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Saturday, May 23, 2020

What Would You Give to Hug Your Child One More Time?

Sept. 4, 2016 -- Hugging my son as my daughters cry. We
were all so emotional that day. I cried through the ceremony.
(Click post to read the whole thing.)

Some days I miss my son with my whole body. I can recall his hug, the full-muscled adult feel of his arms squeezing around me. No one will ever hug me like that again. I only had the one son.

Once upon a time, I would have said and felt some things like, “I would trade anything for one more hug.” My visceral hunger to hold him was so strong, it overwhelmed me. I don’t know if that’s a mother-son thing or a parent-child thing or a dead-child thing or what… I don’t think I thought about missing his body when we were apart for months. I was glad to see him, of course, and loved to feel his hug around me – that’s why I can feel it so clearly now. But I didn't long for him with an animal need; that longing came only with my grief.

Anyway, nowadays, I wonder what that kind of qustion, heard frequently, even means. What would I trade for one more hug? God, as I write that, my heart definitely says anything, absolutely anything, but my head has questions. Will I be bringing him back from the dead to live out his full life, whatever that is? Will I just get a one-minute hug and then that’s it, and I’d return to this life where all I’d traded would be gone? So perhaps this means where once I would have traded anything, now I would trade nothing of value, since one more hug with him would only feel good, but would do nothing to help me continue to build this life that I have to live. 

September 4, 2016
Me with my daughters, my son, my mother-- only missing is 
Renee. I so regret that we never got a shot with me with my 
kids and my new wife that day, our last chance.
I am blessed to have so many people to love now—some of whom made themselves even truer and more deeply loved friends after my son’s death--and I wouldn’t trade any of them, nor anyone in my family. I love them all—and I cherish them… and over the 3.5 years since my son died, I’ve had to let him go. I've had to incorporate into my self schema his absence. I've had to learn to live with that phantom limb.

This is my Memorial Day post. Not to take away from the soldiers and heroes for whom the holiday is a tribute; my son was not a hero except sometimes to a few of us who loved him, and he didn’t serve in the military. I just realized as I was writing this post, that it was Memorial Day weekend, and I was memorializing my great, grasping grief...the grief that would have done anything, traded anything to bring Kyle back. 

I see now (and have had many, many dreams in which you tell me this, Kyle) that I couldn’t have saved you. That if I could have saved you that day, you’d have died another day soon after. You were done with this life, and if I'd lengthened your life, I would only have prolonged all our suffering. It hurts terribly to think that, but it hurts more to think I could have saved you and watched you go on to live the healthy fulfilling life we all dreamed for you.

Wishing all the grieving mothers whose children were lost in battle all my deepest love this weekend.  

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