“Let’s go on Space Mountain!” Isabel yelled. “The line isn’t long.”
My daughter grabbed my hand and began pulling me through the light-sabered, mouse-eared, churro-smelling, Dole Whip-stickied people trying to get in the line at Star Tours.
It was day two of our three-day trip to Disneyland.
I decided I’d do something fun on every anniversary of Isabel’s brother’s death. This trip was on Sebastian’s fourth anniversary. We hadn’t been able to go to Disneyland for over two years due to the pandemic. Isabel had been living with her husband in New Zealand.
We had made a pact that we wouldn’t see the new Star Wars section, Galaxy’s Edge, until we could all go together. Sebastian had loved Star Wars and would have loved Disney’s most recent interactive ride, Rise of the Resistance.
I didn’t cry as much as I thought I would. We also went to Disney on Sebastian’s first anniversary, and I wore his sunglasses to “The Happiest Place on Earth.” I managed to get through the day until my Ray-Ban-covered eyes teared up when I saw the young Jedi trainees going through their lessons in Tomorrowland.
This time, four years later, more fond, funny stories of Sebastian pushed through our memories instead of the dark ones that had preceded his suicide. I found myself laughing as we walked past the newest Jedi trainees. The rawness of his death had faded a bit; I could smile and enjoy happy memories of Sebastian.
I had forgotten how much I used to laugh.
Isabel looked at her phone, “Hurry up, Mom. The app says the line is only 20 minutes.”
“I’m coming!” I placed Sebastian’s sunglasses on my head, and we entered what looked like some futuristic space station.
After moving at a snail’s pace for about 30 minutes, we finally climbed into our spaceship. A prerecorded voice from a speaker behind us warned, “Before you embark on your adventure, please place all glasses and other loose possessions in the storage pouch directly in front of you.” I promptly removed Sebastian’s glasses and stowed them away as the train left the station.
Our train slowly chugged up the first hill. “Three, two, one, blastoff!” We hurtled across a rock-music-fueled, futuristic universe that had us twisting, turning, screaming and laughing for approximately three minutes. And then it was over.
“That ride is awesome!” I shouted as we grabbed our storage pouches, once the train stopped back at the station. I shoved Sebastian’s Ray-Bans on top of my head as we climbed out of the train. We were laughing about something when I watched in horror as Sebastian’s glasses slipped off my head and plummeted into a crack between the train and the loading dock.
“No!” I cried as they disappeared into the tracks below.
“Move along quickly, please,” a cast member told me, pointing his finger toward the exit.
I couldn’t move. My feet became like cement. My stomach clenched. I thought I was going to throw up.
Isabel tried to pull me away, “Come on, Mom, we have to leave.” She had seen what had happened. “It’ll be OK. We can get a new pair.”
“You go ahead,” I said, my body shaking. “I can’t leave yet.”
She looked worried but walked toward the exit.
I ran over to a cast member. “Can you help me?” I asked. “I dropped my sunglasses as I got out of the ride.”
“Where did you drop them?” He appeared not surprised.
“Right over there.” I pointed to the spot as another train approached the loading platform. “God,” I prayed. “I hope they’re OK.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” He said, not moving.
“No. You don’t understand, those were my son’s sunglasses. Today is the anniversary of the day he died.”
His eyes got big. I had his attention. “You go over there.” He pointed to a far corner, away from the trains. “I’ll take a look.”
“Thank you.” I rushed to the appointed spot and waited.
My stomach kept cramping as I watched cast members attempting to find Sebastian’s glasses.
Then I remembered, those sunglasses weren’t really mine, just like Sebastian wasn’t mine anymore. Sebastian was with God. He was no longer in pain, and I didn’t have to worry about him anymore. I had to let go of those sunglasses and Sebastian — again. Sebastian had belonged to me for 23 years, but ultimately, he always had belonged to God.
Mothers will always have to let their children go, and no matter how they leave, it will always hurt.
Space Mountain had shut down for over 15 minutes. Hundreds of people waited impatiently in line and watched as cast members, using large flashlights, searched the blackened tracks for his dark sunglasses.
I wondered how long they’d continue to look. The waiting crowd was getting more and more restless. I wanted to tell the cast members to stop looking. It was OK if they didn’t find them.
I was going to be OK.
As I opened my mouth to tell them to stop looking, a cast member yelled, “Hey, are these your sunglasses?”
I watched in amazement as he pulled out Sebastian’s sunglasses. It was as if they had risen from the grave. “Yes, they are!” I yelled, jumping and waving my hands in surprise. He smiled and walked toward me and handed me Sebastian’s Ray-Bans, not a scratch on them.
A raucous cheer erupted behind me as the waiting passengers broke out in energetic applause. Trembling, I smiled back, grabbed my sunglasses, and placed them on my face.
“Thank you!” I said and tightly hugged my unnamed hero. Then I turned toward the exit, pushed through the gate, and walked out into the sunshine.
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