Diary of a Mother's Mission

My son, Kevin Martin, disappered under mysterious circumstances in the wee hours of July 18, 2004. His partial remains were found on February 1, 2005 in the river. The Des Moines Police have not been helpful and this is my blog to tell what I have done as it's done.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Thanksgiving, 2006

Nothing very original and I'm not feeling very original today. It's more like same old, same old, or is it same ole, same ole. I chose a quiet Thanksgiving this year. I really wasn't up to visiting and being in situations where I didn't know some of the people, which is the way it would have been. It felt wonderful to receive a few different invitations but I guess I wanted to stay home and reflect on things, Kevin and Terry. Instead of reflecting, though, I guess I was feeling sorry for myself and so being by myself was a mistake.

The situation with Terry was more the norm. The person dies, a few days or a week later, one has the service and then it's over. Then the hard part. No more calls, no more messages on the answering machine, no more trips to the tobacco outlet and then to the post office... They talked on the news the other day about the fact that they're giving additional training in grief counseling to those in the military responsible for helping the families who have lost loved ones. Aparently there are those who don't think enough is being done. They can do more, I'm sure, to help, but then there will still come that point where the family has to move on and rebuild their life. The situation with Kevin was different because he was missing for six and a half months, but the bottom line is sooner or later one has to stand alone with one's grief. Every brief once in awhile there is a moment of joint rememberance like when the young man approached me at the "Kalidescope", or "Hub" downtown and told me he had been at Kevin's search. And, yes , one knows that other family members and a few close friends are feeling the loss just like you, that goes without saying, but still a person stands alone with his or her inner grief, sad to say.

Two years ago Terry came with me to a girlfriends house for Thanksgiving. I was amazed that he wanted to go! That year he said he just didn't want to stay home. It was nice and so I have that memory of a recent Thanksgiving together. Last year he went with his friend Carl to Carl's grandmother's for Thanksgiving, so that was good, too, since ordinarily he wanted to stay by himself.

I was remembering my first Thanksgiving here in Des Moines. I was still upstairs at 1505 Pleasant, Kevin lived downstairs. Brian went to New York that year with his father, but Kevin felt he had to stay here to work. My oven was small, a really cute old range with only three burners on top, and so the oven was miniscule, hardly large enough to cook even a modest size turkey. I cooked the turkey downstairs in Kevin's oven. Kevin was fast asleep through all of it. His hours were very different than mine and since he didn't have to work Thanksgiving Day I'm sure he went to bed just as I was getting up. Well I cooked a pretty good size turkey, which I think is funny. If you're going to cook one, one might as well make it a large one. So Kevin and I had at our disposal about a 23 lb. turkey. Of course there was stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce, etc., olives, which Kevin really liked. Everything was done by about 2:30, I called Kevin (he was still sleeping),I fixed his plate, or maybe he fixed it (I would have made the portions too large ( at 2:45) and Kevin, not being a big eater, it was all gone (his food) and over with (Thanksgiving) by 3:00 p.m.! Not the most memorable day, but we did have a really nice one the following year, Brian, Kevin and I, certainly more memorable, but I do have to laugh anyway.

That was Kevin, though, but something else surprised me too. Just the other day I remembered that Kevin told me that the same two teams play on Thanksgiving Day, the Lions and the Dolphins. I was really impressed! Not that I'm an avid football fan, I'm not, just a Steelers fan, but I should have known that, but didn't, and Kevin did! It just came to me, that particular memory of my conversation with Kevin, Wednesday, as I was driving the bus.

So, one big one down (Thanksgiving), one to go (Christmas)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Stream Of Consciousness???

I got up particularly early this morning hoping to watch the sun rise as I did my walking. A beautiful morning and a sun rise does wonders for a wanning faith. I guess it's that time of year again, but then a cold doesn't help matters either. It was a cloudy morning in Des Moines but getting out early before the throngs and car noises was better than nothing. As much as I love to drive, and I certainly do my share of it, when I'm out walking, to be on busy streets is like an assault to my psyche. I always try to pick quiet roads, some not quiet enough, and so I can't waite to turn the corner onto a less busy street. The decibels drop instantly and I can return to my inner thoughts once again.

Last Thursday I visited the "Hub" downtown, the second time in two weeks. Brian had taken me there five years ago and I had regretted not getting back there sooner; a really neat place with shops and a food court. I went with a girlfriend, even took the bus to and from downtown. What a treat to ride instead of driving! But anyway, I was sitting for a few minutes, waiting for the bus, and a guy came up to me and asked about Kevin. He had been at the search over two years ago. I couldn't believe that he remembered me, and the fact that he did, and stopped to speak with me and acknowledge Kevin's memory meant the world to me. He touched my real world for a brief moment.

