July 12, 2018—Something that has come up in conversation a few times this week is the writing I did in January when I participated in Megan Devine's "Writing Your Grief" session. I posted many of the essays on my Facebook page. I thought I'd repost one of those today. For this one, we were to use a color as a writing prompt. I'm still writing every day. Sometimes I'll post those pieces here.
Red is the hat that Mario has been wearing since 1981. Now, his cap is a character in the new game on the new gaming system you didn't stay around to buy and play: Super Mario Odyssey on Nintendo Switch. Blue is Mario's overalls. I've never liked the combination of red and blue in an outfit for myself, but for Mario it works, with the yellow buttons. And the logo for the Rader Ward Foundation is the red and blue and yellow of the section of Mario's clothes right over his heart. I love that logo and I wish I never had need to create it.
Blue are my eyes and yours. Blue is the cheap zip-up hoodie you wore every day, even in winter, even though I bought you warmer jackets. Even in the heat of fall and spring, going to school, because sometimes it was cold in your classrooms. You never liked to carry it so you just wore it if you might possibly need it. There are days I wear it now and I wish it made me feel closer to you.
Blue is the TARDIS in that great photo we have of you on our trip to the U.K. We rode an extra stop on the train to go see the old police phone box that looks like the one Doctor Who travels the universe in. And you're hanging on to it as if you would travel with him, to times and places unknown. It's nice to think of you being somewhere. Red is the McDonald's advertisement in the background of the photo that Lindsay toned down in Photoshop so it wouldn't detract from the large-format print we displayed at your memorial service.
Green is the border of the Mario quilt that Grandma made you. I saved all your Mario t-shirts, from toddler size up, so she could make a quilt for you to take to college. It's AMAZING. You would love it. But instead, it's mine, and I love it, but I so wish it were yours. Green is the 1-up mushroom in the Super Mario games that gives the player an extra life. Lindsay put one on your magnet poem but at first I didn't understand its significance. When she told me, I wished so fervently it were true, and my heart broke for her that she thought of it, such is her love for you.
Still green are the plants we received in memoriam. There were so many flower arrangements that we gave some away to the neighbors because there were too many for us to enjoy, and they've long since wilted and died. But most of the potted plants and container gardens I kept, the ones that would keep living, and it gives me a small satisfaction to care for them now that I have no living child at home to care for. When we went up to the mountains in July I took them all with me, a plant vacation, because I wanted to keep taking care of them myself. They sat in the sun on the dock and they bathed in the rain and it was as peaceful as it could be, considering. In the months since, one little fern in an arrangement of three pots together didn't make it, and the Flaming Katy Kalanchoe needs a little more attention before it puts forth more red flowers, but green is the color of the plants that I have because I don't have you.
Green is the spring that is coming because time keeps passing by. It seems so surreal that life just goes on, for those of us who are left still living. In fact, the days seem to pass so quickly, because it's hard to work myself up to accomplishing anything that's not essential, even if it's important in one of my alternate universes. For example, today I need to pay my mom's bills (green, green). I think I can manage that today.
But red is the hat that Mario wears, with its jaunty brim and the monogrammed M. "Cappy" is the name of the hat character, Mario's main partner in Odyssey. He can both attack and defend, increasing Mario's abilities in a variety of ways. How I wish you had known that such help was available to you if you asked.