“It’s the neverness that is so painful. Never again to be here with us- never to sit with us at table, never to travel with us, never to laugh with us, never to cry with us, never to embrace us as he leaves for school……All the rest of our lives we must live without him. Only our death can stop the pain of his death. A month, a year, five years- with that I could live. But not this forever.”
Nicholas Wolterstorff, Lament for a Son
Ghost memories swirl everywhere
I drove home last night past the high school. Dylan’s high school. Class of 2010. Graduation tassels. Purple and Gold. Ghost memories swirl everywhere.
Playing alto sax and marching proudly with the high school band, countless football games waiting, watching for him at half time as the band criss-crossed the field and formed a striking image. Watching him come of age–shy away from girls, then tentatively, furtively, steal glances of girls.
Ghost visions of my car being parked outside the high school every afternoon for two solid years of high school–my waiting, listening for the bell, watching students stream from all the main doors and flow out into their worlds.
My world was waiting for Dylan to see me, then pretend and feign coolness in an effort not to let me know he was acknowledging seeing me (how embarrassing to be a high school junior and still be having your mom drive you home from school).
I loved watching him swing up and off his shoulder his heavy backpack, sling it into the backseat, then slide into the comfortable familiarity of the red Toyota Solara he’d grown up in.
Shadow memories linger
Registering him for classes freshman year. Pain in the waking of memories. How confident and happy he was in 8th grade, and so sadly, how dark and miserable he became his freshman year of high school.
His high school had been my high school too. I had moved from Los Angeles back to Ohio, my stomping grounds, all to be close to family who, in the end, all moved away. A choice–my choice–to bring my child of age all against the back-brush of my hometown community, never knowing that this community would swallow him whole.
Jolly Pirates for doughnuts on sleepovers. Dairy Queen (always chocolate) after band concerts. General Tso’s chicken from Double Dragon.
My life now. Painful if I stay here remembering. Painful if I move away remembering. I travel into what used to be such beautiful, rich memories. Now it all haunts. My hometown. Schools. Restaurants. Movie theaters. Main Street.
Half the time, I’m not even sure my life is real. I swirl in a surreal haze, swipe of wash across my line of vision, blurred, disconnected, so long ago and yet so much here that I am both consumed and confused. I continue to wake up surprised that I am still here and live much of my day pretending around the fact that my child, my son, my heart, my soul, my joy, my love, myself–all of who I am, died by suicide on June 25, 2012.
In lines that haunt and rhymes that sing,
life goes on through winter’s sting.
Shattered. Barren. Smoking. Dead. Devoid of any significant meaning.
I wander still, 3 years, 8 months after Dylan’s death, so much more capable in so many ways of faking it, of masking–typically, so much pain, so many-folded layers of grappling with suicide and death and losing my child.
And yet still, inside, in my heart, in my Dylan-sized hole which is, in truth, all of me, I falter, lose my way–fall, shatter, and break all over again–sometimes predictably, but so oftentimes, not predictably at all.
It is enough to breathe.
To catch my breath.
To exhale this pain.
Next month is Dylan’s birthday. March 19, 1992. I’ve known about this for awhile because my insides won’t let me rest.
I can feel it in my gut. The slow onward march. Relentless. Pursuing. Steady on into this season of his death.
March 19th, 2012, Dylan turned 20 years old. Promise. Hope. Difficulties, but always hope. Fear. Two previous suicide attempts. Staying with my sister and her family. Trying to get his life on the right track. A job at a local electronics store.
But illusive–his will to live, his wanting to stay, his wishing for stars and galaxies, peace and silence all on a Facebook post (to which I wasn’t privy) : “just waiting to be struck by lightening.”
Pain-filled memories echo
Failed attempts at relationships, pulling away from his childhood friends, his running buddies, those who really knew him. A hideous, hellish suicide attempt after getting paid for his first week of work at the electronics’ store, all because Why?
Why? Why? To where screaming only shatters and only deafness makes sense.
Why? To which an ocean’s deafening roar silences Again, only deafness makes sense. And yet still the why haunts my all.
Why, Oh dear child, did you not hear my love?
The Beat of my heart shaped by you.
The song of you which still now I sing.
And yet perhaps you could not hear above the deafening roar of your heart’s ache.
“Pig Angels” by Dylan Andrew Brown, Age 7
Little Star that once was mine— Little Star now that I can’t find
And Yet perhaps you could not hear above the deafening roar of your heart’s ache.
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