My Son Is Never Forgotten

One of my teaching colleagues, who was also one of Tom’s high school teachers, stopped me in the hall yesterday. She said over the weekend she decided to wear the scarf she wore to Tom’s memorial service, and it reminded her of the beauty of the service and how much she appreciated learning there about the three kittens Tom bottle fed the summer before he passed.

She also said she wished there was a invisible connection that anytime someone thinks of Tom, I would somehow get a notification — like a feeling of warmth in my heart — so I could know the reach of his impact and how he still lives on in hers and others’ memories. I cried in the hallway as she spoke, moved that even three years after his death, she still thinks of him fondly.

Tom’s graduating class lost four class members in four years. Almost two years ago, colorful rubber bracelets were made and sold to help raise money for a memorial to honor their memory. I was given one and wore it for a long time. Eventually, because I did not want people to judge me for wearing it for so long after Tom’s death, I took it off and placed it on a shelf in Tom’s room along with other special items which remind me of him.

This afternoon I was in a local shop, as the young checker rang up my items, I noticed she was wearing one of the bracelets. I pointed to the yellow part of the band with Tom’s name and the words tumbled out of my mouth, “This is my son.”

“I know,” she replied. I did not know or recognize her, but she knew me, and she knew Tom. I told her how much it meant to me she still wears the bracelet. It was truly a lovely and heartfelt moment.

I still feel our loss every day, even though the tears do not always flow. One of my greatest fears is that Tom will be forgotten. His teacher and this checker both reminded me he is not.

I could not help my eyes tearing up again today as I thanked the checker for remembering our losses. She leaned over the counter and hugged me, saying, “I will never forget.” In that emotion-laden moment, I was not able to communicate the incredible hope I found in her words.

Image Credits: Kimberly A. Starr

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