Tomorrow is the three year anniversary of Casey being gone. I spent two hours in the car tonight driving home from Indy, letting the memories wash over me. Not trying to block them but remembering and crying, smiling, and crying some more.
The first year felt like denial. Since I didn’t see him but every few months, it felt more like, well I just hadn’t seen him in awhile. Year two, sort of set in with reality. But this past year, it has all caught up to me.
I still remember the day I met Casey. He was this adorable little 9 year old. He had green eyes ringed with brown, like his dads. He wasn’t shy, but I remember there was a wariness about him that first night at Chuck E Cheese. There was probably a wariness about all of us that night. The potential of blending those two families. And 6 years later, after his father and I had ended our run, he was still part of our family. Still coming to visit.
I also remember the last time I saw Casey. Harrison had left a sweatshirt at the lake over the holidays and Chris and Casey were in town to make a return to Best Buy. I met them in the parking lot to get Harry’s sweatshirt. Chris and I chatted for a few minutes, exchanging pleasantries. I remember thinking how tall Casey was, how I felt like he had grown another inch or two since he had visited over Thanksgiving. In fact I said just that and he laughed. Chris and I hugged. Casey and I hugged, like he really hugged me. And off they walked into the store. I got choked up watching them walk. My former best friend, my former partner and my never quite step son who I loved like one of my own.
Less than a month later, for whatever reasons, Casey decided to no longer live here. We don’t know why. He didn’t leave a note. He gave his brother his sour patch kids, rode his bike from his dads to his moms, and shot himself in his bedroom. The end.
For the last three years, I’ve been open and vocal about what we went through. I hope maybe it will serve as a reminder to parents. There are often no real warning signs with teens. Being a teenager is one giant warning sign. It’s hard to know. Lord knows I missed a lot of them with my kids. Children hide their pain really well.
Just ask. A lot.
I can’t talk about what Casey went through, because I don’t know. I know SOME things, but his dad I weren’t together anymore. I didn’t see him on the daily. I can speculate a lot of things, but I don’t know. I only know what my children went through losing their “step” sibling. I know my middle child keeps a picture of Casey in his wallet. I know that tonight, my two older kids are dealing in their own way. Taylor is cleaning. Chase is working on a puzzle with his girlfriend. I’m writing. I’m hoping Harrison is happily playing video games at his dads and not realizing the date.
And then, there is also mom. So yeah, mom passed on Casey’s death date.
I still can’t write much about mom, other than what’s been written. The relationship was complex and sad and hurts. I miss my mom. And it feels weird to write that because our relationship was so broken and I didn’t much feel like I HAD a mom. But she did TRY those last few years. Or moms version of try. With every bit of me that remembers something good, there is an equal dose of anger. And that’s the one thing we shared the most, an equal amount of anger and disappointment in the other for how we played our roles. I was a shitty daughter, and she was a shitty mom.
But the woman did make me laugh till I cried. We lived two blocks apart and I rarely saw her. But we’d occasionally talk on the phone, and get on a tear about something and end up cracking up, and in those moments, it felt like a relationship. I miss those. The rest of what I miss is simply the end of a possibility. We never made amends. Despite everyone who told me to make amends, I didn’t. I couldn’t. I didn’t even know where to start. I couldn’t change a relationship that was 44 years old.
Mom. I sure as fuck hope that whatever the other side brings, you are at peace. I’m sorry.
Casey. Of all the people I’ve lost, I still feel you the most. You are your fathers son and I feel like you watch over me, like you watch over all of us. We had such a special relationship and you were always the one who tried to jump in and make things easier. You were a great brother to Taylor and Chase and Harry and Bear. We miss you so fucking much. I’m so sad to not watch you grow up. We miss you Case.