The time passed since my son’s death, has been one year, 3 months, and 16 days. There is still a deep ache in my chest, a chronic longing that I know can never be filled. I hurt in a way that only another parent who has lost a child can understand. I am not being unfair to those who have incurred other losses, because their pain is also great, but when it is the child who you carried in your body for nine months, or the child you lovingly chose when you made the monumental decision to adopt, the loss evokes a physical pain, a howling pain, with an infinite echo.
My own mother has spinal stenosis and sciatica. After several doctors’ appointments, and experimental treatments, she has now been told that her pain is something she will have to learn to live with. I understand. My pain is something I will have to live with, until the day I die, and for once, my words are not hyperbolic, dramatic, or histrionic; they are true and accurate, with maximum impact.
As I face Mother’s Day, again, it’s not a matter of maybe, it’s a matter of certainty that I will hide from the pomp and circumstance, the celebrations of mothers, the lunches at crowded restaurants, and there will be no cards for me this year, just as there were no cards last year, just as there will never be any cards for future Mother’s Days. I will rebuff the roses, and if I never hear the words from anyone else again, “Happy Mother’s Day,” I will be just fine.
Last year a well-meaning checker at a grocery store my son and I frequented, who knew about Rikki’s death, came running up to me and said, “I just wanted to say, ‘Happy Mother’s Day’.” She meant well. I stoically bagged my groceries, and then made a mad dash to the car, where I loaded my groceries into the trunk, and then sat in the driver’s seat and sobbed for 30 minutes. He’d been gone a total of 5 months; it was too soon, not that the same thing wouldn’t happen today, or next week, as the United States prepares itself commercially, and unmercifully to grieving mothers, its onslaught of chocolates, cards, dinners at Olive Garden. There will undoubtedly be memories of necklaces made of macadamia nuts, which as a loving mother, you will wear proudly.
There is an artery that runs through my heart. It is the largest artery in my body. You see, it runs from my heart to heaven, as I understand heaven to be. This artery stretches from my body, across the space-time continuum, and attaches to wherever my son is now. Even as I doubt everything I’ve ever believed in, this connection is so strong that it will never be broken.
My broken heart joins all mothers on this very difficult day. If you have other children, may the words come softly, as your grief reminds you that the voice you long for is too distant to hear, for now. May you be surrounded with people who will love you through it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sherrie Cassel is a student at a university in San Diego, California where she majors in psychology. Ms. Cassel will be attending seminary in the Spring of 2019. She lives in San Diego with her husband, Ben. She has published a book, LOVE SONGS TO A JUNKIE SON, a collection of poetry she has written about her son's struggle with addiction, and it is available at Amazon. She is also published at Addiction.com.