Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

Thankfully Broken


As Thanksgiving approaches I’m finding it hard to be thankful.  My grief has returned and has decided to batter my already damaged heart.  My family is broken and can never be returned to what it once was. A son is gone and will never take a seat at my holiday table again. 

I will never hear his voice.  Never see his smile.  Never welcome his wife or children into my home.  I will never see my two sons, now men hug or laugh about childhood memories. 

I tell myself it will be ok.  That I am ok.  My mind tries to by into my thoughts but my heart knows the truth.  I am not ok and never will be again. 

Precious memories flood my brain.  Past Thanksgivings when my house was full of family and friends.  Not an empty seat in the house.  Conversation and laughter filling every room.  Everyone healthy and happy sharing stories of the past year.  Three generations under one roof seated at one table. My precious boys letting everyone know what they wanted from Santa. 

As the years marched on everything remained the same. Year after year the ritual of Thanksgiving remained unchanged.  Boys became teens who became men always coming together to celebrate our blessings. 

Oh how I wish I could turn back time to the simpler days before old age, illness and addiction began to steal pieces of my life.  Days before your death broke my heart. 

You would think after 7 years, the holidays would have lost that relentless grip on my heart.  You would think I would have mastered how to survive the day that society emphasizes with such an ungodly expectation of perfection.  You would think I would have had enough of the I wonder, I should have or could haves to last a lifetime. 

You would think that after 7 years I could control the tears as I shop for the fixings that you will no longer eat. That seeing a pumpkin pie would not be like a knife in my heart. You would think that after all the therapy I’ve had I would have the tools to get through the day with a smile on my heart. 

Grief is funny.  You never know when or how it will hit.  You never know what will trigger the pain that seems to hide for months until the holiday music starts.  How seeing another mother walking with her two sons can bring back joy mixed with pain.  How memories can warm my heart as it continues to break. 

Tomorrow I will remember my blessings.  I will remember those days of innocence.  The holidays when my family was healthy and whole. When we shared the joy that comes with gathering together.  When my two sons stood together in the cold, their breath becoming visible in the frigid air as they fried our Thanksgiving turkey. Smiling at me when I snuck out to snap a picture. 

I will be grateful that I had you in my life for 37 years. I will be grateful for all those memories of all the years we shared.  

I am and always will be broken but I am also thankful that I was blessed to have those memories that will carry me through the rest of my life ♥️🙏🏻

Pieces of You, Pieces of Me

Matt,   It’s been 82 months since your death and I foolishly thought I was ready to donate your winter clothing to the homeless addicts living in Kensington.   I have become part of a group of mom’s who take trips to the streets providing food and clothing to those who continue to be forgotten by society.   I must say it’s a part of how I survive your death, by giving back to those suffering from the disease that took your life.

I usually avoid your closet, but that day I felt  it was something I was ready to do.   Opening the door was walking back in time.   Sweaters were on hangers as if you were expected to walk through the door, grab one and ask, Hey Mom do I look ok.  

I stood in the doorway waiting for my breath to settle.  It was shocking how my body responded to seeing your clothing.  Slowly I started to take one down.   Memories of you wearing this sweater flooded my brain.   I held it close, burying my face into the softness hoping to breathe in your scent.   I could hear you voice telling me it’s ok Mom, it’s ok.

As I continued to place those sweaters in a box, I was fighting myself as if this was what I really wanted to do.   These sweaters were pieces of what I have left of you.   My mind was battling should they stay or should they go.  I held each one close and saw you wearing them looking so handsome with your beautiful smile letting me know you approved.   I started talking to you asking if this was what you wanted.   

I remember how you were always so giving.   Memories of you giving your shirt to a homeless man prompted me to keep going.   I held each sweater, running my hand over the material before placing them into the box.  I managed to donate several sweaters, a jacket and a pair of pants.  

Driving to the donation event, my tears were flowing wondering if I was strong enough to hand over the box to those who would take your sweaters to the streets handing them out to people who have nothing.   Pulling into the parking lot I was greeting by smiling faces.   Women thanking me for helping take care of other mothers children.   

As I handed over the boxes I had a feeling of profound sadness mixed with joy.   Knowing I was giving away pieces of what I had left of you re -broke my heart.   Knowing that your sweaters would provide comfort to someone with nothing gave me a bit of joy.

Once again I’ve learned that grief knows no time line.   It lives in pieces of clothing that will never be worn by you again.   It lives in memories that surface unexpectedly.   It lives knowing that even doing the right thing can be the most painful thing in the world.  











Broken And Blessed

Matt,   The summer has ended and Fall has begun.   Everyday the geese fly over the house honking as if to say we are here, we are home.   I stop and listen thinking of you.   How we both would stop whatever we were doing and just be still listening to their beautiful song.

Fall also reminds me of my brokenness.   My gardens need tending so badly.   Before my cancer I would be weeding and planting colorful Mums.   Digging in the dirt was always a form of therapy for me.  I look at the gardens and feel such a loss.   I can’t do the physical work to transform the summer gardens into an array of colorful fall beauty.

There are so many things I can no longer physically do.   Cleaning out closets.   Putting away summer clothing and going through my comfortable fall sweaters.  The little things I took so for granted before the back surgery.   Sadly, I now understand the difficulties you lived after your back surgery.   

I’ve learned the saying is true.  Until you walk in someone else’s shoes you can never comprehend their pain.   I remember watching you walk.  It broke my heart to see your young body ravaged by pain.   I remember thinking I would take your pain if only I could.   I wonder if you know that I now know your pain.   Do you see my body no longer capable of doing those physical things that used to bring me such joy.  Do you know I have become you.   

