Sweet Tart Tears

Annah ElizabethLeave a Comment

           Original post from May 11, which disappeared from this blog…

Today marks my oldest son’s twenty-first birthday, that magic American number, our vision of ultimate freedom.

I have had this day planned for weeks, but as I sit here, I cannot seem to find my stride. My every intention has been to celebrate this day. I ordered a surprise for my college kid to pick up, a special dinner since he cannot be with us this evening. I made plans with my husband and my other two to dine out, tonight. I planned to pamper myself and write a blog…

Yet, I sat here for twenty minutes, with a title (initially Birthday Bash), the opening seventeen words, and a blinking cursor… I asked myself if I should be upbeat for the sakes of all those who mourn. I wondered if I should tie this into some teaching moment—a motivational and inspirational approach. I asked myself if all the words before have held meaning, as readers do not respond. I have often wondered if it is because my writings hold no inspiration, if I have been deluding myself, or if you are afraid to share your thoughts, or if the topics don’t lend themselves for a response…

The real truth of my doubts, however, stems from a place of sadness, of wistfulness that will always be with me. Don’t get me wrong, I am still celebrating my son’s life, am still grateful for the brief time we had together in this world. But, as is the human way, I want more. And now I smile, as the little voice in my head says, “be careful what you wish for.”

If my son were alive, I would no doubt be fretting about his safe return this evening. I would be worrying if he and his friends were making safe choices, if they had made plans for a Designated Driver, or planned to take cabs, or planned for us—the dreaded parents, the keeper of rules and regulations—to transport them… Yes, it is possible—though unlikely—he wouldn’t be pursuing his newly earned right to drink beverages of the legal sort… But twenty-one isn’t the only worry for moms…

It is a complex emotion, this twist of happy and sad. It is its own sort of Sweet Tart; one suck makes us pucker and brings tears to our eyes, while the next taste draws a smile… And, again, I smile, with tears in my eyes… Sweet Tart Tears… My boy is grinning and shaking his head in disbelief at that, and probably thinking how bizarre his mother is.

Such is the cycle of Motherhood. We come in and out of reverence; some days our children are grateful for us, and some days they wish they’d been born into another family. Such is life, all life: Some days we are grateful for the gifts we have, while other times we wish for something different, we cry out for another story, an alternate ending…

Last night I went to the theatre to see Water for Elephants. I couldn’t have been happier with the film’s adaptation of the written work, how it brought the story to life, rather than recreate it. The book is one of my all-time favorites. Though I must admit I much preferred the ending the screenwriter chose for the film. To me, the big screen conclusion suited the story line much better.

What I do know is that my son’s short life was but one of the endings my life will experience. Though my son isn’t physically here, his presence is. He knows how much I love him. He will smell the aroma of the restaurant, and, if he’s anything like his father and siblings, he will be cracking jokes and adding a joyful flavor to the event.

Twenty-one years ago, the sky was a dull gray. A dreary, cold mist hung in the air and seeped into human bones. Today, the sky couldn’t be bluer, the sun couldn’t be brighter. The air is balmy, allowing me to write from my deck, which looks out over a hillside and spring-green fields that have awakened after a long, cold winter.

Below is an excerpt from the book I wrote, while trying to come to terms with my son’s death.

“Some time later, the hospital staff brought my son to me again. I cradled him against me, his body a perfect fit for my short arm, his weight pressing my limb into my tender belly.

“I drank in the beauty of his body: breathed in his new-baby scent, ran my fingers over his silky-smooth flesh, felt his skin next to my cheek, nuzzled him in adoration, and quietly loved him.

“I remember his round little face…a thin black coat of silky, fuzzy hair…his delicate fingers, and his ten tiny toes.
“He looked so perfect.
“He was perfect.
“Except he didn’t move…
“He didn’t breathe…
“He didn’t cry…
“I didn’t know it, and probably wouldn’t have accepted it, but I was not alone.
“You are not alone.”

That is one thing I know for sure. We are never alone. Not in our anguish, nor our celebrations!

Happy twenty-first birthday, son!!!


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