A Story of Addiction & Loss

Category: grief knows no timeframe (Page 1 of 3)

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…………

 

Love Has No Time Limits

Matt,   These last two weeks have been tough.   It seems my grief resurfaces with the changing of the seasons.   Fall has arrived.   The leaves are changing and the geese have begun their daily fly over.   I stare at the sky and listen to their song thinking of you.   I remember how we shared a love for watching their V formation and listening to the honking.   We would roll down car windows upon spotting them in the sky and remain silent as their sounds filled the air.

I’ve started fall decorating around the house.   Every pumpkin holds a memory.   You loved this time of year especially Halloween.   Your rubber mask remains on the shelf in your closet just as you left it.   There are days I have flash backs of you running into the house, your mask covering your face, your laughter filling the room as the dogs circled you barking with wagging tails.

You loved handing out the candy spooking the kids as you jumped out of bushes with your big bowl of candy.   Those memories remain bittersweet as Halloween will be so different this year.  The virus has changed the way we do things today.   It’s no longer safe to open your door to strangers.

As the weather cools, the need for quilts returns.   Two years ago I had a quilt made with 20 of your favorite T Shirts.   I remember picking it up and crying all the way home.   Your quilt has been tucked away in my closet since it arrived home.   On bad days I would bury my face in it’s softness hiding in my closet as the screams were muffled in your clothing.   Two days ago I put on my brave face and brought it downstairs.   As I laid it over the sofa in the den my tears started to fall.   Memories of you sitting there holding Scarlett wearing the exact shirt that was staring back at me from the quilt hit hard.

There are so many things I need to share with you.  So many things happening in my life.  So many things I need you to be a part of.  So many days I struggle to remember your voice.   I wanted to call you to let you know my first CT scan was good after finishing cancer treatment.  Your number remains in my phone contacts and so many days I fight the urge to call not knowing who or if anyone would answer.

I know the seasons will continue to change.   The world around me continues to move on.   I struggle to stay in the present.   To find a bit of happiness when those memories hit.   To be grateful I had you for 37 years.   Navigating through life reminds me of being in your boat.   Being caught off guard as an un predicted storm caught us unprepared or our  unexpected joy as family of dolphins put on a show for us.   So many emotions continue after all these years.   The most important lessons your death has taught me is never take tomorrow for granted  and love never ends……….

Time Does Not Ease The Power Of Grief

Matt,   tomorrow is Mother’s Day.   My 6th without you.   Even as I type these words my heart continues to disbelieve my reality.   I can feel those waves starting to change from swimmable to ones that will pull me under sucking the breath out of my lungs.   That familiar chest heaviness has been following me all day waiting behind every corner ready to pounce.

This year, my grief is multifaceted.   A blend of old and new.   Still having the power to bring me to my knees.   This is my first Mother’s Day without my mom, your grandmother.   Last year I struggled to find the appropriate card.   We weren’t best friends.   We were oil and water.  She was black and white and I am grey.   Mother’s Day changed after your death.

Before you died we went through the motions.  Both uncomfortable but playing the game by presenting a false front to friends and family.   After your death she abandoned me.   She wasn’t there to hold me as I screamed.   She disappeared from my life like that sailboat you see on the horizon floating further and further away until it’s no where to be found.

Most of our fights began when I questioned her behavior.   I just wanted to understand how she could walk away from her grieving daughter.   She died with her secrets untold.   I grieve the relationship we never had.   I grieve the life you should have had.   Her death, so unexpected just like yours.   I was foolish with both of you always thinking there would be another time to talk, to hash things out.   Your deaths hold  shocking similarities.   Sudden and so unexpected.

So now I once again fight to pick up my pieces.   To try to make it through a day to celebrate Mothers.   Realizing I no longer have to stress about finding that perfect card for her has churned up emotions I never thought I would feel.   Knowing there will be no card from you shatters my already scarred heart.

Time does nothing to lessen my grief.   Mother’s Day is bittersweet.   I will always be your mother.   I long to hear you voice.   To see you coming in the door with that smile lighting up my heart.   I long to step back in time and redo everything done when I foolishly thought there would always be more time to say what needed to be said.

I long to have a relationship with my mom.   One that was loving and natural.   I long to hear her say I love you.   I needed so badly for her to explain why she chose to ignore my grief and get on with her life.   I long to return to the past when you were both here and time was something we had plenty of.

Reality is harsh.   Tomorrow will be filled with loss.   I feel like I’m floating on a very small life raft in a very big churning ocean.   I know those waves are coming.   I remember their power to pull me under struggling to find dry land.   Tomorrow I will have no control over when or how they hit.   Memories will find me as tears will fall.   Life as I knew it is gone.   All I can do is hang on and wait for the seas to calm again.

 

 

Together Again………

Matt,   this world has gone crazy.  I wonder if you know whats happening down on earth.   I wonder what life would be like if you were here.   We’ve been hit with this deadly virus.   Our state has come to a screeching halt.   Every nonessential business has closed its doors and we are all confined to our homes.  It’s been a month and I’m feeling the stress of this new normal.

I’m still undergoing radiation everyday.   I call it groundhog day.   Ray and I drive to Penn Monday through Friday.   I wear a mask and gloves as does everyone who is venturing out of their homes.   It’s almost like being an extra in a movie.   It’s something I never thought would happen in our country.   I wonder what your reaction would be if you were alive.

Your Grandmother was more upset about them closing churches during Lent.   The Catholic girl in her just couldn’t understand the need for social distancing to stop the spread of this deadly virus.   For her going to church was part of her routine during Lent.   She was more worried about not being able to worship than she was of catching the virus.   She wanted to know how we would celebrate Easter without going to church.

