Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Tag: mother and son (page 1 of 15)

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.

 

 

 

The Broken Road To Self Forgiveness

Matt,   I’ve spent the last 6 years grieving your death.   I’ve also spent the last 6 years beating myself up with guilt.   It seems my emotions swing between the two, but lately the guilt has been weighing heavily on my heart.

I continue to use my heart as a punching bag.   Blaming myself for your death.   I continue to see you as a helpless child instead of a grown man.

There are days I sit quietly and allow the film of our struggle to replay in my brain.   I feel like I’m split in two.   My brain tells me that I did everything humanly possible to save you.   My heart tells me I should have done more.

Lately I’ve been trying to forgive myself.   I had no idea how powerful the opioids really were.   Six years ago I did not have the information that is readily available today.   Had it been, you might have had a fighting chance.

I’m trying to place some responsibility on you as I have carried the full load of guilt for so long.   I’m trying to remember all the times I fought with you to get you into treatment.   I remember all the times my phone rang and you were on the other end telling me you were signing yourself out.    I remember the feeling of hopelessness and of being so angry that once again you decided what was best for you without any thought to how your decisions were impacting me.

Even though you are gone, my struggle continues.    I feel like I’m walking on a broken road.   Some days I’m able to avoid falling into those crevices where the guilt lies waiting to wrap itself around my heart.   Other days it seem like those crevices are unavoidable.    Days when a memory will surface.   Days when I hear of one of your friends having a baby.    Days when I am drowning in the what if’s or I should have.    Days I wonder how you would look 6 years older.   Days I wonder how  life would be had you lived.

So now I must find my way to forgive myself for something I could not control.    As parents we live under the illusion that we can control the behavior of our children.   I think the moment we become mothers that guilt gene takes over.

I go back to when I was your age.   I remember my mother trying to tell me how I should live.   I remember her attempts at controlling my comings and goings.   I also remember I did what I wanted to do despite her attempts to guide me.    As I look back, I now know how right she was.

Sadly for us, you will never have the opportunity to look back and understand my intentions were for your own safety.   So now I walk this new journey alone.   Learning to navigate this new road that hopefully will lead to forgiving myself.    I know this journey will somedays be nothing more than baby steps.   I know there will be days I slip into those waiting crevices.   I know this road will be long and treacherous.    I also know that I must find my way through……….

 

 

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???????????

 

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.

 

 

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