Roberta F. King

Author site for the memoir, He Plays a Harp and other writing by Roberta F. King

23 September
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September Son

Yesterday, I was riding my bike and thought about you, Noah. There are tiny triggers every day that cause me to pause and remember you. Sometimes it’s seeing a school bus rambling down the road, or I’ll hear a certain song or a spoken word that makes me smile about our life together. Other times the mulling is more intentional. I think of you hard when I’m in your old bedroom. Lately, I’ve been choosing some of your old books to place in our Little Free Library. It’s painful, but feels good to be sharing a part of your life with people who will never know you.

Lake Michigan in the fallThe weather here is just like it was the fall you went to kindergarten and that’s why I thought of you. It’s oddly warm, summerlike. There’s a sporadic southwesterly breeze and the light is abundant, yet diffused, as the sun moves further away.  I remember the September that you started school, it was very warm and sunny, too. I was between jobs and I was happy to not be working. I was a final candidate for two jobs, both of which I wanted, and I felt confident and glorious. I ran every morning after you left for school and then, a few days a week I walked over to your school to read to your class, wading in Lake Michigan on the way home. I loved seeing you and your friends sitting in a circle listening to some of our favorite stories. I’m sure I read McElligot’s Pool and Curious George Makes Pancakes.

So today, as I was riding my bike, I was reminded of that wonderful time in our lives and was thinking about your birthday, too. Did I bring cupcakes to your kindergarten class that day? Was your birthday that year on a school day? I can’t remember for sure. Making cupcakes seems like something a mother might do, but I’m not a maker of beautiful cupcakes, which I would have wanted them to be. But five and six-year-olds are easy to impress with thick frosting and abundant sprinkles.

Had you lived, you’d be 29 years old today. I can’t imagine it. I just can’t visualize you beyond the 17 years that you were alive. Lack of brainpower or lack of will, I’m not sure which it is.Noah Miesch age 15

Maybe that’s why I have to go back to the past, raising up memories and thinking about the happy days of your life—like your birthday. I picture times when you weren’t sick or suffering, I think of your crooked smile, your funny remarks, and your skinny legs. But, as time has passed those memories are fading, like cupcakes in kindergarten, I can’t be sure of anything today—other than how much I love you still.

27 February
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Tolerance of Grief

Yesterday was the seventh anniversary of Noah’s death.

I admit, the pain of his loss isn’t as acute as it was seven years ago. But still, when I think of him, I can feel the tightness in my throat and my eyes start to burn.

And I think about him every single day.

That’s the reality of this kind of loss. The grief hangs on and on. It’s become a part of me. As much as I am a writer, a runner, a public relations professional, a wife and a friend, I am a grieving person.  I don’t mind the sadness as much anymore, like running I’ve built up a tolerance to it. Just like going out to run five or ten miles, there’s effort, but not the pain I once knew.

A friend of mine pointed me to a poem by Emily Dickinson, I found the last line of it to be intriguing. It seems hopeful,  aspirational, but impossible.“First chill, then stupor, then the letting go.”

Her word choices describe the early bits of of death very well. I struggle with the letting go part, though. I don’t think letting go is something I’ll ever completely do when it comes to Noah. All that I have left of him are memories. Grief and memories are interconnected and without memories what would I grieve? I grieve as I remember the good times we had with Noah, eating supper, reading books, getting ready for school, the trips we took, celebrating holidays and how he looked, felt and smelled.

As long as I have memories of my son, I’ll have grief in my life. The letting go is something I don’t ever want to do.

Noah on a boat in the Keys

One of my favorite images of Noah, we were boating in the Florida Keys. He was about 15 years old at the time.