Grieving One Who Hasn’t Died
Heart Speaks to Heart Directly
He was the charismatic goofball who, in eighth grade, introduced himself to others by saying “Hi, I’m [name], Class Clown.” Our youngest son.
When he graduated college, he not only had an amazing job lined up, but he would marry his fiance seven months later, presided over by the Bishop, in the Cathedral. It was storybook.
His ninth-grade English teacher was analyzing Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, saying that the source of all humor is incongruity. My son blurted out “That’s just like Animal House! You know—the part where John Belushi …”
For his graduation party in his slum of an apartment, he and his three roommates engineered a residual-alcohol suicide-punch party in which they and their guests painted themselves Smurf-blue and held olive-oil wrestling competitions. The class valedictorian broke his wrist during the shenanigans, which my son thought was a fair trade for the night’s celebration.
But he is so much more than that. As spontaneous and hilarious as he can be, I’ve never met anyone with a super ego like his—motivated, directed by the highest ideals, settling for nothing but wholeness and truth, even when that means sacrifice.
That passion for locking onto the truth with a death-grip came to the fore when, more than 1.5 years ago, he and his wife cut his mom and I out of their lives (and those of our two small granddaughters) because I’d come out as trans and Pam continued to support me. It was like a sudden break-up—a bad dream from which I’d wake up once he came to his senses. I imagine he might’ve felt the same way.
But he’s persisted, despite our entreaties, to reject contact with us.
Sometimes it feels worse than his having died. I grieve my son. Who lives.
And I’ve gone through (and still go through) all the various stages of grieving his loss. I’ve been so angry at him. Then, nostalgia kicks in, and I remember the cross-country baseball-stadium road trip he and I took when he was eight. Or his coming with me on a mission trip to Uganda, where he charmed that entire nation. Pam and I still quip his signature catchphrases—like when I’d rage about some inconsequential bullshit, he’d say, “You mad, bro?”
It’s sad that he has never seen me happy like I am now, not exploding over the inconsequential bullshit because of the simmering angst and anger that were my life before I came out. He refused to let me visit him in-person, saying that whatever news I had to give him had to be over the phone. Two weeks later, his exiling email came in just as swiftly and unannounced as if he’d died in a tragic accident.
I know I will see my son again. I trust this. Even as everything is uncertain. I will see him again.
And then … I feel the awareness of what love really does. I feel the way love functions as a bridge. That in loving we can’t ever be separate from those we love. Cor ad cor loquitur, which is Latin for “heart speaks to heart directly.” I am only ever as far away from him as I allow myself to believe I am. I am only as far from him as I am from my own heart. I miss him. And instead of thinking this, I tell this to him directly. I remember that I am with him always, from within. I tell him how much I miss him and just how much I love him.
So I tell you this now, my beloved, beloved son. I love you. I will always love you. No difference of heart or mind will keep us from seeing each other again. I am with you wherever you go. I grieve what you grieve. And though I can’t know right now the pain you feel, I offer you mine, as a way to bear the load.
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