Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Category: Before and after a trauma or loss

Facing And Fearing The Future

Matt,   I feel like the world is spinning out of control.   My anxiety is through the roof.   Some days my heart feels like it’s going to beat out of my chest.   This is exactly how I felt those early months after your death.

I never remember having such fear over what the future holds.   The combination of your loss and my having cancer has once again knocked my world off its axis.   I find it so hard to believe you have been gone for 5 years and 5 months.   I find it hard to believe that this cancer has derailed my plans for a healthy, active future.

I have begun to fear what the future might bring.   Somedays the pain of your loss hits with an unimaginable force.   On those days I feel like I just might lose my mind.   The thought that you are really gone is still so foreign to my mind and heart.   Even today I walk through your closet smelling your clothes searching for a lingering scent.   I run my finger over your picture looking at your smiling face wondering how long my pain will remain.

Then there are the days my cancer fills my mind.   I relive the day and those words that once again shook me to my core.   Exactly like that day and those words letting me know you were gone.   I wonder if the treatments worked.   If the cancer will return.   I wonder if you can see what is happening here in my life.   I wonder if we will be together again.

I try to keep busy.   Exploring new ways to keep those frightening thoughts at bay.   Unfortunately, the back surgery has deterred me from all those physical activities I once did to stay sane.   Biking and kayaking my two go to stress reducers have been put on the back burner. I now remember you so vividly walking like you were an old man.   I remember when I would encourage you to be active in hope of helping your pain and you would look at me like I was crazy.    Well Matt, I get it now.   I walk like an old lady.

I read books about Heaven.   Written by people who had near death experiences and lived to tell of peace and beauty.   They tell of amazing colors and of not wanting to return to earth.   They speak of how their battered bodies are now whole and healthy.   They tell of meeting loved ones who had passed before them and of joyous reunions.   I devour these books looking for my own peace praying that what I’m reading is true and you are young, healthy and happy living in Heaven.   I wonder how long it will be until we are together again living in this place they refer to as paradise.

The future has never held so many unknowns for me.   At least I fooled myself  into thinking I had control when in reality if I had control you would be alive and healthy with a wife and children and I would be cancer free.

They say the future is promised to  no one.   That everyday is a gift from God.   That “life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards”.    Looking back there are so many things I would do different.   Looking forward continues to take my breath away.   So many unknowns lurking in the future.

I will continue to pray for God’s peace in accepting my future without you in it.   I pray to be cancer free and to be given the time to accept those things I cannot change.   Know you are missed and loved every moment of my past and my future……..

Time Doesn’t Lessen Grief, Time Magnifies It

Matt,   There is a saying that time heals all wounds.  People tell you to give it time.  Time will help.  As if time has the magical power to help you forget that your child is gone.  As if they have a clue as to how it feels to walk around with half your heart missing.  All time has done for me is to deepen my already intense pain.  All time has done is rob me of the blessing of watching my sons grow old together. Time passes and I realize that I haven’t heard your voice or seen your handsome face for 5 years.

Time is not my friend.  Time has become a painful march of family birthdays and holiday celebrations that are no more.  Time deepens the grief as reality seeps in reminding me that this emptiness will be a part of my soul forever.  Weeks have turned to months.  Months to years.  Yet my grief refuses to loosen its grip on my soul.  Grief has taken over every cell of my body.  It pulses through my veins with every beat of my heart.  Breaking it again as I recognize that memories are all I have left of you.  Happy times when life was as it should be.  Family barbecues, laughter and love.  My two sons enjoying each other’s company as siblings do.

But time doesn’t have a clue.  It marches on and with each new day comes the pain of knowing there will be no phone call or visit today, tomorrow or forever.  Time is like that crack.   It starts small and barely noticeable until it transforms into an enormous undeniable rupture separating life into the before and after.

As time passes people forget.  Returning to their normal lives afraid that grief is catchy.  Friends disappearing into the sunset.  Running as far and as fast as they can.  As if I’m contagious.  Time is a great teacher.  It teaches you who gives a damn.

Time does nothing to lessen grief.  It does everything to magnify it.  I now understand those things I took for granted like having all the time in the world to say the things I wanted to say, to do the things we dreamed about doing were never under our control.  Time fools you into thinking you will always have more.

Time marches on and doesn’t care who it mows down as it marches.  It has no respect for the grieving heart.

The only thing I want to do with time is have it rewind.  Go back to the time when you lived.  I call it a do over.  A time when my heart was whole.  A time when life held joy and hope not pain and regret.

Before your death I wanted time to slow down.  I complained that time was going by too quickly.  Days and months were flying by.  I wanted time to give me more moments to enjoy life.  To allow the seasons to change slowly allowing the beauty of each one to linger longer.

Now time can’t move fast enough.  I want the holidays to fly away and be gone.  Birthdays too.  I want my head to spin and not have time to know my reality and the pain it continues to bring.

