Twenty-four years ago, my life was blessed with the birth of my son. Four months ago, my life was broken into a million pieces…shattered like glass, when two Navy sailors came to my house to bring the news of his passing. The grief that I have experienced over the past 4 months has been almost unbearable, because not only did I lose my son 4 months ago…I also lost my brother 8 months ago. The last 7-8 months of my life has been filled with a sadness that cannot be expressed in words. I now live with two holes in my heart that cannot be replaced…nor do I want them to be replaced….because they were both very special people.
I had just begun to regain my ability to think and function pretty well when I received the news of my son’s passing. At that point, grief became all consuming. I can’t even begin to explain the myriad of emotions that I have felt and the confusion caused by the existence of those emotions simultaneously. The loss of my son has changed me, scarred me, and affected me in ways that I never dreamed possible. This type of grief has shaken me to my core…it has made me question things, ideas, and beliefs I’ve held my entire life. It has made me the angriest I have EVER been…..Angry at many things…people…and circumstances. It’s the strongest anger I think I have ever experienced in my life. I can’t explain that anger….It’s a deep seeded anger that I have never felt before. It’s an anger that wells up from your belly and rises through to your heart like water. As the anger seeps in, it slowly stretches its spindly and fluid fingers further and further into the deepest recesses of your heart, eventually grasping your soul in a death defying grip that won’t let go.
So, I am learning to work through this anger with the help of my Savior….but it is a slow process…..very, very slow. I am learning to trust in Him even though I don’t understand why MY son had to die at such a young age. I’ve heard many people say that they never lost their trust in this kind of loss….I can’t say that. I can say that I questioned and that was angry, but even in the anger and the questioning, I knew my God had a purpose and a plan even though I didn’t like how the plan was played out. I also knew that His plan was far better than anything I ever could have planned…but I was and am still angry. Despite my anger and my questioning, my God has never left my side….He has been there for me, slowly helping me work through the questions and the anger. He is a good God…even in the midst of this kind of chaotic and earth shattering loss. He has never left me. He has comforted me in mysterious ways…through dreams….through calls, texts, and cards from family and friends. He has comforted me with new friendships that, unfortunately, understand my plight and my journey. I see His workings in so many ways, even in the midst of the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life.
So….I am becoming a different person. I will never be the same person that I was before I lost my son. I often feel like I live in two different worlds….the one before Aaron died and the one after Aaron died. I’m not sure that I understand the person “after” his death at this point. I don’t know how long it will take to understand this new person….but I am definitely different and I know that I will never be the same. My eyes look different now….I can see it when I look in the mirror. My thoughts are different…sometimes it shocks me the thoughts that run through my mind. It’s amazing how your thoughts and memories can be jolted to life in the simplest of things…the laughter of a child, a young man with blond hair and blue eyes, a song….a tie dye shirt. All of the things that your child loved in this life suddenly become agonizingly aware to you in every aspect of life and sometimes in the smallest of ways. It is something that is ALWAYS present….ALWAYS waiting in the wings to lurch you back to the reality that your child is no longer in this world.
Grief….at this point of my life, has become a way of life for me. Sometimes the grief is so powerful that it draws me into a hole so dark that I can see absolutely no light and no way out. Sometimes I am in the light, but the dark is lurking just down the bend. I can feel it and I can see it…but it hasn’t drawn me in just yet. But, it is waiting and calling my name often times. I hear that these moments will become more manageable as time passes, but right now…I am in the midst of it and the storm is often raging with billowing winds that threaten to sweep me away.
One thing that is hard for me…is that I want people to ask me about my son. I want to talk about him, but I think that it makes people uncomfortable…because number one…they aren’t sure what to ask; number two…they are uncomfortable with making me cry when I talk about him; number three…they don’t know what to say when I do cry; and number four…they fear that they will say the wrong thing.
So, in an effort to slow the winds…I thought I would create this blog to share some of the most heart warming thoughts and feelings I have for my son.
When I think about my son…there are so many endearing thoughts that come to mind. The first three are in the title of this blog….mountains, tie dye, and skating. He loved these things with a passion. He wore tie dye T-shirts more than anything, especially in the last 3-4 years. Almost every recent picture of him shows him in a tie dye T-shirt of some kind. If he could have worn a tie dye Navy uniform…he would have LOVED that! At his memorial, we even wore tie dye in his honor. Now I understand his love of tie dye….because I wear these shirts when I get the chance. I guess that it’s also something that makes me feel close to him.
Mountains….He LOVED nature and the mountains. He was most comfortable in nature, the forests and the summit of a mountain. There was something about it that spoke to his soul…something that brought him peace in this chaotic and sometimes crazy world. He loved to escape to the mountains with his closest friends. Nature made him comfortable and he loved to be in it.
Skating….actually skateboarding. He absolutely loved the thrill of learning new tricks on a skateboard. I thought this would be something that he would outgrow…but he never did. Even while he was in the Navy stationed in Japan, he still found a thrill in learning and performing new tricks on a skateboard. I am fortunate to have saved a FB video that one of his friends took of him skateboarding. It brings me some comfort when I watch it to see his focus and love for the board. When I see other guys on skateboards now, he’s the first thing that enters my mind. His love for it was strong and I smile (and cry) when I see pictures of him skateboarding or when I see others skateboarding.
The last thing I want to touch on today about my son is that he he had such a big and caring heart. He truly saw the good in people and did what he could to help those in need…even though he may have been in need himself. He was truly selfless and truly had an eye for people that were hurting. He seemed to be able to find the hurting easily and his heart opened to them with an all encompassing compassion that I’ve been hard pressed to see in this world. He was a one of a kind….
He would have truly loved to skateboard on tie dyed mountains….
Love to you forever, Aaron.