I slid the ham into the oven and looked at the post-it note. I need this list to tell me the next step in preparing Easter dinner since I’m definitely not in the moment. I was remembering the mad rushes as we hurried our handsome little boys with their slicked back hair so we wouldn’t be late. They were intent upon tugging at those dreaded ties as they headed out the door and busy teasing their little sister, Gina, about her rings on each finger and the ribbons in her hair. All those Easter Sundays of painted eggs and Easter baskets and church followed by dinner at Nona’s house. Those now sacred days of long ago.
While the fresh pastels are being serenaded by others, I am blinded to them. Two years ago. Exactly 730 days ago today was the last time I hugged my son. The last time I touched my lips to his cheek, to his flesh, as I kissed him good-bye. I hugged him as he left for his early morning flight to Kansas. We were all looking forward to his next visit two months later when he would come home again. I watched as Ben and his dad crossed the yard and Ben slid into the passenger seat. He didn’t know, and neither did I, as the sun was beginning to rise in the sky on a clean fresh morning such as this, that when he got in the car and lifted his feet that last time that they would never again touch the ground that he called home. He would never come home to the only home he had known since the day of his birth. Today, while new life is rising from the same flower beds that Ben passed on his way to the car on that morning two long years ago, and the world is enjoying the promise of re-birth and new life and little ones are searching for their hidden Easter eggs, I am looking for salvation. For solace.
I miss you, Ben. I search but I can never find enough words, or words with enough depth, to describe how much I miss you, even to myself. As I set the table and think of your chair that will always be empty, I remember my dad telling me that death happens. Must have been after Grandma died. “People have to get off the bus to make room for others to get on,” he would say. Makes sense, though not in my world, in this order. I never thought you, my son, would have to give up your seat before me. Who took your seat as you got off the bus, Ben?
As Gina comes in the door with her boyfriend, I brighten up, hoping she doesn’t look in my eyes and see that I’ve been crying. “Happy Easter,” I murmur as I hug her tight. She brings light and sunshine into my world as she helps me finish the dinner preparations. After a while she shares with me. “Do you know what Time-hop is, Mom? It’s an app I downloaded. When I was at work yesterday a picture of the last time I saw Ben came up. A picture of him and Nick and me. I had to go outside, leave work, a couple of times, Mom. Two years ago, Mom!” My God, is there no end to this pain? I suffer as I watch my poor sweet daughter suffer. I hate to feel such pain in her heart. She misses her brother. We all miss you, Ben!
My mind flits between Time-hop and bus stops. Going back in time to sweet memories that now bring such deep, gut-twisting pain. Thinking of Ben and my dad and Grandma exiting the bus. On a beautiful day when I should be consumed with the treasured people in my life and new life and re-birth and my own salvation, I’m watching a bus on its repetitive route, going round and round and round, and people getting on and off. When will it stop for me? I want to give my seat to one with a wild zest for life….such a soul would be a wonderful replacement for me, me whose light is now filtered by death. New life, fresh hope. That’s what I wish for. A happy soul to replace this heart-broken mom who knows that she will be sad, from one degree to a thousandth, every day until the day it stops for her and she exits the bus. My seat to a happy soul!
It’s Easter Sunday and the wheels on the bus go round and round as I wait to see my precious son again.
It’s been two heart-wrenching long years since I’ve hugged and kissed you. I miss you with all my heart, Ben!