Mother's Heartbreak

A Story of Addiction & Loss

And Just Like That It’s Been 7 Years

Matt,  today is your seventh angelversary.  I asked for a sign that you are at peace and I woke to a snow storm.  You loved the snow.  The last time it snowed like this was when I was trying to fly your body home from Florida.  Flight after flight was canceled due to the inclement weather.  I would go outside as the snow was falling staring into the sky asking if this was you.  

Today feels like it did the very day 7 years ago when I found out you were gone from this earth.  It’s called muscle memory.  My body hurts.  Every muscle, every bone remembers the shock that hit as I heard the words “ It’s Matt, he’s dead”.  

I close my eyes and feel my soul break as I hear the guttural screams that came from my being as the reality of those words found their way into my brain.  I remember and return to that place of disbelief and breathlessness.  The moment I too wanted to die before you got too far away.  In my shock and grief I thought I could catch up with you as we left the pain of the world behind together.  

My brain, like a projector continues to plays the events that happened the week of your death.  Every detail burned into memory.  Every feeling burned into my soul.  


I look at your pictures.  I touch your urn hoping to break the spell that your death has cast on this day.  I must survive as I know this grief has no plans to go. 

Seven years feels like yesterday.  It also feels like forever.   💜🙏🏻




New Year Same Grief ♥️

Matt,  Seven years ago you wore this hat celebrating what we thought was going to be the best year ever. You spent New Years Eve at a meeting and posted how great it felt to be doing the right thing.

We texted and I told you how proud I was of you and how amazing the new year would be for us both.
We were excited about seeing each other in February and began making plans for my visit. You were so proud of all your accomplishments in Boca and wanted to share your new life with me.

Seven years ago I was walking on air. Feeling like we finally made it through the horror of your addiction. Feeling like life was returning to how I dreamed it could be.

Little did I know that on the 3rd day of 2015 our world would come crashing down and new year’s would take on a new meaning for me.

Today I sit fighting to breathe. Today I can remember like it was yesterday. Today I want to turn back the clock and change the trajectory of our lives.

New Year’s Eve has become bittersweet. The grief is hanging like a cloud ready to burst. The ground is quicksand waiting to swallow my soul.

Seven years ago we watched the ball drop one thousand miles apart. My heart full of hope and dreams anticipating the joy of celebrating your new life.

Tonight my tears will fall as I watch the ball drop remembering the dreams that will never come to be. Tonight the ball falling to the ground symbolizes my life.

Seven years ago……….💔

It’s So Much More Than Just A Tree

For so many the holidays are a time of cheer.  Decorating homes and family gatherings are a huge part of everyone’s plans.  The expectation of a perfect holiday season is evident every where you look.  From the Hallmark Christmas movies that play 24/7 to the Christmas music that starts before Thanksgiving begins. 

Seven years ago my holiday celebration came to an abrupt halt.  My youngest son, Matt lost his battle with addiction.  I was so broken that hearing  “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” left me running out of the grocery store with tears running down my face.  

Prior to his death, Christmas was my favorite holiday.  I was that person who decorated every room in my house.  I was that person singing Christmas Carols and watching every episode of Home Alone over and over.  I would immerse myself in finding the perfect gift for everyone on my list.  My kids called me the crazy Christmas lady and I loved it. 

After Matt’s death, nothing mattered.  My only decoration on display was my nativity set. I gave away our tree to a needy family and never put up another. The holidays became a painful reminder of his absence.  We were no longer that happy family gathered around the tree in past holiday photos. 

The years went by.  Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years became days I learned to survive.  I’d go to church. Have family and friends over.  Going through the expected traditions all with a broken heart. 

I don’t remember when my heart began to heal.  I don’t know how or why I began to feel joy.  Or when the memories of prior holidays began to become less painful.  I do know it snuck up on me.  Hearing Christmas music while grocery shopping no longer sent me running for cover.  Seeing trees brightly lit caught my attention as I stood before them remembering trees that once graced my hallway. 

