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Sunday, October 26, 2014

With every exhale, there is love

How can I possibly sum up all that you meant to me with the 26 letters of the alphabet? My mind races with how to assemble them accurately to say what I’m feeling.

A happy life
Pain is simple. It is easy, effortless. I open my eyes, I throw blankets back, I look at every object in my room, my house, and I find you. There are the pictures taped to the mirror on my dresser. There are the necklaces you made hanging around the base of the lamp on my side table. There are the hidden Christmas gifts that fall from the closet as I reach for the drying rack. There is the book you were going to read when you came home. These lovely, simple things are painful because they flood me with all that was, all that ceases to be.

Dark is easy, too. I think of how you walked out of school on a Tuesday, and as they tried to fix you, they destroyed your bit by bit. With their medications, they cut off the circulation in your legs, your hands, and I watched bits of your body die days before your heart stopped. I think of the packet of ashes waiting for me to pick up from the funeral home. How can you not exist anymore? How can your body—the one that I held and kissed and bathed and nursed and marveled at and read to—be removed from this earth, from my house, from this town, your school. The clothes you wore to the hospital sit on the step stool in the kitchen. You are here and you are gone.

There is also light. Every time I look out the window, I see you. You are in the shaking leaves on the London Plane in the garden. You are in the blades of grass forcing their way through our dry earth, browned by drought. You are stretched across the flat pads of the Manzanita bushes that dot the hillside where we walk our dog. You are in the fronds of the pineapple palm trees that line our streets. You are in the stems of the flowers standing in the vase on the patio. You are the bougainvillea branches stretching toward the sky. You, my boy, are everywhere. You shine through the front windows even though I’ve covered them with dark curtains. You flood my heart with light because you were light. Beautiful resplendent light.

There is also love. Within the pain, the dark, and the light, is love. Your name is love whispered into my pillow. Your photos are love flooding my eyes. As I lie on your bed in the dark, I inhale the scent of your blankets. It is love. Love is everywhere, you are everywhere. And nothing I can say or write can make you whole or bring you back or undo the wounds. But I have love. I have your memory.

You beat in my heart, you move through my veins. You flood my lungs and I breathe you back into the world with every exhale. 


  1. Anonymous2:57 PM

    Oh Suzanne. it's impossible to imagine. As a writer, you use 26 letters as powerfully as anyone could. And I send light and love to you to help you endure.

  2. Anonymous4:43 PM

    So beautifully written. My heart aches for you and your family. Sending love and strength to you.

  3. Donna Miranda5:11 PM

    Such a poignant and heartfelt piece Suzanne. You are an inspiration to me and a beautiful example of motherhood.

  4. Anonymous5:16 PM

    I am so deeply sorry for the loss of your beautiful boy. Thank you for allowing us to read your story. I hope that the memories stay and pain fades as the days move on. Many prayers for you and your family.

  5. Anonymous7:06 PM

    So very sorry for your loss. He will always be with you and your family. You gave him so much love ....I pray your tears of sadness soon become tears of happiness one day.

  6. Anonymous8:52 PM

    I cannot begin to imagine what you must be going through. I hope and pray you will somehow find what you need to some day be at peace knowing you did your best and if love could have cured this child, he would be well several times over.
    God Bless!

  7. Anonymous10:34 AM

    Your writing is so precious and beautiful. As I read I know the shadow of Riley's footprints are walking all around you. Your love for each other will never fade. Thank you so so much. Again for letting us share Riley's journey. Thought and prayers and Gino's hugs are with you.

  8. Oh Suzanne. I know grief, but not yours. I know grief, yet not from the loss of a magical inspired child of my own. I read your blog entries you so profoundly documented thus far of your family's challenging journey. I stand reverently beside you on this page, in solidarity. As many of us do, shoulder to shoulder, with the strength of an infantry, and the position of buttresses that allow you to lean if weak knees take over. we are hear like Terra Cotta Soldiers, in mass assemblage. I love that you wrote from your heart to your son. That perspective (writing to the one who slipped to the other side) buoyed me through the first few years. And when you can, sit and listen, and let your hand write back a letter that begins, Dear Mom" that is to you from Riley, and let it be what your heart wants and needs to hear back. Riley's voice will come through and it will surprise and sooth you, because it will also contain his humor, and wit, his kind way and his persevering spirit. He will remind you how to carry on, calm or not. He will hold space for all of you, all you feel, as well as all the ways this experience expands you, embraces you, forces you to acknowledge everything is different now. Something cherished slips away. And you get to find ever fresher ways to make the life that is left without him in it, full, precious comforting... Take your time. Breathe. Love. And if you ever would enjoy, come to me for complimentary massages. It is one blessing I can offer to help you through this time. Sincerely Erin Tajime Castelan,

  9. You are a beautiful mother.

  10. Karie Rego1:26 PM

    You are an incredible voice for what it means to have a child with heart defects. Many parents with smaller issues want to forget and "be normal." They never benefit from the knowledge that life is fleeting. The others with severe defects and "angels" often lose their voice. Your voice is even stronger and I hope you stay a part of the community for Riley as you a huge asset.

  11. Amelia Hogan3:48 PM

    I miss Riley so much. You're poem deeply touches my heart and makes me cry from all the way out here in CO