Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Two summers ago we bought a new lawn mower and canceled the lawn guys, because at 12 Jack was old enough to take over the job. His weight was still hovering in the 60's the last summer of his life, finally hitting 70 lbs the week he died. He took to the job quickly, and enjoyed earning extra money to save up for Legos.
After the accident, Tim and I picked the mowing back up again. "Do you remember it being this hard?" I asked Tim. "No. The roots and the hills! Our yard is so steep. How did he do it?" Tim wonders, shaking his head. We are silent. We both feel remorse. Jack hadn't complained, so we didn't know what a challenge our yard must have been for him at his small size. I remember his asking one day if he could get the mowing over with while I was at work. "No, it's too dangerous. Stay inside and wait 'til I get home." I pictured his losing a thumb to the blade like my friend Patrick had in high school, or running over his foot.
Now Tim and I take turns. I push the mower up over high, high roots, cursing as I use all my strength. I roll past the garden bed, along a steep slope, and feel the tension as the mower tilts and threatens to tip me over, down the hill. I let out a moan of exertion as I push through the tall grass. "I miss you" I grunt, my voice drowned out by the mower.
I wonder what it was like for him, at half my size, to do this job. "I'm sorry, Buddy," I say as I criss cross the yard. "I didn't know." Jack's and my relationship was based on huge love and respect, and I have very few regrets. It's as if we knew each other from the beginning of time and trusted each other explicitly. I'd always told Jack he was the strongest person I knew, but I meant his inner, moral strength. Now I think about how he must have been physically stronger than I realized. He never got the chance to spend his mowing money, but he seemed to enjoy earning it.
Weird thoughts go through my head as I mow, like how I'm glad I didn't let him mow that day when I wasn't home because "something bad" could have happened. And then I realize how stupid it is to still really feel that relief now, when something really bad did happen just a few weeks later.
And I realize as I mow, that when I say, "I'm sorry, Buddy" and "I didn't know" that I'm probably not talking about mowing anymore.