Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Category: complicated grief (page 1 of 6)

Go Ahead and Call Me Crazy

Matt,   I know it’s been a while since I’ve written.   I feel like I’ve been hit by a tsunami and I’m still struggling to come up for air.   For some reason, the holidays smacked me in the face as reality that another Christmas was here and you weren’t coming home.   I could feel the darkness beginning  to close in and surround me with dread.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the New Year brought your 6th year angelversary.   January 3rd the day you left my life continued to batter me like an unexpected wind knocking me off balance.   January 4th added to my unsteadiness as I had to be at Penn for my total body Cat Scan to evaluate my cancer.   I felt like I just couldn’t carry the weight of all that was happening piled on top of each other day after day.

Just when I started to regain some balance, Aunt Mary ended up needed more care than we could handle and it was up to me to find her a safe place to spend the rest of her life.   I remember spending hours on the phone begging for some help from the medical professionals who really seemed not to give a damn.

In the midst of all this I was still dealing with my unresolved grief over the sudden death of your grandmother.   Still reeling from all the things left unsaid and undone.   I was also waiting for a biopsy result from a mole removed from my eye lid.   I felt like I was surrounded by doom and I started thinking a lot about death.   Both yours and mine.

I became obsessed.   I could think of nothing else.   I began to find myself in a constant state of panic.   I wondered what it was like for you as you were taking your last breaths.   I wondered if you were afraid or in pain.   I wondered if you were really in Heaven and if I would ever see you again.   I then relived the moment I was told you were gone.   It was like my life was a replay of everything I feared the most.   I wondered how I would die.   How much longer it would be before my cancer returned.   I focused on the treatments I endured to get where I am today.    Chemo, two major surgeries and 54 rounds of radiation.

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I felt like I was losing my mind.   Like after 6 years I was no longer able to cope with what life threw my way.

I finally went to seek professional help.   As I sat before a new doctor and spilled out my journey since your death I felt as if the horrible weight was being lifted.    Telling my story out loud and seeing the doctors face I felt validated.   I felt like I had every right to feel like I was losing what was left of my mind.

She confirmed that I had PTSD.   Her validating what I felt started the road to my self healing.   Rather than fearing what I can not control, I’ve started to count my blessings.   I’ve started praying more and worrying less.   I talk to you and your grandmother asking for signs that you are together and healed in heaven.   I’ve started saying the rosary everyday.   It gives me a peace I haven’t felt in such a long time.   I’ve started to attend support groups where I can be the grieving parent rather than the facilitator of the meeting.   I’ve come to realize that I like every other grieving mother needs to find support on this journey of unrelenting loss.

Little by little I’m learning that life even though  it can be filled with pain and anxiety, it can also be filled with beauty.   It’s up to me to learn not to run and fear what might be but to open my mind to the possibilities of joy.

 

 

 

Walking On Thin Ice


Matt,   It’s 5:21 on January 2nd.   Six years ago you were still alive.   I remember our conversation.   It was Saturday evening and you were on your way home to the sober home where you were staying in Boca Raton.  I remember looking at the clock it was 6:23.   We chatted about your day and promised to catch up again later that night.

That next call never came.  Little did I know that our conversations would never take place again.   We ended our conversation with our usual I love you thinking our future would be filled with many more talks.

As I write this letter I can feel my throat tighten and tears forming in my eyes.   I can feel the shock and disbelief wrapping itself around my heart.  It’s called muscle memory as the body never forgets trauma.

Tomorrow marks the sixth anniversary of your death.    Some days it feels like it’s been forever since I’ve heard your voice.    Other days it feels like yesterday.

The New Year is always tough for me.   This year it’s full of uncertainty and grief.   Sunday is the 3rd.   Your anniversary.  The weather will be rainy and bitter.   Mimicking my heart.   Monday l have my second CT scan checking to see if my cancer treatment has been successful.  I will be holding my breath and praying until I hear what I will be facing.   More down time or more treatment.

So I now mourn your death and my health.   I sometimes wonder if the cancer was caused by years of second guessing decisions made that led to your death.   Years of grieving and guilt for what might have been.   Years of wondering about If Heaven truly exists and if you are healed living in Paradise.   Years of wondering if I will ever see you again.   Wondering what death is like and if we will be together when my time comes.

I feel like I’m walking on ice.   On a frozen pond trying to get to the other side.   Some areas are solid and stable.   As I continue my journey I find areas that are cracking beneath my feet.   I can feel the frozen water seeping through my shoes as I wonder if I will make it to the other side before I fall through.

My journey since your death has been one I could have never prepared myself for.   Parents are never prepared to say goodbye to their children.   Parents are never prepared to hear they have cancer.

So I continue to pray that God has us both in his healing hands.   I pray you have found your peace that eluded you here on earth.  I pray your body and mind are free of the demons that followed you as you struggled.  I pray for his peace and healing as I struggle with losing you and losing the woman I used to be.

