Matt, I wrote this for you..
In all my years of walking on the beach I’ve never found a starfish until yesterday. I felt like a child again as I picked up this fragile, precious creature and held it in my hand. I could feel the tickle as its tiny fingers tried to attach itself to my hand. It was such an incredible moment just standing there holding this incredible creature.
I began to think of the Starfish Story. The one where the little girl was on the beach throwing as many starfish back into the ocean when she is approached by a man. He asks why she is wasting her time as she can’t save them all. As there are thousands along the beach. He tells her she can’t possibly make a difference. The young girl listened as she bent down picking up another and throwing it into the sea. I made a difference for that one she replied to the man.
As I stood there recalling that story I began to cry. I started to think of Matt and all our children as starfish. How so many never made it back to the sea. How people ignored them. Walking right by without a helping hand or kind word. How so many Shunned them and stigmatized their disease.
I thought of the insurance company as that man who tried to discourage the girl from saving them. How those so called professionals told us to practice tough love letting our precious starfish suffer to survive.
I thought of us as the welcoming sea. Always there, always reaching, pushing harder and further until we could grab them and hold on to them placing them safely back to our sea.
I held that perfect, precious creature in my hand and told Matt I was so sorry for not knowing how to save him. For not being that perfect parent who had all the answers. I made a promise to him that this tiny creature would never struggle to live as I knew how to save him.
I walked out into the freezing sea, I stroked the starfish and said a prayer. I prayed that it would survive and would somehow understand that I would never walk by knowing that I could make a difference
Matt, we’ve passed the 9 year mark of me surviving your death. For some reason, this 9th year has hit me harder than I could have ever imagined.
I continue to struggle with the fact that time has flown by. My mind knows but my heart continues with disbelief. It almost feels like that horrible second year, when the reality replaced the fog and the weight of grief settled into my heart.
I was a guest on a podcast about grief yesterday. So many of the topics we discussed hit home for me. We talked about society and how it places a time limit on grief. Sadly, most people who feel that grief has its limitations have never suffered the devastating loss of a child.
We also discussed many faucets of grief such as the fear of not remembering the sound of our loved one voice. Matt, that is one of my biggest fears. You never left me voice mails. Texting was your form of communication. Believe me, I have screenshotted all of your text messages and treasure each one. But what I crave is to hear your voice once again.
There are days when I sit quietly by myself, closing my eyes. I try to conjure up your face, your smile, and your voice. Some days it all comes rushing back. Other times I feel like you are drifting farther and farther away. Those days I feel a panic set in as I never want to ever forget anything about you. Sadly, the brain can only hold so much memory. Grief brain is capable of so much less.
This year will be a bigger challenge than I could have ever imagined. There is no truth in the statement that the passage of time heals. For me the passage of time is a tragedy as I struggle to remember the essence of you. ❤️
Matt, Nine years ago you were alive.
Nine years ago we were both anticipating a beautiful new year
Nine years ago I sent you a text telling you that 2015 was going to be the best year ever.
Nine years ago my heart was full of hopes and dreams.
Nine years ago we had a conversation sharing our plans for the evening.
Nine years ago you were spending time with your friends attending a 24 hour NA meeting.
Nine years ago I stalked your Facebook page checking you were where you were supposed to be.
Nine years ago I felt both anxiety and anticipation regarding your being strong enough to remain drug free. Strong enough to keep your beautiful future in the forefront of your mind.
Nine years ago we spoke at midnight watching the ball drop together although we were 1000 miles apart.
Nine years ago I told you how proud I was of all you accomplished and how I looked so forward to seeing you again.
Nine years ago I had no idea that 3 days into the New Year all my hopes, dreams and aspirations for the future would shatter at my feet.
Nine years ago I could never have allowed myself to think the future we both dreamed of would never come to be.
Nine years ago I never knew that 2015 would change the course of my life forever.
Nine years ago.
Matt, tomorrow is Christmas. I spent the morning crying my eyes out and hugging the bear I had made out of your sweatshirt. The grief and pain is still so powerful even after all these years. I find myself breathless when I let the reality of life sink in soaking through the protective coating I’ve wrapped around my heart.
The reality that you are really gone continues to hit me hard, taking my breath away. I go over everything in my head. Trying to figure out what went wrong. What could I have done differently to have the outcome I prayed for. I want to blame me. Then I want to blame you. You were an adult. I tell myself you made your choices. Choices that put your life in danger. Choices that took you away and left me a broken mess.
I wonder if you can see what you have done. How your death has taken my soul and ripped it in two. I wonder if you thought how your choice to use more just one more time would impact every aspect of my life.
I’m struggling through this holiday season. I can’t even look at posts of intact families. Families who don’t have an empty chair at their table. Families smiling for the camera, enjoying their time together. Hell, I can’t even get your brother to let me know if he’s coming for Christmas. Since your death, he’s pulled away from me. Every conversation is strained. I know he’s grieving but he won’t let me in. He’s so angry and I have become his punching bag. I feel like I’ve lost both my sons.
Christmas used to be my favorite time of year. Now every day is a struggle. I decorated this year using only my favorite things. The rest I packed up and donated to a recovery home. It helps my heart to see people who have made it through this disease and are now living life to the fullest. Oh how I wish that had been you. On my very dark days I do pretend you are alive, living a great life in Florida.
I really want to feel the joy of this season. I got the best news last week. My CT scans were clear. After 4 years, I remain free from cancer. I wanted to call you. To share this beautiful news with you. Instead I talk to the sky hoping you will hear me.
Today I listened to a podcast about a woman who died and met Jesus. What she described stuck in my mind. The beauty, the smells, the colors, the peace. I pray everyday that you are there living in heaven, healthy and finally at peace. I pray you are surrounded by light and love and that one day we will be together again celebrating Christmas in Heaven.
Until then I struggle here on earth. Struggle to find a bit of joy in a world I never saw coming. I wish you a Merry Christmas in heaven my beautiful boy. Until we meet again.
Matt, today is Thanksgiving, my 8th without you. You would think after all this time the weight would be lighter. The grief would have lessened it’s grip on my heart.
I woke today with that familiar lump in my throat. That feeling of choking that has become a part of life since you left. I wanted to stop and scream that I just can’t do this anymore.
I have so much to be grateful for. Today, Mike and Heather are coming over. It’s the first time since Covid that we will be spending a holiday together. He’s frying the turkey like he did your last Thanksgiving at home. If I close my eyes I can see both of you standing together outside by the fryer, your breath floating in the air as you laughed at a private joke
Oh how I wish you were here. How I wish I could look out my window and see you both standing side by side. How I wish you would walk in my door yelling Hey Mom we need some help.
Today my grief will be mixed with gratefulness. Missing your presence at the table. Your smile. Your voice. Missing your teasing about my cooking. I will be grateful for the presence of your brother. Some of his mannerisms are so much like yours. The tilt of his head. How he speaks using his hands. The way he stands around the table guarding the turkey before everyone gets to praise him for his masterpiece.
I never saw a time when you would not be here. Never ever imagined the emptiness your absence would create. I will forever long for your presence.
I pray Thanksgiving in Heaven is beautiful. That you are surrounded by love, peace and light. That one day our souls will be reunited and my heart will be full once again 💕