A Story of Addiction & Loss

Category: aftershocks and grief (Page 1 of 4)

Fractured

Matt,  the holidays are approaching and I feel like I’m drowning.

I’m surprised that after surviving 8 years of holidays without you my heart continues to ache. 

There are so many things I’m trying to juggle.  I feel like letting those balls shatter on the ground while I walk away from it all. Time I’ve found is no help as the holidays coming remain as brutal as ever.  

I feel like I’m fractured.  Broken in half.  The before and after, the then and now dance through my mind everyday.  Memories of what used to be.  The laughter, the love, the togetherness fractured like my soul.  

The Monday before Thanksgiving I have my CT scan looking for any sign of returning cancer.  The thought takes my breath away as I remember the healthy me before that dreaded C word became a part of my life.  The holidays were tough enough without this hanging over my head.  Grieving you, grieving me, grieving the holidays that used to be.

Your brother is distant.  I know he shares my grief.  I had hoped we could be a comfort to each other as time went on.  I had hoped that my diagnosis would have us clinging to each other as we are all that’s left of us. Sadly the opposite is true.  I grieve for the relationship I Imagined but do not have.  I wonder if I will survive long enough to see it change.

If someone had told me I’d be living this life I would have laughed and walked away.  Never in my wildest dreams did I see this coming.  Never did I think your addiction would be fatal and our dreams for the future would be crushed on that cruel, cold, January morning so many years ago. 

Never did I think I would be struggling to find my footing on unstable ground.  Never did I think my world would be so unbelievably full of sadness that time is powerless to heal.  I saw things so differently when I thought about life and growing older.  I saw family celebrating the holidays together.  I heard laughter, imagined smiling faces as we gathered around the Thanksgiving table.  I imagined a life of making new memories as the holidays came and went.  

The reality is your death fractured my life.  Blindsided us both, crushing the future I envisioned.  Now, I continue to hold onto memories hoping they become a healing balm soothing my raw edges allowing peace to enter and carry me through life without you  💔

 

Haunted By A Hug

Matt,   After all this time my brain continues to go back to the memory of our last hug.   You were staying at a treatment facility in Pennsylvania and it was visiting day.   

I remember seeing you walk toward me as I sat outside waiting for you to join me.  I remember thinking how great you looked.   How clear your eyes were.   How your smile lit up your face.   How healthy you looked and how great it was to be wrapped up in your bear hug.

We sat and talked about your future.   You talked about finally having that monkey off your back.   You were so excited to begin a new life in a sober home in Florida.   Although I was not in favor of you moving so far away from your family,  your excitement was contagious and I finally got on board.

I felt that you deserved a fresh start and you always loved living by the sea.   I remember thinking how great it would be for you to leave the cold weather behind and enjoy life under the warmth of the Florida sun.

Never did I think our last hug goodbye would be the last hug.   That 6 months later you would be gone.   That monkey followed you to the sea you so loved and took you from me.

Now I sit with closed eyes and remember.   I remember feeling your breath on my hair.   I remember the smell of your clothes.   The Axe body spray was your signature scent.  To this day I fight the impulse to spray the scent as I walk by the aisle full of mens body products knowing that if I do I will fight to remain in control of my emotions.

Oh how I wish we were given the chance to spend more time hugging.   More time talking about the hopes and dreams we both had thinking your disease was under control.   How I wish I had more time to tell you how proud I was of you.   How I loved you unconditionally through your addiction and the aspirations I now had for you in your recovery.

The memory of that hug now haunts me.   How I wish I knew then what I know now.   How I wish I held on longer and never let you go………

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.   

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