Dear Andrea: Another in a series of meditations on the death of our sons.

Dear Andrea
We have had a bitterly cold, –indeed, record-breakingly cold– winter here in South Western Ontario. Few birds to be heard, lots of darkness, huge amounts of snow. I do not like winter- yet, as the small signs of spring are finally appearing, I find I resent them, terribly, and fight against them almost all the time. A part of me never wants spring to come. This difficult, challenging, miserable weather is perfectly appropriate.
When I hear the spring birds-still very occasionally as yet, I resent them. I am bitter and I want them to shut up! There is an almost visceral dread in the pit of my stomach when I hear these harbingers of a gentler season. Much as I do not love the bitter winter we have been enduring, I find myself dreading its end. The greening of the trees is the same.
When I realized that you were passing the second year milestone of Adam’s death, I had an epiphany. This is about Shawn! You would think by now, 23 years on, I would be on top of this anniversary ahead of time, but it takes me by surprise every time. A little differently every year, and no less an ambush.
Shawn died April 21. It was an unseasonably early and beautiful spring, and the week of his funeral, the lilacs were in crazy bloom in Kitchener-Waterloo, and I walked to the funeral in just a cotton dress, stepping on those little green broccoli-like flowers the maple trees drop as the leaves come out.

I do not want to be there again, every year, with the weather so redolent of both oblivious beauty and stark death; the birds so seemingly joyful. I want to skip the whole thing.

It does pass, and is worse in the anticipation then in reality. But still.

It is good to mark it in some way-such as the collage of your beautiful boy that you posted. I have done something every year-it helps to plan a different unique thing,usually small, always different. This is just for me. Also, every year, the family that is here, (and my Matt now lives an hour away, in KW,) plus certain close friends, go to his grave-we interred his ashes- bring everyone a Tim Horton’s coffee and donut (including for Shawn as well) and tell Shawn stories. My baby who is nearly 34 is now fully an adult and a huge balm to my heart. He was 9 when his brother died.

I do not think it means I am stuck or inappropriately not moving forward. This annual upsurge of grief honours my boy. My life is not sad-I have made a certain kind of peace with his absence. This yearly pause is good. It is right and proper so to do.

Much love to you, Andrea, as you negotiate this milestone, and to all mothers who have lost their children.

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