17 Feb seventeen
Seventeen things I wish I could tell Mason today…
One. I wish you were here for your 17th birthday. I miss surprising you.
Two. I took a road trip today to celebrate your birthday. I played the BPM station all the way up to Venice Beach. I danced and moved my arms like you used to! I’m not as good at dancing as you were but it lifted my mood and made me laugh. Some of my favorite memories are of you dancing.
Three. I filmed the journey using the time-lapse setting on the phone and took pics of the ocean while flying by at 70mph. I felt brave and free.
Four. Tears flowed and I sent every ounce of love I had out into the universe to be carried directly to you. I know nothing is within my control, never has been, and never will be, but I hope somehow that my love waves were strong enough to reach you and make you smile.
Five. I thought about our many trips to Venice Beach and how money burned a hole in your pocket every time. I bought two bracelets from street vendors as birthday gifts. You probably would have bought five! I wanted a fat Buddha but couldn’t find any this time. I know you loved to buy them whenever we were there. I wonder whatever happened to your fat Buddha collection.
Six. I sat under a shady tree and ate a greek salad and watched the basketball players like we used to do. The salad was so goooood. I remember how you used to grunt and groan when your meal tasted good. You did that since birth… always grunting your appreciation for true deliciousness. You weren’t even aware of it and we’d laugh if I pointed it out.
Seven. I took a pic at the churro stand, and went to see the freak show. It was closed but I stood outside and remembered your first time there. You were equally delighted and creeped out. You were so brave to go inside, and as I recall so very determined. I was saying no and you were pressing me to say yes. I caved and your mind was blown at seeing the two headed turtle.
Eight. I took Loosie with me and said to her, “I love you, I do, I do” like you used to say to widdle animals. I wish you could know Loosie. She is such a comfort to me. Sometimes I marvel at how loved I am because she was truly a gift. I think God gave me her at the perfect time. If you were here, I wouldn’t have Loosie. Strange. I hope all dogs really go to heaven. You can keep her for me until I get there too. I think about how God knows even when a widdle fat birdie falls… it is strange to think of Him as uncaring and unfeeling, but sometimes those thoughts come up. I have to redirect those thoughts because they are remnants of a warped image of God from my upbringing, not the real One Who Loves. He loves me so much he gave me Loosie to help me keep going.
Nine. I remember you used to sing Fergie’s song lyric every time I went to the gym. You’d sing, “mama be up in the gym, workin’ on her fitness” to make me laugh! I’m going to yoga tonight. My 2nd night and I really want to go. I want to breathe through the pain of this day. I want to send love out and breathe love in. I want to learn new ways of living so the next few years or months or moments aren’t so unbearable. I miss you, Shmish. More than anyone I have ever known. I don’t want to learn to live without you. I want to stop time, find you, and keep you with me. I want to stop breathing and wake up where you are. Every. Single. Day. Because of that, I am going tonight to my new place, to learn to breathe again. And again. And again. Tonight’s class is called, “Let the answers unfold.” Not even kidding.
Ten. I wonder how tall you would be if you were here. Six feet tall at age 14… I think maybe 6’ 4” at age 17? You were always in the 95th percentile for height and weight as a baby. Your pediatrician predicted you’d be that tall. I know you’d be slayin’ with the ladies. That’s what they say now. Slay. As in, killin’ it. You were always so gorgeous. I remember the nurses coming to my hospital room and asking, “Is this where the big, beautiful baby is?” All over the hospital, nurses had heard of the beautiful baby boy that had just arrived. When you were a toddler, I’d ask you why you were so cute and you’d answer, “Cuz my mama made me that way!” Ohhhhh, the joys of teaching a toddler funny tricks.
Eleven. I don’t know if I ever told you this but I was afraid to take you home. I asked them to let me stay as long as my insurance would pay for. I wasn’t going home to a network of support. It was just me and I had no idea what to do with you. You cried so much in the hospital that first day that the lady next to me felt like she had to reassure me that the moment would pass. I remember staring at your face and thinking, “I don’t even know who you are but I promise I will love you my whole life.” I never let you out of my sight. They actually treated me like I was crazy when I wouldn’t let them prick your heel every 2 hours to test your blood sugar or feed you formula because you weren’t eating right away. Your arrival triggered a fierce, protective side of me. It would be the fighting instinct that guided my major decisions over the next fourteen years. When you left, the fight left.
