In the same way I knew it was time to pack up his room years ago, I always thought I would know when the time was right for me. And somehow through the universe I sensed that our son would want it this way. This will be my last memorial post in honor of Preston.
We have arrived at our first big milestone. Today marks ten years since his death. The words ten years sound foreign and raw at once as we acknowledge them. As our hearts absorb the vast amount of time we have been without our son, time has felt both fleeting and forever depending on where we were in the everlasting process of healing.
For me, finishing the book on Preston’s Angelversary year has magnified the intensity and scope of loss and love. As I completed the final pages of the first draft of my book, my two writing pens ran out of ink…simultaneously. One, a gift from Sam and Samantha, Jonathan Adler’s fancy Aztec Diamond ink pen – a bright emerald green, white and black graphic design that literally made me smile when I held it in my hand. It’s ink heavier for editing. The other pen; a sleek silver design almost stealth in appearance with a fine point, was my serious writing pen that seemed to glide over paper. I often held one of them in my hand like they were a natural appendage while I sat quietly contemplating a scenario. I could never have predicted both of my pens running out of ink right alongside the story. I remember feeling complete wonder and thinking what exquisite timing. What an awe-inspiring message I received from the universe that day.
The universe really does speak to us.
And if we still ourselves long enough our hearts and minds will ripen to their fruitful purpose. Listen and silent are spelled with the same letters for a reason.
Love and the breathing in and out of it. Heartache and the breathing in and out of it, and the recovery from both are all part of our life story. And in each unfolding there is value. To look away from each bountiful story is to deny our own truth and risk pushing away our growth as a spiritual human being, no matter the message.
My niece, Romy, referred to our time in Virginia as my exile. She was right. My insight of solitude has shaped me so I could shape words. I’ve been honored and humbled to be their hostess standing at an open door ready to receive whatever came in.
From the day Preston was born I became passionate about writing as if I already knew it would be my dialogue with him, and on behalf of him – on paper. Without fully being aware of the metamorphosis that was arising inside of me, through the years, I began taking incrementally small steps toward one day acknowledging my life’s calling and owning it no matter what anyone said or didn’t say.
I believe that Preston chose me. Not the adult woman who birthed him, but the nasally voiced little girl who had three cleft palate surgeries – too afraid to speak in public, too afraid to cry in public for fear she would be thought too weak. I remember how quickly fear found me the first time I had to speak in front of a group of people, like it had its own tracking device that honed in on only me. Then after his death I ran from writing; from sinking back into three dimensional stories about disabilities and death and grief. So fast they couldn’t possibly catch up to me, I assured myself. Until finally one morning I found what was buried somewhere in between my deepest fear and my deepest love; and I awoke to a new realization…you can only deny your life’s purpose for so long before it crawls up and begins to eat away at you. Threatening to destroy what is already well and established. And eventually, and at last, that transcendent moment when you truly begin the fulfillment of your soul, you feel rise up within you – a wonderment.
This book that has been forming in my head since Preston was thirteen, has been the greatest teacher and I have been abundantly surprised and enchanted by the depth of its lessons. I recently came upon a quote that brilliantly sums up my writing experience. “A Chinese poet many centuries ago noticed that to re-create something in words is like being alive twice.”
There, I did it my beloved boy! I lived your life twice! And the insight your lessons afforded me have made me a better human being.
Through the writing of my book many people have said, “I hope writing this book heals you.” While I know their intention was pure and heartfelt; every time I heard it, inside, I cringed. Rather than a process that ends with a specific assumed outcome, I think of living with grief as being in recovery just like anyone trying to live with a past condition. You know it’s there in the back of your mind, deep in your heart and soul, and everyday you truly live you know you have triumphed over what once sent you crumbling to your knees. To say there’s an end to healing is to say there’s an end to spiritual growth. As a flawed human being I carry various scars that when I look back to their origin I realize, are really scars of love and courage. That invisible grief scar that only I can see runs deep and wide into the whole of my being. It reminds me daily of the magnitude of love for Preston. It also whispers to me, “Go on, live your life even fuller today than yesterday, mom.” And so in honor of our son…I do. And because of the precious love we have for him – Sam, Samantha and I get to live a joyful life with a sense of wonderment.
I wish each and everyone of you a Merry Christmas and a most happy and healthy New Year filled with family and friends. May the love and wisdom you seek find you. Quiet and still. Arms open. With wide-eyed wonderment like that of a child. And may the people your heart invests in invest in you, as well. Be kind. Be joyful. And be you.