I write periodically on my son, Brandon’s Legacy page, leaving my notes for him. Below is the 2014 Thanksgiving note. I have learned to say “I miss you” in a million different ways, it seems. The change has been that I am determined to make my son a part of this life even though he has moved on to the next and better life.
I miss you and your appetite, son. Thanksgiving was not the Happy we used to know. We laugh, we joke, we eat, while our hearts long for you to be with us each day, especially holidays. But who would take you from the continual feast you have forever? I would rather join you there than to ever wish you to be here again. I love you that much – See more at: http://www.legacy.com/guestbooks/nwfdailynews/brandon-heath-condolences/125003849?&eid=sp_gbapprove#sthash.I9EwfHNX.dpuf
It is this photo of Brandon and his grandmother (Mammaw) my husband’s mother, that I have framed and put out for the holidays on our special Brandon shelf in the livingroom. I have redesigned the dining room china cabinet to display photos of Brandon and Mammaw. I also have other mementos all about Brandon there. This photo reminds us of Mammaw and Brandon. Oh how they loved to eat! Brandon weight trained and was an athlete so the food was his energy. It never appeared on his hips like it does me. Mammaw loved to cook and of course, loved to eat, as well. She made the best southern everything. I credit her for teaching me how to cook. Her biscuits and dressing are her legacy. None of us can quite make them as she once did. We all believe she is happily cooking for Brandon in Heaven…not that you have to cook in Heaven but it comforts us that she continues to be able to do those things she loved to do. She made everyone who came to her house feel so welcomed and you never, ever left hungry. Over the holidays, my daughters, my husband and his sister and myself remembered all those delicious foods she used to cook.
Our holidays have changed. We don’t have our Brandon or our Mammaw. They have been changed forever and have moved into a new existence of perfection with the Lord, our Father, in whom we believe. Those of us left behind know that changes have come whether we like it or not. What death has done is make us know, even more, those things of our faith that we have claimed throughout our lives. If we ever half-heartedly believed, well…we believe with our whole heart now. Death is a “game changer.”
I have changed in so many ways. I look at pictures of myself then and now. Firstly, I do not like to have my picture taken anymore. I am a fat old woman with a bloated face that will never be the youthful person I was. My physical self has no energy and looks like a faded rendition of what used to be me. It seems that just 5 1/2 years ago I was hopeful that I could retain my youthful looks and middle aged energy level. Not to be. Death changed all of that. In the first year of shock and tragic grief, I lost weight and any hope of being a whole person again. Grief held me captive with its tentacles. As time has worn on, I have gained the weight I lost and then some. I have not one ounce of energy and I wrestle with the Insomnia Monster every single night. I am a vision of all that I had hoped never to be. I do not see a way out of it. SO……..I am trying to accept it. Even writing the word “accept” has been part of that change. Believe it or not, there is freedom in acceptance of those things we cannot change.
While grief has been partly to blame for the vision of ‘loveliness’ I have become along with the naturalness of aging, it has also been the reason why I think I have become wiser. I am more aware of the internal; my heart and soul changes, if you will. One cannot help but to be transformed by how death affects everything in you and around you. Perhaps, those things don’t change physically but they change by how they are perceived by the griever. I cannot begin to list the changes death has brought to me. The physical is just part of it but not the whole.
One change in particular has been the acceptance of myself. I turn 61 yrs old before the year is over. it is not easy to look in the mirror anymore. I just do what I think helps and well, just deal with it. I look at the change of this body as unavoidable. There is constant change taking over. As is the case with some of life’s circumstances, it is out of my control. That is what I have had to accept. Please do not misunderstand the word “accept” for “like.”
I am dying every single day. My image is dying but my soul is being infused with a new life. I have an appreciation for the part of me that will live on and be perfect like my son and my other loved ones who are with God. My complaints here are a waste of time. It is my understanding of this that adds to any wisdom imparted to me through experiences. If I did not then all of my trials would be in vain. I should make use of what has happened as best as I can. I cannot have my son here with me in this lifetime but God has made it possible for us to be together for eternity. Wisdom has shaped my faith: Faith has shaped my wisdom. However it works, I am now able to realize that the biggest change is yet to come. Aging allows me to know that time is shorter with each passing day. My mirror reflects what I will leave behind. What I take with me is inside and waiting to be transformed. This I accept.