Sunday, March 19, 2017

Four Years Gone

Four years gone today.

We see Noah afresh at 18 in this portrait made by his Aunt Boehr. We'd never seen it till this year. What a magnificent discovery! He was on the cusp--just recently back from his year in France and about to start college.

May we unearth more memories, more insights into who Noah was to hold him living in our hearts.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

3 Moments Before the 4th Anniversary


      1.   In yoga class the other day, my teacher had us stretch out our arms and tilt them like wings. “Fly like an eagle,” she said. 

Instead of feeling expansive, I was waylaid by tears as I flashed on the great reach of Noah’s arms straining to touch the walls in our breakfast nook or spanning the width of the goal in water polo. Willowy, boyish arms that grew muscles overnight, it seemed, the summer before 9th grade when he got up every day at 5am for swim practice. Long, lanky arms that paddled out into the surf, carried sailboats, juggled clubs behind his back for hours. Sore arms that craved shoulder rubs whenever we watched a video. Wild arms that he threw all over the dance floor at college. Open arms that wrapped friends and cousins in hugs. 

I was thrilled when my tall teenage boys stood on either side of me and perched their elbows companionably on my shoulder; I could have stayed that way for hours. Ben (6’10”) still perches like that sometimes but there’s no little brother (6’4”) to balance the other side.

2    2.    I choke up reading the suicide note of a kamikaze pilot in Ruth Ozeki’s novel, Tale for the Time Being. “I know you know my heart,” the pilot writes to his mother, “and will not judge me too harshly.”

Did I know my son’s heart? Maybe when he was young; not in his last few years and definitely not in his last moments. Unless his heart hadn’t really changed and I can trust my intuition. This is my task now: to try to plumb Noah’s heart with every memory and dream, every hunch and scrap of information. And in doing so, to let go of judgement.

3.     3.  “The purpose of death is the release of love,” wrote Laurie Anderson in a tribute to her partner, Lou Reed,  and in the film, Heart of a Dog. Did she mean a mystical emitting of love by the dead in the moment of dying? Her words remind me of the outpouring of love by the living that’s palpable at funerals and memorials, hovering over the crowd. 

Those who take their lives can’t imagine the love that surges up in their wake. Too often, they kill themselves because they feel worthless and think they’re a burden to others. I can’t bear to think that Noah may have felt that. 

If those of us left behind are to take any greater purpose from the suicide of our loved ones, let it be to replenish our reservoir of love and release it out into the world, again and again.