Tuesday will be Dragon’s 3 year anniversary. 3 years. It’s a lot of time. It’s hard to believe that it has been three years. I remember that day like it was yesterday.
Tuesday is also Hannah’s first day of school: 11th grade. Dragon’s younger sister, Hannah, is going to 11th grade. Dragon never made it to 10th.
“What are you guys going to do while I am in school, that first day? Are you going to be okay?” Hannah asked.
I have no idea. I have no plan. Should I honor that day by looking through photos, listen to Dragon’s playlist, sit in church and pray? Should I spend the morning making some of his favorite foods, and then invite his friends over for dinner? Should I bash my head against a brick wall over and over again? Or should I pretend that this day is just like any other day and not do anything? All these things seem like valid responses. There is no roadmap for what a grieving mother should do on the anniversary of the day she lost her son.
In the past, we’ve held memorials. The first year anniversary, we held a service at Newsong. The second year, we took the memorial graveside. It has helped soothe my heart to have people remembering Dragon and honoring him with us. I don’t know what I need this year, but it does seem different. First of all, there are fewer friends around – some of Dragon’s friends have already left for their first year of college. AJ and Dana have left for Berkeley. I’m happy for them, but also, jealous. Sad, that Dragon is not among them. This year, Kayla and Jessie, and maybe Orion, will accompany us to Dragon’s grave in the afternoon.
Did I tell you we finally got a grave marker? It took us three years to finally decide what to say. We couldn’t make ourselves sit down and write the words about our son that they would chisel onto his gravestone. In reality, I think we avoided it. The gravestone makes our horrifying situation so real, and so final. I thought I would be relieved to see his gravestone finally in place. But when Daniel showed me a photo of the gravemarker, I felt sick to my stomach. Another slap in my face. Dragon has a gravestone because he is dead. He is in that grave.
In the end, the 14th doesn’t matter. The 14th is just another day. The worst is already behind me. The worst was that other day, August 14, 2015. The early hours of that horrible day.
Dragon is not his death. He is not the details of his death. He is not the fact that he died. Dragon is his life. He was an amazing young man who got to be on this Earth for almost fifteen years, and I got to be his mom for that time. Everyone tells me that he is still in my heart, that his soul is with me, that he’s waiting for me in Heaven. I believe all those things. I thank God every day that I still get to mother Hannah, and I carry Dragon around with me in my heart every moment of every day. But this day is still hard. This day still sucks. There is no roadmap for how you live with this heartbreak.