Create a space to mourn and connect
How did you tell me?
It came gradually. The words slow from your mouth. He is dead. Car crash. I know immediately. Suicide. You blinked, and your whole life changed. Your eyes are open, readjusting to a new reality. This boy, we were just getting to know is gone, forever at 18. Your heart is broken, mine is broken for you and for Calvin.
I bang pots making noise, so you can hear me in your room, so you know I am nearby.
I don't know how to mourn the loss of this much innocence and potential, but here I am, taking a crash-course. Getting through the first few days was key, setting a pace. We eat regularly and take quiet walks. The time crawls by. We watch animated movies. Your friends come to visit. On the third day after the death I decided to make a simple alter in our living room, a special place I could connect with my feelings about the loss of Calvin. There is a candle to light and let burn out into the night. There are 18 smooth glass stepping stones, one for each year of his short life. There is a small plate for offerings of food, and a vessel for notes of comfort, and questioning.
Grief is a mental and physical experience. I remember this from when my mother died 18 yrs ago. I know we will need time to think deeply about what has happened, so I have decided that we should observe a 49 day period of mourning. I am borrowing the time frame from a Buddhist tradition. They believe it takes these days for the soul to be reincarnated. We will take these 7 weeks to be purposeful in our grieving, and ever gentle with ourselves in these fragile times. I am determined that we can grow through this experience, that there will be something positive that comes from it. We have passed through the first week already.
A difficult farewell
I added pictures of Calvin to his alter after the Memorial today. It was wonderful to see how many friends he had and how supported his family will be. I have never felt so sad though, it is hard to see so many broken-hearted people. Among them, my one and only child. I will not rush this time. I will savor the humanness I feel. I will hold Calvin in my heart. I will speak his name. From this emotional chaos we will make order. We will make a circle around each other. We will weave this lost boy into our soft tissue. And carry him along.