dripping black paint

You may not want to read this one.  Really.

I hate this.


I cannot stand this place we are in. I cannot stand being THAT mom, THAT family. It’s such a JOY, God, such a treat being a representative of every parent’s worst nightmare. We are a walking guarantee that there are no guarantees.

I hate that my husband has no son to text with about baseball, my daughter no brother to get ornery or silly with – no goofy yin to her intense yang. No brother to grow old with – someone she could talk to about us, someone who could roll his eyes along with hers but still love us, their clueless, dorky parents.

WHY…WHY do we “get” to look at his videos, his baby pictures, not with sweet nostalgia while we elbow him in the ribs and joke about his baby acne, about how he learned to crawl “only” because we threw the car keys just out of reach. Instead, we watch and we look – it’s almost too painful, but we are so terribly, terribly hungry – with tears streaming and that horrifying awareness of the grotesqueness of our present reality.

In my soul I hear a stricken little voice, the barely-formed words trembling from the mouth of that small child who is my inmost self. This child stands holding her battered doll, still so confused, so puzzled…with the dust and debris from the massive, life-altering explosion ground into her tender skin and clothes, powdering her disheveled hair. She is asking the questions to which there are few or no answers, and none that will ever again bring us the joy of his physical presence: “where….where did that little one go? He was right here, for so long, and now… he’s not. Where…where is he? Is he lost? Can we find him?”

Right now, God, right now I don’t give a damn about “signs” or “wonders” or coins or ANY OF THAT CRAP. NOTHING replaces Mark, Mark-here-with-us, Mark making us smile, Mark making us grit our teeth because he has so little sense of priorities or urgency and yet his life was so charmed for so long…until one day. His 20th birthday is in just 12 days and we’re going to have a party he would have loved (even if he didn’t want us to have it in the first place). And I’ll spend a lot of time trying SO HARD to “see” him there, and I’ll exhaust myself doing so, and that just SUCKS.

Oh God, Oh God, Oh God. Where are you? I am clinging, I am trying so hard to hang on to you in the midst of this storm. But I don’t feel you, I don’t feel you hanging on to me.

I feel absolutely volcanic in my fury. I need to go throw something. I need to throw a lot of things. I want to tear our kitchen cupboards off the walls and smash every plate, every glass, every cup. Knock the refrigerator over. I’ll take a knife to the furniture, rip the stuffing out of the couches, tip over the china cabinet, take an ax to the dining room set. Pull doors off their hinges, throw bricks into mirrors and windows. And I’ll scream and scream, and I’ll shout every single bad word that’s ever been written, and I’ll punch the walls until my hands are bloody and shattered.

And I’ll sit and sob, and let the rivulets of snot run down over my lips and off my chin, and I’ll hold his urn in my broken arms, full of the ashes that are all that remains of the body of my son, flesh of my flesh, my only baby boy.

Oh God.

Oh God.




I’ll take a shower.

I’ll apply another layer of concealer.

And I’ll go to the high school year-end choral concert and watch a beautiful, shining, gifted young woman get a scholarship in Mark’s name, and I’ll make a short speech about how all of us – not just Mark – make an impact on this world just by being our fullest selves…. which I believe is true, is totally true; but it does not change this reality.

And the next night I’ll go to the IB Film Festival to see Bailey’s cathartic release, his video, his creative expression of grief for his brother-from-another-mother…and I’ve seen it, so I know how he added those home videos of Mark at the end. Mark as a baby who smiles at me, his mommy behind the camera, when I say “Mama,” Mark at 6, flying down the backyard slide to land with a splash in the inflated pool we planted at the bottom, and pounding on the pool wall in his excitement and joy. So much exuberance! So much sunshine in that smile! And I’ll think about shutting my eyes when it gets to that part.

But I won’t.

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