Friday, March 15, 2019


Dear Jacob,

I can't believe how long it has been since I last wrote. I have been thinking I should write, but I can't seem to stop long enough for inspiration to strike. This was the place I came when I needed to make sense to things in life. When I had too much on m plate, and I needed a space to breathe. I wrote about you, and I wrote to you for so very long. Tonight I am thinking back on your 13th birthday running on the beach in Lisbon, Portugal.

Waves breaking in the darkness make you focus on the sound of each wave hitting the sand. It's a sound that is both soothing and powerful. I ran in the rain on your birthday. It was a silent rain, not a down pour, just enough to get wet. Just enough to remember how much you loved the rain. We tried to protect you from rain, since it made you cold and wet. In reality, we should have enjoyed the rain more. I will never forget when we ended up in the pool in a down pour. We had the whole pool to ourselves and you just loved it. I will never forget your happiness when your speech therapist and friend took you outside to feel the rain on your hair, cheeks, and hands. You were in heaven. You sure knew how to enjoy the little things in life.

I sat on the beach before the sunrise, and wrote your name in the beach sand. No words or action could take away the heartache. Just a long day remembering you, and knowing how incredibly hard it is to only be surrounded by memories and not your actual heartbeat and beautiful face. How no wave in the world can wipe away the pain in your heart. How no wave can wipe away the sorrow of a mom's broken heart.

It was a mistake to be away from my people on your birthday. I thought by birthday number three that I maybe would be ok to live in the world. It was not as easy as I thought. I missed you terribly, and I had no one I could really talk to in between business meetings. That made me feel more alone than I have in a very long time. It was a blessing when I finally could call home late at night. I could hear the sound of the grocery bags as your pie was unpacked. The pie to celebrate you. I should have been there. The knowing that the two people I love the most in this world celebrated you together. I was just in a bed very far from home.I know I will not repeat that again.

In the loneliness of grief, I have my tribe. The ones who love you like I do. Voice messages from our friends who love you. Texts and emails of love from friends and family. I cherish each of you who reached out to me on Jacob's 13th birthday. Thank you.

As the beautiful weekend rolled around, I ran along the beach. The sun was up. Families, couples, friends, and dogs were surrounding me. Smiles and sunshine met me on this lazy Saturday morning. My legs are not used to run any longer, but they took me six miles along the beach. It was a slow but heartfelt run. After a shower, I went back to the beach with One Republic pounding from my Beads. I sat on the beach, listened to my music, heard and saw the beauty of the waves and just sat in my grief. I sat and let the tears roll down my eyes. It was exactly what I needed. Beach, Waves, and One Republic.

I will end with a favorite poem of mine:

As for grief, you'll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you're drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it's some physical thing. Maybe it's a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it's a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don't even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you'll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what's going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything...and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it's different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O'Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you'll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don't really want them to. But you learn that you'll survive them. And other waves will come. And you'll survive them too. If you're lucky, you'll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.

Jacob, you sure left me lots of shipwrecks.I love you to the moon and back,


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