Monday, July 30, 2012

Where it lands

You'd think after 5 years, it'd be a little easier, but I still haven't figured out a way to protect myself from a sudden memory that makes my knees buckle. Inside I feel myself falling to the ground in grief, but on the outside, you wouldn't see anything. It can be a spot we once passed, talking of one thing or another; someone else's child doing some cute thing he used to do; there are a lot of triggers. It can be hard to get through a day, but I do it.

I have dear friends who, after their miscarriages, couldn't bear to hear people talk about being pregnant, having children-- I know it hurts, I do. But it's the kind of pain you have to push through to stay human. You can't make life stop being about death too. You can't change the fact of your loss by avoiding other parents, nor by asking for their silence. But most of all, you can't stop your grief by stopping up your ears. I can't even imagine how the world would have to look to stop reminding me of Jesse. It hurts. But he was worth it. Every second of it from beginning to end. And I'm not saying it's ended.

HBO holds an outdoor movie festival here every summer, in a park near my office. Next Monday, it's the Adventures of Robin Hood, Jesse's favorite movie from age 3-11. ( I gave up counting after his 57th viewing.) He loved that movie so much I made him Robin Hood costumes from scratch every Halloween, and he'd wear them till they were shreds. He memorized the lines, but most of all he absorbed the idea of principled action. Of generosity to those who have little, of protecting the weak, and sticking up for your beliefs. Of loving those who believe in doing good. And having a sense of humor about yourself.

If you ever wonder who Jesse's role models were, that would be a good place to start. I didn't think of that when he wrote his personal essay for law school --scroll about halfway down). But today I did. And the moment of grief that nearly knocked me to the floor instead gave me a new insight into my son. How deep the roots were of his commitment to the good. How that small decision every day to play him his favorite movie became a building block of something beautiful and worthy in him. I am lucky I have a whole lifetime left to discover my son, even if this is the only way. And luckier still to have one more, alive and willing to tolerate his mom's slow uncovering of all that he is, too.

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