I Didn’t Know

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I didn’t know I could shed so many tears,

Until an ocean of saltwater flooded my bathroom.

I didn’t know that I could hurt so badly,

Until this pain in my chest left me wailing on the floor.

I didn’t know that I could keep breathing without him,

Until his presence in me was violently removed.

I didn’t know that a person could stare at a wall for so many hours,

Until it was midnight and I felt no sense of passing time.

I didn’t know the hollowness of raw heartbreak,

Until I witnessed the bleak crater it left in my chest.

I didn’t know the true act of surrender,

Until I was forced to fall on my hands and knees.

I didn’t know a lot of things,

Until the day I lost him and began falling,

And falling,

And falling,

Endlessly falling.

I didn’t know how to trust that there was a bottom,

Until I heard his small whisper in my ear, Make it Count.

I don’t know when I will find bottom,

But I have his last words there to lend me some faith that there is one.

Andy

 

12341384_10208190259423932_5149577438212424902_nYou can never say goodbye to a spirit that is and always will be so alive. You can’t close the door and walk forward in a new direction. You can’t do that to someone to who shaped your life, whose presence was routine, whose “time spent” meant they were always around. You can’t move on when the boy who you grew up with, the one who lived in your basement, the one you nannied, the one you hung out with, the one you loved so dearly is taken from you, ripped from you, stolen from you. A tragic loss. An unexpected loss. That is not something that can be reasoned with. No one can tell me there was a purpose for his death at a mere 16 years of age. Beauty may grow from his death, but I don’t think God intended for him to die. But, “in all ways God works for the good of those who love him” and that rings true even in the most devastating of circumstances.

On December 1st Andy drove his dad, my uncle Dave, to the airport so that he could head back to California where he was currently living. After they said their goodbyes and I love you’s, Uncle Dave got in the security line.

As he was walking away, Andy called, “Hey Dad!”

His dad turned in Andy’s direction and with that big famous smile, Andy said,

“Make it Count, Dad!”

December 2nd, that was our last day with Andy. That was the last time that he would smile or laugh or joke or yell “Morg!” or tease his little siblings. My breath was taken away with the news. Not Andy. Not the innocent blonde boy with the big smile and patient presence. December 2nd that was it. The day my life, their life, our lives were forever changed.

December 6th was the day of Andy’s wake. It was the most painful day of my existence so far. The wails and cries of our family, the agony on his parents’ faces, the horrible reality that set in upon seeing Andy’s grey face, all amount to the most devastation I have simultaneously experienced. I don’t think there was one moment where I felt comfort, except perhaps in the knowledge that over 3000 people showed up to the wake. It was such a testimony to the amount of love Andy left behind, the amount of lives he touched, the amount of heartbreak outpouring over the city with his loss. December 6th forced my heart to grow stronger in order to carry the weight of my pain. It is now a little bigger, a little more resilient, and a little more scarred. But scars show that I have been wounded by Andy’s absence and that hurt shows that I love and love can never be killed because that which is not of this world can never die. So on December 6th I got a taste of what eternity is.

December 7th was the funeral. There are no words that do justice the act of burying someone you love, especially someone who is only 16. There are no words for the sight of his 9-year-old sister tossing roses into his grave or the sounds of your sullen grandfather wailing beside you. There is only an ache cutting deep in my chest, twisting and turning and tearing at my heart. There in the knowledge that nothing is ever going to be the same again. There in the thought that Andy is gone. He will never graduate. He will never go to college. He will never fly on a plane. Andy is in the ground and there is a crater in my chest. A crater formed by grief. A crater that reminds me he mattered, to me, to them, to all of us. December 7th taught me that death is devastatingly beautiful.

I lived four years and 10 months before Andy was born. That is the longest I have gone without Andy in my life and I can’t imagine spending the rest of it without him. But the clock keeps turning. The sun doesn’t cease to rise and fall. The breath pours from my lungs whether I want it to or not. God isn’t done with me yet. So from heaven looking down, I will “make my life count” for him, for the boy responsible for the crater inside my chest.

Loss

“Someday you will be faced with the reality of loss. And as life goes on, days rolling into nights, it will become clear that you never really stop missing someone special who’s gone, you just learn to live around the gaping hole of their absence.When you lose someone you can’t imagine living without, your heart breaks wide open, and the bad news is you never completely get over the loss. You will never forget them. However, in a backwards way, this is also the good news. They will live on in the warmth of your broken heart that doesn’t fully heal back up, and you will continue to grow and experience life, even with your wound. It’s like badly breaking an ankle that never heals perfectly, and that still hurts when you dance, but you dance anyway with a slight limp, and this limp just adds to the depth of your performance and the authenticity of your character. The people you lose remain a part of you. Remember them and always cherish the Good moments spent with them.”

Andrew.

Heaven gained an angel last night as my 16 year old cousin, who was very near and dear to my heart, was killed in a car accident.  Life is fleeting.  Moments are numbered.  Love is eternal.  This poem is for Andrew Keithley.

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“They that love beyond the world cannot be separated by it. Death cannot kill what never dies.”

I can’t explain,

The tearing in my chest.

Cutting, burning, ripping

Out at my fragile breast.

It is just there,

Slicing at my soul,

At my heart,

At my spirit.

Life is a violent work of art.

And I can’t explain…

…it.

This Heartbreak.

This Unmentionable Heartbreak.

 

16. You were just 16.

So cruel to steal,

To rip away someone so young.

A violent act,

I feel it in my chest.

You were loved.

By me,

By them,

By us.

Andy…

…I will always love you so much.

 

I hear your dad’s voice,

“We are going to make it”.

You are and you will

Forever engrained on my soul

A precious jewel

A spark of light

Who made it:

Tattooed forever in my mind.