The other day I was talking to my husband about how if Anthony were alive at that very moment, this would be my best life. Everything in that moment was perfect.
The problem is that because Anthony is dead, we will never have a chance at perfect happiness in this world ever again. I don’t think we ever did have a chance at that on this side of heaven, but I never realized that until now that it is totally and absolutely not possible. I could win the lottery tomorrow and be able to have anything that I need or want in life and Anthony would still be dead so it would not be perfect.
In a way, this has freed me from so many expectations of what life should be like. I am free to live life as it is right now, in this moment, as it is.
This is something that Anthony has taught me in his death.
Anthony has taught me so much in my life. Even now, in death, he has taught me a lot and he has made me a better mother. It is for sure not worth losing him, but I can’t change what happened.
I am so proud of him and his life. It makes my heart hurt just thinking of what an amazing human being he is. And I use “is” on purpose. This last year he has taught me how to love my children and stop focusing on them being trophies that prove my worth or prove that I’m a good mother. He has taught me that my motherhood goes beyond this life. He is still my son and I am still his mother. Nobody can take that from me. How beautiful is that? How lucky am I to be a mother?
It is a lot more of a blessing now that I no longer expect these kids to be who I want them to be but have started to come to know them as they are. Who they are is not who I make them, who they are is who God has made them. That is pretty much nothing like who I expected them to be when I gave birth to them and raised them. The conflict between those two things, the kids I expected and the kids that are was the source of some many fights.
I never expected to be the mother of a child who died by suicide. I never expected to be the mother of any of these people. Those expectations were tied into who I wanted the world to think I am. It had everything to do with me proving myself and nothing to do with honoring who my children are.
I can’t love my living children the way I love Anthony in death. It is impossible but what I can do is change my attitude when mothering them. Everything I do for them is a gift. Every moment I have with them, every time they annoy the shit out of me, every single morning that I’m up at the crack of dawn to make a 40 min trip to take Felecity to school or every night that I text Gabe asking if he’s alive or every argument about pot I have with Dan. It is all a gift.
I would do anything to have Anthony annoy me right now. I can’t bring him back to life but I can honor his life by being thankful for each moment I have with my kids and grandkids and the girlfriends.
My kids are each on their own path to God. They might not know it and they might not believe me but they are. It is out of my control to choose for them. Their “yes” is theirs to give or to not give to God. It is none of my business.
If I can hope that Anthony is with God. The guy who identified as an atheist, had two kids out of wedlock, lived with his girlfriend, did a lot of things to break her heart as a man who did not respect her and who stood in my front yard once, yelling “fuck you mom” at the top of his lungs, then I can have the same hope for these other children. Even the one with a “positive nihilist” worldview.
My job is to love them, pray for them, accept them as they are and to be the best example of holiness in their life. That is not easy. I promise that within a day of me posting this one of them is going to fuck something up and make me question my entire life, but when the dust settles I will be back to this place of finding the gift in being their mother.
The truth is that all my expectations are rooted in fear. These standards that I placed on myself and on my family are not rooted in God or in Catholicism because the only standard God has for us is for us to exist. That is good enough for Him. We obey Him because we love Him, but for Him? It is simply good that we exist. I want to be that kind of parent. I love my children because they exist. I hope for them because God loves them more than I do. I have to trust in that more than I trust in my ability to choose to serve God for them because I can’t make that choice. Only they can make it for themselves.
Anthony has taught me to let go of my expectations and to love my family. To be thankful for them and for every moment I am alive and beyond this life.
This is my best life. Thank God for it. He is good.