I miss you.
Not the way I missed you when your father and I went on our first date after you were born. Nana and Papa came up from Connecticut to stay for a few days. I had to pump breast milk just in case we stayed out too long. Your father took me out for a fancy dinner, and although I enjoyed being out in the real world relearning how to have an adult conversation, I wondered the whole evening how you were. I looked forward to getting home and holding you again. I knew it was good for us, all of us, to have this time apart, but I missed you.
And not the way I missed you when I dropped you off at preschool. And you cried, so predictably, as I left. I watched through the glass as your first teacher took you into her arms and comforted you. Then I sat in my car in the parking lot for another fifteen minutes so that I could have myself a good cry too. I knew it was good for us, but I missed you.
And not the way I missed you when your dad and I separated and we had joint custody, and suddenly 50% of your life was being spent somewhere else, out of my sight, out of my earshot, out of the motherly realm in which I had safely sheltered you. I had no idea how you were spending your time, and hated the not knowing. But it was my fault. It had been my choice to break up our family. We decided to divvy you up the way divorcing parents do. We believed it was the best way to handle being a parenting couple that no longer lived together. I thought it would be good for us. But I missed you.
And not the way I missed you when we shipped you away to Utah at the age of 15. It was too soon. I wasn’t ready to have you move out yet. I’d been preparing myself for your departure to college, but that was supposed to be a few more years away. The thing is, you needed help. Help that neither your dad nor I felt equipped to give you. We believed it would be good for you. But I missed you.
And not the way I missed you when you were in jail, which was torture by the way, because my imagination is not always my friend. I had no idea whether you were safe, or whether you were suicidal with no one to talk you down. The State of California had its own plans for you. The “authorities” thought it would be good for you. But I missed you.
And not the way I missed you when you were settled in your own place. Attempting to be a responsible adult, going to classes and work and paying rent. Close enough to get to you in an emergency. Far away enough that you could feel like you were in charge of your life and on your own. You were slowly making your life work. I knew it was necessary for you to launch as an adult. I knew it would be good for you. But, I missed you.
This time is different. This is permanent. All that physically remains of you is an urn of ash. You are not coming back. And oh, dear God, how I miss you. I remember requesting that we talk more often. You bristled, believing I wanted to invade your privacy (which you held so dear) when really all I needed was to know that you were breathing. Literally. You could have called and said, “Hey Ma, [inhale], [exhale],” and hung up. That would have been enough. I don’t think that’s too much for a mother to ask.
Except that now it is…too much to ask. People try to comfort me by saying, “He’s in a better place,” as if to imply that this is good for you. (Yeah, well…what do they know?) And here I am again. Missing you.