18 February 2016

March 4, 10 years old, an upcoming birthday

Dear Sawyer,

So tonight at the dinner table when you had that terrible meltdown, when all of us put two and two and five together to realize that on this upcoming tenth birthday, your eighteen-year-old brother will not be home for your family birthday dinner that we've had every year since the beginning of time for each one of you because he will be performing in the second night of his school play. Yes, that meltdown that we all felt? Remember how you cried and cried and insisted that he MUST be home for your birthday dinner and anything else was unacceptable and then you stormed off and slammed the door and proceeded to cry some more? I remember.

I remember my entire body feeling cold, and the tears welling up in my eyes, and the unbelievable sorrow and grief that rose up inside of me when you returned to the table and said, "well, how would you feel if Carver couldn't be at your birthday dinner in the last year that he was home?" And that's when the tears started falling from my eyes too, and I couldn't speak and I was barely able to whisper, "I would feel really, really sad," before I had to leave the dinner table and head to the bathroom to grab some tissue and sit on the toilet and sob for five minutes.

Oh, my dear, dear, growing up too fast son. I wish that I could tell you that this gets easier. I wish that I could take you into my arms and fix it all. I wish that I could find a way to tell you that this grief and sadness you feel will ease. I'm afraid that it won't. It won't get any easier. But I can tell you that what I learned from my dear friend Joanne Cacciatore is that our grief muscles grow stronger. I can tell you that as this difficult year goes on, as each of us tries to absorb the meaning of Carver's leaving all of us, what it means, how it changes the dynamic of our family, and how it mostly will change you too, that these days will go on, and we will learn how to live with this sadness.

I know that we don't always talk about it very well. I know that our emotions overcome all of us, and we hide into our corners of our home weeping because grief is so very hard for all of us to talk about very well. But I also know that we can share this grief together. And we can remember that our grief is so intense at times because my goodness, how lucky are all of us, that we love and adore each other so much.

The fact that you are so upset tells me that your love is deeper than I even realized. That what your brother means to you and represents is bigger perhaps that I give it credit. And for that I am sorry.

I am sorry that I cannot fix this. That when you shout over and over again, "it's my last birthday with him" that I can't take those feelings away. I know you don't want to hear me tell you right now that it will be okay. I don't even know what to tell you. I'm no longer certain that it really will be okay.

So just know that I feel sad too. And I feel overwhelming love for all of you, for how much you love your brother and sister, for how much we all love each other. And I just have to believe that our love will carry us through this very hard and amazingly wonderful time.


10 February 2016

Six Months...

Dear Carver,

Your first six months we sat on the couch together and watched a lot of baseball while you drank a lot of milk. You cooed. I cooed back. You gurgled. I watched in awe. In those first six months, you learned how to focus your eyes, you learned to smile, you lifted your head, you started following me with your eyes. These were huge milestones and yet rather ordinary ones because every healthy baby does those same things in good time. And still. You were my baby, my child, my first born.

I find it remarkable now, no, astounding that here we are staring down at your last six months before you head off to college. There is much we still don't know. What colleges will accept you? What kind of money will they offer? Ultimately, where will you decide to go? Will you be in New York, Bellingham, Seattle, Walla Walla or Baltimore? These are huge decisions to be made and yet rather ordinary ones because thousands of high school graduates find themselves wondering the same thing.

And I cannot help but reflect. On everything. On the joys of raising you, watching you become and coming into your own, and on my regrets (yes, there are a few because my regrets mean I am flawed, thank goodness.)

These tears you see in my eyes on an ordinary day are not going to be hidden away. You will see them more often in the coming months because whenever I try to imagine our lives here in Spokane without you, the tears rise and then fall. I cannot help it, nor do I want to help it.

My grief at your leaving is huge, but it should not be any kind of deterrent to your leaving. It is my love explored, my love felt, my love learning how to find a way without. I know you see it in all of us. Especially in Papa and Sophia. Sawyer's will come differently, more slowly, less fully realized perhaps until he is older. Or I could be wrong. It may be just as fully realized now.

This is your time. This is one of so many moments for you to be out into the world and become. We are not here to hold you back. We are here to launch you, and it has been one of my greatest privileges in this life to launch you.

Just know that my tears, each one of them represent love, deep abiding love and awe for you and who you are becoming.

I am filled with a desire to give you advice over the next six months; there is a rush inside of me to hurry and teach you everything I've failed to teach so far: please oh please wipe the counters and the stovetop when you clean a kitchen, your future love will forever be grateful. Open doors for anyone--a love, the elderly, a child, your mother, the cat. Hang your clothes immediately after they come out of the dryer or they will wrinkle. There are so many things that swirl through my head and yet...the truth is I have done all that I can already. So really all I can say is just continue to be the remarkable person that you are; all I can do is watch. Love and allow yourself to be loved. And read every novel you can get your hands on.

The rest will fall into place. (and eventually we will be okay)