Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Category: faith after loss (page 1 of 2)

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.

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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.

 

 

 

Mary Did You Know??

Matt,  Christmas is in 4 days and I’m struggling with bouts of grief.   The waves come and go at unexpected times as a memory from your childhood finds its way into my brain.   Seeing you as an innocent child warms my heart like nothing else.   Looking at photos of you from infancy to adulthood fills me with wonder as to what could have been.

I heard a song yesterday called “Mary Did You Know?”   It asks Mary if she knew who her son was born to be.   Did she know He would grow into a man who would suffer a horrible death to save people like you and me.   Listening to those words, I found myself thinking about Mary.   Knowing that she gave birth to a precious boy, raised him, loved him as I loved you then watched him die on the cross.   It hit me that Mary like me grieved the death of her precious son.

I wonder if Mary knew what she signed up for when she said ok to God’s plan.   I wonder if she knew her son would die and break her heart as your death has broken  mine.   Losing our children is not part of the plan when we think of life.   Yet, here was Mary, the mother of Jesus experiencing the excruciating grief of child loss.   As mother’s we only see a bright future for our son’s and daughters.   We never think of losing them in our lifetime.

Like me, Mary was as helpless in trying to save Jesus as I was in trying to save you.  Like me, I’m sure her mother’s instinct took over as she tried to protect her son from harm.   Her grief journey parallels mine as both our son’s lost their lives and we were helpless to intervene.

It hit me as I listened to the words of that powerful song, that I’ve been selfish in my grief.   Never thinking that the mother of my savior felt the same soul shattering heartbreak at the loss of her son.   I’ve heard that song before.   I’ve read the story of the crucifixion, but never once did I think of Mary and the pain she lived at her son’s death.

Mary never questioned God’s plan for her son like I have.   She never demanded answers like I have.   She never yelled and screamed at God like I have.   Mary trusted in God’s plan knowing he knew best.

As fate would have it, I was visiting your garden as that song started playing on the car radio.   I sat in silence and looked at the cross.   It stands in the center of your garden.   Some of your ashes are scattered beneath your stone.   I closed my eyes and could feel a peace come over my soul.   I no longer felt so bitterly alone as I looked up at the cross.

I want to be more like Mary.   I want to trust that God saved you.  That he knew what your future would be and spared us both of more pain.   I need to believe you are healed and living in paradise with Jesus and his mother.    I need to believe that one day you and I will be reunited as were Mary and Jesus.

Neither Mary or I knew that when we gave birth to our precious son’s we would share a bond of grief.   That we would lose our son’s very close in age, one due to the sins of mankind, one to the power of a horrible disease.

Mary did you know???????????

 

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.

 

 

Together Again………

Matt,   this world has gone crazy.  I wonder if you know whats happening down on earth.   I wonder what life would be like if you were here.   We’ve been hit with this deadly virus.   Our state has come to a screeching halt.   Every nonessential business has closed its doors and we are all confined to our homes.  It’s been a month and I’m feeling the stress of this new normal.

I’m still undergoing radiation everyday.   I call it groundhog day.   Ray and I drive to Penn Monday through Friday.   I wear a mask and gloves as does everyone who is venturing out of their homes.   It’s almost like being an extra in a movie.   It’s something I never thought would happen in our country.   I wonder what your reaction would be if you were alive.

Your Grandmother was more upset about them closing churches during Lent.   The Catholic girl in her just couldn’t understand the need for social distancing to stop the spread of this deadly virus.   For her going to church was part of her routine during Lent.   She was more worried about not being able to worship than she was of catching the virus.   She wanted to know how we would celebrate Easter without going to church.

I had no idea how stressed she was.   Looking back I should have seen the red flags but I’ve been so preoccupied with my cancer battle that I totally missed her distress.

I will never forget the call.    Asking if I was Marybeth.   I would get those exact same calls during your active addiction.   A stranger on the other end of the phone asking for me.   My heart started racing before another word was said.   Your grandmother was found in her car in front of the soup kitchen where she volunteered feeding the poor and homeless.   It seems even though we told her to stay home she was doing what her heart told her to do.   She suffered a massive stroke.

She remained in the hospital holding on for a week.   I was unable to visit.   The hospitals had stopped visitors and with my immune system being down I was told to stay away.   Stacey was given permission to stay with mom mom because of the gravity of her condition.   I was able to speak to her as Stacey would FaceTime with me while she was at the bedside.   I was able to say all those things we think we will have time to say.   I apologized for not understanding her distress.   For all the arguments we had since your death.   Mom Mom never lost a child and had no clue how my life had drastically changed.   We had so many arguments about my grief.   Many times I would find myself screaming into the phone as I tried to get her to understand that time did not help with my grieving.   It was a difficult relationship.   One I foolishly thought we would fix before time ran out.