My healing has been a slow process. I’ve read that losing a child demolishes you.  If you have ever witnessed a demolition you know that what was once whole has been completely destroyed.  The process of rebuilding especially when it’s a life can and does take years. 

I’ve learned grief has no time frame. Grief doesn’t up and leave after you survive all those firsts as society wants you to believe.  I’ve learned I had to acknowledge my loss, live my loss, feel every bit of my pain before I could once again begin to feel the joy the holiday season can bring.

This year a beautiful tree graces my hallway.  The white lights remind me of twinkling starts.  My Nativity set is at home on the mantel. Santa’s and snowmen have found their way out of boxes to fill once empty spaces.

I know Christmas Day will continue to hold a painful reminder that Matt won’t be home to celebrate.  I know there will be tears.  This year there will also be joy as I sit near my tree that symbolizes not only Christmas but my healing heart.  ♥️🎄

Kicking & Screaming Into The Holiday Season

Matt,   Christmas is in twelve days.   This will be the seventh Christmas without you.  Funny how I fooled myself into thinking this year would have to be easier than the past years.  After all, how long does this grief hang on.   

I’m finding that once again grief has the upper hand.  This time of the year we are bombarded with commercials of perfect, smiling families.  Everyone gathered around the big, beautiful tree surrounded with thousands of presents.   Then the Hallmark channel drowns us with unrealistic portrayals of the “perfect family” and of course the “perfect Christmas”.   

I’m finding these unrealistic expectations of “perfect”  add to my anxiety,  and regret.   I feel like society wants me to wrap up my grief with a beautiful bow and put it in the back of the closet so others won’t be uncomfortable when I’m around.

There are days when I do feel joy.   When I hear a song that connects my brain to a happy memory of our past life.  Days when the tears stay away and the holiday season doesn’t feel like a knife in my heart.  Then for whatever reason, another song leaves me a sobbing mess.  Those waves come out of nowhere knocking me off balance.  Seeing Christmas cards knowing there will be none from you.   Thinking about what to get for your brother and remembering I will no longer be putting a gift under the tree with a tag stating your name.

I decorated your memorial garden with a wreath and poinsettias.   Holiday lights are wrapped around the cross.  Your stone is surrounded by angels.   It’s my place of peace.   I feel close to you there and can talk freely about how Iso deeply knowing that you won’t be home for Christmas.

I did put up a small tree this year.   Ray wanted a little something to make the house look festive.   I decorated, placing a few of my favorite things around the house.  It looks sweet when the light glow illuminating the Nativity set on the mantel.  

The saddest thing is how Covid has changed the way we celebrate.   I have no idea if anyone will come to visit.  The lack of family highlights the loss I feel when I remember how the holidays used to be.  I wonder how you would have handled this pandemic.  

I try to remind myself of the true meaning of Christmas.   How the most important thing is acknowledging the birth of Jesus.  I remember sitting with you and your brother reading the Christmas story teaching you that Christmas was about much more than just Santa.  

The biggest hurdle for me is accepting my reality and letting go of the fantasy I thought life would be.  Accepting that you are really gone is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.  There are days I have to allow myself to just sit closing my eyes while picturing you sitting by my tree with your children.   I see your handsome face and beautiful smile as you help your babes unwrap gifts from me.  I picture you drinking coco in the kitchen as we talk about life and the coming year.  Some days those fantasies are how I survive.

I don’t know if my grief will ever lessen as I survive the holidays with a broken heart.  I will go to church Christmas Eve.   I will wear your fingerprint close to my heart.  I will cry as I’ve done every year as I see families with children fill the pews.   

For Christmas I will pray for my peace and acceptance.   I will pray for the strength to welcome another year without you in it.   I will pray that past memories will bring more joy than pain.  I will pray that you are at peace, healed from your demons and celebrating the birth of Jesus in the beauty of heaven.  

 

 

 

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 ♥️🙏🏻

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