To be fair, you had my heart right from the start. You were adorable and a bright light. You also reminded me of my old younger self– your easy laughter, your innocence. But you also possessed a sense of self awareness and moxie that I’m not sure I had even yet considered at your age. Your determination and focus seemed at times to contradict your playful spirit but I found this juxtaposition quite endearing. I could see in your eyes a longing– a hunger– to be loved and accepted, while at the same time, I could see so clearly the armor you surrounded yourself in, for fear of pain.
You took up residence in parts of my heart that resonated with this, and parts reserved for the most sacred people in my life.
I knew that I would love you before I ever even met you, or heard your name. I determined it would be so, in my heart, from the moment that I realized you would eventually exist and come into my life. I wanted you to trust me, believe in me & understand me deeply. I wanted us to be comfortable around each other and to never allow the nature of our relationship to become competitive. To always remember we were on the same team.
We both loved my boy…
When I saw that love between you two grow from root to blossom, I knew you had arrived. The girl that would hold his heart. The girl that would take his hand just as he was ready to let go of mine. It was harder for me than I ever imagined– and I had imagined pretty well that it would be quite difficult! So I had to set the intention that whenever you came into the picture, there might still be room for me and you both.
As a mama, I had to make rules that would test the relationship between my child and I, and likely strain yours at times. That was my job, one I took very seriously, one that at times felt more than I was competent for, but nonetheless, I rose to, time and time again.
He knew that you knew that he was not mysteriously awesome– he knew that you knew that he came into his way of kindness and compassion because those were qualities that his dad, step father, extended family, and I had all cultivated with him.
He had a rare and precious soul and we took great caution and went to great lengths to be the humans he needed to guide him along his chosen path; we endeavored therefore to be completely imperfect but utterly available.
We knew very early in his life that he was special and we tried to lead him the best we knew how, even though he was really the one that showed us the way.
He knew that you understood and loved him because of these qualities of character that you found refreshing amongst your peers. He was special but not perfect, and he knew you knew that too.
I’m grateful that you and I were able to have those conversations about him and even at times with him, while he was still here. I’m grateful that you could see and honor his brave heart even when frustrations arose because you both felt ready, so early, to have a deeper relationship.
I wasn’t always comfortable with the urgency he felt to be grown and independent, perhaps especially when it came to you. So I did the best I could to let you both know that you had the rest of your lives to live out your dreams together, while also honoring my own internal compass of mothering a future man, husband, father.
I did my best to welcome you and even your little brother, with open arms, into my home, knowing that I was giving where there was room for leeway, and holding steady in all the places that there wasnt, even when it wasn’t popular between us.
When we lost Isaac, I was surrounded in an uncanny matrix of love and warmth and I did my very best to hold you in it, despite my utter shock and broken heart. It was a natural extension of my love for both Isaac and for you, to do that, even though it was impossible to put myself into your shoes. I have my own horrendous pain but I cannot imagine yours; because in some way I spent all of Isaacs life knowing I would have to say goodbye someday, in a much different way– but you were building a future with him.
I know that you blamed yourself. It is natural, I have blamed myself over and over and over again. That is the nature of the beast that is suicide.
But I hope you know that I never, not even for a fraction of a millisecond, blamed you.
I prayed for you, I pray for you still, to know peace, even though, if I were you, at your tender age, I wouldn’t know how to make sense much less find peace.
I thank you for staying a part of my life and for gracing me with your precious and irreplaceable heart. You will always be the daughter in law of my heart–
When I saw you this morning at the gym, as you were finishing your workout and I was starting mine, I watched you walk, sweat glistening, heart pounding. It took my breath away– you were there alone; I struggle to show up even with my husband at my side. It was early– so many your age are sleeping. Here you were, taking care of yourself. Focused on whatever drive and direction leads you to the gym at 6am.
You looked radiant!
I saw you beaming, quietly, from the deepest parts of you.
You are a survivor.
You have faced loss that some never recover from. You workout, go to college, have a job. You are putting one foot in front of the next even when it hurts like hell.
You are living in a small town where everyone knows your name and your story, with your head held high, as it should be.
You still have an easy laugh and innocence, and a spark within you with a vastness none of us can even imagine.
Just like Isaac.
I’m not sure if you even know just how beautiful and amazing you really are.
You are my hero, and today, I fell in love with you all over again.