My son arrived home with his hair cut short--he's wanted to wear it long for years and I choose my battles so let it be. Today he decided to surprise me with it cut off and I nearly cried. Not because I thought it looked horrible, but because there stood my late husband in seventeen year-old boy form.
I knew it would happen one day. I knew I'd turn around and the little boy would have somehow turned into a man. And I also knew he'd look a lot like his dad.
My heart breaks for my son and for my late husband who never got to see him grow.
A note to Sean, my late husband...
You'd be so proud of our son. He tries hard to be the man of the house in your absence and is patient being the only boy surrounded by strong-willed women. He wants desperately to be like you, or I should say, to be like the idea he has of who you were.
He never got the chance to really know you, did he? He only has pictures of a man that died when he was only seven. I tell him stories, but it's not the same.
He is busy with his job at a nearby ranch and school--an incredibly strong work ethic, just like you had. But you can't take credit for that, only I can. He's watched me working into the wee hours of the night and again first thing in the morning. He's seen me edit during his lacrosse practices with manuscripts spread across the steering wheel. He's heard me grumbling about fixing leaking faucets and watched me fixing drywall. There's he's been with his helping hands and ready grin.
He's learned to do manly things when only a boy.
He's doing his best to fill the shoes that you left vacant. He and one of his buddies are cutting down trees and chopping wood. It's that time of year in the Rockies when we prepare for the winter ahead. When I see him smashing a branch with the axe, I can't help but feel mixed emotions because you should have been the one to teach him to run a chainsaw...not me. You should be the one caring about our family's wood supply, not him. You should have been his partner, not his buddy.
But you've been gone a long time. We've adjusted and made it work. Yet, during certain moments, the ache for you is so strong I can barely stand it.
I stopped thinking about should-haves and if-onlys long ago, though. There is only what is. And you're missing out, Sean. You've missed it all. The lacrosse games, the awards banquets, the vacations, the laughter, the grilling out, the stargazing, the teaching him to drive--all of it.
You've missed it all.
He's a skier, just like you were. I can only imagine the adventures the two of you would have had if only you'd held on just one more day.
Just. One. More. Day.
Didn't you see how much that little boy idolized you? Now here he is, nearly grown, and he still wants to be like you. Do you see that from where you are? Do you walk along side him and whisper words of encouragement when he feels lonely for a father?
He's like you in so many ways--kind, creative, sensitive, tough, smart, adventurous, and handsome. I look at him and can't help but imagining you two standing side-by-side. My gorgeous men, I would have said, How lucky am I?
I've fought hard to give him the stability you never had as a child, despite the loss of you in our lives. But it's been damn hard and I'm conscious of both the kids being older to witness the struggle.
Do you remember the promises we made to these two children when they were born? We broke those, didn't we? We failed to shelter them from life's darkness and pain.
Do you see us? Do you see the beautiful children we brought into this earth? Do you see how amazing they are?
Today I turned around and there you stood in the form of Ben. I didn't tell him that he looked like you because I couldn't get the words out. He's had big shoes to fill, that little man of ours. Shoes he never should have needed to fill.
We all miss you. The void you left is still very much present in our lives.
The two of you--Ben and Sean standing side-by-side--would have been a beautiful sight to see.
|Sean with the seven year-old Ben in Cozumel, Mexico May 22, 2005--exactly one week before Sean committed suicide. I can't help but look at this picture, see the shoes, remember the love we shared, and wish...|