I was never afraid of getting older.  I take care of myself.  I’m physically active, not bad looking for a sixty something mom.  Aging didn’t really bother me.  Although it does feel like I was only thirty a few days ago.  I’m not high maintenance, never worried about a new wrinkle popping up as I’ve earned every one being the mother of two boys.  Now I want to close my eyes and be eighty.  I want to be closer to the time I will see you again.  I want to see your face and hear your voice.  I want to be able to hold you and tell you it’s ok.   Matt, you were a beautiful man with a terrible, misunderstood disease.  Prior to your death my time was spent keeping an eye on you.

Before your death time was of short supply.  Working and trying to keep you safe took every second of every day.  Now time is empty, standing still, endless.

Time has also taught me a life lesson.  I have no control over it and what it may bring.  We’ve all heard the saying “In Gods Time Not Ours”.  Now I finally get it.  Time does not belong to us.

The gift of time for me is a double edged sword.  Sharp and cutting one minute.  Peaceful and too quiet the next. I’m learning that time stops for no one.

For as long as I have left I will cherish those beautiful memories and wish I knew then what I know now.  I would have stayed longer and cherished our time sitting together by the sea.  I would have hugged more and argued less.  I would have fought harder to save you.

Living through time without you is hell.  I’ve read that “ Life isn’t a matter of milestones, but of moments.”

Until we meet again I will treasure the moments we’ve made in the time we had together.  Precious moments that time cannot erase 💜

Grief Is Like A Jar Of Pickles

Matt,

Since your death, I’ve been living not just with complicated grief, but also with PTSD.   There are days when the slightest noise has me hanging from the ceiling.   I struggle with feelings of not knowing where I fit in anymore.   There are days I question my role here on earth.   Your addiction kept me crazy but your death left me broken and questioning life.

The old me left the day you did and the new me struggles with who I’m supposed to be now.   It feels like being transported to another place where you don’t understand the language.   You constantly get lost and find yourself looking for something familiar.

I’ve learned that very few people understand when I try to explain what it’s like to be me.   They think I should be back to my pre-grief state.   That life should just return to normal and drag me with it.   What they don’t and never will understand is that profound loss slices you in half.   You become the “before” and the “after” pieces of your tragedy.   As time passes the “before” you drifts further and further away.   Leaving you with an identity that even you can’t identify with.   You long for the old you but know the road back to finding her again has imploded.

I find it harder and harder to remember the woman I was before your death.   The girl who laughed at the stupidest of things.   Who would even laugh at herself.   I remember looking forward to little things.   I remember having happy hours and bon fires.   I remember having lots of fun.   I remember a reflection with bright eyes and a natural smile.   Now I see a silhouette in a fog slowly drifting away.

Trauma changes you.   It unravels you.  It takes you to the darkest of places.   Things you once thought would never happen have happened leaving you hanging from that mental cliff clinging to the last piece of your soul.   The “before” you has been sucked away and the “after” you lay in pieces at your feet.   You try to make sense of this “after” you, but the pieces are hard to fit together.   Like a puzzle that just doesn’t make sense when a large part of it is missing.

I was with a friend one day.   This friend totally gets where I’m coming from.   She understands when I say the “before” me has vanished and this new “after” me is still struggling to fit.   Like a pair of old jeans that once felt like home now rewoven and uncomfortable.   She has survived her own trauma.   The assault of breast cancer on her body and mind.   Like me the “before” her was totally destroyed and replaced with an “after” person she continues to try to identify with.   We both grieve the women we once were.   We often compare notes on how things continue to have a trickle down effect on both our lives.

During one of these conversations she said something that gave me an Ah ha moment putting a true perspective on what I’ve been living with since your death.   Without even knowing how profound this statement was and how it would impact me for the rest of my life she calmly looked me in the eye and said, “Once you become a pickle you can never go back to being a cucumber”.    Yes, I know it sounds like a crazy thing to say in the midst of an emotional conversation, but when you really think about it, it’s the most insightful statement I’ve ever heard about who you become after you live with grief or survive a trauma.

The transformation from cucumber to pickle can never be reversed.   Everything used in the process leaves a permanent mark.   The same with grief, whether it’s over the loss of a child or the loss of a healthy you, it leads you through a process that can never be undone.

There are days when the world can be sweet, then without warning an unexpected trigger can turn everything dark.   Just like a jar of pickles we never know how the day will taste.   Will it leave us with an unpleasant bitterness or a fleeting moment of unexpected pleasure.  We never know how the “after” effects of grief  will play out as we navigate unfamiliar territory.

It continues to amaze and comfort me that a simple statement had the power to  validate what I feel on a daily basis.  It also brings me extreme comfort knowing that I’m not the only pickle trying to find my place in the glass jar called life…..

 

 

 

 

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