As the holidays approach, I think about Aaron and how much I would like to talk to him…how much I would like to hear his laughter….how I would love to have just one more day with him. Although I know this isn’t possible, I still think about it and long to hear his voice and to see his beautiful sparkling blue eyes. So, I’m going to do the only think I can do…I’m going to write a letter to heaven.
As I think about spending this Christmas without you, I am reminded of the precious memories of Christmases past. One memory that stands out the most is the unadulterated excitement you had about Santa coming to visit our house and “seeing” his reindeer in the sky. Remember when we would drive down the road, and we would see Rudolph’s red up in the sky (better know as radio towers) how joyful you were? I know that probably wasn’t the best thing for me to do as a mom, but the joy that it brought you filled me with happiness. And once Taylor came along, you were so eager to point out Rudolph to her. Those were such joyous times, and they bring me such pleasure while also making your loss so glaringly evident. It’s a mixture of happiness and sadness that I can’t explain.
The approaching season of giving also brings back memories of crafts and homemade gifts we used to make for family members. Both you and Taylor so enjoyed rolling and cutting out those cinnamon and glue ornaments. It was a tradition that we carried on for years, and I looked forward to it as much as you guys. I love that I have those memories in the filing cabinet of my mind. I can open that file anytime I want and relive those moments as if they just took place yesterday. I just talked with someone about that today…about how quickly time goes by and how it feels like just yesterday that you and Taylor were sitting on Santa’s lap, telling him your most treasured wishes for Christmas. Those years slipped by before I knew it…It was like I blinked and you guys were teenagers. Then, I blinked again and you both were gone from the house, and I lived in an empty nest. It was so difficult for me to let go of you both. It was something that I had to learn to do, because I spent 23 years living my life with you both. And all of the sudden, one day, it was gone. Little did I know 23 years in the future that you would be gone from my physical world for the rest of my life. As I think about how quickly those years passed, I wished I would have known how precious they really were in the moment. I wished I would have known how much I would miss those times once you were both out of the house. If only I had known….
The winter season itself brings back cherished memories of sharing our love for basketball…how we would put everything aside to watch Duke basketball, especially when Duke was playing Carolina. It’s hard for me to watch basketball now, because it was something we just did together. Once you got older, and I began to understand football, we found a new common interest. I had never looked forward to football season before, and that was kind of odd for me, but we connected in that sport as well. While you were home, we would watch in gleeful expectation of “our” team winning…and that was never Alabama! I remember one time in particular when Appalachian State was playing Michigan and how they did the unthinkable…the underdog upset Michigan’s ranking. You called me in such excitement that I was able to see your happiness even though I wasn’t with you. Your excitement was so contagious…you had that impact on others, you know. Your happiness and joy spilled from your heart with such passion that it spread across the room like a wave crashing onto shore. Our connection grew as time passed and as I began to understand football more and more…we would text each other when something amazing or unexpected took place in the game were watching. We would go back and forth for hours! I miss that…plain and simple.
I can’t paint it all rosy that I have these wonderful memories and I haven’t struggled. I’ll have to admit to you that in the beginning, I was angry at your passing….and truthfully, sometimes, I still find myself feeling angry about your loss. But, I’ve come to terms with it for the most part now. I’ve come to understand that while I would give anything to have you back, that it just wasn’t in the plan for your life to continue. In the beginning though, I was so very angry, and it was an anger that I had never experience before. I was angry with you for leaving. I was angry at God for taking you. I was angry that other people had their families in tact. In a nutshell, I was angry at the world. And that anger lasted for a long, long time. I’ve worked through much of it at this point, but like I said, every once in a while it still rears its ugly head. And I once again find myself back in that state of grief.
The last thing I want you to know is how much you are missed. Your family misses you more than you will ever know. We’ve all had to really work through our grief and we are still working our way through it. There have been many times that I would find myself in such a state of despair that I literally didn’t want to be around anyone other than close family members. I’ve been like that for quite some time now. But as I’ve thought about that, I remember what other people said about you. Everyone that knew you told me how positive you were. I didn’t get to see that side of you so much, because I was (and still am) mom. But I tried to instill in you that you had to focus on the good that we had in our lives…and I guess that did carry over since others saw that quality in you. That thought makes me smile, because while I often saw your negative side, you let your positive side shine to the world. You brought so much happiness to the lives of others. I don’t think you understood the impact you had on others. If only you could have seen yourself through the eyes of those you touched….you would have seen a much different person than you often saw yourself to be. But as I think about that quality that you possessed, I think about what you might say to me now…and how you would tell me that I should allow myself to feel joy…how I should remember that you are in a beautiful place…how it’s ok to experience joy with other members of the family. I think that you would tell me, “Mom, I know you’re sad and I know that you miss me. I also know that you continue to love me with all of your heart even in my absence. But, I want you to be happy…I want you to laugh when you should laugh…I want you to continue to experience life, because I will see you again someday. I know it feels like forever, but remember that I am still with you. I’m in your heart…I’m in the brilliant fiery sunset you see in the evenings…I’m in the wind as it blows across your face…I’m in the song of the birds that sing in your world…I’m in the mountains you see in the distance. I am there…even though you can’t see me…I’m there and I will never leave you. Live, mom….live.”
So as I close it up, I hope that you in some way receive this message and these words that come from deep within my heart. I wasn’t sure at first how this might sound or if it was even a good idea, but I think now that it helped me to feel like I was actually talking to you. Continue to look over our family…continue to show us your presence, even in the smallest of ways…continue to let us feel you near. As for those of us that love you still, we will keep your memory alive and well…we will continue to mention your name…we will continue to honor your memory day by day. To us, you will never die, because you are in our hearts forever.
We love you more than you know Aaron. Merry Christmas to you in heaven.