She was kneeling in the doorway, head down her mind numb in disbelief. When she heard her husband cry out, she looked at her son, so still beneath the window. His face seemed to glow in the morning sunlight.
“He looks so peaceful,” she whispered.
“Yes, m’am, he does,” one of the medics agreed with an encouraging smile.
She stood up and went down the hall. At the top of the stairs, she leaned against the wall, and then slumped to the floor. She tucked her knees up to her chest, wrapping her arms around them and just sat.
The medic sat beside her, talking quietly and his mother answered in whispers he could not hear. This wonderful wave of love swept through him then, and he knew her heart was breaking.
“I feel him,” she said, quietly.
“I know that happens sometimes.”
“I’m okay,” she said to the medic. She knew he was trying to check to see if she had gone into shock. For a moment her heart stopped when she realized that she was still here. Still breathing.
“We have to call our other son,” she said, quietly.
She went to her husband and he said, “I’ll call.”
She called her best friend, her sister-in-law, and asked her to come over. Cathy. One of the few people in her world whom she trusted and needed now more than anything.
She hung up the phone and the mother and father looked at each other, and could not say a word. They fell into each other’s arms, and held each other tightly, supporting each other from falling down. If the one should fall, the other would as well. Neither could cry. Neither had anything to say. There was nothing to be said. Neither one of them could answer the question of “Why.”
The doorbell rang and she saw the forms of two detectives outside.
“They have to come because it’s an unknown death,” he explained and handed her one of his cards. “If you need anything, just call. I will try to help you with anything at all.
She opened the door and moved to let the two officers inside. She answered their questions as she led them upstairs, and then followed them into her son’s room.
The one detective looked down at her son, and looked around the room, taking notes.
“I’m getting tired of this,” she said, shaking her head.
The mother looked at the detective, startled.
“Tired of what?”
The detective realized she has spoken out loud and pretended not to hear.
“Tired of what?” the mother insisted.
“Tired of these young people doing it “one more time.”
Her face flushed, the mother looked at the detective and said, defiantly, ”I don’t think so. He never did drugs and he hasn’t had a drink forever. He wasn’t drinking. I know. I would have known it.”
The other detective gently took her arm and led her down the stairs and into the family room. The detective quietly asked her questions about the last few days of her son’s life. They spoke for a long time, he taking notes, she still numb from the reality of it all. They heard the doorbell ring, and her sister-in-law came into the room. The mother stood and went to her best friend and together they held each other tightly. The detective finished with his notes and told her he would call her later as soon as they found out anything. He believed her. This was a sudden unknown death, but he believed that it was caused by something other than drugs, alcohol or on purpose.
As she walked him to the door, and the other detective joined them, he handed her one of his business cards and assured her he would keep in touch. If there were any questions, she should not hesitate to call.
As the detectives were leaving, as the door swung open, he oldest son and his wife had just started in. The mother immediately reached up to hold her first born, and together they hung their heads, too numb to cry. The pulled his wife into their private mourning, and the father joined as well and the four of them stood there for a very long moment, leaning against each other as the reality moved through them like a disturbed winter breeze. Their youngest son, his brother, was gone. There was nothing to do, except to hold each other up and let the ripples of sadness pass through each of them. As if by some unknown unison, they each dropped their hands from the embrace, and went into the kitchen to get ready for the longest day of their lives.