I don’t know where to start. Huh. Start from where you are, Linda.
I’m sitting on my kitchen deck in Redding, California. The wind is soft and warm. Lovely, really. If I wasn’t delving into the past, this would simply be a beautiful night looking at the stars in the early days of Autumn.
Yet, I just spent over an hour reviewing this site – it has been a long time. The air is thick with thoughts of Owen – the past, the present, and the future. And, I am reminded that everything that went before, is still present. My mind cannot relinquish memories just because I sit on a new deck with a new view. Owen is still here with me – always in my heart and in my mind – just as I promised him.
I didn’t know we would live here when I last wrote on this site over a year ago. At that time, we were still living in Sonoma County, where Owen died and where our family survived.
It was a fluke that we ended up here – Dave, Michael (Nat’s and Owen’s father), and me. For many parents of child loss, moving to a new location is a way to “pull a geographic” – a way to *hope* to avoid the pain of the familiar surroundings that constantly remind us of the reflections of our dead kids.
Moving to a new town does not wipe out our memories, but that seems to be a commonly perceived remedy that simply does not pan out. When we bought this property, I don’t think we contemplated an easier way of dealing with the aftermath of Owen’s life. From all of our discussions pre-move, this was a good financial decision, the possibility of a new business venture, and one that could serve us into retirement. Now…I’m wondering if it was an unspoken way to diminish the constant tape loop of Owen’s life and death that plagues our family. We don’t speak of it often. That’s not a surprise to me.
So much has happened. And, not so much. While a change in geography did not eliminate our memories, I think we ineffectively hoped we could start anew. The former familiar streets, the locations of schools our kids attended, the jobs our kids held, the houses from which we picked up our kids after overnight parties, were not wiped out when we moved to a new location. All those memories live in our minds. The sounds. The voices. The music. Always, the music.
Untold story: Owen had problems with anxiety. He did not tell us. We saw it in his behavior for years, but when we engaged him in the discussion, he downplayed it, said it wasn’t something he wanted to address – he was “okay”.
After Owen died, I read his journals, the ones he wouldn’t let me read when he was alive. In those journals, I read things that relegated me to…I don’t even know how to describe it – “hell” might be a good descriptor. If I take his journal words at face-value, he experienced a level of psychological torture that I couldn’t quite accept at the time of his death nor in the years prior, nor did I know the depth – and he said he didn’t want to commit to “a label”. Now, and during these past 9 years – I see something quite different.
Owen’s sensitivity to this life was something that does not easily function in our society – then or now. After these many years, I believe he was what is now called a “highly sensitive individual”. This make sense now. How did I not see it? It wasn’t a “thing” then. As a mother, I blame myself for not seeing it for what it was. I knew, but I did not know. Would that it were.
Owen did not intend for any of us to be fooled by his behavior. He just wanted to live his life the way he chose. He did it well.
And, I hope I won’t get fooled again.
Song for the night: https://youtu.be/SHhrZgojY1Q