Living in the past gives you sorrow.
That’s what my friend Tippy IM’d me a few weeks ago.
She is right. She refers to what the 12-step community calls “morbid reflection.”
So one year ago, this past Memorial Day Weekend, the Saturday my 26-year-old son arrived home for what would be the last time I would ever see him, the sky was clear as a lens, the air floated gently, spiked with excitement. My friend Pat, his Godmother, but closer than a grandmother, and I went to pick him from a shuttle stop nearby. In a typical “Marshall story,” an hour and a half shuttle ride from the airport turned out to be three hours. Incredibly, the driver avoided highways and traveled only via major route. We later surmised that the man had an irrational fear of highways. It made no sense, but again, it was a typical “Marshall story.”
In typical Marshall fashion, my son didn’t complain. He was unnerved from the three-hour shuttle ride. Calmly, he shook off the entire nightmare of a trip the minute he stepped out of the van as he towered over me, healthy and vibrant with a big, big white smile and goofy giggle so much like my own and my brother Paul’s.
That weekend, we enjoyed lovely weather and spent some of the best quality time day tripping to Stonington, CT, the place that he loved the most. The three of us, Pat, my son and I spent the holiday with a ribbon of velvety fabric moments, a cocoon of unconditional love wrapped around us. At one point, I watched my son stroll out to the tip of the beach’s jetty and peace resonated around him as did the sun and sky and the world held an oyster of pearls and promise in its palm.
How I want to reach backwards and snatch what has been stripped from our shells of happiness.
Little did we know the future would not be long and how, the Memorial Day weekend a year later, I would dread the clear azure sky and the memories it brought with it. The sorrow of seeing him for the last time.
Living in the past gives you sorrow.
I began this past weekend feeling like I was going to jump out of my skin and as if I necessitated a padded room for my brain on fire. I hit the off switch and isolated and insulated to protect myself. No Facebook. No glances at my son’s text messages from a year ago. No peaking at last year’s beautiful big, blue sky photos in which we all smiled without being prompted, “Cheese!”
So, as it turned out, my sister friend Anne in New Mexico, started to text me photos (she’s #1 photographer on this blog) during the weekend and asked me and my daughter to visit her in the future. I explained that I am, among other things, riddled with survivor’s guilt. Marsh wanted nothing more than to visit the desert, not me.
Living in the past gives you sorrow
“Survivor’s guilt holds you down, so please float it to the heavens and know how much he loved you. At least you can visit the desert and leave a memento of his.”
So out of the ill-luck hand I was dealt, loser cards of sorrow, faith comes in Anne’s text. Instead of sorrow, I am forcing myself to not look back but look forward and think about what memento or two I can bring when we are ready to visit New Mexico, so we can leave a little piece of him in the desert. Some people believe that faith isn’t a tangible thing that you can just pull out of your pocket. I disagree. Under the heat of the desert sun, sometimes the restorative qualities of a bottle of water pulled out of your pocket will saturate you with all the faith you will ever need.
So sorry to read about your loss. Keep the faith which you so adequately depicted in the end. Thanks and much appreciated for sharing
beautiful, restorative writing which comes out of great sorrow; your writing, Anne’s photographs and that faith muscle — a powerful combination
Aw, thank you. I love the word “restorative.” It is a substantial addition to my writer’s word pouch–and to my life at the moment. Again, TY!