I remember a trip I took to my grandmother’s when I was around 9 or 10 years old.
Usually, I’d stay in the room with twin beds with my grandmother when we visited and one morning I woke up and saw my grandmother standing up in front of her dresser crying and looking at a picture. Curious and worried, I asked my grandmother what was the matter. She told me that it was Lou Maddy’s birthday and she would have been 40 years old that day. I asked her who Lou Maddy was and she said she was her daughter.
I was confused. I knew Margaret and my mom but had never met anyone named Lou Maddy. Then she told me something I never knew. Lou Maddy had died when she was 2 years old. I remember to this day seeing her standing there and the feeling of shock.
I went to my mom to ask more questions and she told me the story. The nanny had been holding Lou Maddy’s hand and my mom’s sister Margaret, who was 9 years old, was holding the other hand. Lou Maddy all of a sudden managed to break away and she ran out in to the street at the exact moment a truck turned the corner and ran her over, killing her instantly.
Keep in mind, that my Mom was not born yet. I realized how fateful that death was because if she had not died, my mom would never had been born. And neither would I. I thought about that many times over the years.
The point is, my grandmother never stopped grieving Lou Maddy. She wasn’t always crying about it but that loss still hurt after decades and more importantly, she still wanted to talk about her. She wanted to remember her and for her to be remembered.
I will always miss my son. I will always have tears. My love did not end when he died. I will discuss both of my sons, the one that is alive and the one that has died. I will not hide how he lived and loved nor how he suffered or how he died.
I will not hide that he suffered from depression and addiction. I will not whisper that he died by suicide. It’s a cause of death and he suffered unspeakable pain I can only start to understand when I read his rap lyrics. So I, like my grandmother, will want to talk about my son until the day I die.
I will reference him in conversation, will compare traits of my son that died with yours that is alive. I will remember him as a baby, as a teen, as an artist as the comedian, an actor and treasure how he touched people.
There is no need to cringe when I mention him. He lived, he touched others, we suffered as a family and his death does not mean he is “erased” from my memory. It just means we have to give him back sooner than we would have liked.