capture your grief, day 8: beautiful mysteries

In my counseling program we are taught to be OK with ambiguity, that it will be a part of our jobs. We won’t always know the whole backstory. We won’t always know the whys. We won’t always know how it turned out. In class often the answer to a question is, “It depends.” Often there are no black and white answers, even in our ethics class, where I thought for sure there would be black and white answers.

What would Kade be like today? He would be 23, to turn 24 in January (I froze a bit, thinking of what will transpire in the next 3 months: four major holidays and his birthday. Again, even though I don’t want them to be, those times of the year are so impacting. I want to throw up when I see decorations in a store. It’s crazy, but it’s true; for now, anyway.)

At 23-going-on-24, Kade’s prefrontal cortex will not have even completed its growth yet. That is the center for executive function: judgment, inhibitory control, and planning, among others. It will have matured at around age 26. But today, he will have been closer, closer to the days where impulsivity, thrill-seeking, and questionable judgment do not physiologically reign.

He was getting there. Moving away from the city to the mountains to be a whitewater rafting guide, he was getting there. Getting a second job at the behest of his parents, a night job that made him so tired, he was getting there. I learned he talked about going to CSU in the fall with one of his rafting guide friends who went there, to pursue zoology. He was getting there. If only he got there.

Today, in an alternate universe on Saturday, October 8th, 2016, Kade would be a little broader, a little heavier, and in this world of beard popularity, a little hairier. He would whitewater-raft guide in Buena Vista by summer, and perhaps student at community college, Colorado Mountain College, or Colorado State University by fall, winter, and spring.

I wish he would, but I don’t think he would come back home to live in the non-rafting months. He would live with roommates. I would visit him and bring him a coffee, and care packages. He would visit us, and be amused with Asher’s growing so fast. He would try to teach Asher bad words and I would try to keep him from doing it. Asher would adore his great big brother. Instead of Asher bringing Kade’s skateboard up to his room to keep, Kade would teach him to balance on it outside. Instead of Asher asking to strum unguided on guitars on their stands, Kade would teach him a few proper riffs on his bed. Our family pictures would have Kade’s whole, grown, handsome, real self in them instead of a blown-up picture of part of him that we hold.

Family portraits…how adorable would they be with Little Asher and Big Kade? Is it too much to ask that both of my children be in a fucking family portrait? Can you see why anger is a part of grief? Is that too much for a mother to ask? Who thought this was alright, anyway? Who’s in charge here and thought that anything close to this would be alright?

OK, you were just witness to what a griefburst looks like, digitally.

Bitter tears wiped. Worked on a different project for a while. Back to Beautiful Mysteries.

Our relationship wasn’t perfect but it was improving. Kade was growing, as was I. We had lots of family counseling, lots of techniques learned, and I am sure we would continue to learn and grow separately, as well as together. Maybe we would have coffee dates. Maybe he would share more than he did before. Maybe, at 23-going-on-24, things would be distant, shaky, rough, and precarious. Maybe after 26 would our adult relationship start to flourish. Oh God, if we had gotten to 26.

Looking at his friends and their capacity to be loving, deeply pondering, and supporting human beings, I have high hopes for Alternate Universe October 8th, 2016. At 12:54 p.m., instead of writing on a grief blog, I would be heading to the grocery store to get some things to barbeque, and extras to throw in a box for him to take with. Because my son is coming over for dinner.




blogging a – z challenge – “v”



I’ll tell you some ways I brought Kade on our family vacation.

We went to Mexico over spring break. It was an incredible family vacation. It was the first one that was just us, that didn’t involve visiting other family.

We’d been really sick with flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia in February. A couple of our friends had recent cancer diagnoses. I was about to embark on a three year grad school program with only one week-long break a year. We made a snap decision to go on a beach vacation in Mexico while we could.

I brought my journal and made sure I stole away to write on the beach, all by myself. It’s so important to make the time to “let it all out.” There is a lot of build-up with big events. Even though a vacation is a good thing, even good things are partly sad things without Kade. He should have been part of our family trip. He never went to another country. He would have dug exploring Mayan ruins. Coral on the beach. Fish in the ocean. He has a friend who lives in Mexico; maybe he would have found a way to visit Fernando.

We scheduled a beach family portrait session. I brought a canvas picture of Kade to include in some of the pictures.


(Although I ran out and need to have more made, and didn’t bring any to Mexico, we leave “Kade stars” in places that we’re particularly thinking of him. They’re wooden stars with “Kade was remembered here” burned onto them.)

We talked about him. I asked Brian if he thought Kade would have liked this, or that. If he would have even come with us, or at 23 years old, might have passed. Brian thought he definitely would have come, which made me happy.

And of course we took the time to write his name in the sand and take pictures–somewhat of a tradition whenever we visit a beach. On mountain hikes, I make his name with sticks and rocks.

It stings when the waves erase his name in the sand.