Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dear Joseph

Dear Joseph,

Two years have gone by since your father and I made the most difficult decision a parent could ever have to make, when we turned those blasted machines off and surrendered to the reality that we lacked the ability to heal your sick and broken body. I grow a little more peaceful with that decision every day, though I admit saying it directly to you here in this letter still draws up a lot of guilt for letting myself find any semblance of peace. I am going to go visit your grave today, the dignified place where we had your body laid to rest. I will stand and then sit near your headstone, and I will cut the stems of the flowers that I bring you and decorate it, so that everyone who walks by will know that the person buried in that spot is remembered and very, very loved.

Remembering you is the most important thing now, though actively doing so inevitably brings an internal sorrow that is difficult to shake. Still, I find myself purposefully doing it, this week especially. It is as if I am practicing...practicing taking you along with me, not dividing my "Joseph time" from the rest of my life and seeing how I still function when I do that. Some days I do great. Others, not so much. I do think you would be pleased to know how much we miss you. It is human nature to want to be wanted. It occurs to me though that you are, perhaps, no longer human. I do not know what we become after we leave here. I don't think of spirits as being human still, but admit there are areas now where you almost certainly have more knowledge than I do.

Nick is 14 years old now. He visited Vines High School this week and is in the process of choosing what classes he is going to take for the next four years. He's taller than me now and doesn't like to cut his hair, so fat red ringlets surround his face. I like the way it looks when he keeps his hair clean, but that still takes some nagging. He has taken up your passion for Legos since you died and can put them together with as much studious attention to detail as you had. We let him get a TV with cable in his room and he really likes that, and we let him decorate his room in Harley Davidson, which seems to call to his soul. I'll need your help on that number at some point, I am sure. I don't want him on a motorcycle if I can help it. He's developed a passion for taking pictures, for Japanese pop culture and for reading. He gets into trouble at school for pulling out one of his books when he is bored with the lecture. School comes easily to him when he actually does the work. Unfortunately that is something he struggles to make himself do, so his grades are not what they could be, and I find it frustrating when he does his homework but won't turn it in. Like you, he has some trouble with being bullied at school, but his skin is not as thick as yours was. You had an eerie sense of self from a pretty young age. Nick is still figuring himself out, and the remarks of others cut deep. You would be proud of him for what he is doing in Scouts these days. He is getting very close to working on his Eagle rank. He is at Star now and two requirements away from the next rank, which I can't remember the name of. I know you would supply it if you were here.

Your brother Alex is growing too, albeit more slowly than Nick. He is past five years since his brain tumor surgery and it looks really optimistic that his tumor may never return. He's in his last year at Shepherd now and he will transition to Wilson Middle School next year. His grades are always good. He's always very organized and takes pleasure in the process of becoming so. He has a lot of good friends and gets to do a lot of things with them. He had his crossing over ceremony in Scouts and will be a Boy Scout next year. It makes me wonder where you would be if you were still here. He continues to play basketball, and he played baseball for the first time this past summer and loved that too. He insists he is going to play professional basketball when he grows up and I don't have the heart to tell him that he can't just go sign up for it. He says if that doesn't work out or when he gets too old to play anymore he will be an architect. He's down to getting an MRI of his head only once a year now, though still has to see the endocrinologist (his hormone doctor) twice a year to make sure all the pills he has to take are doing their jobs.
They miss you. I miss you. Your Dad misses you. Joe misses you. I am trying to make myself cry less when I think about you. Some days are easier than others. I have learned a lot since your illness and death, both about the world and about myself, and this knowledge is not always easy to live with. One of the things I have learned is how few people are in possession of inner wisdom, and having gained some through our experiences together, it is painful sometimes to watch people stumble through life not quite getting the point. Heck, I still don't always get the point. But sometimes I do, and when that happens, I am peaceful inside and happy. Wisdom seems to come on the wings of tragedy, on the heels of having lived through absolute helplessness. I have noticed that the soul root of anger in this world seems to come from believing something should be different than it is, but also believing there is a way to change it and that the change is just not happening for whatever reason. When I accept the times and things I am not able to change, and accept that others may not be able to change it either, the anger leaves me. Sometimes it leaves me sad or frightened. Others it just makes me peaceful and surrendered.

So that is where I am, this two year anniversary of your death. I am sad, peacful and surrendered all rolled into one, though probably more sad than anything. Two years ago today we let you go. It is hard to say it, but just now, two years later, I can admit out loud that I think we did the right thing. The hard thing. I have noticed the hard choice is almost always the right one now. I don't know how you feel about that but I like to believe we freed you from illness, waste and suffering. That we let you fly.

So fly on, my son, and know that as you soar, you are right here with me. I wasn't the best Mom in the world. I didn't mother you perfectly. But I loved you perfectly and I can still do that. And I will.

I love you Joseph. Tell Grandpa I said hello and that I miss him too.

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