I wrote this for my J. Saturday was a difficult day, but I survived it. I even laughed at dinner. Next comes May 7. And I'll survive that, too. Jason believed in me, and I am his Little Mother. I won't let him down.
Ten years. Such a long time. Not really all that long. I am so unsure of what I am feeling right now. So much has happened in the last ten years. So much has changed. Not just for me. For everyone.
I never, ever believed that March 20, 2000, at 6:30 PM, was the last time I would see my child alive. The last time I would feel his strong hug. The last time he would rest his elbow on my head and call me short, and tell me that my nose was too small, and tease me about cutting my hair. I never believed he'd go. But he did. 48 days later, on May 7, he ended his life. I didn't know where he was for those 48 days. I found out later that Rick had known where he was all along. Would it have been different if I'd been able to find him? Could I have changed it all?
Maybe that is why I have no idea what I am feeling. Jason saved lives while he was here. It's just what he did. "Mom, they call me a lifeguard for a reason, you know." He continues to save lives now. It's just what he does. I have numerous notes telling me that, because of Jason, someone is alive. Someone who had planned to end their lives changed their minds. Because of Jason.
Knowing that J's death has saved lives, does it make me selfish to want him still here? Because I want him still here. I want his brother still here. I want my sons. I ache for them in a way that cannot be described. There have been a lot of people that I loved who have moved to Heaven in the last ten years. I miss them, but I don't ache for them. I don't ache for Mom. I miss her, but... well, it's natural for your parents to go first. I don't ache for Andy. I loved him, but you love again. And I did. It ended, and now I have found the man I've waited for, looked for, longed for all of my life. HIM I would ache for. But my boys? That is a raw, open wound. I don't think it will even scab over, much less heal. Mr. God didn't put an expiration date on grief. I guess He was busy with other things, and forgot. Sort of like He forgot the Instruction Manual when they were born.... and again when they died. I'll never forget the day that my friend Diane came to me, tears streaming down her face on that beautiful Jamaican beach. She said that I was the only one who would understand. Her son had died 45 years ago that day. She said it still hurt just as much. I believe her.
Yet, Jason's death taught me so much. I am a much better person now than I was then. I learned that things are just... things, that money is just green cotton fiber. I've learned that if you can avoid saying something hurtful, then avoid it. I'm by no stretch of the imagination perfect, but I always try to be kinder than I have to be. J taught me that. I taught him to always be respectful of others and their situations. He taught me to go one step further. He taught me to look for the reason someone is behaving in a less-than-kind way, and see if I can help.
He taught me to be more giving, my young son who would give the shirt or jacket off his back or the shoes off of his feet to someone who needed it... and did, more than once. He taught me that, sometimes, others need it more than you do. So I gave away Rick's fiddle. Because Jason taught me to. And because it was the right thing to do. (And by the way, needing is a lot different than wanting. Plus, you can't put a price tag on doing the right thing).
He taught me that storms are beautiful things, cleansing things, making them fresh again. Maybe he taught me that so that I could live through the storm in my soul after he left. My heart isn't fresh. It's wounded. But it is more open than it was. Because of Jason.
He taught me to live out loud, my Kidlet. He certainly did. He thought that, if you were going to do something, jump in with both feet and run, never looking back. I've always done that. I taught him to do that. He taught me not to ever regret it. He taught me to see the pure joy in watching a flutterby fly by. He was so in tune with nature. When he was little, his Grandma used to have him bring me frogs and lizards and bugs and anything creepy crawly... because she knew I couldn't stand it. When J did it, I always screamed... but then I had to laugh, because, even as a child, he had a shit-eating grin to stop the world in its tracks. As upset as we both were, that day that he left, he managed to grin that grin. I'll never forget it, just as I won't forget the tears rolling down his beautiful face as he drove away.
