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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Holding you

I held you in my lap on Monday. I was in the passenger seat and I clenched you, the brown boxes of you, as we wound along the roads from there to here. How I’ve wanted to hold you this past month, all those days in the hospital and all the days since. Even after you died, when I was allowed to climb onto the mattress next to you, to stroke your hair and whisper those last times into your ear, I wanted to pull you in, squeeze you like I always have. Not holding you, not touching your skin feels impossible. Yet here we are.

An everyday hug
And now I’ve held this new version of you, these two weighted boxes with your name on them. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when we arrived to claim your ashes. But you are not you at all. You are like a parcel waiting to be shipped. And when your dad takes his parcel version of you to his house, well, I cannot understand how can you be in two different places at the same time. Someone measured and made equal the ashes you left behind. It’s not like having some of your clothes here and some of them there.

All those days, and even now, I yearn to wrap my arms around your body as I have done all the days that I can remember being your mother. Even before you were born, I would fold my arms around your curled up body as it rolled inside of me. Why didn’t I hug you longer each time I kissed you goodnight? Why didn’t I hug you when you came in from school every day? How did I let you slip into your dad’s house without more fanfare? Did I really believe there would always be more? That the opportunities stretched beyond any given goodbye?

I know the answer to those questions. We simply lived our lives. We loved each other and lived together and you went to and from school, the park, a friend’s house. Our days were normal. Love floated through our worlds like the dancing vapor rising from a latte. It was faint, yet warm and visible. Each hug was never to be the last. Even that morning when I last heard your voice, when I said I love you and you said I love you too as doctors escorted you beyond the double doors—the last time I really saw you—it was a placeholder until the next time. Those words were casual confidence that there would be many next times.

Only now do I realize that more than my wants to hold you, to feel the way your elbows bend and the points of your shoulder blades, is my desire to feel you hugging me back, your small hands squeezing mine. To feel the weight of your limbs around my body or sitting on my lap just like all the other days. To press my nose into your hair and breathe you in, the warm wisps of love.


  1. Kate Potterfield9:53 AM

    Suzanne, your honesty and eloquence are an inspiration--and are so generous. I hope that they provide you with the comfort they undoubtedly provide to all who read and all who knew and loved Riley.

  2. He is not in those boxes, he is forever in your heart. Thank you again for your beautiful sharing.

  3. I wish I could hug you Suzanne yet I know that would not be enough. I wish I could drive to your house and just be mad or sad or confused with you. I love you all. I will continue to hope. Hope that you can concentrate on the I dids instead of the I wish I had. I will hug my kids tighter tonight. Thank you for reminding me to do this. We ALL never know tomorrow, just today. Today I hope you take it moment by moment. Hugs from nj

  4. Suzanne, my tears are flowing in streams over my cheeks and down on face dripping on to my cell phone. I weep for you and Riley.

    Your love messages will be heard by Riley and felt by all of us. I wish I could be with you to hold you in my arms and hug you back, to comfort you. With love, Patty

  5. Anonymous10:06 PM

    When I was 16 and my sister died, my family began saying "I love you" at every possible opportunity, sometimes many times in a single sentence. We still do. I can't say it so much at work, or out in the world, but I find ways to get the message across whenever I can. I deeply regret her death and I do not regret what I became as a result.

    That's what's happened for me for the past 40 years. Everyone is different and there is no one right way to grieve and respond, only the way that works best for you.

    I love you. I trust your choices and your path. -Thom