I want to go to sleep. I can’t imagine what that might feel like right now. My mind is alive with memories. Laughter, generosity, visions of my kids when they were young and when they were not so young, heartfelt moments, funny/odd anomalies, and unbelievable sadness…in our loss of Owen. 8 years. Eight freakin’ years without Owen in the middle of our everyday lives. Yet, he is always right here, right in the middle of every move we make.
If you haven’t lost a child, a sibling, a very-very close parent, a best friend, or a significant person who you may have never shared with anyone…maybe you don’t know. If you have, well, you know, and you may not want to share. In the end, who is listening, besides those who feel the same?
Eight years ago, Owen said to me, “Goodnight, Mumma. I love you. I’ll be up for awhile.”
“‘kay, honey. See you in the morning. Love you, Bubba.”
(Or, something very close to that…time renders our minds more favorable, yes?)
I didn’t go to sleep easily that night. Something kept me awake, listening to Owen’s fingers tapping away on the keyboard of our living room desktop computer, just outside our bedroom door. The year was 2007, and we had no laptops or iPads that could accompany us to private places – like bedrooms, bathrooms, laundry rooms, closets, cars, or park benches. We investigated the Internet in our open living spaces. Owen did. What did he find? Things have changed. Would he have changed, too?
And, that was the last time we spoke together.
The rest of the story is memorialized in this blog starting in 2007. So much has not been shared by me. I couldn’t then. Wouldn’t. I probably won’t now. Owen was clear with me on the subject of his state of mind – “it’s nobody’s business, but mine”. I was clear, to the point that I could help him protect himself – or so I thought – and offer him whatever I knew might help. None of it helped, though my resourcesfulness was his for the taking. He was adamant that how he lived his life was more important than a diagnosis.
“If I have a diagnosis, Mom, I will become that label. I’d rather be me like this, than me with a diagnosis.”
If you are a parent of child loss, you may have heard these same or similar words from your kid. I don’t even know what to say about how to counteract that response. Nothing I could say to Owen swayed him, though I tried for years. He was a man of his words…and a man of his own path. He knew things I cannot know. He was brilliant in intellect, and suspect in emotional and psychological makeup. He knew. He talked with me about it in our quiet moments.
This day, 5/28/15, has been filled with good news and laughter in our small circle – little of which has anything to do with Owen and our loss of him. I am one of the lucky ones (you’ve heard me say this before, yes?). I find purpose and meaning by way of my experience and love of Owen and our family before and after he left us. I find the same in my experience and love of those of us still here. We are all working toward the next day, the next plan, the next hearty laugh. And, we are amazingly steadfast.
Good news in the present does not erase the harsh news that Owen’s body was found dead in the Petaluma River on June 2, 2007. The last day Dave and I talked with him was this same date. We cannot escape that reality. We can only address our mutual love and acceptance of everything our family was and is. We did. We still do.
My life is a testament to the fact that parents of sudden, mysterious, unexplained child loss, can be meaningful, purposeful, productive, and even (dare I say it?)…happy. I believe that Owen would expect nothing less. He knew our family well. We trust that his early demise was his way of saying, “Go on, do stuff, don’t get caught in the shit that limits us all.” Of course, those are my imagined words for him. This is how my family navigates the world now.
I will definitely fail in posting a song tonight, because Owen is not here to edit. I’ve listened to dozens of clips this evening. It seems important that I share something positive. This is my best effort for the bunch of us in Owen’s circle:
“In my life, I love you more…” The Beatles