Please Don't Ever Forget my Child
By Theresa Anthony, Author, My 13th Station
Recently, I saw a notice on Facebook that I had been tagged in someone’s post. When I clicked on this notification I was routed to a photo of my son’s high school varsity baseball team, accompanied by a sweet message written by one of the former teammates. He was feeling nostalgic and was recalling the wonderful baseball experience he and this team had shared over the years of playing ball together.
The reason I was tagged in the post was because he had specifically mentioned my son, Matthew. He wrote, “Miss you, Matt #22. Other players chimed in, commenting on Matt’s baseball skills and remembering his funny antics.” My heart was overcome with gratitude seeing my boy’s name mentioned, and I burst out in tears.
It had been a while since I'd seen my son’s name mentioned publicly like this. He has been gone for 7 ½ years now, so I guess that is to be expected. Life goes on. Daily life consumes our energy and attention, so it is perfectly natural for those who have passed away to be mentioned less and less over time.
As his mother, I love nothing more than to hear someone mention his name in conversation when something triggers a memory. My heart swells to overflowing just at the sound of his name. Hearing my boy’s name spoken, or written as with this Facebook post, validates that he is worthy of being remembered, and that he did once exist on the earth. Trust me, mothers who have lost a child, regardless of the cause of death, yearn to hear their child’s name spoken.
Most of us grieving moms regularly bring our child up in conversations, sometimes multiple times a day. It just comes naturally to us, speaking their name. To us, our deceased child is still very much present in our hearts and minds, even if their memory has faded a bit in others. Sometimes thoughts of our son or daughter might even dominate our days depending on our mood.
Maggie Fleitman, co-founder of the Solace Foundation of Orange County, created Solace for Hope, a support group that provides a wonderfully inviting space for parents who have lost a child to addiction. She understands how starved we grieving parents are to hear our child’s name mentioned, as she is one of us, having lost her own son.
Maggie generously spends copious amounts of time every month posting the photos and names of each of these lost children on the private Solace for Hope Facebook page as their birthdays or memorial dates arrive each day. I can attest to the warm burst of emotion I feel each time she posts about my son, and in the loving comments left by other mothers. We parents will take a minute to write a thoughtful comment, complete with lots of cute emojis, even though most of us never knew the child, because we understand how wonderful it is to receive such loving thoughts and expressions ourselves. Through Maggie’s efforts our son's or daughter’s memory remains alive.
Sometimes, from out of the blue, I will receive an email or DM from one of Matt’s buddies telling me how much they miss him or about a dream they’d had about him. Sometimes one of his friends will leave a sweet post on Matt’s now memorialized Facebook page. These gestures are like gold to me. Just knowing that he is still in the hearts and minds of the people he loved so much brings me such peace and comfort.
When I shared that baseball Facebook post with my ex, he was also very moved. He wrote back, “I miss him every single day, one of my first thoughts each morning. It feels good to know others think about him, too.” He and I may no longer be married, but our son was a beautiful human being and is deeply missed. May he never be forgotten.
Theresa Anthony's memoir -My 13th Station- about her son can be found here: amzn.to/2SjBiLN
Upcoming book: Hope Springs from a Mother's Broken Heart: 11 Mothers Share How They Survived the Loss of a Child coming in July 2021!