While Caemon’s legacy is filled with inspiration and wonder, there is always a duality at work. His death shattered our lives, and we were left with the shrapnel of our hearts, our identities, and our relationships littered around our feet. We lost friends who should have been there for us during our darkest hours but could not, for whatever reason. We learned that some would not walk this path with us, and we came to accept that we had to do our heavy grieving alone. There were many months of rummaging around in the wreckage trying to make sense of it, and later, trying to put it back together. I admit, at the time I didn’t know if I had the heart to try. But along this journey over two years, as I have begun to pick up and examine the pieces of my past, I see that some pieces don’t fit into the new mosaic of my life, and I must discard them. They are useless to me now. New pieces, sometimes surprising ones, show up to fill in the gaps: friends I’ve made who have given me hope and strength, volunteer work with the toddlers at our church, a new project at work, a peaceful living environment, Caemon’s legacy work, and of course, always the longing for another child to love.
I am a work in progress. Despite myself, I see a new picture emerging, and it includes more than loss, more than tears. It’s the beautiful faces of my cousins Willow and Angie, Caemon’s Goddess Mothers, whom Timaree and I have gotten so much closer to since his death; it’s the music and art of Thursdays, the peace and solitude of nature, and the garden full of tomatoes and sunflowers that we will grow this summer, the buzzing bees always at work.
I couldn’t have predicted it or planned it this way, and left to my own devices, I probably would have pounded the remaining shards of my life with my fists, pulverized them to dust, and then raised a bloody middle finger to the sky. Here is where Caemon’s legacy really saved me personally. Even in death, I am his Mama, and I owed it to him to be the person he loved. I had to try harder and do better. I couldn’t succumb to despair. If I fell down, I had to get up and try again. This is what I taught him when he was alive, and I would be devaluing those lessons by not living up to them. I would put my pain to better use, and the new people in my life would show me how. Together, we work on this mosaic, always keeping in mind how each piece honors him and heals us.
I am surprised that what my wife and I have been through is actually survivable, and even more surprised that there are as many good days as bad ones. There are days I’m actually happy, and I forget to look over my shoulder for the misfortune sure to befall me. Children keep us firmly locked in the present, giving us barely any time to brood, or that’s how it was with my son. He seems to be helping me stay more in the present even now, and I am grateful that I get a chance each day to be the person he thought I was.