guest column and photo by Ari

I used to sit by my boy’s photo and look deeply into his beautiful hazel eyes, wondering how on earth this had happened to him, to our family. There was nothing there that told me any secrets – they were bright and clear, crinkling around the edges as he laughed. His inner demons did not come through those eyes. So much for them being a window into the soul!

But as I sat there, day after day, I stopped looking for the “why’s” and instead I started focusing on his face, his smile, his soft hair, his crooked front teeth and cleft chin, his eyes – those wonderful, kind eyes. I remembered his laugh, his voice calling me “mom,” his soft snores on the couch late in the night when I would carefully wake him to go to bed.

I remembered him, in life, not just his death and the sadness that came with it. I remembered him.

I light a candle every Sunday, early with the sunrise, and it stays lit for the whole day, unless we go out somewhere, which we usually don’t do. Sundays were always family days, when my boy was home, and we stayed in our pj’s, eating a big breakfast, watching football, snacking all day, relaxing before the beginning of another busy week.

Sunday remains a quiet, peaceful day still, even with him gone. His candle shines bright all day, the smell making me smile whenever I walk by it. It is one way to keep his memory alive, to keep him close to us still. It sits by his photograph and lights the way into his eyes, so that I don’t forget, so that I remember him.

During the holidays it is easy to succumb to the ever present grief of them being gone. But doing small, meaningful things, such as lighting a candle in their memory, can make the sadness recede just a little bit, and sometimes that’s all we need- a small respite.

Remember them!