A Story of Addiction & Loss

Category: grief knows no timeframe (Page 1 of 4)

A Hollow Halloween

Matt,  tonight is Halloween.  I Thought after all these years I would be ok seeing the kids skipping down the street dressed in a variety of costumes.  

I did ok as the kids came up to the door yelling Trick or Treat.  It was so sweet watching them root through the candy bowl searching for their favorite treats.  Their smiling faces warmed my heart making me laugh as they politely said thank you and waved goodbye.  

Everything was good until I opened the door and two little boys stood on the steps.  Their blond hair sticking out from under their hats.  Two sets of green eyes looking into mine.  Oh God, I felt like I was looking at your children.  I felt like I was given a precious glimpse of what life could have been like had you survived your addiction.  

I stood on the steps with them drinking in every second.  Allowing them to choose as many pieces of candy as their little hands could handle.  I wanted to wrap them up in a hug.  I wanted to close my eyes and picture you standing there with your boys.  I wanted to hear you say Hi Mom.  

I fought back tears as they walked away hand in hand.  
Closing the door I let my tears flow.  I sat and allowed all those memories of you and Mike on Halloween run through my mind. How much you loved to dress up.  How you wolfed down your dinner and ran out the door as soon as darkness hit. 

Those memories of Halloweens so long ago are bittersweet.  They are heartwarming and heartbreaking all wrapped in the complicated waves of grief.  





 

 

My Reflections on Trail of Truth.

I remember being home watching the weather like a hawk scans the sky for prey.  I kept thinking how could the report of a strong nor-easter possibly be true as I sat feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin.  

The next morning I woke to a gray day.  I felt the weather was mimicking my soul as my husband said goodbye at the train station.  I could feel the wind beginning to strengthen as I stood on the platform with my friend who decided she wanted to brave the weather after hearing me try to explain the impact of the memorial ceremony to others when there really are no words that could describe the slap to your heart as you stood amongst the angels.

So here we were the three of us sitting together on the train heading to D.C. to be among those involved in bringing awareness to the pandemic that continues to destroy families and lives.  You see, Nicole lost her husband last year and is now a single mom to her beautiful daughter, Chloe.

As the train sped toward our destination, I could feel my anxiety growing.  Memories flooded my brain of my first trip to D.C. 9 months after losing my son, Matt in 2015.  How naive I was then thinking this epidemic would never continue.  I truly believed that losing 42,000 people in 2015 would be enough for those in power to shut down the Pharmaceutical Companies responsible for the carnage. That lawmakers and doctors would be punished for their part in this terrible tragedy that created a disease of massive proportions.

As we arrived at Union Station I felt a calm beginning to settle my heart.  I felt like I was where I was meant to be.  

Walking into the Yotel was like coming home after a long absence. Hearing my name and being surrounded by other mamas who’s faces were so familiar yet now they were in my space and we shared moments of joy mixed with grief as we wrapped each other up in warm, loving hugs.  

Our eyes all reflecting a similar emotion.  No one wanted to be here, but because our hearts were shattered by loss we knew we had to be here to let the country know our children continue to live through us.

The storm was kind to us on Friday allowing our activities to continue as planned.  First the DOJ rally.  The power of being among so many incredible advocates was palpable.  The energy flowed through the crowd.  Our chants stopped passerby’s who asked what we were doing.  I was proud to tell Matt’s story as they listened and offered condolences and compassion.  Sharing their lives had also been touched by this tragedy.

My friend Jen gave a powerful speech telling her story of Christopher as I listened I was moved to tears.  So many who’s stories shared similarities of hope and heartbreak.  

Friday night Susans vigil was held at Union Square.  Once again we came together as one body of broken people holding on to each other as stories were shared.  I was blessed to share Matt’s story with the crowd.  Candles were glowing in the dark representing the lives of our loved ones whose 

lights we will never allow to burn out.

I could hear the rain and wind before I got out of bed Saturday morning.  Ophelia obviously had no idea who she was dealing with as she pummeled D.C. with all her force.  A group had gathered outside our room accessing what we were up against.  We laughed out loud knowing that we had all walked through hell and survived. 

A group of us gathered for breakfast holding our rain gear and making plans to brave the storm. There was no way we were going to allow this storm to stop us from being among our angels.

I tried to prepare my friend for the impact but I knew from experience there truly are no words.  I watched her walk among the Delaware people searching for her husbands stone.  Tears falling as she held her daughter’s hand looking for Daddy.  Our eyes met and I knew she felt it.  I knew the impact found her soul ripping it apart once again.  The sky opened up as we both searched, her for Walt, me for Matt.  I knew there was no way we were giving up in spite of high winds and heavy rain.  

Finding Matt, seeing his handsome face stopped me in my tracks. I felt like the earth beneath my feet split open.  I prayed for it to swallow me, to take me to a place where grief could never find me.  To give me a reprieve from this excruciating pain that had become my life.  I heard a guttural cry escape from my soul.  I felt arms wrapping around me as another mom heard and came to hold me up.  Never could I have anticipated my response.  The rawness of the grief.  

