(What did he learn? What have I learned?)
His friend was teaching him to weld. His friend was also helping him to save his money. There was talk of him saving to buy his own welding truck. Instead, his money was used to pay for over half of his funeral expenses. There was talk of settling down and marrying his little girlfriend, and dreams of being a father.
Anyway, my point is that sometime in these last few days of October, that was the last time I saw my son alive, the last time I hugged him tight while telling him I loved him, and to be careful, and to behave. I had no clue of the pain that was in the road ahead.
(I have learned that loss hurts and that you do make it through, somehow, by the grace of God and with the help of caring and alert (alertness is needed because grief does not always announce itself as grief-lately my own grief has looked very much like sheer orneriness and irritability and the feeling of wanting to run away and hide) and compassionate friends. In my neediness and pain, I have learned more about what love looks like. How very grateful I am for the love of others.)
It feels like I am set to relive again the events of the last two months of last year. There is this feeling of intensity and necessity. It is a path I must walk though it's not like I will be "healed" once I reach the one year mark on December 8th. But I will be far more healed than I would if I tried to ignore all my grief or to stuff it back so I can look like everything is good and I am okay.
(I have learned it is okay to admit to trusted friends that I am not totally okay.)
There were tumultuous times with that boy/man but I loved him fiercely and I grieve and mourn his loss just as fiercely. He was alive, you know. And he made a difference in our lives and in the lives of his friends. But now he's gone. And I have this huge hole in my heart.
(I have learned you can live and experience joy and beauty even with a huge hole in your heart.)
It is important for the living to stop sometimes and take a deep breath and to say "I love you" to those you love-to look them in the eye and really see them. We all know this and somehow we often forget that today might be the last time we get to say "I love you."
(I have learned (in the case of mother love at least) it really is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. How very grateful I am for the time I had to love my son and how much more aware I am of the time and opportunity to love my daughters.)
Here he is (the tallest one) with his best friend and his best friend's son.