A Story of Addiction & Loss

Author: MaryBeth Cichocki (Page 1 of 29)

44 and So Much More

 

Matt, tomorrow, July 30th will be your 44th birthday.  Sadly you no longer live on earth, you were called to heaven seven birthdays ago.  Today my mood changes like the waves of the ocean we both love so much. 

One minute the wave is small and kind.  A memory of you as a child will bring a smile to my soul.  Allowing me to rise above the pain your loss has imprinted on my soul.  Then, without warning the big one comes out of nowhere pulling me out into the grip of the undertows forcing me to fight for my breath as the reality of tomorrow plays havoc on my heart. ❤️

Tomorrow I will be where you were.  I will walk on the beach we once walked on together.  I will feel the ocean breeze on my cheek pretending it is a soft kiss from you.  I will look out over the vastness of the sea wondering if you know I’m here.  Wondering if Heaven really is a beach like we always hoped it would be. I will drive past your house and make sure she is being loved as she was when she belonged to you.  I will allow the memories to come bringing both pain and pleasure as I remember the times we shared together in the house we both loved. 

As night falls, I will search the sky for your sign.  I will search for the brightest star blowing a kiss to the heavens hoping it touches your cheek.  I will say a prayer that you are healthy and healed sharing your birthday with Jesus.  I hope you will feel my love floating from earth to the heavens searching for you.

Oh my beautiful boy, you will never know how much you are missed.  How much you are loved.  How I would do anything to have you standing at the door with the pups at your feet as I park in your driveway.  Grabbing your presents out of my car as you walk closer with those beautiful eyes and amazing smile.  You wrap me in a hug as you try to peek in the bags.  The dogs dancing at our feet as we walk together into our house by the sea.  

I remember the picture I bought when you first moved in.  It was a house on the sea and quoted “Heaven is a little closer in a house by the sea.”   My precious boy how I pray you are in that house in heaven and the sea is your playground.  Until we meet again I will always feel closer to you by the sea. ❤️

Happy birthday my beautiful boy🙏🏻

Missing The Me I used To Be

Matt,   There are days I don’t recognize myself anymore.   I though grieving you would be the biggest hurdle of my life.   I’m finding that grieving who I used to be is becoming a hurdle that seems impossible to jump over.  

So much has changed in these last two years.   You have been gone 6 years and I’d begun to think I had finally found stable footing.   Funny, I look back now and laugh at how I foolishly thought my life had stabilized.   

Nothing could have prepared me for the avalanche of grief that was waiting right around the corner for me.   Being diagnosed with cancer was something I never saw coming.   It was another of those rouge waves that hits with such force you are left helplessly struggling to break through the surface of the water fighting to find your breath.

I never realized how much I took for granted.   When the waves of your loss would hit I would get on my bike and physically exhaust myself until I felt a semblance of calm return to my soul.   If the weather was bad I would grab my yoga mat and find my zen place as I stretched my muscles holding poses until I could no longer feel the chest tightness or racing beats of my heart.

Today, my physical body has endured the brutal treatments to help me beat this ugly disease.   My back is no longer able to bend or twist.   I am full of rods and screws.   My bike hangs in the garage.   It’s become a symbol of the independence I’ve lost.   My days of beating back the grief has disappeared like the woman I was before your death.

Don’t get me wrong.   I’m very grateful this disease was cut out of my body.   I’m grateful for the radiation that was guaranteed to kill any ugly cells left behind.   I just wish I had known how the reality of my treatments would have impacted my ability to handle the anxiety that comes when the reality of your death hits me head on.   I’ve lost my physical ways of coping.   The best I can do is walk and I can’t walk long enough or far enough to make a dent in my grief.

Now I depend on my daily dose of xanax or my THC or CBD.   I hate who I have become.   I never understood your dependence on pills.   I foolishly though that you should have handled your anxiety with physical activity like I did.   Little did I know how debilitating back surgery was and how it impacted your life.   For that I apologize to you my beautiful boy.

I hate walking around with that lump in my throat.   I hate how my mind has taken over and fills me with fear of what my future might hold.   I hate that some days all I can think of is death and leaving everything I love behind.   I hate that you’re not here to help me through my dark days. 

I hate that PTSD has become my constant companion.   I long for those days when we were both healthy and life was a breeze.   I miss our endless walks on the beach.   Our laughter as we remembered your antics as a kid.   We were so much alike.   I wonder how you would have reacted if you were still alive knowing I had a potentially life threatening disease.   

I survive by praying for healing of both my mind and body.   I pray that you have found your peace and one day we will once again walk on a heavenly beach together both healed from our diseases filled with peace and joy.   Until then memories of who we used to be will carry me until we meet again.   

 

Some Days You Just Have To Cry

Matt,   Memorial Day weekend has come and gone.   The weather mimicking my soul.  The day was cold and dreary.   A typical Memorial Day weekend in Delaware. My mind kept going back to happier, sunny days when I would drive to the beach to spend the weekend with you.  

We always found a way to avoid the crowds as you hated when “those tourist” invaded your piece of paradise.   I can still hear your voice complaining about the people and the traffic.   I’d let you vent and then remind you I was one of “those tourists”.

Those bittersweet memories became a trigger.   The more I remembered, the closer the grief crept in.   Like one of those completely unexpected rouge waves that hits out of the blue and drops you to your knees.  

The wave of grief so powerful I felt like I was choking.  Like my breath had been sucked out of my lungs as I was being pulled under by its strength.   The reality that we would never share another Memorial Day together, that I would never make that trip again, that I would never walk into your house to see your smiling, tan face was too much for my heart to handle.

