On the 2nd Anniversary of My son’s Passing

What does one say or do on the anniversary of a child’s passing? A deep wound that will forever pierce my soul is something I live with every day. As a griever and devoted grief worker, I had to find a way to make meaning out of the death anniversary. Or as a call it Ricky’s Day of Ascension.

At Gulf Islands National Seashore early morning, in communion with God and Spirit

On a Heaven child’s birthday, we know that the object is to celebrate that they were born. This is a very coherent form of commemoration. But on the sad day that they departed, grievers pull from within ourselves to form an understanding that provides a tangible way to restore some semblance of love and meaning on such a sad anniversary.

For me, it is how I was able to survive my son’s passing.

What was it that allowed me to keep going?

Who stayed beyond the first few months of bereavement and kept supporting?

In my life it was the birds that kept me going. Since Ricky’s last Day of Ascension anniversary I traveled to the Eastern Shore of Virginia and Maryland. I drove up to Cape Cod,; Massachusetts Leelanau, Michigan,; Tucson, Arizona,; Boulder, Colorado. In all of these places at destination as well as along the way I birded. And those birds carried me.

[Birds] represent the Afterlife. Many have reported that a cardinal appears just before or after a death. Or that a cardinal frequently visits or shows up in dreams after the loss of a loved one.

Ragan, Lyn. Signs From The Afterlife: Identifying Gifts From The Other Side

And on this trip to Gulf Islands National Seashore, which is a four hour drive from Starkville, MS (my new home since July 2022) I saw some amazing birds:

Black Skimmers on Biloxi Beach
Great Blue Heron on Biloxi Beach
Brown Pelican on Biloxi Beach
Rock Pigeons at the Public Access Beach in Ocean Springs, MS.
Black Skimmers


The people who stayed and supported beyond the two months after bereavement. This is a hard subject because I truly believe people do not intend to hurt grievers by their inaction. I listened to an insightful podcast yesterday where Kamea Chayne was in conversation with Mia Birdsong. Birdsong talked about numbing in grief. Where people detach from the emotional pain in an order to not feel. But the reality of numbing is that the effect manifests in not having empathy enough for those us grievers who choose to feel our feelings and perform rituals in service to making meaning of our pain. To make meaning of our pain is important. It forces us to remember our Loved Ones who have passed on. It makes us learn how to tend to our grief, rather than excise it.

Tend to her wounds. Be hospitable to her. Her message is dire: that there is more to the world we take for granted.”

In the past year people and organizations have committed to remembering my son.

Herbert T. Weston, Jr. and Marian S. Weston Foundation in Nebraska donated $5000.00 to my son’s Memorial Scholarship Fund. The fund is now at $14,500.

My friends Matt Gold and Lauren Klein, editors of an upcoming volume in which I am a co-author(w friends Nishani Frazier and Hilary Green) will donate all royalties from the sale of Debates in the Digital Humanities 2023 to my son’s Memorial Scholarship Fund.

Page proofs of the future volume

A good friend, Raquel Bryant wrote a song dedicated to Ricky for me.

lyrics by Raquel Bryant

And as far away as Bristol, England my friend Noreen Masud lit a candle at a Roman Catholic church in memory of my son.

A candle lit for Ricky in Bristol, England

It goes without saying that everyone who supported me in the past year has indirectly supported my purpose to affirm my son’s legacy. If I am well, I can do my purpose. When I am not well, I am in despair. I am grateful that my days of despairing over the past year are less than my days of feeling determined and steadfast in my purpose.

I love you my son. I love you Ricky. I am proud of you. And as long as I live, I will do good works in your name to lift up others: helping those in need, supporting the environment, and teaching tolerance.

“the death of the body and the brain are not the end of consciousness, that human experience continues beyond the grave. More important, it continues under the gaze of a God who loves and cares about each one of us and about where the universe itself and all the beings within it are ultimately going.”

Eban Alexander III