Gavin and I have returned to California. The trip to North Carolina was busy and full of emotion for both of us. For those of you who don’t know, our family had moved to California from North Carolina this past November. It is in North Carolina that Noah started his freshman year of high school, first played in the marching band, and made a solid group offriends for the first time. The small, beach town of Emerald Isle and the surrounding communities gathered together to support us this week.
Gav and I both spent time with friends and neighbors. Noah’s old Dairy Queen offered us a space to gather and celebrate Noah by having a chocolate cookie dough Blizzard in his honor with anyone who wanted to join. I went to church, spoke with our pastor, and had the opportunity to speak with another couple that had lost their teenage son just a couple of years ago.
But perhaps the most impactful time spent for me during our visit was with my oldest friend, Tiffany. Roughly a week before Noah’s accident,Tiff lost two of her own five children in an accident. It is a horrible path to walk together and we both still try to reason how it could possibly be that this is our reality. Words can’t really describe the loss I feel in my heart for both her family and mine. But I am so thankful that I have her. She has always been my “person” and this is just another reminder that true friendships are sometimes bonded by the most unbelievable circumstances.
The last night of our visit, our families went to dinner together. The wait was long, and as we sat outside, her now youngest, Max, sat with Gavin on a bench. They were chatting about Minecraft, a game where players create virtual worlds together. Max shared with Gav that he used to play it with his little brother, but that his little brother had passed away. Gav just nodded. As the long wait went on, Max asked Gav about his family and about his brother, and Gavin shared that his brother had passed away, too, and that they also played Minecraft together.
When we were finally seated inside, the four remaining kids,Tiff’s three and Gavin, sat at one table and the adults sat at another. The service took forever. Occasionally I would look over at Gavin and Max, playing Minecraft, or the two girls who were reading and watching Ipads. I remember thinking to myself that for the first time since Noah’s passing, Gavin was surrounded by people who understood exactly what he was going through—all 15 years and younger. It breaks my heart everyday. As hard as it was for us to be there together, I take great comfort in knowing that the kids have each other. They don’t know it yet, but their persistent mothers will ensure they will at the very least have the opportunity to play Minecraft every now and then, despite time and distance.
I feel very lucky that such wonderful friends surround us.This is undoubtedly one of the hardest things we have ever been through. But I do feel protected and loved by the people in our life. Thank you again for being there—all of you.
A friend said to me this past week that salt water has healing power, whether it is the ocean or tears. I believe that to be true. One important thing I took away from this past week is that we still have a lot of life left to live. This journey is hard, but it is not unbearable. I will not drown in the salt water. I will not drown in my tears. I will use it to heal, one drop at a time.