Getting out of the car today and I look over and see the cup that Willie left there the day before he died. The cup that I haven’t had the heart to move yet. The cup that I noticed was there 2 days after he died. I looked at the cup then and the feeling that overwhelmed me then was simply disbelief.
I remember looking at the cup and not being able to place how it got in the cupholder on the door…the passenger door. Then, in a split second, it hit me. I could hear myself telling Willie – like I did a thousand times before – to make sure he took his garbage out of the car with him when he got out. I could see him as clear as he was just a couple of days before… opening the door and saying “yup” like he always did… and not taking the cup with him. I didn’t give it a second thought then. We had just spent the afternoon together talking about counselling and schooling options and picking up his little brother and getting to a therapy session for him. We were meeting his Dad there and it was nearing rush hour and I was focused on traffic and schedules and the stress that had been building since the month before when he had been released from the hospital. That cup was the furthest thing from my mind… yet I had automatically told him to make sure he took it with him. Even in the midst of therapy sessions and the surrealistic “normalcy” we had going of trying to ensure that Willie didn’t commit suicide I still had autopilot going to throw a Mom moment about a plastic cup.
Less than 24 hours later, Willie was dead. Two days after that I found myself looking at that cup and being slammed by shock.
Today I opened the car door to get out my bags and I looked down and saw the cup that I have come to see but not really see. Today though, it took me right back to that moment. I saw Willie again, clear as if he was right there… shrugging and saying “yup” and uncurling his lanky self out of the car – all legs and arms too new in their length for his 16 year old body and mind to wrangle as he sped through puberty. His voice, newly deep and rough – no hint left of my baby in that voice. Him striding away across the parking lot in front of me and his brother. Just over an hour later I would be saying goodbye to him for the last time.
That cup is my last physical connection to him. Some have argued with me that I should get rid of it; that all it does is bring up painful memories. I disagree though… the pain of loss and memories of that last day are far outweighed by the comfort that it brings when I look over and see it. That connection to him is too significantly the last and final physical connection for me to let it go. It’s hard enough to accept that those memories of him, talking and moving and “being” are only memories and that I’ll never see him again… hard enough to accept that…16 years of memories is too little to last me the rest of my life… but it has to.