Even After My Son's Death, I Am Always a Mom


In approximately two months, the 19th anniversary of my son’s demise will arrive. Nineteen years, yet in many ways it feels like yesterday. There are still moments when the pain grips my heart so fiercely, I think it shall cease to beat another beat. My chest tightens as I once again struggle to hold back the tears from falling, an
impossible task for sure. I have to remind myself to physically exhale.

A few years ago, when I had to undergo some outpatient surgery, I awoke with amazement, afraid to move. When they brought my daughter back to the recovery room, she saw tears running down my face and immediately asked me, “What’s wrong?” with great concern. As I looked into her eyes, in almost a whisper not believing what words I was about to utter, I softly replied, “There’s no pain.” Because of the medications they had given me for the surgery, all the pain vanished. Hours later, it had returned, and I later learned it was a medication that could not be prescribed on an ongoing basis.

Until that moment, I had not realized how accustomed I had become to the physical pain I carry with me daily. So it is with the heartache I carry for my son.

I have never ceased to be his mom. I still will see things and instantly think, “Roddy would love that.” For the first half dozen years or so, I would decorate his grave site on special occasions or simply take flowers on any given day when I went there to visit him. As time passed, however, the reality gradually sunk in that he was not actually there, and that only his decaying physical remains were buried at that site. Still, visiting helped me feel closer to him. Knowing I was at a place where other grievers also came to visit their loved ones brought me comfort, as well, knowing I wasn’t alone in my sorrow.

I still will buy a Christmas ornament from time to time that I know he would like. I still set aside something special to do for his birthdays. The past few years, I have begun to put up his miniature tree in my living room that I once placed on his grave. When I wrote my book, I did so as my gift to my son to honor him by finally getting his poems published after waiting to do so for 18 years. I cannot cease from
“doing” for my son. I am still his mom and that innate desire to “do” for my child did not suddenly disappear simply because he had moved on in his journey.

Throughout the years, there have been some who believed I was “stuck” in my grief and that it was somehow their mission in life to “unstuck” me. Still, there were others who believed if I only would take some pills, some prescribed medications, all would be better and I would be “cured” of this grief. All were well-meaning souls, I suppose, but none of them truly could grasp the depth of my pain. With time, I have learned to carry it well. I smile and laugh at jokes; I’ve done some traveling when I was still physically able to do so and have even had a
few suitors. But what can never be “cured,” medicated nor “moved on” from is the truth that I am still my son’s mom… nor would I ever want that to be changed. There is nothing in this world that can ever be given to me nor offered that will alter that reality. Nothing will ever be of greater value to me in this world than having been honored and blessed to be the mother of my son. No one can ever take that away from me.

Every day I think of him. Most days a tear will still roll down my cheek. I still experience times that immobilize me, and there are moments when a memory will make me laugh. From time to time he will unexpectedly pop into a dream momentarily with his huge grin and glowing face, for which I always thank my Lord and embrace the peace that then envelops me. Yes, I am still my son’s mom.. and shall always be.

Jude’s book, “Gifts from the Ashes,” is available at Direct Textbook.

Follow this journey on Jude’s website.

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