As I've mentioned before, sometimes I go by places without a second thought, other times it triggers a memory. Every morning I go by the airport on my school run. This past week I've thought about Kevin each time I went by. A compelling memory. Kevin flew alot for his young years and it almost feels like I should go to the airport around the Holidays to pick him up. Emmett Fox says the departed are like people living in another country, that that is how we should think of it. Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could go to the airport and pick them up, yes, Terry too, as they come in from their new world to spend the Holiday's with us. One day I had this "compelling" feeling to go into Kevin's old house, 1505 Pleasant, which is now on 16th St. The guy from Kinter Construction was nice enough to let me go in. If he hadn't been there I would have sat amidst the gutted rooms and visualized the times I had been there with Kevin. I could just see it in my minds eye; Kevin, me, and the room as it was. I walk by there a few times a week, why one day I get this tremendous urge to go in, I don't know, just like now I have the urge to go to the airport.

I use to buy things in threes. One, each, for Terry, Brian, and Kevin. Lately I've been buying things in threes, too. Three angels, three crosses, for Daniel, Kevin and Terry. Another compelling urge; to buy angels. A symbol, as crosses are a symbol. Symbols of eternal life and beauty and God. All the things we do in a time of grief, I guess, but it does help. Actually, maybe I should have titled this blog "compulsion".

The other day I was talking to a woman on the bus who has been experiencing pain, gallbladder, she thinks. I had talked to her weeks ago but no memory. This time, I immediately became aware of a memory of Terry as a little baby. I had had my gallbladder removed two and a half months after Terry was born. I had been in the hospital for 10 days and so had not seen him. I was suppose to sit on the couch and take it easy, which I did do for a few minutes anyway. My mother brought Terry in to me, and put him on my lap. He hadn't seen me for 10 days, or maybe one or two more, but he instantaneously smiled at me. This great big, hugh, smile which was always Terry. A memory, like so many others which are coming to mind, as they did with Kevin. Memories which maybe go unnoticed or unrecalled when the person is in our daily life and we're building new memories on a daily basis...

Friday I bought a couple of tickets for Jolly Holiday Lights. A wonderful memory from last Christmas. I almost felt that Kevin was in the car with us as we went through Water Works Park to look at all the holiday light displays and wishing we could have one for Kevin.

So a bunch of thoughts, all over the place, as the Holidays approach. I feel that my thoughts are scattered, but still always focused on my inner world of Kevin and Terry...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Book

I had started to talk to Kevin about religion. Not organized religion but my religious or spiritual beliefs. A girlfriend of his had given him a book about angels and from that I purchased a book for him, along spiritual lines, although I think the history aspect was what really appealed to him. It was a play, a dialogue, between John F. Kennedy, C.S. Lewis and Aldous Huxley. I mentioned this before and the fact that all three men died within hours of each other. It was a dialogue about their three different approaches and beliefs about God and life. Why I was approaching the subject of God and religion so gingerly , I don't know. I guess I had always considered the subject to be very personal, something which developed over the years as ones beliefs matured. Perhaps now I feel differently as I never had the chance, I never took the chance, of bringing up the subject with Kevin and now it's too late. I would have given him a copy of the book which changed my life. Perhaps it wouldn't have appealed to him as much as it did me, I'll never know, but at least I should have tried.

I did give a copy of the book to Brian, and to Terry, for his birthday. The book is "How To Let God Help You" by Myrtle Fillmore, one of the founders of the Unity School of Christianity. Each person is an individual with a different set of experiences, as Terry was, as Brian is, as Kevin was. Perhaps the book would not have "spoken" to them as it did to me, but at least I wanted to offer to them something which meant so much to me. Something which changed my life.

Politely, Terry thanked me for the book when I spoke to him. I don't think I ever brought it up again but I certainly hoped that he would give it a try. Terry's memorial or funeral service was over when Carl, Terry's friend from the second grade, the one who lived downstairs and found Terry that day, stepped up and said that he would like to say a few words. He mentioned the book that I had given Terry and how he had caught Terry reading it a few times. Of course, Terry quickly put the book aside when Carl came in the apartment. He mentioned ,too, that during one of their conversations, Terry said that he did believe in God which made Carl very happy. I couldn't believe that wonderful gift that Carl had given me at the 13th hour. To know that Terry had read even a few words, had just opened the book, was all that I needed to hear. It was like a miracle!

So, no one ever knows. Kevin might not have ever picked the book up. Maybe Brian hasn't either, but at least I should have tried in Kevin's case. I learned my lesson, and so Brian and Terry both got a copy of this very special, precious, book.