This is a photo of my son Cole, many years ago. Maybe he was nine? No idea right now. Really. We were on one of our quirky family road trips. At a lovely little lakeside restaurant in Lake Placid. And...there was Cole. His siblings were humiliated. The patrons were laughing. THIS WAS COLE. No apologies. Never. Ever. Here I am world. Play along with me. Lighten the hell up...will you?
Two weeks ago, a new chapter of my life began. Two weeks ago, my baby left this earthly existence. My youngest of three. No longer a baby at 17...but always "my baby" to me. He'd infuriate me constantly. Frustrate me. Push me to my motherly and human limits of patience. Engage me in battles of the brain. And then, he would make me laugh. With the same life force. He'd make me laugh. Always. That brain would be my greatest source of frustration and laughter. And he'd love flipping that coin.
How amazing that he ended up "brain dead." I thank the powers that be...for had he been mangled in body and left with a partially functioning brain, he would have wished he had died. And our entire family would be suffering with him for the next half of a century. And we are not. And he is not. And I am grateful. That may sound cruel to some. But if you knew Cole, you knew he would not settle for a half-assed life.
Always my most exasperating, relentless, intellectually exhausting child. The questions. The curiosity. The challenges. The litigation skills...apparent since he put together his first two sentences. His powers of persuasion. "Just skip high school and send him directly to law school," his teachers would suggest. And, yes, I could have indeed seen him in an Armani suit...in a leather-chaired courtroom. Talking circles around the adults. Making the female jury members swoon. His brain exhausted mine. But his brain also inspired me. He read so much, it embarrassed me. He was reading Christopher Hitchens and Plato, Shakespeare and Jack Kerouac...playwrights and scholars... while I was barely able to get through an article on the benefits of yam cream or hormone replacement therapy.
Not that I needed it yet. I am apparently vying for the Guiness Book of World Records title holder for "woman with the most periods during one lifetime." So I could probably. actually, give birth to another child...a new third son. One to take up the place in my heart that Cole has left. Of course, he would have five heads since my eggs are most definitely not up to snuff at this point. And the collective brainpower in all five of those noggins would never measure up to Cole's one amazing collection of grey matter. But I know Cole would be laughing, knowing I'm even penning this blog post. So...I am. Because these are the thoughts that run through my brain. Which is not dead. But very much alive. Which amazes me. Because once again...just like when Cole's dad died...I sit here astounded that the world keeps spinning. And that I am still alive. Breathing. Functioning.
We go through horrors...we freeze...we feel dead...as parents who lose a child, especially, we reside in a time and space beyond mere grief. Our hearts ache with a depth we cannot express...we expect the world to stop. But people keep writing blog posts. Babies are born. Bills arrive from the health insurance company, wondering whether my son has a primary care physician. Although he doesn't need one, I surmise, because he is dead.
And this ball of dirt which we call home, floating in this amazing and inexplicably infinite universe, about which we are virtually clueless...keeps spinning. Approximately one hundred and thirty pounds lighter since Monday, the 11th of April. Minus one megawatt smile. Minus the echo of constant Cole laughter.
And me...I will keep on writing. Because after having had "writer's block" for well over a year...my writer's heart is once again liberated. Set afire. Set free. Thank you, my sweet and irrepressible and relentlessly intellectually challenging baby boy. I know you did not have the heart of an attorney, but you played one quite well. I always called you "my little thespian." And had you reached 6'2"...which I have no doubt you would have, you'd still have been my little thespian. The world was your stage, and you had us all in awe of you. You held us in the palm of your hand. On the edge of our seats. Wondering. Watching. Waiting. Admiring. Amazed at your life force. Your dazzling smile. Your loving, sometimes annoying, and always relentlessly authentic spirit. You still hold us there. Exactly where you wanted us. You always will. xo