There have been times in my life when I thrived on the presence of people. The noise, laughter and the eating with loved ones was literal fuel for me. I hope to feel that way again.
Other times when I’ve walked through troubled waters it wasn’t the fuel I needed but rather, the presence of a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on or maybe a hand to help carry the burdens I’d been given. Sometimes I had someone; most times I didn’t.
There where questions. “Have you seen him? How’s he been?” I’d answer, but it never seemed like anyone cared enough. People would say “I’m praying for him.” I’d think, how nice it would be if they took the time to tell him themselves. Letters aren’t really that hard to write.
The time I spent walking with my son through his heroin addiction. In those times, I felt like it was only him and I.
It was me who tried to pick up the pieces when he would get out of jail (jail time for addiction is not the answer by the way) or a rehab. It was me that bought him clothes or paid the rent for a place for him to stay so that he wouldn’t be on the streets. I was the one who made phone calls and knocked on doors begging someone to help me, help my son not use anymore.
When he was away it was I that wrote letters encouraging him. It was me on my knees praying for the son I knew to return home. Healthy and strong.
That was all fine by me. I was his mother. That’s what a mother does right? I’d do it all again. I’d do it a hundred times more. I’d do it until my last breath but I don’t have to anymore.
In the last year of his life I was alone most of the time. I didn’t spend a lot of time with people. Micheal was incarcerated and I can’t explain this but I dreaded his release. Something inside me knew for a long time that this would be the last time he’d come home.
I was alone but I needed people. They just weren’t able to see how much. I needed someone, anyone to tell me they’d be by my side if the worst happened and they’d rejoice with me if my worst fears never came true. I didn’t know how to ask and nobody noticed. Nobody wanted to talk about it.
It’s been almost a year since Michael’s death and in that time I have realized that I need the presence of people in my life much less than I used to. I don’t crave company like I once did. I don’t get excited to read a message or answer the phone to a loved one like I once did. I needed people then, so much more than I do now.
I’ve gotten through this year with a carefully chosen group. I don’t know where I’d be without my daughter next to me. My youngest son, though far away makes me so proud every day. There are others too. My precious few. They don’t even know how carefully I hold them. I couldn’t have made it without them near.
December 30th is coming up close and people have begun to ask me what I will be doing to remember Michael that day. As if I need a day. My heart beats Michael every second. Every breath a reminder that he doesn’t breathe anymore.
“They” have an expectation. I have a need. It is to get myself through that day. It is to spend that day much the way I spent the last few years of his life. Alone with him. Always in thoughts. This time in memory.
I’ve planned a day for myself. I’m calling it my “plan to be well”. What I’m doing is all up to me and if it turns out that the only way I get through the day is sleeping through it? Then, that’s okay too.
I’ve only just learned it’s natural to put myself first. That not only is it okay but, it’s absolutely necessary in times like this.
Nobody knows my loss, no one can understand. The love I have for the son I lost is known only to God and to me. This is how it is with everyone. We cannot know depth of feeling good or bad of anyone else. It belongs to self and self only.
So how will I remember that day? By accepting that I will never forget it.