There are so many memories tied up in that child. "Mom, did you know that some people actually STUDY for a test?", said his first year in college. "Mom, who do I write to keep them from cutting down the trees and building junk?", said when St. Joe first started selling off property. "Mom, will you play this game and then teach me (translated to: find the tricks, then show me so I don't have to do it.)", said any time a new RPG was introduced. "But Mom, nobody told me it was gonna HURT!", said as I held ice packs on his face and gently rubbed his head after his wisdom teeth were removed. "Mom....." The most beautiful word in the world. I want to hear that word again. I ache knowing that I never will.
Now, please get away from your computer and go play with your kid. Or pick up the phone and call your child, or your Mom, or your Dad, or someone who loves you, who you love back. That dust? It's protecting your furniture. It will still be there tomorrow. Go play with your child, however old they are, now. Playing shouldn't stop just because they are no longer small. I played with my sons their whole lives, and I'm glad I did. I let them eat dessert first, because it didn't matter which order it went into their stomachs in, as long as they ate their meal. That "one bite" rule that they complained about so much worked out well. I didn't care how big the bite was... it could be super small.... but they had to have one bite of whatever I made for dinner (and the rule did NOT apply to me, because I do NOT eat some things... something they pointed out with great regularity). By the time they were in high school, it was, "One bite, Mom. Then if you don't like it, you don't have to have any more of it." It's how we all turned into vegetarians. I remember my sister in law telling them they had to eat all of their green beans or they couldn't have dessert. Jason, ever the outspoken one, said, "My Mommy says one bite. I ate one bite, and YOU CAN'T COOK". Yea, he's my kid. Oh, and the "one bite rule" was accompanied by the "one minute rule". We got through a lot of rough times with the one minute rule. Because, after all, you can do anything for one minute. It's how I've lived through the last 10 years. One minute at the time.
I've decided that, if there is a hurricane before I move away from here (no, I'm not an idiot. I mean a 3 or lower) I'm staying here. I'm going to do what they always wanted to, but I wouldn't allow (that "Mother instinct" thing). I'm going to go sit on the beach in the storm and watch it. I've bungee jumped. My love and I are going to skydive together, because J wanted to. I'd never do either, had he not wanted me to. That's something else he taught me. Fear is okay sometimes. In fact, it's good sometimes. But overcoming fear is amazing. Pushing yourself that extra mile, as he did so many times, is an exhilarating feeling that can't be matched. A mountain (Southern version) is likely in my near future. I'm sure that Jason is laughing so hard that he can't stand up.
Let go of anger and grudges (you can only let go of your side. It's up to the other person to let go of theirs. Sadly, you can't make them.) Remember to lead by example. Show more kindness than you have to. You don't know what battles another is facing.
Even though Jason had no idea what the word "moderation" meant, I have learned that everything is okay, if done in moderation. I think that, had he lived, his motto would have been "Excess in Moderation". He was one amazing kid, that child of mine. And I miss him to the stars and back again.
You know that I am going to be asking you for money for my walk soon. It's more important than ever, now, the AFSP walk. Just in the last week, two more of my friends in grief have had to bury a second child to the illness called suicide. Another friend has a daughter just awakening from a coma. She tried to end her life, too. There is hope out there. There is help out there. We just have to make people aware that it IS there. If my words touch just one person today.... then Jason lives on. For him, I will NEVER be silent.
I love you, Kidlet. There are no words to tell you how much I miss you. Thank you for watching over me since you left. Thank you for sending me the man you always said I should have. Thank you for being there for my friends, and watching over them, too. I still say that if you have known how bloody hard this "Angel" gig was gonna be, you would've stayed here. I can hear you, as always. "You always told me to be careful what I wished for, Mom. I just might get it."
Please keep me in your prayers for the next 48 days. (Okay, always keep me in your prayers!). I have a feeling they are going to be harder than the previous 9 were. But I'll get through it. For Jason. He believed in me, and I'll be damned if I'm going to let him down. Come Hell or High-water, I am going to be who he believed I was.
Walk good and be blessed
Forever Jason (and Rick's) Little Mother