3 kittens lying together to sun themselves on a concrete driveway.
Kittens in Three, My Forever Son
An acoustic guitar on a guitar stand next to an aged wooden door. Black and white photograph
A Song for My Son, My Forever Son

When Grief Lingers and Love Lives Forever-A Letter to My Son

On Your 9th Memorial Date

How to begin-where to begin. Infinity, I suppose, from whence we all come and to which we all go. God I miss you Dylan. More than heart can tell, more than words can express, oceans wide and galaxies wide. You are somewhere child, I know you are—and I know I will see you again—but God, the crushing pain of knowing you exhaled the final breath from your life June 25, 2012.

A Split Second without a Second Chance

A tick on a clock, a split second without a second chance, a momentary collapse into the utter despair and hopelessness, a fleeting glimpse of a life once-lived not enough to sustain. A single click on a school’s classroom clock, half a heart beat, enough for blood to travel away from, but not back to whence it came, not long enough to get a pulse, a breath exhaled—yours—but mine now in the shadow of your love.

Nine years. 3,285 days. Umpteen breaths exhaled grieving. The impossible journey to learn to breathe in again. To breathe past your exhale. To breathe in because it’s in the inhale that air floods senses, whooshes down the windpipe, pumps air into filling lungs and language, words that wrap and shape around sounds. Only because the inhale makes them so.

To live in-between the final exhale and the forced inhale of life carrying on is to gasp and choke constantly, caught on confusion—am I breathing 0ut or in? Is it even my breath at all that catches on all these half breaths, shallow breaths, the breaths in-between?

Still I search but cannot find you, cannot save you, cannot stop time, neither reverse its course in rewind nor cease its relentless momentum forward. My world heaves, spins, chokes, gasps—and love—did I mention love?

Life is so beautiful, little one—I only wish you’d stay to share it with me.

peach-colored flowering quince in spring
Peach flowering quince blossoms, My Forever Son

Healing is a mixed bag. Such a nice idea in theory to think one can heal a heart broken by the death of her son. Such a clever idea to entertain the notion of the brokenness letting the light in, that somehow in brokenness, we’ve been broken open. Such is the stuff of fodder for best-selling, self-help, well-meaning books.

But the grief from losing one’s only child to suicide at the tender age of barely-turned-20 exhumes, transcends, to satisfy, to necessitate a complete healing. At least now, this eve of the last day I was ever to see you alive. My grief still descends to enshroud me as your memorial day approaches. It’s as though there’s been no healing in the moments in-between. And yet there has been.

pink crabapple blossoms in spring
Pink Crabapple Blossoms in Spring, My Forever Son

I can see healing in the photographs I take trying to capture a beauty that is only ever fleeting. I see healing in the color palettes I choose, the way my vision leads me to turn my camera’s lens just so, capturing the moments I know to be fleeting, the moments when time stops, just for a breath, a split second just long enough to snap a photograph.

Beth Brown
Dylan’s Mom
8 years, 11 months, 24 days and 8 hours

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Daddy and Double-Dipped, Gardens at Effingham

6 replies on “Memorial Dates-When Grief Lingers After Losing A Child to Suicide, A Letter to My Son”

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