I believe a parent's greatest fear is forgetting. It is my fear. Either that I will forget the details of his life, his mannerisms, his personality, even his smell, or that others will forget. There is already this great constraint from others about not mentioning "his" name lest it cause you as "his" mom to lose it. So the cat walks through a room of rocking chairs, the eggshells litter the floor, and the white elephant trumpets throughout the room. All there, and all a great heavy burden. For everyone.
One mom, whose son died at 9 months old, described the sensation as going to a party missing an entire arm. Everyone complimented her party dress, her hair, even her shoes, but no one asked about her missing arm. Instead, the not asking about her missing arm was like being handed heavy party platters of food that required two hands to hold.
I think the news flash many moms would send is that in those early days a tender commercial about car insurance can cause you to lose it. I probably even cried over "Roaches go in, but they don't come out."
I'd rather have someone ask me about "him" then avoid all mention of "him." No mention is another fresh killing of your dreams, another death because all around you moms are talking about their children, you see children, you hear children.
Just not yours.
Now, a dozen years later hardly anyone at all asks me about James. Certainly most people in my life now never knew him, and I am sure they do not know what to ask, let alone what to say. It is what it is. I do not talk about James a great deal. Instead, I choose to write the memories. The writing I do on this blog about James' life is my most vulnerable writing. It is a way to remember for myself, and one day for his brothers.
The remembering that is precious these days is those friends and family who recognize that my crabbiness and confusion and madness of melancholia, (even when I don't recognize it) is part of this week's inheritance. They get that I usually don't have it in me for major decisions or even reasonable thinking through regular life decisions. They pray for me. They write supportive emails, comments, and cards. They take my sons for the day so I can be a big eggplant if necessary. They feed me fried shrimp and french fries, without comment on the cholesterol or calorie count. They let me lie around on the big, red couch and watch senseless entertainment. They give me permission to be a big, huge, ugly and ridiculous mess.
It's over. I was never so happy to see an October 17th.