This year marks 20 years since Brandon’s passing. Brandon is my son. He died of cancer at the age of 13 ½ on February 21, 1996. I have to approach this occasion differently now because I do this without Jim, his dad and my husband, because he has passed also. He died November 14, 2014, one year and three months ago.
Not that I’m alone in remembering Brandon, but Jim and I together had our own way of remembering. Actually, it was kind of awkward. I didn’t like Jim to see me cry and Jim didn’t like to see Brandon’s pictures. Jim had a tendency to focus on what could have been. I focused more on what had been. But at least we knew and understood each other. We had this thing, you know, a bond, a shared experience. And it was sacred.
Our marriage was not an easy one. Only by God’s grace and mercy did we make it to the ‘until death do us part.’ The ‘for better or for worse’ and the ‘for richer or for poorer’ almost did us in. The amazing thing is that Brandon’s battle with cancer united us. His passing cemented us.
When I think about Brandon I think about Jim. I get mad because Jim’s not here for me. I get happy because he gets to be with Brandon. It’s sometimes hard for me to process all this and untangle my thoughts from emotions and my words from memories.
Taking walks helps me to straighten out the jumbled and knotted strings in my head. So I head to the trail at the end of my neighborhood. The sky is bright. The day is warming up. The path is uncongested. I’m ready for clarification, direction and inspiration.
As I walk I notice that the path widely curves around and passes by three different housing developments. At certain points I see and hear cars on the road just beyond the line of trees that separates us. I realize my actual location isn’t my perceived location. Hmm…
That road out there, I’ve driven on it. I have taken a left off the main road onto that road which took me to the back areas. I have cruised through those neighborhoods back there far from the main road. I have thought to myself if I move I don’t want to live that far away. This is really funny. I drove from my house about a half mile to this trail which I now realize backs right up to those far away neighborhoods.
I’m not walking that road or those neighborhoods, but they are right there next to me. Kind of like Jim and Brandon. We’re not walking the same paths or roads but we are right next to each other. Jim used to be on my path. Now he’s on Brandon’s. It’s almost like I hear them laughing and having a great time just beyond that line that separates us.
The anniversary of Brandon’s passing has changed for me now that Jim is gone. The pain of it has lessoned over the years and more so now. I don’t know why, maybe because they’re together. There’s a lot I don’t know, but I know one day I will be with them again. In the meantime I’ll keep taking my walks all the while paying close attention to what I may glimpse on the path beyond the trees.