Tomorrow is the last day of the year of “firsts”.
Holidays have come and gone. What would have been his “twenty-sixth birthday” passed by. None of those special occasions made me think more of the son I lost. He never left my thoughts. He lives there, his memory inside my heart.
Let me tell you about the day he was born. I had been in labor for 23 hours and although he had made a tremendous effort to enter this world early, he seemed to change his mind after my water broke! I remember in the twenty-third hour the doctor coming in and telling me “if nothing changes in the next hour, you will be prepared for a cesarían section.” Exactly one hour later, Michael was ready and he was born. He came into this world taking his time, going fast only when he wanted. He lived that way until the end. His way.
Now, let me tell you about the last day I saw his face, December 29, 2016 at 2:50 pm. Mikey struggled with drug addiction for nearly ten years. Getting into what he “shouldn’t” was one of the ways he lived too fast. On that day he was supposed to go into a facility that would stabilize him on medication, to help him through his recovery. I drove him to the door. He gave me his forehead to kiss (he always did that) and told me he’d see me in a few days. However, he never went inside. This was one of those moments when he was going to take his time.
He wasn’t ready to face recovery. It didn’t matter that I promised to be there every step of the way. It didn’t matter that he had a family that loved him tremendously. It didn’t matter that he had a son that would need him someday. He just wasn’t ready.
I believe with all of my heart that a huge part of him longed to be well. If he had the strength, he would have faced this battle. Unfortunately, all the years had worn his spirit down. He wasn’t willing, or didn’t have the strength to fight it any longer.
I imagine he must have thought he had more time. He would choose when, where and how. Time would run out that day and he didn’t know it.
On December 30, 2016, at approximately 6:00 a.m. he took his last breath.
His struggle was over. In a way, he won the battle. Heroin could not chase him any longer. He got away.
I’m learning to live without him on this earth. I’m having to learn to live knowing my dreams for him aren’t going to come true. I’m learning that no matter how much time passes, moments will still come when I lose my breath.
More time passes between the days when I literally have to scream into my pillow to release the pain inside my chest. I have found the will to laugh again. I feel ready now to let my special people past the wall that grief erected.
Time passes; the soul heals. My heart though? It will feel this emptiness until it’s my turn to breathe my last.
Today and forever I will honor you. My first born precious son. Michael, you made me stronger for loving you. What a beautiful thing you taught me. I will live to pass it on.
In memory of Michael F. Rinaldo lll
September 28, 1991-December 30, 2016