Hello, Blog of Mine. Your pages smell dusty. Your binding is dull. It would seem I have neglected you for some time now. Since ultimately you are me, I don't really need to catch you up on what is going on in life. A new job. A new specialty in my nursing practice. A new turn in motherhood as boys turn into men and mothering turns more to guiding and praying than managing and doing. I am uncomfortable in my own skin these days. I feel like I am struggling against the weight of expectations that are dissonant and tuneless. Chaotic noise. I don't really understand the place my career has lead me right now. I don't really understand what to do with near-grown young men who are so obviously not ready to be adults and yet who must start making headway in that direction. I don't know how to make myself continue to work at school when down to my core I feel repelled from it. This last I attribute to stubbornness, I admit. I am weary of being in school. I'd like to start living without deadlines of that sort.
Tomorrow marks eight years since the day that Joseph left us. It seems unfair now when I think of him, as both of his brothers have now passed the age he was when he died. He no longer feels exactly like my oldest in my mind, because I have no frame of reference for who he would be now. Nick and Alex stumble along like most people their age, making the typical mistakes and struggling against the typical trials of early adulthood and causing the typical exasperations and worries in their parents. Joseph didn't have the chance to make any real mistakes. Oh sure, he made the usual mistakes that come up to age 13, or maybe just to age 11. After all, once he was diagnosed and entered treatment, his life was never normal again. His worst sin after that was arguing with Alex over who was worse off, himself with his leukemia or Alex with his brain tumor. Why anyone would want to win this particular joust is beyond me, but take up their banners they would and go head to head over the issue. Something was to be won there, but I am not sure what. That and abusing his nurses. He was a little shit to them. Sorry guys.
This year I approach it more like a childhood fear I have outgrown, a monster in the closet that has lost its roar, who I know now to be more sad than scary, whose fangs are dull and lifeless, no bite left in them, no curve to those claws. I stand quietly by this monster, called Grief by some, Time by others and put my arm around its tattered shoulders and face the direction that Joseph has gone. If he were on a journey he would be far from here by now. Eight years is a long time to live without your child. I try to envision where he is and rolling green hills fill my mind, his lanky, tall body straight and healthy, a dog at his side, his face to the sun and a path stretching before him that beckons with the sound of laughter, cool streams, the neat stitch of agriculture along the land and somehow the scent of the sea on the breeze as a promise just ahead, luring the spirit onward toward the endless life of the ocean he loved. It is as clear to my mind as the living room before me, the colors bright and shaded with hope. I will go there someday, I whisper to myself. I too will walk those hills and follow that breeze to the shore. And there, I will find him, tall and sure, his smile and his voice and his hands as familiar to me as the day he was born. The Wisdom of the Ages will embrace us and the meaning of these struggles will be clear or cease to matter, wrapping us in forgiveness, love, reunion and hope. These things I ponder. These things give me peace.
Eight years later Joseph, I still struggle to bid you farewell. I am still not used to life without you and when I look upon your pictures, I still feel the cutting ache of bafflement that I have not seen you in so long. Your face remains so familiar to me. The loss of you does not age. I remember the way you move your hands, the way your eyes smile before your mouth, the way your voice lowers into your throat when you are earnestly talking about something. I remember how you would say "Love Mama" in a childish voice and wrap yourself up against me. I remember so much. I remember you. Do you remember when we were talking about death together and you told me you believed Heaven to be the place where "If someone really wanted a puppy in life and never got one, when they got there, they would get a puppy"? I hope you know I really REALLY want you to have that puppy. I hope it was there running circles around your ankles the moment you arrived. I hope you know how hard I try to honor your memory, to be some of the goodness you embodied and that the world was deprived of in your loss. I hope you know I love you. That I have found purpose. That I have found joy. That I am living and breathing and carrying on and you are with me every step of the way. I remember you Joseph. I remember you and I will never, ever forget.