I knew I was spent. I wanted to run.  Then I saw my friends face and knew she found her husband.  She knew. I knew.  We were both experiencing, living the impact our team had hoped for when forming the Trail of Truth.

Saying goodbye Sunday morning was tough.  I felt surrounded by those who get me.  I felt like we were all kindred spirits finding each other again. 

I still have found no words to describe the feeling when you walk among angels.  As we boarded the train to Delaware my friend leaned over and said you were right.  No words……..💔💔

99 Months

 

Matt,  99 months.  My brain counts the months as my heart screams how can this be.  How can it be true that life has continued to march on and I have been drug along in my grief.  How can this grief continue to bring me to my knees?  To make me want to scream from the rooftops that I am in so much pain?  How can all this time have passed yet still feel like yesterday?

Perhaps it’s because Easter has come and gone.  Another holiday without you.  Perhaps it’s the memories that continue to haunt me of past celebrations.  Two boys with chocolate faces and hands running through the yard Easter baskets swinging from their arms as laughter filled the air.

Perhaps it’s the memories of two men laughing as they walked in my door seeing Easter baskets filled with the same chocolate they loved as boys.  

Perhaps it’s the silence that has replaced the laughter, that silence is deafening as the grief is powerful.    The silence from your brother.  The silence of those who have passed on.  The silence haunts my heart and leaves my soul empty.

Yet, I have good days.  Days where I cope well.  Days I find joy in little things.  Flowers blooming in my garden.  The dogs chasing a squirrel through the yard.  An unexpected phone call from a friend.  A clear Cat Scan.

I guess you could say I’ve learned to cope, to handle the pain.  Sadly when I think of how long you have been gone, how long I’ve had to bear this grief that’s when my reality begins to haunt my heart leaving me breathless and wanting to scream.

Some say Silence is golden.  I think of what I wouldn’t give to hear the shouting, the laughter, the voices of two little boys whose smiles were covered with chocolate……..

 

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. 💔💔

Kicking & Screaming Into The Holiday Season

Matt,   Christmas is in twelve days.   This will be the seventh Christmas without you.  Funny how I fooled myself into thinking this year would have to be easier than the past years.  After all, how long does this grief hang on.   

I’m finding that once again grief has the upper hand.  This time of the year we are bombarded with commercials of perfect, smiling families.  Everyone gathered around the big, beautiful tree surrounded with thousands of presents.   Then the Hallmark channel drowns us with unrealistic portrayals of the “perfect family” and of course the “perfect Christmas”.   

I’m finding these unrealistic expectations of “perfect”  add to my anxiety,  and regret.   I feel like society wants me to wrap up my grief with a beautiful bow and put it in the back of the closet so others won’t be uncomfortable when I’m around.

There are days when I do feel joy.   When I hear a song that connects my brain to a happy memory of our past life.  Days when the tears stay away and the holiday season doesn’t feel like a knife in my heart.  Then for whatever reason, another song leaves me a sobbing mess.  Those waves come out of nowhere knocking me off balance.  Seeing Christmas cards knowing there will be none from you.   Thinking about what to get for your brother and remembering I will no longer be putting a gift under the tree with a tag stating your name.

I decorated your memorial garden with a wreath and poinsettias.   Holiday lights are wrapped around the cross.  Your stone is surrounded by angels.   It’s my place of peace.   I feel close to you there and can talk freely about how Iso deeply knowing that you won’t be home for Christmas.

I did put up a small tree this year.   Ray wanted a little something to make the house look festive.   I decorated, placing a few of my favorite things around the house.  It looks sweet when the light glow illuminating the Nativity set on the mantel.  

The saddest thing is how Covid has changed the way we celebrate.   I have no idea if anyone will come to visit.  The lack of family highlights the loss I feel when I remember how the holidays used to be.  I wonder how you would have handled this pandemic.  

I try to remind myself of the true meaning of Christmas.   How the most important thing is acknowledging the birth of Jesus.  I remember sitting with you and your brother reading the Christmas story teaching you that Christmas was about much more than just Santa.  

The biggest hurdle for me is accepting my reality and letting go of the fantasy I thought life would be.  Accepting that you are really gone is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.  There are days I have to allow myself to just sit closing my eyes while picturing you sitting by my tree with your children.   I see your handsome face and beautiful smile as you help your babes unwrap gifts from me.  I picture you drinking coco in the kitchen as we talk about life and the coming year.  Some days those fantasies are how I survive.

I don’t know if my grief will ever lessen as I survive the holidays with a broken heart.  I will go to church Christmas Eve.   I will wear your fingerprint close to my heart.  I will cry as I’ve done every year as I see families with children fill the pews.   

For Christmas I will pray for my peace and acceptance.   I will pray for the strength to welcome another year without you in it.   I will pray that past memories will bring more joy than pain.  I will pray that you are at peace, healed from your demons and celebrating the birth of Jesus in the beauty of heaven.  

 

 

 

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