There is something of my son in each room of my house, just about it. In my bedroom I have a trunk that I decorated years ago with famous art prints of angels. In it I have Brandon’s bright green college graduation cap and gown, photos, some of his drawings, and odds and ends along with other memorabilia of my daughters and grandchildren. His jackets hang among my clothes, his writings are neatly in the book bags he had them in now lined upon the shelf, and a gray box that at one time held the microscope set that we had gotten him for Christmas when he was younger, sits on that same shelf. He began using it to store copies of his scripts which are a perfect fit for that box. There is a bag of his clothes, mostly tee shirts, and some of his shoes line the top of the closet. I have several tee shirts and his scrubs in my top drawer that I wear to bed on occasion. In my nightstand is his last cell phone with the date and time of our last conversation: March 6, 2009 10:10 a.m. for 17 minutes….there is his cologne that I spray on my arms from time to time just to remember his scent. I have his work ID badges pinned to my lamp…his name tag, too. There is a heavy silver box that has a lid with decorative silver ceramic type pens of every kind. On its front is the inscription, “The writer must write what he has to say, not speak it.” Ernest Hemingway This was one of our last Christmas gifts to Brandon on December 25, 2008. He aspired to be a writer and was devoted to it. His athletic discipline flowed over into his writing. He was going to “be” someone one day. I already thought that he was.
It holds among its contents several non-working watches, some pens, and an old Christmas list Brandon had made when he was in high school that I placed in it along with his football ring from high school. Brandon’s art is on display throughout our house.
I have an old china cabinet that I use to display Brandon’s various gifts that he bought me over the years or made me when he was a child. There are photos of each age peering out at me as I watch television. In the den is another huge trunk that holds all of Brandon’s sports items, like the wrap that he used to wrap around his wrist and hands when he would box. It still smells of sweat and leather….. a testosterone smell that I associate with my son. And there are so many pairs of shoes and old baseball caps….along with just stuff…guy stuff that a woman would wonder why about it all.
There is a wall dedicated to our son’s time in school sports. We have his letter jacket in a framed glass case.. trophies from every event where he was awarded such…more photos, and even his membership into the amateur boxing organization. So many things…things that say that he existed…lived…had meaning…had purpose….was ours for too short a time on this earth.
Mothers who have lost a child struggle with letting go of the memories that these things represent. I some times think that we do not possess them as much as they possess us. My daughters bought me a birthday gift back in late December….a VHS/DVD machine that converts the old VHS tapes into the DVDs. I managed to look at several right after I received the converter but have not done anymore with it because it is a tearful and trying time to go through the past in a time frame that manages to spit out the past in mach speed. My life in fast forward. My son’s life gone even faster….and the rewind button is a stark reminder that I can’t really go back without the pain. What was I thinking when I first recorded all of the special life events that a mother is prone to do? No one who has not lost a child can begin to know the bittersweet in all that we possess of our children who have passed. Maybe one day I will look at this process of remembering as not so painful but I can’t imagine it happening.
Meanwhile, I cling to the memories in things. It is a part of the condition of grief. I hold onto the the possessions that were once his. Because I can’t have him I will have what is left and remember how important and precious he has always been to our family. I cannot let go of the things that cannot die.