For most everyone else, today is an active day – it’s the first day back to school after the long respite of summer. I can’t say that I don’t notice or don’t feel it. I can’t say that I don’t spend the day with my thoughts whispering “what ifs” and “if only’s” between my ears. My heart, my gut, my body, they are all weary from the holding of my proverbial breath, from the keeping of secrets and the holding of truth. The weeks and months pass, and there I float, motionless and breathless in a sea of grief that seems is mine alone. I am still grappling with the death of my fifteen year old son. I don’t know if this will ever cease, as this grief is becoming familiar to me like flash thunderstorms in the heat of the season – heart stopping and unpredictable, destructive and cleansing. The darkness is ever punctuated by bright, sometimes blinding flashes of insight that illuminate what had remained hidden in the shadows, sometimes setting the sacred ablaze. This is the story of my experience.
I had known on the day he died, May 5, 2012, that he did not have to die, that something had gone terribly wrong. On May 7th, I embarked on my own journey find out what killed him. Isis, the coroner from the city who is still investigating his death at the time of writing this, has the same agenda. She is not finished her investigation yet, and neither have I. It’s been over a year. Living hasn’t been easy. It still isn’t. It never was. Will it ever be?
I didn’t leave the house today until after 3:00 pm. I didn’t want to see anything that would remind me of what is already glaringly obvious. Michael’s friends, his classmates, the rest of the community was going back to school today, and Michael was not, because Michael is dead. All my friends, all the parents I know are proudly and busily tending to their children’s back to school needs and I sit motionless and indecisive, not knowing what to do or why to do it. Everything hurts. I close my eyes to the day and attempt to not be present. It isn’t working.
I eat. I nap. Several times I dismiss the thought of feeling alone, feeling abandoned. These feelings come from a legitimate place, but I would rather embrace all the changes in my life and have gratitude for my solitude, so I do.
I used to watch “Jeopardy” and sometimes “Wheel of Fortune” on my Nanna’s TV after doing all my homework. I would play along with these games and shout out the answers to myself as I waited for my Mom to come home from work. Vanna White would turn the letters and slowly the word would be revealed. Often times I would know the word before the TV world solved the puzzle.
Finding the causes of Michael’s death has been like solving a puzzle, but not just a one word puzzle – there are many words. Last Wednesday, the coroner sent me an email, and filled me in on another aspect of his death. It was just like Vanna had flipped the perfect consonant and everything clicked. The puzzle was finally solved, and all I have to do is answer. But I don’t even know how to answer. All I can muster is silence. My throat feels dry and my legs not strong enough to stand. I can’t speak but yet my soul is screaming inside.
R _ C I S _ _ S S U _ P _ I O N S
R I G H _ E O U S U S E O F F O R C E
P _ _ R I _ _ R C H Y
T H E I L L U S I O N O F L O V E L E S S N E S S
It’s all come together. I finally have my closure. It is not as sweet as I had imagined it to be, nor as freeing. In order to be free from it all I have to tell the story and so I start today. No time like the present. I need to speak the words that will solve the puzzle, for myself and for everyone.