Each Monday evening, my son’s principal emails my son’s syllabus for the week. It’s a nicely organized Excel sheet complete with times for online sessions, assignment due dates, chapel times, and teacher office hours. The multiple tabs display the energy and thought put into the process of designing this plan. It’s a process that seems so clear cut and straight forward, with a tad of strategic maneuvering.  Just check the box.

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As I open the email, my fingers move a little slower than normal, visualizing a sheet I used to make for my son each week. No tabs. Just a one-pager, but it means the world to me now. It means I had another son. He was real. He existed and walked this earth. He had a gentle swagger to his walk with a smooth swing of one of his arms . . . if it wasn’t placed in his pocket. His other arm was usually busy, maybe holding the toothpick that protruded a bit from his mouth.

I miss my son.

I miss his smile, his kindness, and gentle ways.

I miss his intuitiveness, questioning, and digging around . . . always searching and loving his surroundings.

I miss his strong sense of self and ability to look inward as he humbly accepted others right where they were.

HOPE seemed to exude from his veins.

I miss his hope.

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I miss my son.

Where do I put those words on this nicely organized file I’m about to open? Where’s the box that says I’m allowed to miss my son? My son is allowed to miss his brother. Is there time allotted for this? Is there time to cry, wish . . . hope? Time to look out the window and remember?

Does anybody remember? 

Does anybody remember I had another son? His name was Josh. We had a schedule.  Just not so pretty. He walked with swagger, had dark curly hair, and loved this thing called life that we do. His name was Josh.

The emails roll in, one after another. All the emails. One from that teacher and one from another. Do this. Do that. Watch this. Turn in that. Zoom calls. Google Classroom meet-ups. Renweb grades. It’s all too much. Timelines, deadlines, congruent line segments, and fourteen-line sonnets.

Where’s Josh in all of this? Where’s my son?! He was once what homeschooling revolved around. He was the topic of the sonnet. The reason for the existence of the lines. 

I miss my son.

I press the button on the keyboard and download the file. Up pops the most perfect schedule. Neat, clean, organized, and straight forward.

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I sit with Josh’s brother and explain the process for this week of distance learning. As I look into his eyes, I’m reminded that he knows what I know. Something’s missing. Someone’s missing from this perfect plan. “Can we add a box, please?”

Did I tell you I had another son?

His name was Josh.

Previously published on the author’s blog

Rachel Blado

Rachel is a former educator who experienced the death of her 20-year-old son in 2016. She shares about hope in the midst of difficult places, in a creative way, in honor of her son. Her work can be found at OnTheWayToWhereYoureGoing.com