Columnist for a Day: Snapshots of our boy Tommy

I would like to share a mental snapshot from the distant past.

I am riding in the passenger seat of my son Tommy’s pickup truck. Tommy, a teenager at the time, is driving down a city street on a beautiful summer night — a night like the boy himself, buoyant, full of expectation and promise. The young man beside me fairly glows with good health and high spirits.

The idea that I would outlive him would have seemed to me, at the time, not only preposterous but a profound insult to the natural order of things.

It has now been seven years since he died of lymphoma at the age of 42. On the positive side, he lived long enough to graduate from high school and college, to get married, have children and a career, friends, happy experiences. On the other hand, there is a lot he will never experience.

And we miss him, every day.

Unfortunately, I can’t really convey my thoughts and feelings about this, not adequately. Parents who have lost a child will understand, I suspect.

Abraham Lincoln, after losing his 11-year-old son Willie in 1862, said it for me when he described his hope to “see my boy again” someday. I share Mr. Lincoln’s hope and expectation, but I wish my boy could be here now, sooner rather than later.

Let me share a final snapshot, this one from the even more-distant past. A small boy is running along a beach. The scene is backlit by the hazy twilight, luminous, like a painting, a watercolor in red and orange. Across that dreamy canvas the boy moves with vitality and joy as he races across the sand.

Greg Marton lives in Medford.

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