for our children to be alive and with us. We desperately want them to come home and to be able to hug them tight. We want them to be safe. Sometimes the longing comes out in our dreams.
I watched the movie You’ve Got Mail the other day. It came out in 1998 and Jason absolutely loved that movie. As a matter of fact, Jason’s friend Alina (who died in the same car accident as Jason) had bought the DVD for him the Christmas before he died.
It took me years to watch You’ve Got Mail after Jason died. When I finally felt like I could watch it, I cried and cried all the way through it. It came up the other day as I was looking for a movie to watch, and so I decided to watch it again. It still made me cry and cry. Certain memories of Jason are so strongly associated with this movie. It suited his personality – fun, upbeat, caring, romantic, lover of flowers and giving them to those he loved.
Besides Jason’s love for the movie, quite a bit of the music in the movie reminds me of Jason. We played the “The Puppy Song” by Harry Nilsson at the beginning of the slideshow at Jason’s memorial service – a fun, upbeat song that suited Jason so well and his love of his friends. It was the very first song in the memorial slideshow.
“The Puppy Song” Dreams are nothing more than wishes
And a wish is just a dream You wish to come true, woo woo
If only I could have a puppy I’d call myself so very lucky Just to have some company To share a cup of tea with me
I’d take my puppy everywhere La, la, la-la I wouldn’t care And we would stay away from crowds And signs that said no dogs allowed Oh we, I know he’d never bite me Whoa de lo……. We, I know he’d never bite me
If only I could have a friend To stick with me until the end And walk along beside the sea Share a bit of moon with me
I’d take my friend most everywhere La, la, la-la I wouldn’t care We would stay away from crowds With signs that said no friends allowed Oh we, we’d be so happy to be Whoa de lo…………. We, we’d be so happy to be together
But dreams are nothing more than wishes And a wish is just a dream You wish to come true Whoa whoa……….
Dreams are nothing more than wishes And a wish is just a dream You wish to come true Whoa whoa woo……..
Dreams are nothing more than wishes And a wish is just a dream You wish to come true
There are a couple of other Harry Nilsson songs in the movie that bring me to tears when I hear them – Remember and Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Other songs in the movie by other artists, too, tug at my heart and make me miss Jason tremendously. Dreams by the Cranberries was on Jason’s favorite playlist at the time he died. Dream by Roy Orbison speaks to the longing of when things were better and memories of when Jason lived.
Long ago, far away Life was clear Close your eyes
Remember, is a place from long ago Remember, filled with everything you know Remember, when you’re sad and feelin’ down Remember, turn around Remember, life is just a memory Remember, close your eyes and you can see Remember, think of all that life can be Remember
Dream, love is only in a dream Remember Remember, life is never as it seems Dream
Dream, love is only in a dream Remember Remember, life is never as it seems Dream
Holidays are filled with landmines and pitfalls following the death of a child. I remember the “firsts” of the year Jason died – first Easter, first 4th of July, first birthday, first Thanksgiving, first Christmas, first New Years. Holidays just are never the same when a child dies. Sometimes they are incredibly difficult.
For some reason, this Thanksgiving was particularly difficult for me. Perhaps it’s the whole pandemic isolation thing, being so far away from family. Perhaps it’s the uncertainty of where we are going to live and feeling like we are still at loose ends. Perhaps it’s that so many things feel temporary. We haven’t had a home of our own in so long that it’s beginning to feel like it will never happen. Perhaps it’s a lot of things combined.
I woke up on Thanksgiving morning and just couldn’t seem to find a smile in me. I felt like there was a huge lump in the pit of my stomach that made it hard for me to breathe, like I could cry at the drop of a hat. I had a hard time holding it together. I long for the day when we could all be together in a home of our own. That day is gone and will never be again. It’s just so hard sometimes.
Christmas is right around the corner and the Christmas spirit seems so far to be very elusive this year, too. My mind can’t seem to wrap itself around the fact that we have to spend another Christmas, another year without Jason. I’m doing the best I can, but I feel like I’m failing miserably. A new year is rapidly approaching.
Another year without my boy. Sometimes I just don’t know how to do this.
I love you, Jason, and I miss you with my whole heart.
As we drove home today following a weekend visit with our daughter and son-in-law, we passed a church with a Memorial Day marquee that said:
Instead of mourning their death, thank God they lived.
I have to admit that I struggle with not letting sayings like this really irritate me. To me – and I’m speaking strictly in my own humble opinion – people who spout sayings like this (or in this case put on a church marquee) have no idea what it’s like to deeply mourn the loss of a dearly loved person, especially the death of a child. A saying like this could easily be interpreted as condemnation for someone who is mourning. At best, those saying things like this are horribly misinformed. At worst, it’s a slap in the face for those grieving the loss of a loved one.
Mourning the death of a loved one and being thankful that they lived is not an either/or situation. I am so thankful that Jason was born. I am so incredibly thankful he was born into our family. Being thankful for his life doesn’t mean that I don’t mourn his death or that I don’t miss him every day of my life. It’s an awfully huge assumption that both grief and thankfulness cannot co-exist.
Those who mourn should not to be judged or condemned for not being thankful. The Bible calls those who mourn blessed. Consider the words of Jesus said in the Beatitudes:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.