It was like there was a big reception and everybody came, but I was left with the mess. I was left with me.

Matt’s funeral was a beautiful display of love. His fellow six graders became a choir and sang of their sorrow and his beauty. They had walked with him grade after grade to this moment, never turning him away, even to the end.

But the end came.

Beautiful people that touched our lives and were touched by Matt filled the auditorium. And after the service and everybody went home, I went home, too.

I sat in his room full of toys, memorabilia, clothes, pictures…everything left of what used to be. Matt was so full of life. He wanted to live. We did everything we could; we just couldn’t have one more day.

Matt’s room was always a mess. If I wanted an hour or two of peace and quiet, I would make him go clean his room. He’d mosey through the menagerie of playthings and get pre-occupied with play. I’d quietly peek through the door every now and then and see him focused on anything but cleaning. And when I would finally walk into the still messy room, he would hold up whatever he was playing with and say, “I’ve been looking for this.”

It became mine and Lydia’s inside joke. Whenever we found something we were looking for we’d say,  “I’ve been looking for this.”

I sat in his room after everyone had gone home looking. I have had a lot of moments that have emptied me into a vast aloneness. I have experiences where there is nothing to hold on to and felt the freefall of emptiness. I have been so numb I couldn’t feel the touch of this earth. This was one of those moments.

I’m so glad Matt’s room was a mess. It wouldn’t have been natural to sit anywhere else or in anything else. My life was a mess. Yet, it wouldn’t have been natural to sit anywhere else or in anything else. This was my life now. Bryan had died. Lydia had died. Now Matt had died.

There were plenty of people who would have sat in that room with me, but I chose to sit alone. I couldn’t bear another being being close to me. I needed the space. I needed to lean into this world of the Afterloss and go into that place. The Afterloss was the only space expansive enough to hold the vastness of my sorrow. My body sat in his room. My spirit sat in my Afterloss.

When everything is gone, what is left? I’ve been walking through life answering that question and as best as I can come up with to this point is the unfolding of me is what is left.

When I find myself in deep darkness I sit still until my eyes adjust to the newfound places of my Afterloss. I never force my pain away or rush my sorrow. I’ve stepped in many parts of this Afterloss shrouded by anguish committed to seeking what is there for me to find.

In a box tucked in the far corner of Matt’s room was a Transformer. When Matt was five Lydia went to Mexico to try an experimental treatment for her HIV. The only place that would take Matt for daycare was a church miles in the opposite direction from my work.

We were late. I was rushing to get him ready. He was frantic. It was show and tell day and he wanted to take his new toy to show his new best friend, Wally. We needed to leave and this Transformer was nowhere to be found.

I was waiting at the door yelling into the other room for Matt to hurry. I heard him say, “I can’t find it!” I walked into the disaster area called his bedroom and looked into his panic, and I melted.

As a father I tried my best, but there are always moments I wish I had a do over. I wish I could go back in time and change a word or an action and done better for him, but this was not one of those times.

I calmly said, “Matt, this Transformer is important to you. And you are important to me. And we’re not leaving till we find it.” All of Matt’s anxiety melted away.

We finally found the Transformer buried between the mattress and the headboard. He had slept with it that night.

As we were walking out of the room, his words rose from a relieved heart. He said, “I love you.” It was the happiest I’ve ever been walking into work late.

I sat alone in his room walking in my Afterloss holding this Transformer. I smiled through the tears and audibly

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