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Moving forward into the life you create in the wake of loss

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8 Months

During the first year after losing my 20 year old son Brandon (who had the brightest smile, perfect dimples, the hardiest laugh and gave the best hugs), I learned a lot. A lot about myself, about people, about God, about death, about grief, about Brandon himself and also about life. These unwanted enlightenments or lessons (or even blessings, depending on my perspective and mindset that day) taught me things that I never wanted to learn. The most harsh one being how to go on without my son.

Sometimes in grief and loss, we (the bereaved) may have a natural tendency to have “short-term memory loss/memory block”, and we may begin to hyper-focus on all that we don’t or won’t have. And as a result, we may end up forgetting all of the great times that we DID have with our lost loved one.

Although I’m farther along now in my Brandon-less journey, my feelings of loss and deep grief at eight months surprisingly took a more reflective tone. At eight months of loss, I chose to take time out to remember … to truly remember, the amazing 20 years that I had with my Brandon.

I keep thinking that I’ll stop counting how long Brandon has been gone, and then another month comes and goes. Eight of them have passed now without my oldest son on this earth alongside me, alongside us. I shake my head at the thought. Eight months, my goodness.

I keep telling myself that it will get easier as time goes on, but it’s the exact opposite. Now, it’s getting longer and longer since I’ve hugged him or seen his smile or heard his laugh or the way he called me “Maaa”. The time span is getting wider and wider, and my memories are sadly and frighteningly becoming a little more blurry and echoey as I attempt to recall them on a daily basis.

Brandon on the left wearing a black and white striped sweater with his left arm around Sarah. Sarah is turned to the side looking up at Brandon. She's wearing a pinstripe black and white dress and a pendant on a black cord.

As such, and in this moment, I’m making a conscious decision to honor my baby and his amazing 20 years of life AND also to choose JOY and take time out to tell/remind you about my sweet Brandon.

8 things I will always love about my B:

  1. His smile. His smile was contagious. He was never not smiling. He had the most amazing outlook on life and a wonderful disposition. His dimples were perfect and deep. He loved his dimples and told me that they would bring me lots of grand babies if he kept smiling at girls.
  2. His laugh. His sweet laugh. If he was really tickled about something like people falling on ice or random cat videos, his laugh was high pitched and fast, and he would sniff in between. If something was semi-funny or a mom joke, he would go “hmm” and then smile, and if he really wasn’t paying attention and something funny happened, he would simply give us a “Sss”.
  3. His tone. When Brandon felt or truly knew what he was talking, his tone would change. He would form his lips a certain way and speak with the utmost confidence on the matter. If you’ve ever argued or even discussed a serious matter with him … you know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.
  4. His ability to love. Oh, my baby loved so fiercely. He loved the same girl since he was in 7th grade, and I know he will always watch over her. He had the same best friend since he was five years old all the way up until and through the day that that friend had to speak at his funeral. He cared so deeply about his friends and loved them like they were each his brothers and sisters. He was so protective of the girls in his circle, and I loved watching that as a mom. When he said, “I love you”, he meant it.
  5. His driving. Oh my goodness. Brandon’s driving scared the fire out of me. His first car was a silver mustang that he called “Leslie”. Leslie was perfect for B. She was shiny, built tough, fast and loud. He ran Leslie as fast as she could keep up. He got a speeding ticket six days after getting his license in Leslie. He loved that car. I loved that car. It was sooo him. I can tell you the exact number of seconds it would take Brandon to get to the front door from the time he pulled in. I know exactly what it sounded like when he put Leslie in reverse to pull out of the driveway and head back to Oklahoma. I’ve prayed over that car so many times because it carried my precious cargo. Oh, how I miss the sounds of Leslie, so deeply.
  6. His smell. Every parent knows their kids’ smell, almost as much as you know their voice. Brandon’s natural smell was manly and clean. Even when he stunk, he smelled good. He smelled like mine. He WAS mine. I know his scent will eventually fade from the clothes that I have of his, and I know with absolutely certainly that nothing will ever smell as precious as he did.
  7. His glare. Brandon had THE best stare down. When he was three, yes, just three years old, his daycare teacher told me, “Mama, if looks could kill, I’d be dead. Brandon did not want to come in from outside today and stared me down all afternoon.” That glare and mega stare were brutal. I’ve looked into the very pits of it when I had to lay down some discipline or mom knowledge. It was Oscar-worthy, and his eyes could cut glass. My stubborn baby.
  8. His dancing. Brandon loved to dance. He moved so much when I was pregnant with him, and he just never stopped. Brandon has serious swagger and some good moves. He had the utmost confidence to dance in public whenever he felt like it or whenever a groove caught his ear. We tried a couple of times to two-step together, but we both tried to lead so that didn’t quite work out. Sometimes, when I would be getting on him about something … he would take my hand and twirl me around and then I’d start laughing and forget what I was even complaining about. He told me one time that to get to the front of the line or to get to the front of a concert, you had to dance your way up there because no one was gonna stop a man in the middle of his groove. My sweet, free spirited child …

I prayed so deeply before I wrote this because I just wanted to talk about my baby and remember him fondly and happily, but nothing, and I truly mean NOTHING will burn your soul more deeply than talking about your child … in the past tense.

Nothing.

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