 

 

 

Searching For Beauty Among The Ashes

Matt,   Christmas is in 15 days.   I’m trying to hold on.   This will be our 6th Christmas without you and I can say it hasn’t gotten any easier.   I’ve decorated the house.  Not like I used to but it does look like Christmas.   Every year since your death I’ve purchased a deer in your memory.   I remember when you would be so excited that hunting season finally arrived and I would cringe and call you Bambi killer.   You were such a lover of animals I could never understand your love for hunting.   Perhaps it was the bond you shared with your brother Mike.   The two of you always competing for the biggest prize.

You would brag about the “rack” on the deer you killed and I would cover my ears and tell you I would never eat Bambi.   You would have jerky made and you and Ray would smile as you devoured it as I would close my eyes in disgust.   I told you no Bambi meat was ever allowed in my freezer.   You’d smile that beautiful smile and tell me you had the meat donated to a homeless shelter but the jerky was definitely staying.   I never did try it but to this day Ray still talks about how it was the best he ever tasted.

Little memories of seasons past sneak into my brain bringing both joy and heartache.   Today I would welcome your deer with open arms.   Today I would welcome anything that had to do with you.

I’ve decorated your garden for Christmas.  There is a wreath hanging from the cross.   Poinsettias are carefully placed next to your stone along with white lights that shine through the darkness of night.   This has become my peaceful place.   It’s where I come to talk to you and God.   It’s where I allow the tears to flow.   To let my mask fall to the ground and shatter into a million little pieces.   This is the place I run to when life beats me down and I feel like I can’t survive one more day of my grief.

I sit and absorb the stillness.   I listen to the wind as if I might hear your voice.   I dream of what you would be like today.   Would you be married, have children, have a home filled with laughter and love.   I let my imagination wander, let my fantasy take over closing my eyes I picture your home.   A beautiful tree loaded with presents.   Children and dogs chasing each other as squeals of laughter fill the air.   I hear your voice saying Merry Christmas Mom.   I feel your arms as they wrap me in your famous hug.   I allow myself the gift of how I prayed life to be.   I allow my heart a few moments to take a break from the grief that has moved in and refuses to leave.

I struggle to find the beauty in little things.   Yesterday a hawk was sitting on a tree near your garden.   He flew over me as I got close.   I felt like I’d been given a gift.   His beauty in flight lifted my spirits as I wondered for a moment if that was you.

Since your death I look at life differently.   I know that in the blink of an eye everything once expected can shatter at your feet.   I take time to scan the night sky looking for the brightest star lifting up a prayer for you.   I talk to God like he is my friend.   I ask for signs that you are at peace.  I walk on days once considered too cold enjoying the crispness of the air and the songs of the birds.   I take nothing for granted.

Life has taught me that although it can be filled with heartbreak, there are still moments that continue to take my breath away.

 

 

A Temporary Separation

Matt,   A mother who lost her daughter spoke to me saying the hardest part of her grief is having to bear the “temporary separation” from her daughter.   Her statement gave me food for thought.

You have been gone 5 years and 8 months from this earth.   I wonder does Heaven keep track of time?   Do those who have left us behind know how long they have been gone?   Do you realize that we haven’t heard each others voices or seen each others faces in years?

I’ve read passages in the Bible that talk of God’s time.   Psalm 90 vs. 12 states “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

Your death feels exactly like that verse.   One day I feel like it’s been a thousand years since I’ve heard your voice or been able to share my day with you.   Then the grief hits and bam, It feels like yesterday.   I can vividly recall every second of the day that altered my life forever.  All those emotions resurface.   The sounds of my howling like a wounded animal on hearing the news that you were gone.   I can close my eyes and see your body so still, so quiet.   I remember the ride to our church to say my final goodbye.   One day equals a thousand years as grief knows no time frame.

I wonder what Heaven is like.   If time isn’t measured by God then do you know how long you’ve been gone?   Do you think about how long it’s been since we were together on earth?   Do you realize that you are gone at all?   So many questions dance through my brain.   Questions that I will never find the answers to satisfy my heart.

How I wish time would reverse back to the days before you died.   I wish we had the power to go back to the time before your demons took over.   Time is defined as the ongoing sequence of events taking place.   The past, the present and the future.   What I’ve learned is we always think we will have enough time.   Time to say the things we should have said.   Time to do the things we wanted to do.   We think we have a future to fix all those things we messed up so badly.

Since your death, time has marched on.   Time payed no attention to my longing for it to stop.   It payed no mind to the intensity of how it’s passing would impact my grief.   Time here on earth is cruel and painful.   Perhaps that’s why time is not measured in heaven.

I wonder how parents survive this temporary separation.   How do we survive the years without our children.   How do we survive all those painful events that should be welcomed and celebrated.   I wonder how long temporary will be.

How I wish Heaven had visiting hours.   Perhaps like a dream where we could talk like we used to on earth.   We could sit by the sea and you could answer all my questions.   Knowing you are safe and healthy would ease the grief and make this separation easier to bear.

I pray this temporary separation is not a thousand years.   As time I’ve found does nothing to decrease the power of grief.   I hold onto my faith that one day our separation will be over and we will be reunited forever in a timeless place called Heaven.

 

 

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……..

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