Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Such Light

I was hunting through my old in-box yesterday for memories of Joseph and found these from my sister-in-law. My brother Jeff, and his wife, Stacey had a swimming party in early Fall that last year. This was right before we took our last family trip to San Antonio, just before Joseph was to go in to have the stem cell transplant done. The boy with him is Jeff and Stacey's oldest son, Jacob. Joseph just loved kids. It was a bit of a bummer of a party for Joseph, as Jeff and Stacey have a gorgeous swimming pool in the backyard, and Joseph liked nothing better than swimming, but with his central line and immune suppression he wasn't allowed. It also was about 105 degrees outside and he could not be out in that heat. So he stayed inside and played his Gameboy and was very peaceful about it while all the rest of the family was outside swimming. Sometimes I wished he would rage at all he had to miss, but if he did, he kept it to himself. As we were either cleaning up the food or preparing it (I don't remember which), I looked over and Joseph had gathered little Jacob up onto the couch with him and was showing him how to play his game. Stacey took these pictures. They show such a happy, wonderful, growing young man. He told me on the way home, when I praised him for playing with Jacob, that Jeff and Stacey get the benefit of his babysitting skillz for free since they are family. He was such a funny boy. He had been taking babysitting classes through the parks and recreation department and had taken CPR and been certified through Scouts. It was one of his dreams, to be a babysitter.

His birthday is this coming Monday, Memorial Day. He would have turned 15. I wish I could say I am doing well, but I spent the day at work yesterday weeping on and off. I am doing it again this morning so it wasn't just a passing thing apparently. I loathe crying in front of others. There is no graceful surrender to it for me. Joe always seems to know what to do with me. He is very accepting of my sorrow, though it is chaotic to live with and hard to understand at times. We put up the kick boards in the kitchen together when I got home, which is a bigger job than it sounds like when they are not exactly the right size. Then he took me out for dinner at On The Border, got me a margarita and a taco salad and ate with me while we talked. I am always more peaceful with Joe. He makes me feel protected, cared for and safe. We both are gaining weight and I think I may be ready to do something about it. Its not making me feel better, even though stuffing food into my hollow spirit is an urge that can be overwhelming. But I am feeling worse physically and have come to realize that perhaps I just need to accept that I am going to hurt sometimes, sometimes a lot. Maybe then these tears will come easier and maybe then I will reach a point when they genuinely can be put away most of the time. I honestly feel worse right now than I did this time last year. That smile...look at that boy. How can he be gone from me? He was just becoming who he was going to be. I only got these short glimpses of it and then he was gone. I am greedy. I want more. I would not want him back here suffering the way he did for anything in the world. It was horrifying and terrible on a level that feels impossible to fathom even after having gone through it with him. But I wish for those good days back, like the one above. I wish I were shopping for 15-year-old birthday gifts and agonizing over whether he should be allowed to take driver's education in the coming year and encouraging him to start a bank account with his babysitting takings instead of spending it all. And at Nick's next birthday he will be older than Joseph lived to see. That just stops me in my tracks. How can that be?

I am going to have the boys help me plant Joseph's memorial garden on his birthday and I will go to the cemetery and put flowers on his grave. And I will remember him. I will honor him by not trying to stuff this pain aside with food or sleep and I will cry when I need to cry. For me, that is huge.

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