Graduation Day, In Absentia

imageDear Isaac,

This morning the sun crept quietly through the window, shining right on Paco, bathing him in soft warm light, for a moment I thought he looked so serene, angelic even. I felt so grateful that he was sleeping in, at 7:30 he has usually been wake for 3 hours already, and he needed the sleep. We both did. Yet to see him at rest brought great comfort for that moment. He hurts so deeply and I usually notice how grief has shown up on his face, in his eyes. His ache, his trauma, his loss, his despair, not as vocal as mine, has aged him, wears heavy on his limbs.

As I stretched like a cat before rising, I considered this day. I took in as much of the truth as I could bear. I recalled my dream that you, as an eagle, flew into the gymnasium and soared above our heads. Audible gasps, and the ceremony stopped to take you in.

For so long, before October, I secretly (and not so secretly) harbored dread for this day. A sure and unavoidable sign that your time with us, in our daily lives, was drawing to its inevitable close. I wasn’t ready to stop being a full time mama. I wasn’t ready to have you go off in the direction of your dreams. I wanted time to stand still. I know that it should have been something I looked forward to, for you & with you, but the truth is, I just didn’t want it to end. Our life together was my concept of heaven, then.

Now that today is here I just feel an emptiness. While the din around me is almost apologetically celebratory, I am more aware of the gaping hole of your absence.  I think of how we would be celebrating and busy with all the pomp & circumstance, how I know that despite my sadness for the end of an era, I would have been fully present & bathing in the glow you cast around you for your achievements that led you to this moment in your life. I would have been proud and relieved and joyful. I might have been stressed about making things as perfect as I could for your open house or trying to find clothes for the three of us to wear for all the various graduation events. Cautious about how you might choose to celebrate, hopeful that you would “be smart be safe be cool…”. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I would have been trying really hard to let you go. Let you be off and away with your classmates while wishing I could just be with you until you left for college. Everyday a “mama day”.

Instead, I feel as though I am walking through a mucky swamp, carrying you on my back. I feel like I am lost in a fog and cannot find my way out and just so tired of it. Tired of walking and tired of trying. Tired from crying. Tired from wishing and re-living it all. And knowing the end of this effort, this walk out from the depths, is no where in sight. Occasionally I find a place to stop and rest, a little grassy knoll that feels something like peace, for a moment. The moment passes and I realize I have miles to go.

Sometimes I think about how sad I am for you to be missing out on all of this. All of it. Other times I feel…frustrated that you decided all of this was worth missing out on. I find myself frozen in moments of imagining how happy you would feel to have this new freedom, on earth, as a graduate and an adult and then, I consider the freedom you are now experiencing and that in all likelihood, you prefer the limitlessness of your infinite spirit, of which I have zero understanding and absolute faith, exists. It reminds me that our perspectives were always different. You dreamed of growing up and moving on, I dreamed of keeping you with me always. You probably love where you are in a way that cannot be articulated and I just wish you were here. That’s the way it goes, I guess.

This world, without you in it, is different. This day, without you a participant, is different. I keep attending open houses of your nearest and dearest friends. Everyone tells me I am so brave. What they don’t know is Im following you, looking for you in them. Life doesn’t stop for us, here, now. I can’t stop time and just wait until I feel stronger. This moment for them, will pass. I don’t want to live with the regret of missing out on their moment. I don’t want to live with regret, period. It isn’t bravery at all. It is just showing up. It is just me saying “you were a friend to my boy and I am grateful. I know you hurt too and I see you, and if you can keep going then i can keep going”. Brave? brave is losing your buddy, tragically, questioning your own existence, and staying on track to finish what you started 13 yrs ago. Brave is waking up, day after day and despite the relentless ache, getting your butt to school, practice, work. Brave is Paco and Daddy going to work everyday since the second week after you passed away. Brave is your friends finding ways to shine on.

Im not sure I will ever understand your choice. Im not sure I will ever stop agonizing over it. I do truly try not to judge you for it. But I will say that I hope, I pray, I beg with all of my might, that whatever and wherever you are, that you have peace, first & foremost. I hope you don’t feel regret or emptiness for missing all of this. I hope you feel all the love we carry in our hearts for you. And, I hope that you will shine down on your friends today, help allow them to fully embrace the joyfulness and to celebrate themselves without hesitation. And if you feel like popping in through the gym door…..

I love you to the moon and back,

Mama ❤

Published by: christinaryanstoltz

I write to touch the supple center of unguarded ache~ To release myself from the pressure of not knowing how to move forward from the unfathomable loss of my beloved son, my beautiful boy Isaac, to suicide, of not knowing how to release my grip on of the past, both the worshipping of it as well as the beating myself up for it, and letting go of the need to know what I could’ve done or what on earth I will do now. I write to heal.


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