I’m Still Here
The tears fall savagely from my face as they lower his small coffin into the ground. Then like a whisper in the wind I hear, “I’m still here”. I look around me, but the only people there are my family and they are crying as well. I re-focus on the tragedy in front of me and hug my mom.
Jump forward a few weeks and my eyes are welling over as I prepare to press the razor to my skin and cut the pain away. I brace myself until I hear. “Please stop. I’m here. I’m still here.” So I stop. I throw away the razor and scream and cry. “PLEASE! PLEASE TALK TO ME AGAIN! PLEASE COME BACK!” I bawl at the ceiling. But of course he can’t hear me. Of course he doesn’t answer me.
Skip ahead and the tears are falling from my face again. This time from relief. I’m graduating high school. I receive my awards then I’m congratulated and hugged by my family. For one split moment I think, “If only he was here to celebrate with me. If only he could be with me today.” And like magic I hear him, “I’m still here. And I’m proud of you.” I smile. To myself and to him.
Fast-forward a few years and I’m getting married. I’m crying tears of happiness now. My husband-to-be says, “I do.” When it’s my turn I say, “I do”. I hear “you may now kiss the bride”. My newly-wed-husband leans in and kisses me gently. As we walk down the aisle I think, “He should be here watching me. He should be celebrating with me.” After all the pictures and all the hugs my husband and I start walking to our car. I’m just climbing in when I hear, “Don’t worry. I’m still here… And I’m celebrating.”
Move ahead, and I’m holding my newborn baby boy in my arms. He looks up at me and I notice that both my boys have the same eyes. My boy in heaven and my boy on earth. My two beautiful boys. The tears slip silently down my face. My husband leans over me and whispers, “he’s beautiful.” “Yeah. He really is.” I reply just as quietly. “Have you thought of a name yet?” he asks me as I hand him our baby. He walks over to the rocking chair and slowly puts our baby to sleep. “Yeah.” I say my voice barely a murmur. “Matthew.” As I too fall asleep I hear, “Thank you, thank you, thank you. I’m still here.” And, “I love you.”
Continue on and baby Matthew’s all grown-up. My husband and I have grown elderly. Matthew’s gotten married and has a few kids of his own. I’m a grandma now. “That means he’d be a great uncle.” I think as I sit and crochet a hat for my oldest grandchild. “Hey, don’t worry.” I hear briefly. “I’m still here.” The tears roll, once again. “Will this ever end? Will the pain ever go away?” I think as I wipe my wet eyes. “Didn’t you hear me? I’m still here. I’m right here with you. Forever and always.” “Thank you.” I say it out loud, but as a whisper. As if I might scare him away if I speak any louder. But, he’s gone.
Carry on, and I’m well into my 80’s. I’m in a nursing home now, and I rarely get out of bed. I’ve been here for 5 months and I don’t feel I have much time left. As I fall asleep one night, I hear him speak to me again, “Don’t be scared. I’m still here. I’m right here with you, and now we’re going to be together forever. You are coming to my house.” I look down at myself and I’m a little girl again. Matthew and I run and play and dance. I hold him close and whisper. “I missed you so much while you were gone.” I ruffle his hair and hold him closer. “When I was gone? I was never gone. Well, not completely. Didn’t you hear me? When I told you I was still there. When I would tell you I love you?” He looks at me in confusion. “I never left you. I was with you every step of the way, because I love you so much. I would never leave you because you are my big sister and family sticks together.”
Then he stands up, grabs my hand and we walk off together, smiling, knowing we’ll never be apart again.
This story was written by our daughter Michelle when she was 15. It has been published in the book Gems of British Columbia. I must say we are very proud of her. And I am so moved that this little guy, our precious Matthew, has touched her life so much too.
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