Do You Still Miss Joe?

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,

16 thoughts on “Do You Still Miss Joe?

  1. Katybeth, the person who asked if “you missed Joe”, was so thoughtless, yet you considered her question and answered it beautifully. How do you, do that?

    I love the song Big Rock Candy mountain.

  2. What a contrast from yesterday’s post. It amazes me how you process you loss amidst the background of everyday life.

  3. What timing. I was just thinking about grief yesterday. I lost my sister 5 months ago and I think about her every day. I miss her terribly. Yesterday, as I was missing Cindy terribly, I thought of you. I thought, “I’m going to write KB and pour out my feelings of sadness and grief and get it off my chest.” It was like I needed to verbalize to someone that understood how sad I still was over her untimely death. I had these thoughts of you just yesterday and look what you write about! Very strange. Let me just say that I, for one, will ALWAYS miss her. I’ll miss her till the day I die. What a crazy little question for someone to ask you. Thank you so much for sharing this. 🙂

    • “still” its been 5 months. You knew her for a lifetime. I’m not an expert but I suspect you will always miss your sister–and I will always miss Joe. The sadness lessens but the hole is never filled. I’m pretty sure, I wouldn’t want to stop missing Joe..if it meant giving up the good memories we had together. For me “missing” stores all the memories Joe and i shared.

  4. I have been trying to hold it together all week. I am consumed with grief for my dearest friend. Her teenage son in a grave. The next son hospitalized! I go on fb and pretend. All day long I am pretending to be happy and back to normal but inside I am dying myself because I get it, she will miss this child everyday of her life! Her children will miss their brother to the day they die, I know ! I agree with the person above whoever asked you ” If you still miss Joe ? ” Well sorry they are an F’ing idiot ! When I read your individual blogs about Joe I miss him for you. My heart aches when I read these small but beautiful tributes to a wonderful man who embraced life and celebrated life through his little family and community. I shall continue to pray for your loss Katybeth . I pray God will give you the strength to continue your beautiful stories, it is such a blessing to all of us who read them.

    • After reflecting about all this it occured to me what my friend has been going through since her son passed. Her biggest problem is having to cope with people. People at the grocery store. People at the schools of her younger children. People at church. She cannot handle all the inquiries and all the nosy neighbors. She is driving to grocery stores in another suburb to avoid people. Her children are feeling the pressure as well. Well meaning teachers, staff and parents constantly asking them if they are OK? But you see they’re not OK because of this tragedy. Not Ok with their mommy screaming throughout the day in hysteria I want my boy back !! Death sucks, that is all there is to it and we just do not know how to cope when it hits our door like a Tsunami. Damn it!

      • A Tsunami is a good example of what unexpected loss feels like, coping is a myth.
Of-course your friend is not ok. I have been asked to write an article of suggestions about how to help a friend cope with loss..not asking “are you ok and then adding quickly…”of-course you aren’t” will be at the top of the list.
        Just saying back to your friend what she says to you, and then when she quickly defends what she said, agreeing with her again can help her feel heard and understood. “I was a terrible mother” ,”You must wish you could have done more.” “I did the best I could” You know you did the best you could. “I wish I was the one who died.” Its really hard to see yourself going on with on without your son. The thing that helped Cole and I the most were people who be our witnesses,not the people who attempted to help us cope.

  5. It’s hard to type when I’m crying. Thank you for a big dose of what really matters. I hurt for you and Cole and I can’t begin to imagine what you are going through. Love and hugs to you my friend.

  6. This post is a double edged sword. I ache for you and the emptiness that exists since Joe died. And I also feel for those who have never had a Joe in their lives to miss.

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