Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Category: mother & son (page 1 of 12)

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.

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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.

 

 

The Question That Has No Answer

Matt,   I went to your memorial garden yesterday to water the flowers we planted.  The weather has been scorching hot and I’m trying to keep the beauty surrounding your stone alive in this heat.   It’s typical July in Delaware.  I remember you complaining about the crowds and traffic that would invade your happy place as the temperatures soured.  You hated sharing your paradise and always wished the summer season to finish giving you back your peaceful place.

My neighbor, Debbie has become my garden companion as my back surgery has made it impossible for me to plant or water your flowers.  My job is to keep the bird feeder full and she lugs the watering can around the garden giving those flowers a refreshing drink.

We pulled up and parked next to the garden.  Deb grabbed the watering can and I grabbed the bird food.   I headed toward the garden as she headed up the parking lot to where the hose is stored.

A piece of paper was lying on your stone held in place by 2 quarters.   My curiosity peaked as I wondered who visited and left this mysterious note.

As I began to read I could feel the tears forming in my eyes.  My body enveloped in chills even in the 90 degree heat.   The letter was written to God by another mother who knew my grief.

She was asking God the same question I did after your death.   Why? Why? Why? did God allow her son to die.   She poured out her heart onto this precious piece of paper.   As I continued to read I could no longer hold back my tears.   Debbie seeing my tears thought I was crying over you.   I handed her the note and watched her face as she read this grieving mothers words to God.   Both of us stood silent with tears running down our cheeks as we continued to read this broken mothers words.

She was begging God for her son back just as I did and continue to do.   She was begging for just another moment in time with her precious son.   Begging God to give him back to her just as I have begged.   To think this mother came to your garden and stood at the foot of Jesus’s cross pouring out her grief was so bittersweet for me.   I could picture her talking out loud begging for her pain to stop and her son to be alive just as I have done many, many times.

I will probably never meet this mother but I know her as I know myself.   A mother who’s heart holds the unbearable grief of losing her precious son as does mine.  Mothers, strangers bonded by a grief no mother should carry.   Both standing by your stone in the peacefulness of your garden asking the question that has no answer………

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.

 

 

Walking The Path You Walked…..

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………

 

 

 

Wrapping Us Up With You.

Matt.   I had myself fooled.   Thinking that after 43 months I would be able to walk into your closet and not lose what was left of my mind.   A friend had offered to make a quilt out of your shirts and I so wanted this to happen.   I remember my self pep talk all morning.   I kept telling myself to be strong.   I kept saying over and over again, “You can do this.”    I kept telling myself it was time to go through your clothing and donate some to a homeless shelter, knowing you would approve.   I kept telling myself that your sweaters and coats would be useful in keeping a stranger warm this winter.   I kept thinking how wasteful it was to keep everything just as it was when you were alive.   Like you would come walking through the door looking for your favorite sweater.   Like I was expecting you to come up to the kitchen freshly showered smelling of Phoenix telling me about your work day.

Your closet was the biggest in the house.   A huge walk in fully carpeted and lined with shelves.   Before you moved home, I used it for storing winter coats and odds and ends that I couldn’t decide what to do with.    I remember putting my hand on the door.   Giving myself that last push.   Once again telling myself I could do this.

Pushing through the doors allowed light to flood the room.    I stood surrounded by you.   Your tee shirts and sweaters neatly folded on the shelves.   Jackets hanging in the order last worn.    I closed my eyes taking a deep breath as I sat on the floor and started to unfold your clothing.   I didn’t realize the power of my grief.   I started burying my face in your clothing.   Pulling things off hangers and wrapping myself up in sweaters, coats and anything I could get my hands on.    I didn’t understand the sounds coming from the depths of my soul had broken through the silence of the house.    I didn’t realize that I was no longer alone lying sobbing on your closet floor until I felt her wet nose.

Belle lay down next to me.   Trying to comfort me with her body.   She like me would bury her nose in your clothing.   Occasionally lifting her head and smelling the air.   I could see it in her eyes that her heart recognized your smell just like mine did.    Belle tilted her head when I mentioned your name.   She like me was looking for you.

We sat together for most of the afternoon.   Belle laying in the pile.   Me wrapped up in the mess I’d created.   Both of us smelling each piece trying to recover your scent.  Every shirt held a bittersweet memory.    Each one telling a story.    Some came from travels to the Caribbean.   Some bought just because you couldn’t  stop laughing after reading their message.    In my mind I could picture you wearing each one.    Some were captured in the photos lining our bookshelves.

I lost track of time as I allowed myself the gift of grieving you with no one to witness my brokenness.   Just the dog we both loved.   I sat talking to Belle as if she understood.    I talked about you and I walking together on the beach as Belle and Kahlua played in the surf.   I talked about all the times we shared with the dogs in our happy place.   I told her how she lived with you while I found a new home.   I told her you constantly told me she was your dog now and you weren’t giving her back with that big grin on your face.   I swear she understood as her snout continued to smell the air surrounding us.   I let myself relax into her as memories of happy times at the beach flooded my brain.   It was as if my dam broke and all the tears and memories were released together.

I don’t remember putting your things in a bin.   I think that fog settled into my brain.   The fog that protected my psyche as I was driving to my dear friends home allowing her to transform the most precious pieces left of your life.   I do remember sobbing as I placed the bin in her arms.   Almost as if I was a new mom turning over my precious child to the care of another.   She asked if I wanted to assist her in how the quilt would be put together.   Wanting me to give her guidance in how to create a piece to honor your life.

I just couldn’t do it.   As ashamed as I was of my inability to help, I was emotionally spent.   I would never survive holding those precious pieces so soon before I could begin to repair my shattered soul.

The call came days later.   Your quilt was complete.   Emotions swam through my brain.   I wasn’t ready to face the reality that your quilt would represent.   These shirts would never be worn by you again.   This reality hit over and over as I drove through blinding tears to pick you up bringing  you home again.

Walking through her door I saw her masterpiece.   The quilt was displayed on her couch.   I put my hand over my mouth to cover my sobs as she wrapped me in her hug.   She laid the quilt in my arms like a precious newborn.   I drink you in.    Holding you and burying my face into you.   Heading home I placed you on the passenger seat.  Talking to you as I did when you were alive.

I carried you upstairs and laid you across my bed.    Belle now by my side.   Her nose seeking your scent.    We sat next to each other, a grieving mother and her loyal dog sharing a loss felt deeply by both.    Wrapped up together with the memories of the boy we both loved and lost……………..

 

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