Today I watched a friend as she said a last goodbye to her son. Life over just when it should have been beginning. A much loved precious child. A first born. An eldest son. A big brother. As I looked around at so many tall strong young men mourning their friend I thought of my own eldest son, my only son, and all he means to me.
He may be a tall nineteen year old boy, but to me he will always be my son, my wee small boy.
I remember the very first time I saw him. He was placed in my arms after an event free birth, which was everything I’d asked for. Twenty four hours later I suddenly realised, “I have a son!”. It was a moment of huge joy, the recollection of which still makes me smile today. I can also remember, just as we were to go home, my distress as he was to be taken away to be placed under lights to treat his jaundice. So effective was my crying, that the ward sister allowed the special light unit to be wheeled to my room so we could stay together. Something the nurses said they had never seen her do before, ever.
This little boy brought me great joy. He was so very dark skinned next to his older sister. So much so that at nine months I recall scrubbing his “filthy” knees, only to discover that was the colour of his skin! He was happy to sit all day and unlike his older sister as a baby, loved everyone greeting them all with smiles.
As he grew older his charm began to work it’s magic on all who met him. He told his teachers he loved them, strangers that he liked what they wore, and always thanked everyone with a hug and massive enthusiasm.
So many of my memories of him make me smile. I remember the time when he was about seven. He was heading out the door to school but with just one shoe on. I was a bit cross and said “How can you not know you are missing a shoe? Go and look for it in the cupboard under the stairs”. I went back into the kitchen and when I came out I could see him sitting happily on top of everything that was thrown under the stairs. I shouted at him as I went upstairs “You better hurry and find it”, (by now my patience with him was running out). Then I heard him shout, “Mom, I found it!”. I was relieved, only to come down stairs to see him still sitting on his perch. “Whoops sorry Mom, that’s the one I was wearing”.
This memory and so many more, of my only son, came flooding to my mind today as I saw all of those others mothers sons. And then my thoughts turned to my friend, and all the memories she would have of her precious son. They brought up “gifts” which symbolised his life the first one of which was his teddy he had loved as a baby. Many laughed aloud on seeing this gift, probably because it was so far removed from the young man he had become. But as I saw it I cried. For I knew for his mother, above all the other things of his which were brought to the altar, that that was the part of his world she had shared with him so completely. What mother would not forget how precious a special teddy had been to her baby. He had gone on to finish school and live a life abroad. He had lived the dream. Now sadly the dream had ended, and for his mother and father, his brother and sister, his girlfriend and friends all that are left are memories. A teddy, photographs, stories. Memories of a lifetime together, of a life loved.
After young Dan died, my friend sent me a message. It said “I hope the cold dark place in your heart tonight is one day warmed once more by the memories of your time together”.
Tonight that is what I wish for my friend, his family, and for all who feel loss.