He was the most agreeable little boy, my Logan. He used to toddle around, literally agreeing with everything I said...."sure, Momma, sure!" His little voice was always so high-pitched and excited. Somewhere along the way, I blinked and that sweet, blonde baby turned 13. His voice is deeper, his jokes are awful, and his cologne is abundant...
He's recently become too cool for some family outings. He still goes, but he brings an ipod to prove his disinterest in happenings around him. So, I wasn't overly surprised when I met my family at the Christmas Tree farm on the day after Thanksgiving and was told by my daughter that Logan was still sitting in the van.
"Logan is being a butt, and won't come out to help us look for the tree..."
So I trudged up the hill to find him, my legs feeling like they weighed 100 pounds each. I was "trying" this time. I have been absent for the holidays the past four years and I was really trying to be present for these few moments while we found a tree. But it's a soul-crushing experience for me. Still, I was trying, so I made my way to the van to drag my tween from his hiding spot.
I looked in the window and saw him hunched around his ipod, hoodie pulled up over his head, intent on some sort of cyber-world domination, no doubt. But then he caught me looking at him and his face just fell. I opened the door and he scooted over as far as he could in the passenger seat and I sat next to him. And then, this child who is too cool, who is taller than me, climbed into my lap, laid his head on my shoulder and sobbed.
I said nothing. I just held him as his shoulders heaved beneath my hands. He doesn't like to talk about it, so we didn't in that moment, but we didn't have to. I knew. My heart was screaming too. Words were unnecessary.
He decided to ride back home with me while Jeff and the girls hauled the tree home in the van. I waited for him to talk if he wanted to, expecting nothing. We rode in silence for awhile and then...
"He should be here, Mom."
"Yes, he should be. And I'm so incredibly sorry that he's not."
"When we were waiting for you to get here, Addi kept saying, 'we have to wait for Mom to get here'...I didn't say anything, but in my head I was screaming, 'SHE'S NOT THE ONLY ONE MISSING!!'"
In that moment, as the tears spilled over, he wasn't just my little boy. He wasn't my annoying tween. He was a fellow broken heart. He knew grief. He knew it well, and I'd felt alone for entirely too long. So I thanked him. I thanked him for sharing that, for saying what my heart was screaming, for being brave enough to admit to his pain. And because he'd shared, I did too. I told him that I'm trying. That every day feels like Christmas Tree day for me. And that although I'm eternally grateful for the moments we have as a family, that I forever feel that missing piece...
"Have you noticed that we don't take family pictures anymore? It's not because I don't want them. It's because I can't. My whole family isn't here. And that's hard for some people in our family. It's hard for them to understand why I can't. And that's ok. They can't understand. And I'm glad they can't. It just doesn't change how I feel."
"I can understand that, Mom. It makes sense to me. We don't have to do them."
I thanked him again. And again and again. I thanked him for sharing and I thanked him for making me feel less lonely and I thanked him for making the tree process better for me. Without him there, it seemed as though Jeff and I were just taking the girls to get it. Neither of the boys were participating, and somehow that makes breathing easier. So, because of his bravery, and his ability to allow himself to truly feel, he'd saved me. That's how we're doing this. We aren't doing it "right." We aren't always making the best decisions, and we certainly aren't doing anything that makes sense to anyone else. But we're doing it. We're breaking when we need to, and we're saving one another when we can.
He may be taller than me. He may be too cool. But all I saw that day, as he lay in my lap, pouring his heart out was my little blonde baby telling me that what I'm feeling is ok....
"Sure, Momma, sure..."