The first sigh, the first smile, the first recognition that you are a significant person in this little person’s life; the first clutch of a toy, the first step, the first solid food, the first word ( “giggie” for dog, “owa” for cat); the first Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, birthday, Halloween and Easter; the first day of kindergarten; the first soccer/basketball/baseball/lacrosse team; the first day of high school; the first car, the first girlfriend, the first college graduation, the first job and the first business success.
I relish these events, noting each one on my calendar; I share them by phone with grandparents, aunts and uncles; I reflect upon them with a photo, and more recently, I relive them via a Facebook post or a text message.
Today is another first. The first Mother’s Day in 26 years I will spend without my son, Ian Clarke MacKenzie.
He died on July 16 2016, in an accident that should have never happened. But then, when are accidents planned?
In May 1991, Ian was in utero at about 20 weeks, and in that way, he joined his father, Bill, and me on a trip the island of Kauai. I count that as my first Mother’s Day.
One year later, we celebrated in Southern California at brunch with family at a restaurant on Newport harbor. By the next May, 1993, Ian’s brother, Alec Hugh, was a 3 month old. We had a double celebration!
My mother died in 1995 and the first Mother’s Day without her, which also always falls close to her birthday, was difficult. Since then, I have been able to celebrate and remember my mother, Jane Hite Reilly, on two days, very close together. I have always held her in my heart as I shared this special day with my sons, basking in the love of being a mother of two active, vibrant, mischievous, creative, intelligent children.
I have experienced the first birthday, the first Halloween, the first Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day and Easter without Ian. Each is accompanied by its own loving memory.
The first Mother’s Day without him? I was totally unprepared for the emotion this day has brought.
I am thankful for the rich memories I have of Ian. There are more than I can count. I am sad that I no longer have him to hug as he comes home from work and to congratulate him on a successful sale. I am sorry that I will not witness the growth of a young man who, poised to take the world by storm, was also growing into his role as a thoughtful adult with dreams of good things to come. I am sad that I will not watch him as he courts and marries the woman he loves, and that I will not one day hold his child, my grandchild, in my arms.
Hawaii. Ohana, the Hawaiian word for family, is important us. It is why, when the boys were growing up, we spent vacations at Kona Village Resort, a place that holds Ohana in its heart. The Big Island of Hawaii is where Bill and I now go to find peace, beauty, spiritually and simplicity.
Ohana. I am not without Ian. I know you are with me but in a different, more spiritual way. I miss you mightily. I love you wholeheartedly. Remember when you realized you could order as many Cookie Monsters as you wanted at Kona Village? Oh, those, were the days...
I love you, Ian.