Forced Witness (Part One)

04:32 Download
Paisley Yankolovich
From the 2017 CD, Forced Witness



He was my son. He is my son. I guess I could say “was” but now that my handsome boy has gone from being an awkward, smelly, post-teen annoyance to a force as big as the sun, moon or even God, dismissing him as past-tense seems rather trite and insulting. Don’tcha think?


He had four names. A first and last name and two in the middle. And in his short life my son managed to fill the expectations of each one of his names, and then some. A force of nature he was and someone, in hindsight, who would remind all who knew him that every single one of us matters and is an expression of God’s love and purpose. We are all forces of His nature and our lives matter. We matter.


It’s so easy to canonize the dead and that is most certainly not my intent. In fact, I think if you came here tonight expecting to leave knowing my dear child, you may be disappointed as that train has left. My son has left Planet Earth as we know it forever more and all of the pictures, stories, songs and tributes you may find amongst his friends and family… or online… would hardly scratch the surface of understanding the experience of knowing him and the devastating void his death has left.


I am forever wounded, eternally deformed. There is no fixing me nor is there any desire in my heart and soul to be healed. A limb had been torn from my flesh. It is gaping, bloody, infected and ripe. And I wear it like a badge of honor because that is the place my son lived in me. Does he still live on in me? I don’t think so or else it wouldn’t always feel so cold and lonely. I’ll grant you he lives on through me on some inconsequential level but he lives forever cradled in the arms of Jesus.


Knowing that we will reunite one day offers some comfort but that comfort quickly disappears when awareness sets in. Awareness that I may have forty or more years of suffering before that Great Day occurs. Having only survived a short period without him thus far, knowing how unbearable and unbearably long each day has been, there are times when I think it is me who has died. Died and gone to Hell. A hell fiendishly designed to meet the needs of my greatest fears and, considering the guilt I carry, my just-deserved eternal torments.


Because, despite whatever problems we may have had over the years he was alive, he was my son. My dreams of the future, my confidante, my shadow, my twin, my friend, my brother, my teacher, My God, my devil, my favorite things, and hell is a place where I can’t see him, touch him, smell him, laugh with him, argue with him, pray with him, hold him when he cries, council him about life, love and God’s amazing purposes for his existence. But especially hell is a place where I failed at my most important earthly role as parent: keeping my child alive. Safe, alive, healthy, on the right track, hopefully facing his future which will be long, prosperous and filled with so many of God’s blessings they cannot be numbered.


Well they were numbered. Just like his days. Him dying at twenty makes a mockery of me having made it to fifty. After a lifetime of living, many accomplishments-and just as many failures, lessons learned and oh yes, all those blessings from God. What have I to show for it now?


A beautiful family with a huge, ugly hole in the center where our dear son once was. 




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