Somehow it’s been a whole year since you left us.
I didn’t know a person could hurt this much. I look outside my window and am surprised that the world continues on, as normal as can be. I should see flood waters, or war-damaged buildings, something massively tragic, to match the devastation in my heart. It seems that everyone else should have hollow eyes and walk with stone heavy legs the way I do.
The world looks the same though, just like the day you left. The sky is a pale winter blue, and most of the leaves have fallen onto the forest floor. Nika moves through the house, following patches of sun on the rug for her naps, and the neighbors have pulled out their Christmas decorations. Your friends are in 1st grade now, but otherwise school hasn’t changed. Your best toys are still on the bookshelf in your room. I like seeing them there, they remind me of you. Michael says he doesn’t mind.
It all looks the same on the outside, but you are missed by many. I know Daddy and I weren’t the only ones who cried over you this week. Ms. Bird gave me a hug at school, she misses you. So does Mrs. Hargrove. All the teachers thought about you a lot this week. I didn’t have to tell them it was the anniversary of your death, they just knew. Ms. Dawn from church misses you, and Miles and Theo. And so many others. There were a lot of pennies and flowers at your grave. Ms. Kelly took you a special rock from Iceland. It was smooth on one side and rough on the other. She knows all about boys and rocks, and hasn’t forgotten how much you liked to touch intriguing things.
I have always been proud to be your mom. You were beyond adorable. Maybe it was your combination of vibrancy and shyness. Your smile and blue glasses certainly helped. You were clever and funny and a hard worker. It was interesting to hear what you were thinking. I still look around and notice little mysteries you would want to explore. I miss trying to answer your questions, already far beyond my engineering and mechanical knowledge. I miss singing in the car with you, and I miss watching you dance and giggle. I miss watching you carry the leaf blower, bigger than you, just so you could help daddy in the yard. I miss hearing you and Michael whisper to each other at night after the lights were turned off. I miss seeing you grin and run through the kitchen to give Daddy the biggest hug when he came home from work. He misses that too.
Sometimes I try to remember your voice, and it stays just out of reach. I can’t believe I’m forgetting already. My throat tightens with dread because I know as the years pass, I’ll forget more. I am so sorry. Trust me, I desperately want to hold on to every detail in my mind. It is cruel that even some of my memories of you will fade or get lost with time.
We are indeed dust. It is bitter.
You taught me so much. It’s because of you I know about hydraulic cylinders, and can identify every type of construction vehicle I see. I also gained a deeper understanding of big things through you, like attachment and fear. Watching you face surgeries and speech difficulties I learned about courage. You taught me about love, and healing, and patience. And now I’m learning about grief. I don’t like this last one so much.
I’ve never been good at ending letters, and this one is harder than most. The ending is so…final. Because it’s more than the end of a letter. I can remember, honor you, talk about you, look at pictures, and (thankfully) watch videos and hear your voice. But when the conversation is over, or the video stops, or the letter ends, you are still gone. The memories don’t really fill the empty spaces you’ve left. I don’t think anything ever will. Some things can’t be healed this side of eternity.
I hope you knew you were special. And loved.
We miss you Samuel.