After losing her only son, Dina believed she would never sleep again. But three years later, a letter gives her much more than closure—is there finally something Dina can live for again?
In the towering upscale apartment building, the light behind every window would go off by midnight. Except for Dina’s – her slim silhouette would be by the bedroom window, outlined in the dim light that accompanied her in her sleeplessness.
How could she ever sleep again? Her only son, her Ben, had left this world forever three years ago…
“Why didn’t I call him more? Why didn’t I barge into his room more often to see if he was doing okay? Why was my brave little boy upset with the world? What broke his heart so brutally that he lost all hope?”
Questions were all that Dina was left with, and they hadn’t let her rest in all these years.
Dina had tried to help her son, to reach out to him in his last few months. But the young man was always distant, always stoic.
“But there are things I cannot recover from. Things I hid from you, things you deserved to know.”
She sauntered across to the kitchen, passing the big box of Ben’s old belongings that had been gathering dust.
In three years, the bereaved mother had never found the courage to open it. She would imagine all the things she would find in there, and she knew the slightest brush of memory, the faintest smell, would send her into another bottomless pit of grief that would last several days.
It lay sealed in the same spot where Ben’s former roommate had left it after the funeral.
Tonight, something drew her towards the box. “Open it, Dina. It’s time,” she heard a little voice whisper.
She tore off the tape and opened the box, and found a note on the heap of Ben’s stuff.
With trembling hands and a lump in her throat, she began reading it.
There’s no way I can hug you, wipe your tears, and grab your hands as I say this, but I want you to listen.
I want you to know I love you. You were the one light in my life that never went out.
We had our fights, but you never walked out on me. I did.
You didn’t agree with me on many things, but you stood by me. I didn’t.
Even after I deserted you and insulted you in ways that have haunted me since you still reached out. I didn’t.
And so, I want you to know that you are not to blame for any of the miseries I’ve lived through. This weakened man that I’ve become is not your fault, Mom. You raised me to be strong, to be kind, to always look on the bright side.
But there are things I cannot recover from. Things I hid from you, things you deserved to know…”
Dina covered her mouth in shock, wondering what deeper secrets were about to be revealed.
“I never told you this, Ma, but I married a beautiful woman seven years ago. I met her shortly after I moved away from home, and it was like love at first sight…”
“I thought you would never approve of a girl like her, so while you were working hard to send me money for my Ivy college education, I was using it to start a new life with my Charlene.
She was everything I ever wanted, Ma. And when we learned that she was pregnant, I was over the moon. It was like this completely unknown side of me had woken up. I was working two jobs, attending prenatal classes, and taking care of Charlene through her harrowing pregnancy.
The day she was in labor, I had my phone in my hand, and I had dialed your number. Just as I was about to press the call button, a doctor walked up to me with a grave expression on his face.
My Charlene, my world, my light, had died during childbirth.
I was left with a broken heart and a newborn baby in my hands, crying for his mother.
I was so consumed in my grief that I didn’t consider raising the baby on my own.
I wanted him to be happy, and I knew I couldn’t do that for him.
So I detached myself from my own boy and gave him up for adoption.
My life after that is a blur. The only feelings I remember are grief over my Charlene, guilt over deserting you, and the longing to see my son.
But I never found the courage to visit him. Maybe you will…”
Dina could feel her pulse quicken as she read the next sentence.
“His name is Mike, and he lives at the group home on Nichols Street.
If you do meet him, and when you tell him about me, tell him I tried. Tell him I loved him from the moment I saw him. But I was too heartbroken to feel like I deserved him.
Just like I feel too small to deserve an incredible mother like you.
If you can find it in your heart to forgive your foolish son, I know my soul will be blessed.
I wish I could hug you and tell you that I’m all right. But I’m too tired to lie.
I love you, Mom. I always will, no matter where I am.”
Dina wiped the teardrops that had dropped onto the paper, smudging some of the ink.
She was in that cocoon of grief again, but this time, her son’s words kept echoing in her head.
“My boy…you went through so much. I forgive you, child. Ma forgives you!”
She pressed the note to her chest for the longest time and let her emotions pour out of her eyes.
Suddenly, she felt another strong instinct, and her teary eyes lit up. Her son was gone, but he had left someone for her to connect with…
“Mike? Is that you?” Dina found herself face-to-face with her grandson at the group home the next day.
The boy sat in a corner, drawing circles with his fingers in the mud.
One look at his eyes and goofy smile, and Dina knew it was him.
“My goodness, you look just like…” Dina paused, trying to hold back her tears.
“Like whom?” Mike’s eyes got bigger with curiosity as he asked Dina.
“… your father!” Dina blurted, hugging her three-year-old grandson for the very first time.
Mike was too young to understand most of the story Dina was telling him, but he jumped at the chance to call her “Grandma!”
Dina’s heart ached that her own grandson had spent the first three years of his life living like an abandoned child.
“Not anymore, Mike. You have a family now. And a big, beautiful room that once belonged to your Papa…” Dina told the boy, who had the same boyish happiness on his face that her beloved son once had.
What can we learn from this story?
- Don’t miss a chance to check on the well-being of your loved ones. Call them, meet them, and be there for them when they are ready to open up.
- A mother’s love can survive every storm. Dina was heartbroken over the passing of her only son, and yet, she forgave him, loved him, and accepted his 3-year-old son as family.