Well, call me crazy, but I’m on the other side of that dreaded day. I unlocked the fire safe box that holds Sawyer’s ashes and found a little stuffed penguin I had put in there at Christmas, which I had forgotten. He loved penguins, and Christmas always had several once he let me know his favorite ornament was a penguin I had given him. I picked up the baby blanket wrapped box and made my way to the living room to get Curious George. Then on the back-porch I unwrapped the box and opened the lid. With sad eyes I looked at and touched the clear plastic bag of ashes. I cried as memories of that horrible day flooded my mind and my heart.
Three years have passed, and I still miss him so badly. Nothing has changed. The unanswered questions remain, and things are no better. I wondered if I put just a dash of ashes on my tongue and swallowed, would I feel more like Sawyer remains within me all the time? I decided not to do that though, and I became anxious as I thought how crazy that was to even think. I closed the lid, and as I wrapped the box I put George in the blanket and swaddled him close to Sawyer. I wish I’d thought of that years ago. It just made sense. George had brought Sawyer such comfort through the years. Sawyer cuddled him, kissed him, played with him, slept with him, talked to him, and most of all loved him. I remember the day I was stopped at a red light in Clinton. Sawyer was about three years old and asked if I loved George. I said that I did, but I went on to say, “Not as much as you, of course, because you’re my baby.” Sawyer forcefully said, “Mommy, you have to love George!” I assured him that I did, but he got louder and more upset the more I tried to explain. I turned to look at Sawyer and calm him over my insufficient amount of love for George, when unbeknownst to me the truck in front of me stopped. My front bumper continued to move forward and curl around the big hitch sticking out from the back of the man’s truck. I put the car in park and jumped out. I had never wrecked before and was stricken with panic. Sawyer was bellowing over and over from inside for me not to talk to strangers! The man walked back to see if there was any damage. I was shaking and worried that he might be hurt. He assured me that he was fine but asked if I needed help. Sawyer continued to warn me with shouts about “Stranger Danger!” as the man put his arm around me and walked me back to my car. My bumper was ruined, but it hadn’t even made its way past his hitch. His truck was not damaged. He insisted that he was fine and encouraged me to head home. On my way home I realized that I had wrecked my car in a bit of a heated discussion over how much I loved George. I wonder now if anyone has ever wrecked a car over a child’s defense of adoration for a stuffed animal. That’s how much Sawyer loved George, and it brings me comfort to think that they are together again.
Libby (Sawyer’s dog) came up to join us on the back porch. She sniffed George and the box. Then she dropped down on the floor instead of her usual nudging me to pet her. After a few minutes she got up and walked around the back of my chair to the other side. Again, she flopped down without demanding any attention. So, we sat there me, George, and Libby with Sawyer’s ashes, and we missed him.
I noticed something different and turned my head to see. The TV had come on by itself. There was no picture or sound, yet it glowed. I stared at the brightness and imagined any second that Sawyer’s spirit would step right out of that little television and be standing before us in a t-shirt and dark jeans casting light in all directions. I would jump up to hug him, and I wondered if I would be able to feel his spirit. Would it be more like a cloud? Would my hands and arms travel through, or would I get to feel the strength of that big man? The TV started flickering which took me out of my pretend scenario and put me back in my chair watching a TV screen. Reality can be unwelcome and mean, and there we were again me, George, and Libby sitting on the back porch missing Sawyer. I stared at the flickering screen trying to make out a code from the shadows and the bright spots. I got nothing. I wanted Sawyer to tell me something, anything, but I could not understand. I looked away, and when I looked back the screen was dark. Had I missed it? Had I given up too quickly? Was I crazy? I decided to coin a new phrase called “Grief Crazy”. All bereaved mom’s are subject to (and expected to struggle through) episodes of “Grief Crazy.”
I couldn’t determine anything from the so-called sign I had just received. This made me question signs, until later when I was inside trying to remember the day. The glowing brightness may be significant in that Sawyer brought love, smiles, and happiness to many people. The flickering could be indicative of his playfulness, his joking, moving, and growing throughout the years. The dark would then represent his rest.
I feel like I’m missing something here, but maybe it will come to me soon. Yes, I am on the other side of that dreaded day carrying all the sweet memories, the love, the pain, the loss, and the unanswered questions all within the same frame. I understand so little, but one truth I can defend: I love Sawyer with a love like I’ve never known.