And She laughs at the future…
I heard that Proverbs scripture in church this week. It spoke to me, but in a melancholy sort of way. It spoke to me of who I was not. What I am not capable of. I felt that deep in my soul because that is not always how it was, I am not who I was. I not only laughed at the future, I embraced it with open welcoming arms. I am a planner. I planned our future in detail. I loved looking forward to the next year, the next holidays, the next birthday, the next stage of our lives together as a family. That is how we ended up moving south. Planning for the future, embracing it, smiling at it, trusting it.
“She is clothed with dignity and strength…” That doesn’t describe me either, but I want to be her. I want other grieving Moms to be her too. I envision her with beautiful hair and a billowy blouse, the picture of femininity. Standing tall and strong, her serene face full of dignity. Her shoulders are back and her eyes gaze outward into the wind, smiling despite the impending storm. A picture of faith and strength. Is it because she knows the outcome already? Or is her faith so strong she can’t see what’s ahead, but she doesn’t have to?
Aiden’s October 17th birthday has been on my mind for weeks. Thinking about it. Talking about it. Thinking about HIM mostly and how he would be a teenager finally. My God Aiden, you would be 13 years old. What do we do? How does something so wonderfully and creatively celebrated for twelve years suddenly become a day I cannot fathom facing? No parties full of boys playing football and soccer. No reptiles to hold or games outside on a windy, leaf-strewn autumn day. No telling him, like I did every year, about the day he was born and how the first thing I noticed about him were his long slender feet and I knew then he would be tall. He loved hearing how tall he was going to be. Another example of how reality, in one awful moment, can be completely and utterly unraveled, leaving the hanging, dripping shreds of a previous life. Wondering what they are, where do they belong, and how do I put them back together? How do I become the woman who laughs at the future?
Last night I closed my eyes and just started typing blind. Not looking at the words. Trying not to think too much. Just unedited thoughts emptying on the page. I read it, trying to prepare this post. It was not pretty, thoughtful or strong. I heard sorrow, fear, bitterness and uncertainty. I did not see that woman in proverbs in my words. All I can feel is the impending storm.
The immediate future of birthdays
and just everyday days.
So what do we do with this day? Do we have a quiet dinner with family and friends? I hope the older boys come home. I need them here. Should we do something that Aiden’s friends could be a part of ? Could I even be in the same vicinity with all his friends and be “Ok”- especially on his birthday? No, I don’t think so. Looking at his friends is heart-breaking on the best of days. Those beautiful boys, growing and changing as they should while Aiden is frozen in time. I’ll never see him tall and strong like I know he would’ve been. Just like his big brothers are.
Should we send off the floating lanterns at the boat launch that my sweet friend bought for the occasion? Watch their glowing light float off over the lake into the dark, in honor of my son? Could I even watch that and not crumble? I don’t know. Maybe his buddies could come there long enough to light and send off a lantern and a prayer for their friend Aiden. Would that be weird for them? Would they even want to? I don’t know. I don’t want anyone to forget Aiden, ever.
There is so much I don’t know and don’t trust. I don’t trust the future, I can’t smile at it, let alone laugh.
Then the endless rumination on how this is going to play out every year for the rest of my life. ( See? Me planning again.) Will it be dark and painful and awful each year? Will I ever be able to celebrate my son with smiles and beautiful memories, or will the day always take me to that place of deep sorrow, sadness and and pain? I don’t know. Again, I do. not. know.
Thankfully, we will have friends and loved ones all around us, but I feel it coming, like the drumming and whistle of a distant hurricane.
It’s cruel taunt, a message of finality. It’s getting darker and the sense of foreboding is getting heavier every day. The inevitability of it. I want to just stand in its path and take it head on. Face it like the familiar enemy it has become. Let it blow me over and take me with it. Surrender, but not for survival. Surrender just to give up. Let it sweep me off in a swirling dark cloud to somewhere where I don’t have to worry about anyone or any thing. Just away. Because I am so tired. I don’t want to face Aiden’s day of birth. I “knew” and loved Aiden for years before he was even born, felt him in my heart and knew I had another child yet to come. I fought for him, so his birth was the most precious day of my life. It was the day our family was finally complete. Our beautiful family. He was the icing on our cake. It is too cruel to imagine the celebration of life and growth and future that won’t be. The boy and man he won’t become. I just can’t, but I must. I must celebrate him. Somehow, I must celebrate him and I will.
Perhaps the woman clothed in dignity and strength, who laughs at the future started out like me and so many other Mom’s carrying this weight? Traumatized, beaten, scared, grief-stricken and lonely for something or someone they can’t hold.
Maybe before she was that woman, she was simply a woman who woke up and decided she would get dressed because that was all the strength she could muster for that day?
Maybe she was a woman who was just brave enough to continue living when all she wanted was to die?
Maybe she held on to what tattered shred of faith she could find and didn’t let go.
Maybe she gained strength and dignity because she had no other choice? But don’t we all have a choice?
Maybe she is full of dignity and strength but still cries sometimes before she laughs at the future.