The day you took your life, I did not know it. There was no parental intuition that told me at some moment that you were gone. There was no supernatural darkening of the skies or ripping of the veil. You were gone. Alone and undiscovered for some hours.
And then for whatever time in the chaos after Daniel had to deal with what you had done, I did not know. And there were uniformed people and county workers tasked with removal and assessment. And one tasked with making a phone call.
And I did not die when the phone rang. Or when my wife answered and grabbed me in grief. I did not die when I heard the sound she made. That sound a mother makes when her child has died. I could have died. I could have stayed in that moment for eternity. But I did not. I cried. Because that is what living people do.
To be numb. To feel nothing. To stop moving, stop feeling, stop breathing. That is death. I could have stayed in that moment and stopped living, and started the process of dying. Of stillness and numbness and decline and decay.
I did not die that night. I did not stay on the floor like a dead man. I sobbed and sobbed like living people sometimes do. I did not wither and rot. I did not return to the earth with you. I did not crumble into ashes.
And everyday I remember you are gone and it grieves me like nothing else. Every day that passes I feel the weight of you missing. I feel deep sadness. And even if I try to cover that pain with anger or activity. I feel. Because that is what living people do.
I choose to join the living and to do what is difficult. To stand. To walk. To work. To laugh. And to enjoy as much as I can. Even a chocolate donut. (but not everyday.) because that is what living people do. And I suppose it is a choice. To surrender to death and decay or to stand defiantly in life.
I could have died that day. I could have stopped. I could have held my breath and buried everything that was ever alive in my soul until all that was left was those ashes- maybe in a human form, but no more feeling, no more living.
I could have died with you. But I did not.