Grief Journal: The Last Picture

This is the last picture I took of my son alive, one year ago. He’s enjoying ice cream, which is something he really loved, as most kids do. And given the challenge we had keeping weight on him, we let him indulge.


Here are other things he loved, in no particular order:

  • Creating his own LEGOs ideas
  • Drawing in black and white (not color), preferably pencil but black Sharpie was okay, too
  • Reading Minecraft guides
  • Reading the WARRIORS series
  • PACIFIC RIM (his favorite movie), but watching movies in general (especially all GODZILLA movies, THE HUNGER GAMES series and any Marvel movie)
  • Making videos for his YouTube channel
  • Stop-motion animation
  • Music he could dance to
  • “Rock n roll” songs
  • Musicals (we rewatched GALLIVANT a couple of times)
  • Babybel cheese rounds
  • Chips and hummus
  • Hot dogs
  • Candy, his preferred food group (I found a mountain of illicit treat wrappers under his bed)
  • Playing video games—Minecraft, Undertale & Overwatch in particular
  • Sans from Undertale (his last Halloween costume)
  • Being off school
  • Cuddling (he never outgrew cuddling)
  • Riding his bike
  • Hanging with his friends
  • Fashion and picking out new clothes
  • Getting to stay up late
  • The singing role in Rock Band
  • Hiding out in forts
  • NERF guns & battles
  • The Ren Faire/Medieval Times/jousting (he wanted to do this professionally)
  • Root beer
  • The color green
  • Camp Invention
  • Making jokes

I could go on and on. Such a prosaic list—things hundreds of other kids like as well—yet put all together, you get the one and only Charlie. He was so much more than the sum of his interests, but his passions (he loved or hated things, no middle ground) and the things he cared about certainly helped make him who he was. So when I write this list, it sounds dull and dry, yet it sparks a cascade of memories of him, alive with curiosity. He did everything, even sleeping, intensely–and he wanted you to feel intensely, too. Not one picture I have of him captures his sheer joy in living.

I miss him more than I can say. And I still can’t quite believe, nearly a year later, that he is gone. I’m not sure I ever will be able to fully accept a world without his light in it. 

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