Last week, it was his favorite taco truck.  Yesterday, it was the soundtrack from Aladdin.  Aladdin, of all things!  We were driving home, and I was looking for music to lighten our mood.  I found an old playlist of Dragon’s on my iPhone — one that he had made when he was maybe 6 or 7.  It was full of songs like “Hakuna Matata” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”  It was a Disney fest.  I hadn’t heard these songs in years.  I chose “A Whole New World”, from Aladdin.

As the song played, I was instantly transported to a time in my life when I held a little boy on my lap and together we watched a film about an impish street boy who fell in love with a princess who owned a pet tiger.  The boy found a golden lamp with a gigantic blue genie inside, and the genie and his magic carpet helped the boy make all his dreams come true.  I was transported to a time in my life when I had two little kiddos, and we were at Disneyland, at the Aladdin show, which was held at the outdoor theater that was called the Enchanted Tiki Room when I visited Disneyland as a little girl.  And my kiddos and I perched cross-legged on the floor of that outdoor theater, watching a beautiful girl in an aqua dress called Princess Jasmine run around with a dashing young man called Prince Ali and a big blue Genie, who spoke to us with Robin Williams’ voice.  Oh how we laughed and clapped, me and my two kiddos!

Then I broke down and wept, because I don’t have that life anymore, and that little boy grew up, and now he’s gone.  We had to roll up the windows of our car so that my howling wouldn’t scare the other cars around us.  That’s what happens when I listen to the soundtrack from Aladdin.  That’s what this Christmas has been like.

We are completely vulnerable to the reminders around us, me and Daniel, raw wounds open to all the things that remind us of Dragon.  And having lived in the same place for the past 13 years, each bike path, park, soccer field, cereal aisle, ski slope, film, song, sock… everything reminds me of Dragon.  Dragon as a baby, as a toddler, as a boy, as a teenager.  And iPhoto??  iPhoto is a minefield.  I took approximately 90,000 photos of those kids as they grew up, and when I venture into iPhoto, photos I haven’t seen in years pop up, and suddenly there is Dragon in all his glory!  But it’s only his digital shadow.

And I realize, I’m not the only person who has lost someone.  It’s not just for me that a photo, a park, a snippet of a song, brings back all the memories and all the pain.  Many of us have lost parents, partners, friends, a daughter, or a son — all loved ones — and many, fairly recently.  I’m so sorry for your loss.  I’m so sorry for your pain.  But I guess there’s a part of me that, for myself at least, wouldn’t have it any other way.  The memories hurt, but they are memories of good times and a life well lived.  I love Dragon so much.  We hurt so much because we loved so much. It’s natural that the pain is intense.

With our kiddos