Last week was the anniversary of Luke’s death. Year 7. Like most things coming out of Covid, this year April 14th brought with it a rush of new emotions, and more angst and heaviness than we have felt in a while. Upon discussion with those who loved Luke, we all agreed that this year seemed harder. I don’t know if it is because everything feels more challenging right now or because the world feels like it is spinning out of control on every front. I do know that after getting through the actual day last week, I wanted to shine a little positive light on the life of John-Luke Inwood.
As parents we feel beholden to teach our children – to pass along the lessons we have learned from our own upbringing and our life experiences in an attempt to make their path a little smoother. I think we would all agree, however humbly, that in fact, our children teach us a great deal. Patience, unconditional love, the joy in a giggle – these are all brought to us through life with kids. I think if you were to ask Luke Inwood what he taught his Merm, Momma, Mom, Mummy, this is what he would say:
“Don’t try so hard”
Lord, have mercy! If I had a dollar for every time Luke said this to me, I would be rich, lol. I tried SO HARD to get Luke to like me, I am exhausted just thinking about it. In my mind I feel like I followed him around asking him questions all day long. “How was your day, son?” “Do you need me wash your jeans, son” “What do you want for dinner, son” all in an attempt to placate him and make him discover that I was Mother of the Year. The problem is Luke realized my agenda and had no problem calling me out on it. What Luke understood that I didn’t at the time, was Luke was going to feel however he felt about me, and no amount of pressure, cajoling, or over-compensating was going to create a dream relationship. I catch myself now and again, going above and beyond with compliments or gifts to someone, and try to remember that all relationships have to be organic, and most importantly, reciprocal in their efforts to make it work.
I know I am not the only one Luke used to say this to! Luke never liked any situation to get too heated as the young folk say and had no problem jumping in with this line. As defiant as the lad could be, he sincerely didn’t like seeing anyone else getting worked up and would always try to remind us to relax or simmer down as the case may be. No? Just me? lol Chill was a way of life for Lukester and one I definitely aspire to. I think about the amount of energy I have spent worrying or stressing over endlessly small problems and it is not worth it. So many of Luke’s friends have told stories about how hard he would try to get them to laugh and relax when they were having a tough moment. Using humor to deflate any scenario is an excellent strategy and one of Luke’s faves. Now I ask myself, is this situation worth getting your blood pressure up about? Not unless it’s life or death, truly. Or throw up. Nobody likes throw up.
“Fam is all you need”
Now when Luke said fam, he didn’t mean his family. Fam, to Luke, was his friend group. Luke had such an incredible group of young ladies and lads that he hung out with, and they were his everything. Luke didn’t want anything more in life than to be grabbing a bite, or hanging out at someone’s house, or sitting in the garage taking shit with the kids that he called friends. I actually think this was Luke’s best quality. Luke understood the value of friendship and how it fills your soul. The joy in camaraderie. The pleasure in creating shared memories. Luke loved each and every one of his fam and we have countless photos to prove it. Each one is like the next – Luke with his arms around somebody with the biggest grin on his face. I grew up mostly solitary and since Luke’s death have tried to live more like him in this regard. My fam also includes my actual fam, lol, and my circle of friends will never be the size of Luke’s (although some nights we party just as hard! lol) and I fiercely protect the time we spend together. Fam, by any definition, is really all you need.
So here’s what I need you to know: Luke Inwood has been gone seven years, but as my sweet girl Antonia said recently, “His mark will forever be on all of us”. Oh, what that boy has taught me. Luke lived chasing the joy in life: endless laughs with his friends, the bite of a slice of Ladd’s buffalo chicken pizza, uptown ball till dark. And is there anything else more important than chasing that which makes you most happy? As my boy would surely say, “Hell, no.”