I love to play the piano. It is one of my favorite ways to relax and unwind. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take lessons consistently at any point in my life, so I have a lot of bad habits and have been terrible at timing since I was small. I see what’s on the page, and then I play what I think sounds good. I was always frustrated that I didn’t have the technical knowledge necessary to be a really good pianist and I was (am still) determined to stick any future children we had (may have) in lessons from an early age. In December, I started looking into violin lessons for Cory in Charleston. It’s an excellent instrument for young children to begin on and gives your fingers a dexterity I always felt like I was missing as a musician. I knew it was insanely early to even be thinking about, but I had waited for him for so long and I had been planning for him for years. His future had been imagined in my head since long before I knew he was coming. Violin lessons were just one of the things I hoped he would love. And if he was anything like his parents, he’d need music to survive.
I think one of the hardest parts of losing Cory has been losing his future. I told Morgan the week we came home from the hospital that I kept seeing little glimpses of what I imagined as my son’s future going up in smoke. That first week, I patted the couch for Zillah, our dog, to come lay next to me and was immersed in a thousand images of helping Cory onto the couch or jumping to grab him as he toppled off of it or watching him walk from one couch to the other. The possibility of those futures blurred and then disappeared forever. And it keeps happening. It’s so difficult to reach for those futures and then watch them fall out of existence. Cory’s imagined life has played in my mind in so many different ways since he died and letting go has not been easy, to say the least. Would he have loved the violin? Would he have hated instruments and thrown himself into soccer? Would he have been in boy scouts? Would he have constantly destroyed things and failed at putting them back together? Would he have shot birds with a bb gun? Or cried when his cousins did? Would he have been in theater? Gotten A’s? Sang constantly? Thrown tantrums? Loved to cook? What would have been his most defining quality? Compassion? Cleverness? Humor? Mischievousness? I don’t even know what his eyes looked like or how his face would have lit up when he smiled. I don’t know the answer to any of these questions and it hurts. And I don’t know what little thing is going to send me off into another idea of his future that I hadn’t yet realized I had lost.
Last night, a commercial played in which a mom and son were dancing in a grocery store aisle and the caption said something to the effect of, “When you realize he got it from you.” And I cried. I will never get to dance with Cory. Or, you know, I won’t get to dance while he rolls his eyes. I will never get to dance around the house with him as a toddler, or go to his dance recital, or watch him leave for prom. I won’t get to dance like an idiot when he gets into college. I won’t get to dance with him at his wedding. I won’t get to hold his children in my arms as an old woman and dance with them until they laugh. Just in the word ‘dance,’ I lost a whole future of joy and fun and laughter. Somehow, Morgan and I have to mourn the possibility of an entire future that has died. And not just that future with Cory, but also the small but real possibility that he was our only chance at that future. We are mourning our son, but also an entire future that existed with us as a family instead of a couple.
Cory’s real future on earth is in a tiny green urn with a golden tree on it. Every day we get glimpses of what life would have been like if he’d survived. We are constantly aware of what we’ve lost, what we could have had, and it’s so very difficult. We have to believe that there is more, that human life doesn’t stop with death. I don’t know how we could go on if we didn’t. Cory’s future on earth has been washed away, but I have to cling to my belief that the immortality of the human soul offers endless hope.