Grief, A Life Lost Too Soon
Last Friday, a 17-year-old boy was out with friends at a local river. From what I have heard, there were 6 of them. They were jumping over rocks, being carefree and enjoying the warm day. Within moments, everything changed. One boy, who was in the back was gone. Just like that. No one knew. No one saw. They just turned around and he was gone. A search team was called to the scene within an hour. They couldn’t find him.
As of Tuesday evening, he was still gone. When the rescue team went back with some of the kids he was with, they spotted him, yet they couldn’t — even with a team of 30 experienced volunteers — pull him from the water. It is now Thursday morning and he is still there. He is still there. This is someone’s child. This is a boy that I have known since he was 5. This is a classmate of my oldest son. I know his parents.
Drownings happen every single day. Water is not forgiving and at this time of year with all of the snow melt, it’s swift and freezing cold. The fact that a rescue team has seen where he is but can’t access him speaks volumes as to the force of mother nature. A fun trip to soak up the sun while getting wet can turn deadly. In the blink of an eye, everything can change.
My mama heart is crushed. I hurt for his parents. I hurt for his friends that loved him. I hurt for the other kids that were there and will never forget how they lost a friend. They will likely wonder if they could have done something different. Two of the boys saw his body when it resurfaced. They felt loss. They saw death.
My heart has hurt, and the tears have flowed since I heard that Brian was missing on Monday. As a mom, you feel the heartache of other moms. You feel it so deep in your body. You feel it in a way that feels like it is your child except it’s not and you know that if it was, the grief that you are feeling would be magnified by a million. Yet still, even though it isn’t your child, you imagine that it could have been.
The place where these kids had gone to hangout is referred to as Happy Valley. How ironic. My oldest actually was at this location on Thursday taking photos with a friend. When he mentioned going, I didn’t even ask if it was near the river. I didn’t even know. He’s a photographer. He likes nature and being outside. I didn’t even know this place — in a county that I have pretty much grown up — existed nor did I know that it was surrounding a river.
I felt sick knowing that it could have been my kid. I felt sick knowing that it could be any of our kids. I felt sick knowing that this vibrant, young and full of life young man — a life that was cut too short — would never come home again.
His parents wouldn’t get to hug him again. They won’t hear his voice again. They won’t see him grow up and become his own person. They won’t know who’d he marry, if he’d become a parent, what career path he’d choose. They won’t know. That is not fair. It’s cruel. A parent should never have to lose a child, yet it happens every single day.
I can see the pain in my own son. This is someone that he once was in Cub Scouts with, they played soccer together and they had mutual friends. Although they hadn’t been in contact, I know he is feeling this. He quietly told me that he knew he was gone when they hadn’t found him with 24 hours. He knew. We all knew but we held out hope.
I can feel the sadness in my child. My big kid who now towers over me. The boy who made me a mom. He is sad. Possibly in ways I don’t even know about and I can’t do anything but tell him I love him, hug him and disregard what appears to be anger towards me as I know his anger his hiding fear and sadness. I wish he’d talk to me. To get his feelings out. I hope he’s talking to friends.
When I hug him, I feel him soften. I know that the anger is covering hurt. We all hold on and let go of sadness in different ways. I cry. I withdraw. I talk to friends who feel like I do. Last night, after days of texting back and forth, I called a friend who is very close to the family. We talked, we cried, we laughed, and we offered support. It felt so good to hear her voice. To connect.
I’ve felt a loss of words because it almost feels selfish to be grieving so hard when I am not his mom. Yet it’s happening. My heart is broken. Grief is universal. It’s a soul crushing feeling that can knock the wind out of you. It can feel crippling.
As an empath, I feel the hurt of others which just magnifies all my feelings. Knowing that they have yet to recover his body crushes me. I can’t imagine knowing that my son was out there — it’s too much to even think about. Every second, I am hoping that the message will come that they have at least gotten him out. That he can be properly put to rest. That his parents will have that closure.
And again, I am flooded with sadness and fear. The other day I was wearing a shirt that said Everything Little Thing Will Be Okay. I felt like a fraud because as much of an optimist as I am, I know everything won’t be okay and I know that loosing someone doesn’t come with a silver lining.
Grief is the biggest of emotions and it’s simply too much. I know it lessens with time but while you are in it, you literally can’t think of much else. As I sit in my house, my family safe and sound — I think of Brian’s mom. I hold her in my heart. I feel her hurt. I want her to know that she is surrounded by so much love and so many people who wish this wasn’t her story.