Very early this morning, a decade ago, our oldest son Ezra died.
I prefer saying “died” to passed on, or we lost him, or he’s no longer here, or any of the ways we try to soften death. Because Ezra dying was not a muted thing, and it hasn’t been since, and words matter.
Half of my recent blog posts are pictures of Ezra and Price’s graves. Almost all of the posts are explorations of “how to be.” I spent my first couple decades learning the world and defining my sweeping ideals and grand ambitions. Time and grief draw my focus to the small places – the trivial moments that add up to a life lived.
It would have been an honor to see how Ezra walked through all that in his life.
Charley watches me. He watches Robyn. He chooses how to be based on how he sees us react to moments. “Do as I say, not as I do” is worthless – he absorbs our biases, our ambitions, and our habits (frustratingly, he now echoes my sole flaw – I bite my nails).
There will always be a way I wish things were, and the way they are. Some things can never change, but many can. Carrying my own grief and knowing my son watches me, these things pull on me:
May I never rest long in despair. I am here, I am not alone, and that is good. Despair (a lack of hope) is different than sadness, which I think I will always carry alongside joy.
May I think of myself second. I am surrounded by people, and they are valued.
May I seek and build community. To know and be known brings peace, and growth, and strength.
May I question personal ambition. Stability is good; ambition is worthy. But ambition also pairs well with selfishness and excess. May I keep watch on my heart.
May I be curious. I know less now than ever, and it only makes me hungrier to learn.
May I work actively for good, and against injustice. Ignoring either leads to a net negative in the world’s character and goodness.
May I be hopeful. In all things, against all odds.
I spend a little time at the end of every day thinking of what made me feel good in that day, what made me feel bad, and why. I try to make small adjustments to be or respond better in the bad spots, and amplify or create more opportunities for the good. It feels like growth, and maturity, and I hope Charley learns from my hopes and mistakes.
I knew Ezra for 2 years and have missed him for 10. He changed me from the moment I knew about him, and still does.