Wednesday, December 5, 2012

In Memory of My Son Joey - This Day, This Fifth December Day

I knew his life before anyone else.  Almost from the first minute, you know?  Those who argue about when life actually begins, should ask a mother who has life inside of her, because we know, almost from the very first minute.  I knew.
Those months, counted in threes, are a most special time, you know.
Before it was evident to anyone else, I would find myself placing my hand on my flat stomach and I could feel the warmth of him.
Before it was evident to anyone else, I felt his life, quiet fluttering butterfly feelings.
When it became evident to the rest, only I could feel his heaviness, one arm under, one on top, soothing him as he turned and kicked.
He came quietly into the world.  Not in the middle of the night, but at a most considerate 2:00 p.m. time of the day and my arms were his first cradle.
The memories of the time of only he and me are vividly clear, while at the same time gently calming.
Then the memories of the days after he wriggled out of my arms and climbed down from my lap are fleeting.   They seem to be hidden from me, only coaxed out by old photos and videos or by hearing stories from others.  I suppose the passing of time and  the stuff of life have cluttered up those spaces in my mind.
I knew him though, I knew him so well.  Because he and I we had a bond, you see, as only a mother and son can.
Today, as I recall that day, that December fifth day of only one short year ago,  I am overwhelmed with painful and sad memories but they are painful only because they are of that day.

This poignant passage from "The Testament of Mary" reveal my feelings so well, on this December day, this fifth day:

“He lifted his head for a moment and his eyes caught mine.” He was the boy I had given birth to and he was more defenseless now than he had been then. And in those days after he was born, when I held him and watched him, my thoughts included the thought that I would have someone now to watch over me when I was dying…I would have cried out as I cried out that day and the cry would have come from a part of me that is the core of me. The rest of me is merely flesh and blood and bone.”

Yes, the core of me is where he lives and I will never say good-bye.

I wrote the following piece once year ago.  This is my Joey.

Who was this mysterious man who was known to us as Joseph, Joe, Joey, Bro, Uncle Joe, or Hon?
From the time he was a little boy, I figured out how to "read" Joe.  I learned what each subtle body movement meant.  His facial expressions were actually quite loud.  Sometimes his eyes alone would tell a whole story.
His teachers would say to me,
"Joseph is a good student, but he is so quiet."
As he got older and moved on to adulthood, I lost touch with little things about Joe. What music he liked, what clothes he chose to wear, what songs he liked to play on his guitar, where he was on the weekend or who he spent his evenings with.
I never lost touch, though, with the silent communication we shared.  His eyes, his smile, or a little shrug of his shoulders, each meant something particularly special to me.
Because he was so quiet, very often Joe would get teased :
"Keep it down, Joe, you're talking so much that none of us can get a word in edgewise."
Joe would turn red, but he would always smile.
It seemed as though some people would be uncomfortable around him. "He doesn't talk much", they would say.
Many of the people in his life knew only small bits and tiny pieces of him.
He is so quiet they would say.
What is he thinking?  How does he feel?
He is so quiet.
Oh yes, we all knew that Joe was a Mets fan.   I know that when everyone in the stands was yelling "Lets Go Mets, Lets Go Mets," Joe was quietly yelling it too. 
His laugh may have been quiet, but his sense of humor was obvious.  I'm sure if you listened closely you would know that inside he was laughing loudly at a silly Conan skit. 
What was there about "Unca" Joe that Bella, Kenny, Ryan and Tyler could hear that perhaps others couldn't?  I'm sure they never said, "but he is so quiet."
I suppose there may have been some little specific things that I didn't know about Joe.
But when I reflect on my son I understand that I knew the most important things about him.   
I knew what a gentle person he was. I understood his off kilter sense of humor.  I knew that he loved little children and puppies and that they loved him.
I knew that he would always go back for seconds when I served my "famous" lasagna. 
I knew that Domani was the light of his life.
I knew that he was a good father.  
I knew that it was meant to be for he and Anne to find each other again.
I knew that he loved his wife. 
I knew that he was strong and that his strength ran deep.
During the last weeks of his life I knew that there were times when he must have been very frightened; but he never gave up the fight.
I knew that he would never willingly leave his family.  
Just few days ago he smiled and said to me "we still have time."
He knew I loved him.   
The last time he "spoke" to me he mouthed the words "I love you." 
Quiet people are sometimes misunderstood.   
Take the time to get to know a quiet person.  
After all you might be lucky enough to discover the treasures of their mind, heart and soul, just like my strong,  lovable, wonderful "quiet" Joe.


  1. What a lovely tribute to your son. A mother does have that special bond. I understand exactly what you are saying because I feel and know the same things when I look at my kids. I am so sorry for your loss. I can't imagine how heart wrenching it must be. He will always be with you deep within your heart. Blessings to you.


    1. Thank you Kathy. I do appreciate your comforting words.

  2. That is beautiful. I cannot imagine what it is like to lose a child. I am so sorry. And thank you for advocating for the "quiet" ones. I was a "quiet" one. People would often say those same things to me that they said to you son. I used to feel misunderstood and longed for someone to take the time to get to know me, to talk to me, to find out who I was.

    Again, beautiful.

    1. Thank you, Judy.
      I was, and still am one of the quiet ones. That was another bond my son and I had. Perhaps that is why you and I write?

  3. I thought about you often today, Lynda. Your writing is a beautiful and poignant tribute to him - and to you as his mom.

    1. I have to tell you, JT, your response to a comment I made on your post December 3rd's post titled "My Room" touched me deeply.
      This is what you said:
      "I'm glad you found your way into my room, Lynda! You are always welcome to come there, even when I am at work. Tomorrow might be a good day for you to come and visit. Just curl into that easy chair and be. It would be a good place to surrender to the sadness that will always find you on Dec 5th."

      Thank you for your comforting words today and all throughout this very tough year.

    2. Thank YOU , Lynda - I am reading the poet Rainer Maria Rilke these days. I thought you MIGHT find comfort in his piece of his writing:
      “Be of good courage all is before you, and time passed in the difficult is never lost...What is required of us is that we live the difficult and learn to deal with it. In the difficult are the friendly forces, the hands that work on us.”
      ― Rainer Maria Rilke

      I don't know. It gives me hope.

  4. I have been thinking since I read this post yesterday, how to respond. It was only a week or so after Joey passed last year at this time, that I first visited your site. A year seems like a short time to me, but must seem like an eternity to you. I have always believed that your courage is unique, and that for you to write about Joey is a tribute to your own bravery. Keep on writing, Lynda. Writing can help soothe the soul.

    1. Actually I think I am in a time warp. It hardly seems as though any time has passed at all.
      Writing has helped sooth my soul throughout this difficult period and so have your kind and thoughtful comments.
      Thank you, Mark.