I was shocked at how my body responded as those waves continued to wash over my soul.  They call it muscle memory and my muscles were in full gear of remembrance.  That familiar choking sensation returned.   That feeling of hopelessness.  Of dread.  The pain radiating from my broken heart.  I was helpless to stop the physical response to the wave of absolute sadness that enveloped my soul.  

I used to try to fight my way through these tough days.   I’d tell myself that I was being crazy.   That my grief should have lost some of its power over the last 6 years.  I try to convince myself that I should be able to handle these memories without going to pieces.   That what society says about grieving is true.   We should be able to wrap it up in a pretty package and place it on a shelf.   That time should heal broken mothers.  

The reality is that grief knows no time frame.   Those waves are churning always ready to hit without warning.   Grief makes no sense.   It hides in our souls forever present waiting to pounce on our unsuspecting hearts.  

That day, I allowed the dam to break.   I let those waves wash over me as I cried my heart out.   I cried for you and all you were missing in this life.   I cried for me knowing that memories are all I have left of us.   I cried and cried and cried until I had no more tears left to shed.   

I could feel the waves subsiding.   Heading back out to sea.  I felt a calm returning.  My breath becoming regular.  

I’m learning that some days I must anchor myself letting those waves wash over my heart.   I’ve learned I need to feel the pain of what will never be.   After years of struggling to suppress  my grief I’ve come to realize that some days I just need to cry…………

 

Surviving Mothers Day One Breath At A Time

 

Matt,   It’s finally May.   The gardens are in bloom,  the weather is finally getting warm.   I lay in bed and listen to the birds singing outside my window.   I love the rebirth of the earth that comes this time of year.   May was once a time I looked forward to.   Especially planning my yearly Mother’s Day gathering.   Looking so forward to be surrounded by my boys.   Having you and Mike together under my roof brought back memories that now have become bittersweet.   Mother’s Day now holds a different meaning.   A mix of emotions as my heart breaks with your absence and is grateful for your brother’s presence.  ❤️

Mothers Day.  Those two words once brought happy memories of cards and flowers, crabs and beer. My family gathered together to celebrate motherhood.  Three generations laughing and loving. Sharing the memories of childhood, then teen years that became adult years  changing our families women into mothers.   Every year we gathered together at my house.   A beautiful family tradition.  Grandmothers, Aunts, Mother in Law, sister, sons and daughter.  To celebrate family and love.  This year Mother’s Day grabs my heart and shatters it like glass.  Broken in too many pieces to ever be repaired.  Our family forever changed by addiction.  A beautiful family tradition now missing a very large presence.

You, My youngest son gone forever.  Your demons more powerful than a mothers love.  A family broken.  A mother broken. Thinking of this once special day brings me to my knees.  A day I once looked forward to, now a day that will forever be a reminder of the profound loss. The gut punches become relentless taking my breath away in sobs that I can no longer control.  It is said losing a child demolishes the mother.  I can tell you it absolutely does.  

How does a grieving mother survive a holiday in her honor.  There are no Hallmark cards dealing with moms like me.  There are no “how to” books explaining what to expect on days that are meant to bring joy but now will bring incredible pain.  There is nothing happy about Mother’s Day for this mother.  Yet, I recognize I still have my sister, daughter in law, and most importantly my oldest son.  My mind knows I still have much to be thankful for, but my heart is missing a very special piece. How do I explain that all I want to do is close my eyes and wish I would disappear. How do I make everyone understand that my heart has shut down to protect my sanity and Mother’s Day is now a day I want to forget.  

Now along with grief I have guilt.  Mother’s Day has always been my holiday to do for everyone.  I cook the food and provide the drink.  Buying beautiful flowers for all to enjoy.  I transform my gardens into the peaceful place for all the mothers to relax and appreciate Mother Nature .  While affording my adult son’s precious time together.  Watching my two boys now men laughing and sharing their lives, filled my heart with joy.  Now I see the pain etched on my oldest son’s face and my heart feels the depth of his loss.  His grief washes over me. His bravery astounds me as I witness his silent tears.  How does a grieving mother help her grieving son?  

Mothers Day, once a holiday I loved has become a day that will always remain a painful reminder of our families loss.  Most of my friends are mothers with living children. Now rather than sharing their joy of our day, I’m jealous that their children are here and one of mine is not.  Guilt again.  How can I feel this way?  What kind of mother is jealous that another mothers child is alive?  Grief has changed this mother. I’m no longer the woman I once was.  The loss of my youngest son has made me question the circumstances of life.  Many days I wake and the tears fall as reality creeps into my sleeping brain.  He is gone my mind says and the pain of my new life begins again.  I have enough trouble trying to navigate through a normal day, how will I ever make it through Mothers Day? 

My mind is filled with memories of happiness and joy.  My two little men.  Hand made cards and hand picked flowers would be thrust into my arms by these precious children who stole my heart the moment they were placed in my arms.  Motherhood with all the ups and downs still remains an incredible gift from God.  Mother’s Day held new meaning once I became a mother.  There is no greater love than that beautiful bond shared between a mother and her child.  There is also no greater pain when that bond is severed by an untimely, unexpected death. 

Recently,  a very wise mother, a mom like myself gave me some incredible advice.  She told me to imagine you are on a plane.  The oxygen masks drop down.  Save yourself first, she said.  Place the mask on your face and breathe.  Keep breathing and take care of yourself before you take care of others.  This Mothers Day,  I will say your name. I will let my tears come. I will feel your absence and not hide my pain.  I will tell your brother, Mike how much his love means to me and how amazing of a man he has become.  I will not pretend I am fine.  This Mothers Day I will be on that plane and I will take care of myself one breath at a time. 💔  

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.

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.

 

 

 

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