May taunts me with a mayhem of emotions. And my list of writing topics has expanded tenfold this month as I experienced each thought and feeling more vibrantly than the last. This month I chose to privately journal my internal chaos, and something appeared repeatedly in May that I haven’t yet felt.
I am so angry that I have to tell this story. I am so angry that the end of each sentence is punctuated by tears. My once gentle hands that loved to hold my sons hand, now clench in tight fists full sloppy punches at an invisible wall. He and I used to smile so hard you could see our matching dimples from a mile away. Now my jaw is taut with stress from forcing a smile or conversation that is comfortable enough for public consumption.
The crowds of sad grief consolers have retracted far enough into their own private lives, and I am here to continue the wondery in silence. Why Ian? Why suicide? Why us? Come on May…fucking give me something!
I’ll continue scouring the past looking for some sort of redemption for Ian’s suicide. If I squint my eyes tight enough, seeking razor sharp focus to his life here with us, maybe I can find the reason’s why and close the cover to this horror story once and for all.
For each time I see a shadowey figure teasing me into the darkness to make me stare into Ian’s lost way and his reason, I have unlimited examples of his light. A light that pulls me back into a space of deep love, empathy and connection to a boy I can’t ever wrap my arms around again. It’s these two opposing forces yet parallel spaces that leave me feeling angry, confused and lost.
If I could tell you a little bit about his light while he was here, it helps me to settle my anger, and I hope it helps you understand a boy with a big message to live hard, and why it’s now a movement. I could write a book filled with stories, adventures and Ian-isms. But today I will share just one story that has two main characters and two settings. Him and I, and the before and after.
At the beginning of the month of May, I had the distinct honor and privilege of speaking to over 1300 students, at Ian’s middle school during their annual empathy week. I will leave the bulk of my conversation between them and I. The connection and trust granted in that gymnasium that morning is something that I hold very dear. The current student body in large did not know Ian. But several of the eighth graders in the room knew him when they were in the sixth grade. Ian help plan empathy week for them when they were the littles of the school.
Some of these kids were brave enough to come up to me after the assembly. Some shared tears, a hug, or just let me be in their space while they shared their pain. One boy told me a short story. Its the kind of story that you hope one day you’ll hear about your kids. This boy said that he had a really rough sixth grade year adjusting, finding friends and avoiding bullies. One day Ian noticed what was going on with the bullies, and single handedly stopped it altogether from happening again. He has always been so grateful to Ian for stepping in and he was happy that he got the chance to meet him. He let me know that Ian taught him to stand up and fight for what’s right and just and kind. I love this boy and his courage to tell a story to a mom who needs it now to share her son’s light when nothing else makes sense.
See all the darkness recedes when we are confronted by such love and light in truth telling. The lump in our throat dissipates, our fists unclench and our jaw relaxes. For the last two years I’ve been trying to make sense of this broken thread of my own identity of Momma. Maybe the answer is to braid all our broken threads together to form the Live Hard Movement. Maybe the answer is not just to be a mom to two beautiful teenagers but to be everyones mom.