What little gem would he have made for me at school?
Maybe a pinch pot. He would have painted it red or blue. He would be my first grader.
He does say he goes to school in Heaven. I know this because last Mother’s Day he gave me flowers. That likely sounds delusional because he was gone six months by then. Trust me on this, it happened.
Yes, yes. I have two living children who will make something for me.
I am lucky to have them, I know. You don’t have to remind me. (at least you have two children who are still with you) How often I have heard this and how often I remind myself how I have failed them in both your eyes and mine by being absent after losing their brother. How grateful I am to have two children on Earth, of course. I am reminded of this with Mother’s Day approaching.
But, I am also reminded of my boy who is NOT with me. I am reminded of him the moment I open my eyes each morning when he does not call out and I am not getting him breakfast.
This Sunday I will not have my living children with me either. I take heart in the knowing that I will be with them full time within the week. This makes me happier than I can describe with words because it’s been a long time coming. My time and God’s time.
That being said, there will be an empty seat each Mother’s Day and every single day preceding or following it. And so, I have some tips for how to address me on these days that we humans name on the calendar.
Things not to say:
He’s looking down on you today.
At least you had the time you had with him.
He’s in a better place.
Things like that are well-intended, yet empty and phrasey upon my ears. Say nothing or reach in and say something real. I know it makes you uncomfortable to speak candidly about the death of a child. Me, too. Likely, if your child died I wouldn’t know what to say if it hadn’t happened to my family in order to teach me what to say to YOU.
How did he impact your life? I know he got to you. He got to everyone I love and many people I have never even met because of his story. People who have lost a child want so much to have them acknowledged
Before his Leukemia story he was a feisty little boy, a mama’s boy who liked country music and soccer. He would kick the ball with me before he was even four years old, score on me say, “I bet you weren’t expecting THAT!’ No, honey. I was not expecting any of this.
He was strong, so strong for a child, physically. Competitive. Certainly he got his share of his father’s genes. Yes, he would have been an Iron Man. Who do you think he would have become?
Tell me what he did for you. Tell me a story about Ashton on Mother’s Day. What is the funniest thing you remember about him. Was it him singing, “On The Woad Again” in the car?
Was it him throwing Bunny out of his hospital room, banishing Bunny for all of ten minutes?
Was it him playing with your son while connected to a port in his chest and an IV pole?
Was it your kids who protected him as he rode bald-headed down an Ohio side street? Did you catch fireflies with him? Did you give him a cookie each day after school?
Was it him? Say his name to me. Even if you never met him, say his name. It makes me smile. It does not make me sad.
What does make me sad is how uncomfortable people get when I mention him. Think of him if you can, how I do. Don’t feel sad for me. Help me remember him.
Tell me your memories or tell me how his story helped you. Don’t forget him because it’s been 16 months.
Memories are what I have. Help me keep him alive.
A Mother of Three