Happy Birthday my sweet baby boy. I love and miss you. The years pass, but…
Excerpt, The Gift of Ben, Chapter 41
I had come to Colorado to find my way back to Ben, and it was there, scanning the vista before me, that I first felt him, or God, or both as one. In a gentle release of tension into the transcendent evening air, we stood on the rocks overlooking the nearby mountains. An exhale of pain, inhale of air brimming with energy and possibility. I felt my body melting away as I became part of the earth, sun setting, faintness of stars appearing above. I could gather no words, so I stood, alone and still, until tears formed as evidence of my emotions.
I felt a gentle hand touch my leg. “Mommy, can I hug you?” Riley asked softly.
I kneeled down on the dusty earth and complied.
“I just miss Ben so much sometimes,” I told her.
“Me too, Mommy.”
“How do I get through this?”
She placed her forehead against mine and grabbed the side of my head with two small five-year-old hands. “Just stay calm and stay with me. Let me love you. Because I am your sidekick,” and that night, as I cried myself to sleep in her arms and she rubbed my face with her delicate hand, she released another part of me into the night sky. “It’s okay, Mommy... accidents happen.” I had found unconditional love in the red clay of the earth. I had felt for the first time as if Ben were here, and then he was everywhere.
We have a saying in our family: "Just let me love you." I say it most often. I said it in the hospital room to Kyle the night Ben died. I oftentimes return Riley's unconditional five-year-old love back to her as a teenager, when she's struggling or shying away. Kaylyn is my independent almost seventeen-year-old right now. As a college recruit, she tore her ACL this March, seemingly ending her high school soccer career. (She didn't, she accepted a college offer and is raring to go with rehab.) She is beautiful and strong, but fiercely independent. I'm sure she knows I love her beyond words, yet she pulls away completely in a teenage girl way. "I don't want pity or tears," she's said over the past weeks. She shies away from touch or hugs. Today, she had her ACL surgery, and it was extremely painful and difficult. As she was coming out of anesthesia with grimaces of pain, I whispered my mantra into her ears, to be shoved me off gently with her hand. She eventually let me in, and as we arrived home, the nausea from medication and pain mixing with tears as we helped her up the stairs, she allowed us to hold her hair and touch her back. Small measures of love.
I am thinking back to what that phrase means to me. There is so much pain in the world. So many feel unlovable. Feel imperfect. Need love but don't ask. Shy away from love. Feel pain at any level. As I process what unconditional love is, sometimes it is as simple as saying "Just let me love you," over and over again until the other person hears it, can accept it and love themselves. Due to my manic depression and intense personality in general, I oftentimes feel imperfect and unlovable. I yearn to hear those words and always have. In the darkest days of my young adulthood, those words slipped so easily out of Kyle's mouth. Maybe we need to hear it even as adults? Life can be a beast!
I hope my words in print can reach others who need it. This is the only way I can express emotion, through words. To anyone who needs to hear it, you are not alone, you deserve love just as you are, even if you are imperfect. "Just let me love you."