In my dreams you are 5 years old, you hair is the color of summer wheat and your eyes sparkle green in the light. You are laughing and running from me looking over your shoulder waiting for me to catch you. I chase you but not too quickly, I love seeing your smile and how pleased you are with yourself that you are outrunning me. But eventually I catch up to you. I pull you up into my arms and swing you around laughing. You lean back and stretch your arms out towards the sky in pure joy as we twirl, then you look back at me, reaching and I bring you in close. I breathe in your scent. And for a moment time stands still and I think how lucky I am and how perfect the day.
But then slowly something starts pulling at the edge of my consciousness. There is an unsettling, a whisper that I can’t quite hear. I feel myself grow tense. My heart starts to race. I am confused and become anxious. I hold you tighter trying to protect you. While my mind searches, trying to make sense.
Then the images start to filter in. Each like an individual photograph that has been captured in time.
And I am no longer holding you, you are no longer 5 years old. You are standing in front of me, older but your age becomes undefinable.
I start to back away, angry. The images of your life become sharper, as I begin to remember the details.
“What is this?” I say.
You say “Mom, it’s me.”
“NO“, I say. “Where is your scar?” “You have a scar that travels the length of your arm.”
My mind starts to fight for consciousness, I do not want to be here.
“You had cancer” I say to him
And he just watches me now. His eyes patient. His mouth is a quiet smile.
His eyes just search mine.. waiting.
My mind screams out. Suddenly, I am awake. Tears streaming down my face. I’m crying so hard that I can’t breathe. I’m shaking uncontrollably. I stare up at the ceiling and silently beg God, the universe, to just make it stop. I want to let out scream but there is no sound that could match the pain.
You died. YOU LEFT ME.
It’s been a year since I watched you take your last breath. Everyone says the pain will get easier. I think “everyone” hasn’t lost a child.
I want to tell you that I’m sorry. That I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you and keep you safe. That I’m sorry I lied when I said “you would be ok”. And in the end, I’m sorry that I lied when I said “I would be ok”.
I asked your brothers how they thought we should honor you today. They said we should spend the day having fun and being silly because that’s what you would want. So that’s what we’ll do, because we can’t be with you.
And tonight we will light a candle and blow it out at 10:15PM as we remember how much we have lost in losing you.
I love you, Owen.