This Sunday, March 28th, marks two years since my son Gabriel died. Unlike others whose loved ones have passed from this earth, I use the straightforward terminology. “Early departure to heaven” is one description I read recently. I think this person must not have seen their loved one’s body after the spirit left it, because if they had, they’d know it was dead and not just dearly departed.
Anyway, it’s been two years and nothing really gets easier. I still feel as if I’m living in a fun-house surrounded by mirrors that distort reality. Or that reality is veiled. I see the sun; I feel it’s warmth; but I don’t fully inhabit the planet that rotates around it. It’s a strange way to live, which is why working a lot helps. There’s little time or brain power for thinking about such things.
Last week, as I was going through my cloaked, surreal existence, I needed to find a book for an article I was writing. I tore open box after box in my backyard shed and collected a pile that did not include the one I was looking for, but that did include one that transported me back to life lived in real time and space.
It’s called Love You Forever and was written by Robert Munsch. The story begins with the birth of a child. His mother sings him a lullaby until long after he is grown, and then he turns it around and sings it to her when she gets old. It’s a promise to always be there for each other. This particular copy was a 2004 Christmas gift from Gabe to me. Inside the cover, he wrote these words:
Mom, this book always reminds me of you. I love it that you would take time to read to Mike & me all the time. I will never forget the way you sang the song. I was in 5th grade when the teacher read this to us. She sang it all wrong! Online you could buy the read-along tape with the way the song should sound. I’ll bet it’s all nice & perfect, but I don’t ever want to hear that. Your version is perfect for me. I am not sure which section I’m on, but I think Mike is at the one about being a crazy teen. Don’t worry though, eventually we will get to the age when we sneak to your house & take care of you. …
I’ve been carrying this book around the house like it’s my blankie. Jeff asked me if it’s my new bedtime reading. “No,” I said, “I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about it.” The truth is, I do want to hug it to myself and never let it go, or at least stick it under my mattress so it’s always close, because it reminds me of a time when life made a little bit of sense. When my baby was mentally and emotionally healthy. When he took the idea of a long life for granted.
Gabe’s brother chose a copy of this book from amongst all of Gabe’s possessions to be buried with him because the memory of it meant something to both of them. It means something to me too. It transports me out of the distorted fun-house and into reality.
Gabe, I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be. … And then we’ll meet again. xoxo