Twelve. I thought the hardest thing I had ever done was being a mother in this crazy, harsh world but it wasn’t. I have so much more mothering to do. We were robbed. Like lightning, you were gone in an instant. It will never be fair. It will never be okay. I will never get over it. Many will rush to comfort me when they read this comment and assure me that I am still your mom. Their hearts are good, but their logic flawed. You no longer need a mama. The act of mothering, of shmuvvering, is no longer something I have the honor and privilege to do. Mothering is the hardest thing in the world to do and even harder to stop. Not being your mama is the hardest thing I have ever done…
Thirteen. Your friends are doing great. They’re growing up and getting jobs. They’re falling in love and driving and getting ready for senior year. I am so proud to know them still and ever so proud of your choices in friends. You were such an excellent judge of character. You knew a fake when you saw one. You also knew who needed a second chance. You were light years beyond your time. Gramzle Bamzle used to call you an old soul, and she’d always nudge me and make me look at you as you watched people. She’d claim that babies don’t connect that deeply and their interest isn’t ‘held’ like yours was. She was biased, of course, but she was also on to something.
Fourteen. The age you were when you left. You seemed larger than life then. Again, way beyond your years. You were confident and intelligent. You held your own with adults. You didn’t cower to the power trippers and you stood up for people who needed an advocate. I look at the pictures of you in 8th grade and still am amazed at how mature you looked. Fourteen is so very young. You were just a little boy still, but packaged in a man’s body. I wish someone had told you the things I’m telling students now. I wish you had known that Moments Pass. I wish you had seen beyond that day. June 4th was coming, buns. It was coming and it was way better than the last couple of hours of your June 3rd. It would have been. It should have been. Be so proud of me, Mase. God is using my biggest mistake to teach other parents how to parent better. And he is taking your greatest mistake and teaching students that they matter more than they can imagine.
Fifteen. I am fascinated by the mysteries of the universe and creation and life after death. One day, I hope to unravel this mystery. Maybe you were who you were because you weren’t ever going to be here for very long. Some believe ‘we were before and will be again’. This lady on a plane one time said to me we make agreements before we get here. Both beliefs are fascinating when considered from a distance. However, up close and personal, I cannot wrap my head around (and it crushes me to think of) any reality other than the one where I get to mother you forever… yet, here we are. I imagine the smile that curved the corners of God’s mouth as he artfully created you with Love, and the tear that must have formed as He knew every moment of every day of your life right up until the end. He made you anyway. You were worth making. He gave you to me, knowing all of my flaws and insecurities and all of the mistakes I would make. He gave the best boy to me. I’m sure His heart expanded with love as he knitted you together and watched your days unfold, and saw how delightful our short life together would be.
Sixteen. In 2015, right around your 16th birthday, I bought myself a Jeep. I like to think of it as our car. It’s a 2013, oddly enough. The symbolism is rich. As I road tripped in our Jeep today, I asked for signs from you. I asked for little gifts throughout the day to help me put one foot in front of the other, to make it a memorable birthday, to feel closer to you in some ways. All I have is our past together. No future here on earth includes you so today I reminisced and savored sweet memories and created a whole day that honored the son I will never, ever stop celebrating, the boy who was the perfect gift to me, who continues to cause me to rethink myself and renew myself. I think my favorite sign from you today was seeing Bear in Venice Beach, all posed and chillin’. What are the odds?
Seventeen. I love you, Mase. I am a better person for having known you. I will forever be better for having loved you and learned from you. I wish you were here. Every day, every moment, I continue to wish that. I make imaginary deals all the time. I promise God the craziest things if He would just give you back to me. I know how it sounds. I just can’t help myself; I keep asking. Today was a special day and I loved spending time with our memories. I am still sending love to you, with every ounce of energy that I have and every speck of love dust that I am. Seventeen years ago, I held you in my arms and promised to love you forever. I am keeping my promise. I love you. I love you. I love you.