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.
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……..
Somedays I feel like I’m layered in grief. I remember how I would layer my clothing on those iffy weather days. Never knowing if the sun would break through the clouds and warm the gloomy day. This grief is heavier than my clothing and unlike my clothing cannot be ripped off when the waves hit and the tide recedes.
I feel like an onion. Peeling through the multiple layers will leave you in tears. Whenever I feel I’ve come to grips with your death, I’m hit by another wave. My tears come as the overwhelming feeling of sinking into my abyss hits like a slap.
My cancer diagnosis has compounded your death. I need you here. I want you here. You should be here. I need to hear your voice telling me, “You got this Mom.” I need you to talk to your brother as only brothers can. I need you to be here to help me face the unknown. I need you so badly that I feel myself reliving that horrific fresh pain I experienced early after your death.
I grieve what could have been. I grieve who I used to be. I grieve for the life I took so for granted. I grieve for Ray and all he has lost in a companion. Layer after layer after layer. The grief builds up like volcanic ash. Get too close and you get burned. Tears flows like ash completely out of my control. Then the flow stops and mountains of ash are left behind. Mountains that block this journey to finding peace.
Mountains of tests since my diagnosis. Grief over the possibilities. Mountains of newly woken grief over you not being here to hug me. Grief over how quickly plans and life changes. Grief when I hear your brothers voice begin to crack as we both share our feeling about your absence.
I’ve read that grieving is a life long process. I will never get over your loss. I will never get over losing me. I pray for the strength to carry my layers as my journey with multifaceted grief will continue as long as I live.
Peeling an onion is like dealing with grief one step at a time. The onion comes apart one layer at a time. If you peel harshly you can tear through the layers causing damage. If you peel gently the layers fall off easily.
I will work to peel gently through my layers. Working through one layer at a time. Dealing with the feelings that I try to run from. Dealing with my losses in hopes of recovering a small slice of peace………..