Looking back, I am not certain whether any of my sons have fully understood how much I have loved them, still love them, always will. When my middle son Terry died in December 2016, I came to understand how few years any of us have available to us to say the words and how limited our vocabulary.
As a writer, that is a strange thing to admit, I suppose. Had I been a poet, perhaps I could have penned an ode. If John Keats could wax eloquent about a Grecian urn, surely I could have captured some meaningful words from my well of emotion.
But I am not a poet, and though a writer, I cannot ever remember crafting a love note to my sons, all the more tragic once Terry left this earth. I suppose I have some weak excuses for this. When they were young, words were not necessary. There were hugs and kisses and squeals of joy and daily interactions, from bedtime stories to chocolate chip cookies, that spoke loudly on my behalf.
Things became more complicated once they had left home. There was my need to let them fly the nest, become independent, create their own, new world; their own, new family. At least that was my excuse as they walked into their future with rare and sporadic communication, for we all let time and space dictate.
My comfort has always come from an abiding feeling that the bond we created in the first twenty years would sustain us forever. That seemed true for a long time; perhaps still is. But doubt crept in around the edges when Terry fell ill and passed. Did he know that I adored him; that I would have gladly taken his place or produced a miracle or stopped time. That his dying was the most painful moment of my life.
Did Terry know how much I admired his strength and loyalty to his family; did he know I wished him more joy, fewer struggles; that his smiles salved my heart and my worries. For all that matters, do his brothers Bobby and Shawn know they likewise have my love and admiration for the strong, good men they have become. Did – do — my sons know that they have been the deepest abiding love of my lifetime. And if I have fallen short, failed to say, failed to show this well of emotion, will they forgive me?
— Jonnie Martin