I had no idea how stressed she was.   Looking back I should have seen the red flags but I’ve been so preoccupied with my cancer battle that I totally missed her distress.

I will never forget the call.    Asking if I was Marybeth.   I would get those exact same calls during your active addiction.   A stranger on the other end of the phone asking for me.   My heart started racing before another word was said.   Your grandmother was found in her car in front of the soup kitchen where she volunteered feeding the poor and homeless.   It seems even though we told her to stay home she was doing what her heart told her to do.   She suffered a massive stroke.

She remained in the hospital holding on for a week.   I was unable to visit.   The hospitals had stopped visitors and with my immune system being down I was told to stay away.   Stacey was given permission to stay with mom mom because of the gravity of her condition.   I was able to speak to her as Stacey would FaceTime with me while she was at the bedside.   I was able to say all those things we think we will have time to say.   I apologized for not understanding her distress.   For all the arguments we had since your death.   Mom Mom never lost a child and had no clue how my life had drastically changed.   We had so many arguments about my grief.   Many times I would find myself screaming into the phone as I tried to get her to understand that time did not help with my grieving.   It was a difficult relationship.   One I foolishly thought we would fix before time ran out.

I asked her to give you a hug from me and to let you know how much I love and miss you.   She left this earth the Monday after Palm Sunday.   The nurses said it was a peaceful death.

I feel like I’ve been slapped by reality once again.   There was so much left to say and now the chance is gone forever.   I mourn the relationship we should have had.   After you died she walked away from me.   I know she loved you and I thought we would mourn your death together.  I will never know why she acted the way she did.   Why she stayed away and offered no support.   That was the one question we argued about.   Now I will never have my answer.   Funny how now that she’s gone it doesn’t seem as important as I once felt it was.

I was having a bad day and opened a photo album I hadn’t touched for a year.   I wondered if you two were together again.   I prayed that she found you and would keep you safe until  my time comes to be with you for eternity.   The pages fell open to this beautiful picture of you and mom mom.   Holding each other close.   Your smiles so beautiful, radiating happiness and love.   Was this you sending me a sign?    Are you together again?

Oh Matt, I pray you are both at peace.   Mom mom was so upset about missing church during Holy Week but here she was witnessing the beauty of Easter in the most heavenly place.   I mourn what could have been for all of us.

Life has a way of teaching us difficult lessons.   I’m learning that tomorrow is not promised to anyone.   I’m learning to say what I feel and never think there will be a tomorrow to fix things.  The hardest lesson for me is that we really have no control of anything in this life.

I printed out your picture.   Every time I look at it my heart gets a warm feeling.   Knowing you are reunited with your grandmother helps my grieving heart.   Godspeed to you both.   Together again in paradise.

 

 

Rogue Waves……

Matt,   You would think after 5 years, I would have a handle on my grief.   Maybe a small part of my heart started to believe the myth that time would soften the blow of your death.   Maybe to survive I had to think the pain would not always have the crushing power it did in those early days.   Perhaps to continue my journey on earth without you I had to live briefly the fantasy that society wants me to believe.

My reality is the polar opposite.   This grief continues to hit unexpectedly, but just as powerfully as it always has.   I call them rogue waves.   I thought that the passing of time would at least soften the edges of my grief.   Sadly, I’m finding those edges remain sharp.   Like jagged pieces of glass ready to rip my heart to shreds once again.

These waves continue to hit at unexpected times.   Days when I think I’ve got a shred of control over my emotions  I find quite the opposite.   I don’t know if it’s the stress of my cancer diagnosis or just the fact that I continue to rethink your struggle with addiction.   Perhaps I’ve got too much time on my hands now as I recover from back surgery and have had to put my advocacy work on the back burner.   I’m no longer physically capable of running to meetings or being your voice in Legislative Hall.   I’m no longer able to keep my mind busy with changing the broken system that took your life.   Time gives my mind the opportunity to relive it all over and over again.

My empathy for your pain is heightened.   I now get it.   Back surgery is no picnic and this recovery has tested my patience.   I think about how I just didn’t understand your pain.   It’s like any other situation.   Until you live it you can’t get it.

So now my insides churn like an unsettled sea.   I feel like I’m being turned inside out.   I want to lash out at people who think addiction was your choice.   Who think addiction is a moral flaw.  My anger rises to the surface when I least expect it.   Like those rogue waves it leaves me struggling to regain control.

I rethink your last days until I can think no more.   I want to physically hurt the man who dumped you off at a motel to die rather than doing the right thing by taking you to the ER or a detox center.   I want him to hurt physically and emotionally like your death has hurt me.   I want him rotting in jail with no hope of ever seeing the blue sky or hearing the birds sing.   I want him to die alone as much as I want you to be alive.

My grief is now multifaceted.   I grieve us both.   I grieve for what used to be.   I grieve the son you once were and the woman I once was.   I grieve for the future that could have been but now will never be.    I grieve the grandchildren my arms will never hold.   I grieve watching my boys grow old together.   I grieve the years we have lost, the future we will never share.

My grief and my anger walk hand and hand.  Dancing through my mind.   I am helpless to contain either when the reality of life hits with the power of those rogue waves knocking me off my feet  leaving me struggling to find the surface to catch my breath.   Grief is a powerful and never ending emotion.   It does not tell time.  It does not conform to societies perception that time softens the blow of death.

I’ve learned that my grief will last a lifetime.   As will my anger over your unnecessary, untimely death.   I’ve learned those waves are out there and will hit again and again.   I’ve learned that I am helpless when they hit and all I can do is ride them to the best of my ability.

Surviving my reality, your death and my cancer is a challenge.  Never did I see either coming.   I’ve learned life is fragile and full of unexpected events.   I’ve learned that grief is a part of who I am and will remain a part of my life until I cease to be……….

 

 

 

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