I still have Kola’s certificate of recognition for his freshman year playing in the Mott orchestra hanging on the side of our refrigerator. I can’t get myself to take it down. He was really proud of that certificate. He hated practicing the viola, but he really did like to play. He loved the class, all of his orchestra friends and even the concerts. Normally after concerts we go out for ice cream to celebrate. His last concert for Mott we didn’t. He was grounded and no matter what, I was sticking to the “no fun and joy” rule while you are grounded. I regret that decision to this very day.
I still have two voicemail messages from Nikolai on my phone. I used to make him call me every single day when he got home from school to let me know he was home, in the house and safe. Sometimes I couldn’t answer my phone at work and he would leave me a message. I treasure these voicemails. I don’t listen to them often and they are both less than 30 seconds long, but I won’t ever delete them. It’s his voice. In one of them he simply says, “hey mom, I’m home.” How ironic that is now. And sometimes, I pretend that it’s actually him calling me from Heaven – his way of letting me know he’s okay.
I cleaned his room a bit several months ago and regretted it the second I made his bed. This isn’t Nikolai. He was a total slob! After that I didn’t touch it. It’s hard to go in there. It still smells like him – for good, bad or otherwise. I mean, he was a boy after all. Right now it sits – unused and empty. The door remains closed with his name still taped up on the outside from when he wrote it out in marker and cut it out to hang up for decoration.
I don’t know what to do with any of this. What I do know is that I’m not doing anything with it right now.
After I cleaned up his room the first time, I literally felt instant despair. I cried for days. It was as if I had erased Nikolai’s existence from that space and I couldn’t bear what I had just done. How could I do that? So for now, I will do nothing with any of this. And that is simply okay.