A Story of Addiction & Loss

Category: aftershocks and grief (Page 1 of 3)

Life Is A Trigger

Matt,  As if May wasn’t already tough enough going through another Mother’s Day without you, then getting my CT Scan done and waiting for the results that would either have me dancing for joy or crying from despair, a mass shooting occurred at a grade school killing 19 children and 2 teachers.  

As I watched it unfold I could feel the grief wrapping itself around my heart and soul.  I sat sobbing watching the parents begging police officers to go and save their children.  Their desperate pleas fell on deaf ears as those members of the police force stood around ignoring their cries doing nothing to help those defenseless children from being slaughtered. 

Then it hit.  My own grief exploded as I remembered how I was once that parent.  Screaming at the medical community to do something to save you.  Screaming at both the insurance industry and treatment facilities to act now before it was too late.  

All those buried emotions came flooding into my brain as I felt myself breaking apart knowing that those parents would hear those words that would shatter their souls.  Your child is dead. And I was triggered.  

I sat there feeling helpless.  I wanted to reach out and wrap those sobbing parents in my arms never letting them go.  I wanted to rush to their aid knowing how the world they knew just this morning had shifted off its axis and was now spinning out of control.  

The loss of a child is beyond describing.  It’s life altering.  Losing your child throws you into a different universe. The pain is palpable and unending.  Age does not matter.  How they died doesn’t matter.  It’s the fact that they are gone forever and we are left behind to navigate a world that is so unfamiliar we are completely lost. 

Now these parents will go through the rest of their lives with only memories to sustain them.  Just as I have done.  These parents will never see the faces or hear the voices of their beautiful children just as I have not seen your face or heard your voice for so long. They will cry everyday for all that was lost and for all that could have been.  Just as I have. 

I sadly know what is ahead for these parents. Years of what ifs and why’s.  Years of blaming themselves for something as simple as sending their child to school. Years of wondering what their child would have been like had they lived.  Would they have gone to college, gotten married.  They will miss so many milestones that nothing in life can replace.  There will always be a large hole in the tapestry of their lives that nothing can repair. 

I still blame myself for sending you to Florida thinking if you were home I could have saved you. I still wonder what life would feel like had you lived. I wonder if I would have danced at your wedding and rocked your baby in my arms. 

Life after child loss is filled with indescribable pain.  It’s walking through life feeling as if you’ve lost your mind and really don’t care if you find it again.  It’s watching another parent learning their child is dead and reliving the death of your child over and over again.  

Life is a trigger with no safe place to hide. 💔💔

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.   💜🙏🏻




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.   

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……….

 

 

Walking On Thin Ice


Matt,   It’s 5:21 on January 2nd.   Six years ago you were still alive.   I remember our conversation.   It was Saturday evening and you were on your way home to the sober home where you were staying in Boca Raton.  I remember looking at the clock it was 6:23.   We chatted about your day and promised to catch up again later that night.

That next call never came.  Little did I know that our conversations would never take place again.   We ended our conversation with our usual I love you thinking our future would be filled with many more talks.

As I write this letter I can feel my throat tighten and tears forming in my eyes.   I can feel the shock and disbelief wrapping itself around my heart.  It’s called muscle memory as the body never forgets trauma.

Tomorrow marks the sixth anniversary of your death.    Some days it feels like it’s been forever since I’ve heard your voice.    Other days it feels like yesterday.

The New Year is always tough for me.   This year it’s full of uncertainty and grief.   Sunday is the 3rd.   Your anniversary.  The weather will be rainy and bitter.   Mimicking my heart.   Monday l have my second CT scan checking to see if my cancer treatment has been successful.  I will be holding my breath and praying until I hear what I will be facing.   More down time or more treatment.

So I now mourn your death and my health.   I sometimes wonder if the cancer was caused by years of second guessing decisions made that led to your death.   Years of grieving and guilt for what might have been.   Years of wondering about If Heaven truly exists and if you are healed living in Paradise.   Years of wondering if I will ever see you again.   Wondering what death is like and if we will be together when my time comes.

I feel like I’m walking on ice.   On a frozen pond trying to get to the other side.   Some areas are solid and stable.   As I continue my journey I find areas that are cracking beneath my feet.   I can feel the frozen water seeping through my shoes as I wonder if I will make it to the other side before I fall through.

My journey since your death has been one I could have never prepared myself for.   Parents are never prepared to say goodbye to their children.   Parents are never prepared to hear they have cancer.

So I continue to pray that God has us both in his healing hands.   I pray you have found your peace that eluded you here on earth.  I pray your body and mind are free of the demons that followed you as you struggled.  I pray for his peace and healing as I struggle with losing you and losing the woman I used to be.

 

 

 

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