“Do you still miss Joe?” This question hurt. I took a deep breath and answered, “All the time.”
“Oh, well, you seem fine.”
I miss Joe. Cole misses his dad. We are fine. We travel onward while missing Joe; resisting, staying stuck at the “missing Joe” portion of the journey. We feed memories, good and bad, to the empty “missing Joe” hole in our lives.
A friend and talented photographer gave Cole and me a photography session. It was a wonderful gift until I remembered I don’t take good pictures and promptly had a closet crisis. While cleaning our bookshelf, I found a casual family picture of Joe, Cole and me. Staring at the three of us, suddenly the idea of a family picture without Joe overwhelmed me. After more than a few moments of overwhelm and one cancellation, I reframed my idea of our family picture. I focused, instead, on the mother and son part of our family, reminding myself that Joe would be with us in spirit, telling me not to smile so big and directing Cole to “just act natural.” Missing Joe isn’t a stopping place.
On Monday, I went to a parent potluck at Cole’s school, marking the beginning of Cole’s life as a high-schooler. I searched for the house, trying to use the light from my cell phone to see the house numbers. I missed Joe ranting about how dark it is in Evanston. Finally finding the house, I used my cell phone to guide myself up the darkened porch, and apologized to the hostess for being late. I explained about my trouble finding the house. The hostess responded, “Oh, I never remember to turn the porch light on.” Really. I missed the look and mumbled words Joe would have sent her direction, while I would mutter, “Stop it!” and die from embarrassment. Joe and the hostess would have later bonded over a beer. During the evening, Joe would have made it a point “to know where everyone was from” because, of course, “where you are from” explains everything. On the way home, Joe would have been full of this and that’s, and I would have shared the gossip he missed. I arrived and left alone. I cried. I missed him.
Cole misses his dad’s overblown pride in his achievements. He worries about forgetting his dad. This summer, he found his dad’s old bike in our garage loft. He decided to restore the bike himself. It was important. He found the parts he needed, questioned prices, asked about less expensive options, added new brakes and tires, and made bike adjustments. He then took his first test ride. Cole met the emptiness of missing his dad by restoring his old bike. The bike suits Cole. I have no doubt that Joe found a way to bring the bike to Cole’s attention.
Joey songs will play when he wants our attention. These are songs he played over and over when he was with us in more than in spirit. In Alaska, the first song Cole and I heard was John Lennon’s Imagine, the song we played at Joe’s memorial. When I was getting ready for our photo session and praying for rain, I turned on the radio and the song “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head” came on. Joe would pitter patter on my head while singing, “Raindrops Keep falling on my head.” It was his attempt to lighten my mood when I found him annoying. “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” a song Joe loved and I hated, blasted out of my radio on my way home from the potluck.
A client told me tonight that she just took her daughter to college, and now she really understands how much I miss Joe. Nodding, I smile. She doesn’t. I’m so glad.
I fixed a root beer float, grabbed my computer, and headed outside to sit and enjoy my pups. A Facebook friend shared the song, “The Big Rock Candy Mountains.” Listening, I remembered how Joe had sung that song to Cole, and how he would whistle it often.
A quote popped into my head, “If I never met you, I wouldn’t like you. If I didn’t like you, I wouldn’t love you. If I didn’t love you, I wouldn’t miss you. But I did, I do, and I will.”
And then I played “Big Rock Candy Mountain.”
Odd Love Company,