"What-Ifs ....

what_if.jpg.... get us nowhere."

I'll type it again.
"What ifs get us nowhere."
That's a direct quote.
From my sixteen year old son.

He texted that to me the other night, minutes after we'd had a heated exchange of words.
He had said some things that I thought were beyond disrespectful.  And I told him so.
I also told that him that he would never, ever have said things like that if his dad were here.
To which he promptly turned away and went into his room.

And thus, the text.
Only, before he wrote that, he wrote,
"He's dead, that sucks, but it's the past.
What ifs get us nowhere."

I think I may have sucked all of the air out of the room and into my lungs when I read those words.

But I've been pondering them.

"He's dead, that sucks, ...."
Yes he is.
And yes that does.

".... but it's the past."
Ahhhh, those 4 little words say so much to me .... and hold a lot of powerful emotions.

For my son, it's true.  Mostly. 
He did die.  That is the past.  My son has the rest of his hopefully-very-long-life ahead of him ..... two years left of high school and football and pretty much breezing through his classes.
Then college.   Oh how I loved my college years.  I so look forward to seeing how much fun he has in college.
And then ..... who knows?  His future is a blank canvas at the moment, just waiting for him to add some color to it, to dabble in different mediums, to make of it what he chooses.

"but it's the past."
For me, those words felt like a cold knife slicing into my heart.
Because for me, it will never feel like "the past."
It still feels like Jim's death is the past, the future and very much the moment.
Not that I'm grieving him the same way as I did in the past.
Thank God.  I know that neither my body or mind could not have held on to that kind of grief much longer ... and survived.

And I am moving forward in my life.  I am happy.  I am content.
I am finding pieces of the "before Janine".  Good pieces that, when added to the "after Janine" make for a better person.
But .... they are still only pieces.

Jim will always be with me.
As will his death.
For me .... it will never be "the past".
It won't define me, in a negative, "woe is me, the keening widow" way.
But it will define me as to why I am who I am, why I think the way I think and why my heart feels the way it feels .... more tender, more compassionate, more quick to express love.

And I know that, for my son, Jim's death really isn't "the past", either.
It will certainly define him, as it will all of our children .... as to why they are the wonderful people they are.
Part of that is because of Jim's death.
And much of that is because of .... Jim's life.

Though I know that Jim, and his death, aren't really "the past" for my son, and that he used those words in an emotional moment, I know that they also hold a grain of truth.
The deep, painful, gut-wrenching, life-pausing, paralyzing grief ..... is "the past".
But the things we've learned, the compassion we've been shown and now have more of, the time we don't take for granted, the very many "I love you"s ..... those will continue on.

But one thing is definitely certain .... and yet sometimes difficult to get past .....
"What ifs get us nowhere."
Indeed.

I think my sixteen year old is wise beyond his years.


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