Grief Journal: He Was the Future

Our town held two events yesterday: a Black Lives Matter gathering and a 2020 high school graduate parade.

I haven’t written much lately because it seems—selfish, somehow, to talk about my personal tragedy when there is so much going on in the world right now.  It seems the height of privilege to talk about my grief when so many others are and have been grieving, either from the pandemic or more importantly, the systemic racism at the heart of our society that has cost so many mothers their children’s lives. Yet, as I often remind others, pain is not a contest. You feel what you feel.

Charlie would have been very fired up by the Black Lives Matter movement. He hated injustice of any kind. We often talked about how as a white male, it was his responsibility to stick up for his friends that didn’t look like him, to use his privilege for good. He was a thoughtful child, and took these conversations seriously. He would have loved the event yesterday, and probably would have made a really great sign to share. I miss having the opportunity to continue our conversations. I can only imagine he would have grown to be a force for change and good.

And that brings me to the second event. I really feel for the high school and college seniors of 2020, denied all of the fun and excitement that comes with graduating. Our little town, being the fabulous and caring place it is, arranged for a parade of the high school seniors through town so they could get the recognition they deserve. 

This year, there are so many seniors we know and care about personally, from neighbor kids we’ve watched grow up to friends’ children and my son’s cross country teammates. We cheered madly for for them, and for all of the bright and shining young people ready to move on to the next phase of their lives.

It was truly fun and I am proud to know so many great young adults, and I can’t wait to see what they accomplish in their lives. But.

Charlie will never graduate middle school, or high school. I should have not just a rising sophomore and third grader, but a seventh grader, too. I can’t help but mourn the loss of all of the potential he had—everything he could and should have been. 

It’s been almost two years, and I still miss him more than I can ever say and almost more than I can bear. The world is transforming around me, yet for me it will never be whole. Part of the future is missing, and always will be.

 

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