I baked cookies for my friend’s son’s birthday tomorrow–but the Hell of it is he won’t be there.
My friend’s son did what thousands of kids on school break did last year–he went out on a group trip. And through a convergence of multiple things going wrong–none of which on their own would have harmed a fly but together made the perfect storm of destruction–he died.
Tomorrow would have been his birthday. Not yet a double digit birthday, either–a few years from that. It is a sad day indeed for those left behind to remember him in this way–not with balloons and streamers but with sadness and tears. No parent should ever have to live a day like what my friend will live tomorrow.
So I made cookies. How appauling you may say. But the reality is that this is his birthday. The boy came into this world on a special day, one of 365, and it’s his day–whether he’s here to celebrate it or whether he’s out there wherever he is, doing whatever he’s doing. This was his day. And his parents are marking it in their own special way. And I plan to help them do so–
I plan to go to the celebration of his life tomorrow, armed with flour, vanilla extract and chocolate chips all mixed up to symbolize CELEBRATE. Not the horror of what’s happened. Not the devastation of his passing. Not the pain of his absence. Not the years of psychological, spiritual work it will take for his folks to make this terror subside to the dull roar any parent in this circumstance must hunger for so he or she can at least get through a day without sobbing–this thing, this circumstance, is what I imagine when I hear the term “Hell on Earth.”
My cookies, however, are not meant to exacerbate any of that tragedy. With luck and my culinary intentions coming through, these sweets will highlight the little life that sparkled. What kid doesn’t like homemade chocolate chip cookies? His friends will be there talking about him, telling stories about him, memorializing him in that innocent way that children do. My offering is a nod to that innocence: cookies, kids and youthful energy blended together to remember a young man who made his mother laugh, made his father proud, made his grandparents smile, brought joy to his siblings, joined his friends in play and ruckus. That sweet boy must be celebrated–and loved–and remembered, always. And never forgotten.
So that’s where I’ll be tomorrow–armed with snacks homemade from the heart. If this is Hell on Earth then the least I can do is bring food to sustain the weary as they march through the fire, and to remind my friend that she is not alone in her trauma: she is surrounded by many who love her–not the least of all is her little boy, I must believe–somewhere out there, loving his mother still.
And with luck and hope, maybe he will be there tomorrow, around us, with us, in spirit–celebrating with us the precious life his mother gave him on this very day, and not so long ago–this very day of his birth;
|Posted May 22nd, 2012 by|