Alex was just twenty-three years old when he died in August of 2012. Today, May eleventh, 2017, would have been his twenty-eighth birthday. Five years may seem like a lot of time to you, but not to me, not in this. I miss Alex every single day.
The first four words in chapter 2 of Sounding the Drum are these: “Community saved my life.” That is not an exaggerated claim. A community, at its essence, is a group of people who care about one another. During those days when I want to crawl through a door in the floor, the only thing that keeps me from reaching for the handle is knowing someone cares. The people who came to the LFI porch five years ago played a huge role in that for me. It wasn’t so much their words that helped as their willingness to sit a while on the porch with me.
It’s very difficult to be around someone who has lost a child. A few years before Alex died, an acquaintance lost her eighteen-year-old son. Although I went to the wake, afterward I wanted to call her but I didn’t know what to say. Even when we can’t comprehend how a grieving parent feels, we know intuitively that this loss precipitates a broken heart that will never be healed. It is terrifying to be faced with living evidence of the nightmare every parent hopes never to face.
What do you say to someone who is grieving? Are there any words that could possibly help? I attempted to answer this question before. Here, I’ll share those iconic words from the movie Avatar which sum up so well the message we all need to hear – anytime – but especially when we are grieving; “I see you.”
I’m here. I remember.
I miss him, too.
Accidental selfie: reflection on the glass
of a photo of the boat Alex raced