To The Daily Sun,
Alex Rowson passed away on April 9, 2008, on his way to get a fishing pole. For the next few weeks, I heard sentiments such as "sorry for your loss, is there anything I can do, and there are no words to say." It was all true and I loved and appreciated all the wonderful people that were saying it. But after a short time passed, I woke to an empty house that was so quiet, I wanted to scream.
There were empty sneakers and hats. There were no empty water bottles or half-eaten boxes of cereal. There was no loud music, there was no young man singing at the top of his voice. There was no wet towel on the floor and no mud on the carpet. And I realized that while I had often looked forward to just such a morning of peace, that same peace had become a loneliness unparalleled by any other that I had known in this lifetime. Where did I go from here?
My sister, Catherine Corriveau, sent me this poem that she wrote.
I saw you standing at the grave, at the son you could not save.
I felt your heart in sorrow die, as you whispered, "no, not I."
I saw the pain etched in your face, the kind of hurt time can't erase.
I heard you screaming in the night, into the pillow you held tight.
I saw your anger as it grew, I watched you lose a piece of you.
I felt the darkness fill your soul, a chasm I could not control.
But in the midst of pain and fear, there stood a faith so strong and clear.
A sweet and vibrant special son, would teach us all how it was done.
Live each hour with love and zest, give of yourself and do your best.
Find joy and laughter every day, give love to those who come your way.
I saw you standing at the grave, at the son who was so brave.
I felt your heart beat on in pride, of joys and smiles that never died.
I saw your face light up again, when you recalled the fun he'd been.
I heard you laugh, or so it seems, when someone asked, "What's yellow mean?"
I felt your anger slip away, the young man's spirit was here to stay.
I felt the light creep in your soul, a young child's strength would help console.
A young man filled with life and joy, a wondrous child, your little boy.
He taught us, each and every one, to laugh and sing, and play and run.
He showed us many, many ways to find laughter in our days.
So when we see that yellow light, we'll know your boy is good this night.
Our love for Alex will shine brightly for as long as we all shall live.
This poem was a gift to help me see that I needed to go on and live the life he would have lived. If I could give a gift to each and every person, it would be that you could see life through Alexander's eyes. He saw every person as important and worthy of love. He enjoyed life. He had an imagination that often drove us to the limits and he challenged every teacher who ever had him. He filled a wading pool with friends and launched it into the brook where they rode this magic boat down to the lake. He hung an old couch from our broken backyard swing set and flew his imaginary plane to amazing heights. He was smart, he was fun and he was kind to all people.
It has now been eight years since we lost our son and still the loneliness creeps into my soul.
Since we lost Alex and also his friend, Ben Emmond, the pain is still as great and sometimes greater as we see their friends grow and become young men and women accomplishing their goals, marrying and starting families of their own and knowing that Alex and Ben's dreams ended at the age of 17.
I know that many parents have lost children and the pain and emptiness is unbearable. We are all seeking a magic answer and I wish that I had one. I know that you have to let the tears flow, you have to let others help you, you have to have faith that your child would want you to be happy again, you have to not feel guilty when you want to talk about them, or when you don't, you have to know that the missing them and loving them will be forever, you have to know that people care, you simply have to keep going. Hopefully, you have family and friends to support you.
When Alex was just 3 years old, we were riding down a road in autumn and I pointed out to him all the leaves with their beautiful colors, red and orange and yellow. He asked me a simple question. "What does yellow mean? "I explained that it doesn't mean anything, it's just a color.
He started crying and kicking the seat and asked me again, "What does yellow mean?" "You know what it means, why won't you tell me?" Finally, I said, "Why don't YOU tell ME?" Among the sobs, he said, "It means slow down." I guess this simple statement is a lesson to all of us.
My prayer for all of you is to slow down, don't miss the joy in life, follow your dreams, even if they have changed, love each other, love yourself.
Last week, there was a letter in The Daily Sun from a stranger who had noticed a plaque at the site where the boys lost their lives and realized that it was a tribute to two young men who had died tragically on that spot. Her words of comfort as she reached out to two broken-hearted families will not be forgotten. We thank you, Denise Burke, for your flowers and your words and want you to know that we felt your mental hugs on that day.
And thank you to all of Alex and Ben's friends that continue to reach out to us in so many ways with cards and letters and Facebook posts. Thanks to those that pass by and straighten out a snowman or leave flowers and notes and clean up weeds and renew the sod at the site which I pass by every day. The symbols of love do not go unnoticed, if they are not acknowledged, believe me.
On April 15, 1991, we welcomed Alexander into this world and on April 15, 2008, we said goodbye. And our family will be forever grateful that he was a part of our lives and our memories.
Alex and Ben had amazing smiles, a happy outlook, incredible imaginations and a tolerance and kindness for everyone that they met. The tree houses, skate board ramps, and ski jumps built in backyards can attest to that. They made a difference in this world. We love them forever and forever.
Again, thanks for all the support of family, friends, community and even strangers for all your love and caring.