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Matt's Gift

Today is the anniversary of my son’s death. Over the years, I’ve created a special space for dealing with my grief during this always-tender mother/son time, and discovered that acceptance and healing gain more traction in me when I’m open to the gift of light, almost always present, within his memories.

“The wound is the place where light enters you.”


Every late August I begin to think about writing this particular September blog. Generally, I’m too much in my head. . . clutching at some maybe’s and pushing them onto paper, especially as deadlines approach. Most of these ideas become crappy first drafts, not worth rewrites. I start over. Over these past unpredictable months, I’ve worked to become a bit gentler and hopefully, smarter – less pushy, more patient. So, I, the writer, asked myself to live what I’ve been practicing: relaxing into this time, staying aware and trusting inspiration to awaken something within me. About 10 days ago, that’s exactly what happened. During a morning reading, I ran headlong into Matt through an unexpected word on a random page – dreamcatcher.

During an elementary school art class, Matt made me his version of a dream catcher. Delivery was a “Here, Mom” moment as he passed through the kitchen; I was way more excited about it. I held a gift of white, green and blue yarn, a brightly-colored diamond crafted around it’s middle circle. Three green pompoms hung from wrapped yarn; I can only imagine the kind of help he had to have to get those small yarn poms to behave and stay attached. For me, it was love at first sight; I could never give it up. Over the ensuing years it’s been packed up for numerous moves, lived in three separate households, and always landed in a place where I could easily see it and remember that my young son made it with me in mind.

I’ve read that dreamcatchers were created to replicate the weaving of spider webs, and served as symbols of protection and comfort. For best effect, the dreamcatcher hangs above a child’s bed in a place where sunlight can hit it. Catching all the many nighttime thoughts and dreams in its web, it allows all the best ones to pass through, gently sliding down on feathers (or yarn) to comfort the sleeper; bad dreams are caught in the protective net and burned up as the light of day appears.

What a love gift, from one to another. Now, I have no illusions that my pre-teen son remembered any such background on the art project he was crafting. But I love that this long-ago gift from Matt – the one I’ve never, ever considered losing or leaving – could represent a metaphor for his mom’s protection and comfort. Such an idea opens and fills my heart with gratitude today as I stand witness once again to his death.

“Light precedes every transition. Whether at the end of a tunnel, through a crack in the door or the flash of an idea, it is always there, heralding a new beginning.”

“The Transition Witness”

I want to remember to find this quote every year about this time. It gives me hope. I can keep growing, transitioning forward, even in the midst of old and profound grief. And more, I can identify the light as it shines into the tunnels, flashes and flows into the cracks of wounds, opened just enough to accept the warmth and bright promise of a new beginning.

Make this a day to catch some light.

Matt and I send our love,


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