I asked her to give you a hug from me and to let you know how much I love and miss you.   She left this earth the Monday after Palm Sunday.   The nurses said it was a peaceful death.

I feel like I’ve been slapped by reality once again.   There was so much left to say and now the chance is gone forever.   I mourn the relationship we should have had.   After you died she walked away from me.   I know she loved you and I thought we would mourn your death together.  I will never know why she acted the way she did.   Why she stayed away and offered no support.   That was the one question we argued about.   Now I will never have my answer.   Funny how now that she’s gone it doesn’t seem as important as I once felt it was.

I was having a bad day and opened a photo album I hadn’t touched for a year.   I wondered if you two were together again.   I prayed that she found you and would keep you safe until  my time comes to be with you for eternity.   The pages fell open to this beautiful picture of you and mom mom.   Holding each other close.   Your smiles so beautiful, radiating happiness and love.   Was this you sending me a sign?    Are you together again?

Oh Matt, I pray you are both at peace.   Mom mom was so upset about missing church during Holy Week but here she was witnessing the beauty of Easter in the most heavenly place.   I mourn what could have been for all of us.

Life has a way of teaching us difficult lessons.   I’m learning that tomorrow is not promised to anyone.   I’m learning to say what I feel and never think there will be a tomorrow to fix things.  The hardest lesson for me is that we really have no control of anything in this life.

I printed out your picture.   Every time I look at it my heart gets a warm feeling.   Knowing you are reunited with your grandmother helps my grieving heart.   Godspeed to you both.   Together again in paradise.

 

 

Looking Back Through Tears.

Matt, it’s been a while since I’ve written.  I’ve thought of you everyday but this cancer treatment and the two surgeries have really beat me down.  I don’t even have the energy to cry about everything that’s happening to me.  Your loss hits so hard every time I remember you complaining about your back pain after your surgery. 

Never in a million years could I ever have imagined that pain would one day invade my body as like you I’ve had back surgery and I’m filled with screws and rods.  

How I wish you could come back just for a few hours.  I would beg your forgiveness for not being more compassionate towards your pain.  I always thought you just wanted an excuse to use the opioids that finally got you addicted and contributed to your death.

All I wanted to do was get you off the pills so you could get your life back in order.  Little did I know how you were suffering every day of your life.  

I guess that saying is true, Until you walk in someone’s shoes keep your opinions to yourself.  I now understand why you would never sleep in your bed.  I’d always come downstairs to find you sleeping on the couch with the TV blaring.  I blamed you getting high and falling asleep in positions that looked horribly uncomfortable.  I remember waking you up and urging you to go to bed only to have you scowl at me.  

Now I get it. I can’t believe that I have such a hard time sleeping through the night.  I start out in my bed but wake after a few hours in excruciating pain.  I need to get up and walk until the pain settles and then I find myself in the recliner just like I found you.  

I’ve also been given OxyContin.  I’ll admit I had no choice but to take a few as my pain was unbearable at times.  Every time I handle that prescription bottle I flash back to you.    It is the only thing that helps with the pain but I’m terrified of becoming addicted like you did.  I can’t imagine how hard it was for you to continue to live in pain every moment of every day.  I feel like God is teaching me a very valuable lesson in empathy.  I truly had no idea what you went through until now as I’m going through the same painful journey after back surgery.  

I wish we could go back in time.  Knowing what I now know I would have treated you with compassion instead of expecting you to go to work everyday functioning like a person in perfect shape.  Telling you I understand now really makes no difference as you’ve been gone for 5 years and 2 months.  

I hope you hear my prayers for you.  I hope you know how sorry I am and most of all I hope you forgive me.  I’ve been living like this for 3 months, you lived with this for 7 years as you struggled with chronic pain and the horror of addiction.  

There are no words to describe my grief over losing you and now losing me.  I can no longer advocate the way I used to.  I can’t walk the dogs or do anything that once brought me stress relief and a slice of happiness.  This is not the life I envisioned for us.   I saw you married with children, living at your happy place by the sea.  I saw family vacations with grandkids and grand pups running and jumping in the surf as you and I sat together on the sand sharing the beauty of life.  I saw you and Mike growing older together sharing the joys of fatherhood.  I never saw you dying at 37 or me fighting cancer at 63.   I guess it’s true, we have no control over how life will twist and turn.  That for me is the hardest to accept.  I thought I could save you.  Now I’m fighting for my life not knowing what the outcome will be.   I can only hope that one day we will be together again sitting by the sea, no longer in pain but in paradise. 💜♥️

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