I woke up too early this morning, and no one had anywhere to be. The same was true the morning I dreamed of Benjamin, so I went back to sleep, willing my brain to repeat the gift. It did not work. Such an empty feeling.
Benjamin was just a few days older when he died than Banyan was when he left for Camp Highlands for the first time. Barely nine. Banyan was gone for four weeks that summer, and every summer since. I didn’t know how I would bear it that first year. I found these words from a few nights before Banyan’s departure:
This is my current state of body, my survival mode: when panic sets in and the lump in my throat threatens to constrict my breathing passage, I cling to the one piece of weakening logic that comforts the screaming left side of my brain. It goes like this, with less enthusiasm each time: “Four weeks isn’t THAT long, look how fast the last four weeks have flown by!”
And I look. Back.
In the last four weeks, he has played soccer with British champions. He has had three sleepovers. He has beaten me in chess twice, though I stood my ground in Battleship. He has learned cribbage and racquetball. He has stood under a tightrope while a circus star practiced his next death-defying act. He has gone to the specialist to have him analyze that lump on his knee. (It’s nothing, he says.) He has been to the beach, and the beach, and the beach. He has fallen off of the paddleboard and split his lip, only to climb right back on and push away the current. He has taken the lifeguard’s adult swimming test and passed it. He has taken six boys on a boat with his father and ridden the waves of courage, saying goodbye to eight in grand fashion, and looking every bit of nine going on gone. And, three days ago, he accompanied me to the UPS Store, where we bought extra insurance on the package containing his brand new footlocker and its forty pounds of clothes, camping gear, books, biodegradable soap, and love. I feel my grip slipping. Four weeks.
When he was four weeks old he smiled. All the time. Unless he was spitting up, which also happened all the time. Some said colic, others said fussy. Some even said “spirited.” I tried everything—nursing him, burping him, rocking him, singing him, slinging him, swinging him, walking him, strolling him, vacuuming with him. I took an infant massage course and pressed clockwise hearts into his belly each night. I drove across town to the Scottish specialty store and bought gripewater, a tonic made with fennel said to soothe crying babies. I eliminated dairy, garlic, broccoli, caffeine. I read page after page after discussion board after blog post about infant digestion. The dance was the same every day—after several failed attempts, my eyes bloodshot and my voice hoarse from another round of Bobby McGee, finally, finally, he slept. On my front, on my back, lying next to me, on my belly. He slept. And I kissed him goodnight, and I studied his every beautiful pore.
Four more goodnight kisses.
That’s how many I have left (after the one I just gave him).
Four more goodnight kisses, and then four weeks until the next one. How on earth am I going to survive this? My throat constricts at the thought of it. Of walking past his open door and seeing an empty pillow there, a room without the sound of his breath, the breath I have felt and listened for and analyzed for nine years.
This was how I felt, yet I knew Banyan would return, safe and sound and with big stories to tell. It’s been two weeks since I’ve been with Benjamin. Two weeks since I’ve heard the sound of his breath. He isn’t returning. We have heard all of his stories. I don’t know how to describe this feeling, try as I might in this space. It is an emptiness that is so full. I am bursting with love, with pride, and with sadness. I cling to photographs and videos and old stories, hoping my mind’s eye will sharpen as time goes on, and I will find new details, see new expressions in my memory. I miss my son.
24 thoughts on “Weeks.”
Thinking of you every single day, many times a day. Each time, I pray for love to be so near. Hugs to you.
Laura. Thank you for sharing these special moments. I hope you can find comfort, in any way possible. Your stories show , Ben was an amazing young boy, for those who have not had the pleasure, I wish YOU, Michael & Banyan comfort moving forward and jjoy in your memories. ❤
Beautifully written, heartbreakingly sad. We loan every bit of you strength and love we can muster as you face all that is ahead.
You don’t know me although we have met years ago when I brought my Granddaughter Avery to Chess Club.
You and Benjie are in my thoughts daily: when I look at the sky and see various cloud formations when I hear the waves outside my windows in Massachusetts.
My very best wishes to you and your Wonderful Family
If my heart wasn’t already broken for you, it certainly is now.
Sending love ❤❤❤
He will stay in your heart, in your soul, in your dreams, and in your memories. This will always be true. Sending you much love ❤️
Nothing but love.
Love, love and more love.
You are so strong.
Ugh, my heart! Love you Laura. You are the strongest mother I\’ve ever known. May you continue to find peace and strength in the space. Thank you for continuing to share with us all. We are all so grateful for you!
I’m so sorry….There are no words… Except yours. They are true, wise, deep, sweet, and oh so loving, Laura. You make all Mothers Proud…Thank you. XO
You have such an amazing a gift of writing. I see Benji so clearly through your words and I’ve never seen him person.
Thinking of you all ~all the time. Much love from us.
I love you.
Not a day goes by that prayers aren’t whispered, positive energy sent, and a memory cherished.
I think of you all constantly. I am so sorry. Love you.
Laura, like all the other mothers I too think of you daily and often, your beloved Banyan and Michael, and want you to know when I do, I am sending you love and light always.
Oh goodness, Laura. What a heartwrenching contrast. Although you’ll miss him forever, I pray that time will bring you peace and a bit of a balm over the hole in your heart.
My heart is breaking for you, I am praying that it gets easier. You are an amazing mother, and you have an amazing family . Sending love tonight from srq
I love my family…..❤
Love you! ❤
Benji is always with you. Surrounding you with his lovely continued love and presence. Be in those moments always. Smell them, hear them, feel them and love love them. He is a part of your spirit and body always always dear sweet Laura.
You are an AMAZING mom!! I see this through your words. Yet I don’t know you.. I see this. Love captures all. Prayers for a sound, peaceful mind.