I have an old black and white photograph of my son Eddie and his “girlfriend” Kelly. They are about two and a half years old, standing in front of our living quarters on an army base in Germany. Their older siblings had staged a wedding and somebody with a camera caught them as they were about to leave on their “honeymoon.” Eddie is holding a suitcase and Kelly is still in her wedding dress.
Eddie died on September 23, 1979, exactly one month before his eighteenth birthday. The anniversary still has its impact on me and Debbie, Niki, and Michaela, my daughters. Wherever we are in the world, we call each each other on September 23rd. We will again this year.
His sisters probably remember him better as a teenager, but this is the way I see him – a toddler, marrying Kelly or laughing, jumping up and down on my lap, his chubby little arms around my neck. I can still feel his little embrace. This is the way he comes to me. I do not know whether this is his choice or mine, but when he comes, he is always in my nest, in my arms.
No matter what the subject matter, I write this blog every Sunday for those who have “lost” someone they loved, especially for mothers who have lost children. I write it and I wrote my book because I survived, and my story may offer a measure of comfort to those who have not yet found it. I will not tell you that I never cry or that I do not miss my child every day of my life. I am changed forever. But I cannot drown in grief and self-pity because Eddie does not allow it. He insists on coming to me, his little arms stretched out, the light of joy in his eyes.
Nobody’s gone for good, Mom, he says, smiling. I hear you, Eddie, I say to him. I hear you.
The Messenger: The Improbable Story of a Grieving Mother and a Spirit Guide by Helen Delaney is available on http://www.amazon.com. It is also available at the News Center in Easton, MD.