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 as though I’m reliving your journey. I remember so clearly your phone call. “Mom, I was lifting an engine and I felt something in my back pop. The pain is horrible. I can barely walk.” Little did I know that almost 5 years later I would be reliving your experience.
The similarities are mind boggling. You lifted an engine, I lifted a stuck window. As soon as I felt the pop and felt that searing pain shoot down my leg I thought of you. They say you can never understand what someone goes through until you go through it yourself. I am a living testimony to that truth.
Looking back I wish I had known how life altering your pain was. I never thought it was as horrible as you described. Living with your pain, I now feel so ashamed that I lacked compassion for your pain. All I saw was your addiction to the opioids. Your addiction became my focus. Your pain was a secondary concern.
Now I get it. I’m facing the same surgery you survived. I’m facing trying to find a happy medium to this pain that has become a part of my life and a reminder of how you suffered. I’m facing the possibility of becoming addicted as you did after back surgery. I think back to how your life was affected and I’m terrified that I will become you.
Thursday I will be the patient. I will be you. I will be in the OR not the waiting room watching your name flip through the different phases of your surgery. I remember scanning that board every few minutes searching for where you were in the process. I remember walking next to your stretcher to those OR doors and giving you a kiss for luck. Promising I would be there when you woke. Promising to pray for a successful surgery.
So now I’ll be the name Ray and Mike will be following through the OR process. I will be the one with the surgical scar on my back exactly like yours. I remember seeing your scar and feeling chills come over my body. I remember thinking how brave you were to have gone through what you did, never thinking that almost 5 years after your death your scar would be on my body.
We have always had this unexplainable connection. You and I so much alike. Now, even though you are no longer here, I will be retracing your journey. Feeling your anxiety as you waited for surgery. Understanding your pain as it is now my own.
I pray that I will feel your presence. That somehow, someway just for a brief moment I will know you are there. I pray that neither time nor space will break our connection. I pray that you have forgiven me for not understanding your pain………