A few weeks ago, Gerard posted a link on his facebook wall.
It was a post written by a mother whose 18-year-old drug addict son had died after essentially being beaten to death. In the post, which I will link to only indirectly because I don’t think this woman needs to read my weird, creepy thoughts about her intensely private and painful experience. But you guys should definitely go read her stories for yourselves. Her writing is wonderful and her posts are gripping. Like I said, I randomly happened upon this one post three weeks ago and now I’ve read everything she’s ever published about every subject from divorce to difficulty breast feeding. Yes, I, Le Grand Prude of Our Lady of the Brooklyn, sat through a post about nipple positioning.
So, you know the woman writes well.
And, also, I am ghoulishly obsessed with death.
The piece, and again I’m going to paraphrase a lot, so this post won’t be googleable, is titled “What I don’t regret.”
Immediately, my cynic’s mind wonders if these aren’t things that she actually does regret. How can a parent that lost a teenager to drugs NOT second-guess every single decision and choice. The list is a litany of, what I imagine, are ordinary milestones of typical parent/child relationships: picking him up when he cried as a baby, singing to him, telling him she loved him.
But the list also includes: not beating him, letting him explore the city on his own, letting him sleep in our bed until he decided for himself that he was too old for it.
Except, in retrospect, how could she not regret these things?
Maybe the day he decided he was too old, he secretly hoped she’d say he wasn’t. It was someone out on those streets that first gave her child the pot that would eventually lead him down the road to his death. And, well, fear of beatings pretty much accounts for my doing or not doing everything I did or didn’t do for 15 years of my life.
But maybe second guessing yourself, when there’s no point: dead is dead, after all, would make an unbearable situation even worse. So, you learn to accept it. Embrace it. Don’t beat yourself up.
I don’t know. There’s also a post from a year before her son dies, where she writes about miscarrying the second child by her second husband. (She had three children from her first marriage and one from the second.) As she brings the teary post to a close, she ends with saying that “in the end, perhaps four children are enough. Four is a good number.”
Eerily, a year later, as her oldest child lingered in a coma, she was seven months pregnant and her daughter was born a month after her son’s death.
Four children once again.