Michael has now been gone for a little more than six months.
I hate counting down time past…but it’s human nature to do that, really. Everything…all milestones no matter how painful they might be seem to need an anniversary date. The days, months, and years to come will forever be thought of as how much time has passed since the day my son died.
Yes, I know. It’s such a hard word and I have refused to use anything else.
Because nothing else can define it quite right.
Not passed on…or passed away. Not lost, or gone, or deceased. Not with Jesus, even. Oh, I find a little bit of comfort in that…but not a lot yet. I won’t lie about it.
My son is dead.
I know I will get to a day and time when I am gentler about it all. I’ll be able to rephrase it with tenderness. But for now, I won’t pretend that I am holy and full of grace and mercy and say all the words that look like that.
Because right now and for a long time to come I cannot believe that there is a better place for Michael to be than here with me. With his family. His children.
But he’s not here. Not any more. Not in the flesh, anyway. And I’m left to find ways to live with that.
I have had a very hard time knowing that my son did not wait for me.
He took his last breath without me. Someone else was holding his hand.
This has been the thing I have struggled with most these past six months.
I didn’t know how much I struggled with it all until a few months ago. Something greater than grief welled up inside my heart and mind and I wrestled with an invisible demon day in and day out.
Then I decided to be brave enough to get quiet and listen to what was troubling me most.
I decided to face this demon head on.
When the realization fell over me…oh! It was almost too much to bear. Too much.
Because I had been in circumstances before where I sat with others as they died. Held their hands. Talked to them and soothed them into eternity.
And with all my being I WANTED TO DO THIS FOR MY SON, TOO.
More than anything.
And to think that I traded that moment for a simple cup of coffee…well, profanity comes to mind.
I have literally been kicking myself ever since. To the point of bruised and bleeding.
It has kept me awake at night.
How easy it would have been to bury this struggle. Put blinders on and chalk it up to being one of those things I can never change. But you have to know that I don’t give up like that.
I don’t navigate life very well in the dark.
Each and every time this idea that I was cheated out of something extraordinary came up in my mind…I stopped in my tracks and faced it down. Allowed the voices to tell me that I was selfish and inconsiderate and even this…that I am a horrible Mom.
A demon like this is ruthless and mean. Its plans are to take a person down. Stop at nothing.
Just a few short weeks ago, after weeks and weeks of this wrestling match, it dawned on me.
I wanted to know ONCE AND FOR ALL…how to think about this. How to live with it.
Then it fell over me. Flooded me with the living, healing water of revelation.
Michael DID wait for me.
He could have taken his last breath in his own bed at home…all alone. He could have died in an ambulance or in the emergency room. He could have died any time after they removed his life support. Surrounded by everyone. Everyone watching.
Mostly, he could have died during the night while I was sleeping in the waiting room. Or…I could have overslept the alarm on my phone.
I could have been sleeping.
But now I know. I see it plain and clear.
He waited for me. He waited for me to wake up and come into his room that early morning.
He waited for me to bury my face into his chest one last time. Ridiculously make over him like I always, always did. Pour my love onto him. Kiss his face and plant all those kisses into his warm and heaving and still alive chest. I had the privilege of watching his sister do that, too.
One glorious and last time.
I realize, too, that my son was an extremely private man. Proud. A little arrogant at times, yes, he was that.
He would do this no other way than how he wanted it done.
And as I see it now…his softness and tenderness came through in that he wanted my last idea of him being alive wrapped up in Love. Kisses. Endearment.
The idea that I have had to wrestle with and pin this down makes it more of a beautiful discovery for me. Nothing good in this life ever, ever comes easy.
This is what I will accept and remember.
This is what I believe.
I know now. My son waited for me after all.
With this revelation I have been set free just a little bit more. I am able to walk forward a little easier. A few more steps toward defining this death…being gentler about it all.
Silly demon…you could not beat me. Oh, you though you could.
You are no match for us, my son’s memory and me.