21

Raven would have turned 21 today. The birthday that signifies the transition to real adulthood as far as benefits and privileges go in the US.

It’s hard for me to imagine at this moment what you would be like as a young man of 21. Would you still have loved pizza with strange combinations, the spicier the better? Would you have an idea of what you wanted to do with your life? What kind of hair products would you have committed to? What kind of music would you love? I hope it would not still be Justin Bieber!

Would you have been happy? Would you have fallen in love? Would you have fallen out of love? Where would you have worked already? And what amazing things would you have created?

I keep a picture of you on my desk, right in front of. Of you, that last Easter in Seattle when we were a whole family. The one of you looking at Miss Mary with one of your gummy worms hanging out of her nose. And I use your clipboard, one that you had decorated with all kinds of stuff as the place I write down all of things that need to be done or explored further.

Day in and day out, I still wear the Raven pendant that I got when you were 8. The cord is starting to fray so I have ordered a new one. Who knew that how we were going to become part of each other’s lives that day? I know I didn’t.

I still don’t understand why you took your life. I know I never will. The anger of the left behind, the guilt and all of the “What if I had” questions has transformed. It’s much quieter now. Instead I hold more of the love and the good memories in that part of me that has to do with you.

What categorized our life together most is that it was never boring. Being first your “Dementor” (as you used to introduce me to people) and then your mom and always your biggest fan, I was able to experience so many new things. While I wasn’t your first mom, you were definitely my first kid. It gave us a freedom to try new things, to see how well you could thrive when you were given the chance to – most importantly by giving yourself permission to. I know it was hard for you, to settle in, to attach, to believe that you belonged. You did belong and you still do.

I am, to this day, so proud of the life you led. I wish there had been more of it. When I woke the dogs up this morning, the first thing I said to them was “It’s your boy’s birthday today.” Then I spent some time telling them that I hoped you were with Miss Mary and that you would be there waiting for them when it was their time. I hope you will be there waiting for me too. In the meantime, I will keep looking at the Easter photo. I will think of the two of you together.

You are missed and loved, Raven. Your life inspires me every day to keep fighting for a different system and outcome, for all.

 

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