Do you hear me when I ask for forgiveness.   Do you know I would give anything to have a moment with you.   To hold you and tell you I understand.   I now know how it feels to be broken not just emotionally but physically.   Your death broke my heart.   My cancer broke my body and on many days it breaks my spirit.    

Through all this brokenness I also feel blessed.   After chemo, two surgeries and radiation my body remains free of cancer.   My last scan was clear of disease.   I can tell you that waiting to hear the results is maddening.   My mind goes to all the what if’s exactly as it does when I think about your death.   The unknown can become a silent torture.  

On my dark days, I remember all the things I can do.   The little blessings of walking the dogs.   Of being able to stand and make dinner.   Of being able to enjoy the beauty as I kayak through ponds and rivers.   The blessings of friends who continue to pray for me.   The blessing of my Faith.

My brokenness mixed with blessings reminds me of the Japanese art of Kintsugi.   The art of repairing broken pottery pieces using gold.   The gold creates a stronger, more beautiful piece of art.  The gold highlights the scars in the pottery transforming the piece into something new and stronger than before.   

Your death and the loss of my health has left me with many scars.   I think of my blessings as the gold that is slowly filling my cracks allowing me to change the way I think of myself as no longer completely broken but learning to embrace my strengths reframing my pain into something of collateral beauty.   

Madness VS. Mindfulness

Matt,  it’s been a rough couple of weeks.   August is all about Overdose Awareness.    Everywhere I look on social media there are pictures of beautiful, smiling faces all lost to overdose.   Posted by the moms who are grieving so deeply I can feel their pain as if they were sitting right next to me.   Pain pulsating off the pages right into my heart.  

Many days I would quickly post to my pages and then get off before I lost my mind.   Nothing has gotten better since your death, honestly they have gotten worse.   Young people so full of hopes and dreams are dying every hour of every day.   It’s heartbreaking as I hear about a person who was doing well but is now dead.   I remember the feelings so clearly when I too thought you were good but in reality you were not.  

The grief mothers feel is endless.   Even after 6 years I still have days where reality hits and I just need to go mad and scream until I can scream no more.   The ugliness of our reality is too heartbreaking.   On these days I allow myself to go to my dark, mad world and settle in until the waves wash over me again and again releasing the pain and allowing me to come up for air.

I think having cancer and the constant cloud that follows me compounds my grief.   Prior to my diagnosis I could  physically release this grief.   I would dig in the warm soil with the sun on my back planting until my hands were numb.   Planting kept my mind focused on the beauty I was creating rather than the ugliness of life without you.   I would get on my bike and ride miles and miles feeling the wind in my face brushing my tears away as I emptied my heart.   I would scream into the wind and feel a release like non other.  

Today gardening and biking are things I’m no longer capable of doing.   I never knew how much I needed them until they were gone.   I never realized how I took my health for granted until it was gone.  Back surgery put a stop to both of my grief releases and forced me to try to be mindful.   Mindfulness is the new go to for relieving stress and anxiety.   I can hear you laughing.   I know.   The thought of your physically active mom sitting quietly to meditate is enough to make everyone who knows me laugh.  

Believe me I’ve tried and tried.   Days when my anxiety is out of control I will sit  trying to breathe clearing my mind of all thoughts.   I can tell you it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do.  I imagine myself on my bike pedaling hard, the wind hitting my face.   I think of out running the grief.   

Oh Matt, how I wish we could turn back time.   How I wish I knew nothing about overdose awareness, cancer or grief.   How I wish we could be together again spending time by the sea without any cares.   No addiction.  No cancer.   Just a mother and son enjoying the day.   

So wish me luck with this mindfulness.   I’m thinking the madness is going to win.  

International Overdose Awareness Day




Matt,  In two days it will be International Overdose Awareness Day.   It really is a day I wish I knew nothing about.  Even after 6 years the reality of life continues to hit hard.  

I miss you every day and continue to wonder what life would be like today if you had survived your addiction.  I don’t think anyone who has not walked in my shoes could ever understand the toll addiction takes on those who are left behind.

Even though I would rather forget about this day, I know I would never forgive myself if I did not honor your life in some way.  I’ve decided to host a candle light vigil at your garden.  I’ve invited other parents who share my grief to come together and remember our children.

Pastor Mike will lead us in prayer and song.   I was given your Grandmothers prayer book and found pages she had marked that talk about Heaven.  I plan to read those passages aloud in hope of allowing grieving parents to feel some peace as to where their children now live.

I’ve chosen songs that have touched my heart.  One was played at your memorial.  I Can Only Imagine has brought healing to my broken heart as I try to imagine how beautiful Heaven must be.  I picture you healed and healthy.  I picture you walking on a beach with Kahlua by your side.  I picture Jesus welcoming you with open arms and loving you as only Jesus can.

As night falls we will light candles and share stories of life before our worlds came crashing down.  We will celebrate the lives of our loved ones cut short.  We will come together knowing we are never alone in this grief.  

Oh Matt, I would rather be spending that evening having dinner with you.  I would prefer to know nothing about this bittersweet day of remembrance and loss.   Sadly, that is not the path I walk.  

I will look for a sign as I stand beneath the cross at your garden.  I will pray that you will let me know you are there and you see how much you are loved.  

Your death has been a tremendous loss in my life.  You will never be forgotten my beautiful boy.   Until we meet again…….

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