One afternoon last week I had the chance to spend a good chunk of alone time in the Fullerton/Brea area where Drake and I used to reside. We called this area home for over five years; this is also where Judson was born and lived for the first 17 months of his life when he was a vibrant, healthy young boy. Other than Jud’s memorial service and a few quick trips to the area, I had not spent any extended time there since our “Sweet Man” died.
This visit was different.
I was desperate to remember. I wanted so badly for the area to trigger new memories that were distant or possibly even forgotten. I wanted to feel close to my boy. Ironically, as desperate as I was to remember, I was overcome with an intense, piercing pain that stabbed me over and over and over again as my mind flooded with memories of my little Jud. I drove from one meaningful location to another; each time feeling forceful jabs in my heart. I finally I had to stop, not because of time, but because I couldn’t handle one more gash to my soul. So there I sat in my car with multiple emotional stab wounds—suffering and bleeding. I bawled like every cell in my body was weeping.
It is a strange dichotomy to long so significantly for something that hurts so much; I want to remember, even if I wind up battered by the memories.
This is the four-plex where we lived. Jud and I used to regularly sit on the lawn and wait for Drake to get home from work. He had his first experience in a kiddie pool on that lawn and used to go around and push all the sprinklers down when they would stick out of the ground. Jud would also pick and blow the dandelions, go for rides in his or “Miss June’s” wagon, and play in the mud that would pool in certain areas. Jud even learned to walk on this sidewalk – especially with our regular treks to the mailbox.
This is the front door to our apartment. Jud finger-painted on our porch, colored with chalk on the sidewalk, and drove his little Fisher Price car along this path. Jud also played with the doorbell, the rocks, and the flowers.
This is the coffee shop the three of us would walk to every Sunday morning for breakfast together. Jud went from just drinking from a bottle, to eating baby food, to eating our solid foods during our visits here.