A Story of Addiction & Loss

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

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.  

 

 

 

Pieces of You, Pieces of Me

Matt,   It’s been 82 months since your death and I foolishly thought I was ready to donate your winter clothing to the homeless addicts living in Kensington.   I have become part of a group of mom’s who take trips to the streets providing food and clothing to those who continue to be forgotten by society.   I must say it’s a part of how I survive your death, by giving back to those suffering from the disease that took your life.

I usually avoid your closet, but that day I felt  it was something I was ready to do.   Opening the door was walking back in time.   Sweaters were on hangers as if you were expected to walk through the door, grab one and ask, Hey Mom do I look ok.  

I stood in the doorway waiting for my breath to settle.  It was shocking how my body responded to seeing your clothing.  Slowly I started to take one down.   Memories of you wearing this sweater flooded my brain.   I held it close, burying my face into the softness hoping to breathe in your scent.   I could hear you voice telling me it’s ok Mom, it’s ok.

As I continued to place those sweaters in a box, I was fighting myself as if this was what I really wanted to do.   These sweaters were pieces of what I have left of you.   My mind was battling should they stay or should they go.  I held each one close and saw you wearing them looking so handsome with your beautiful smile letting me know you approved.   I started talking to you asking if this was what you wanted.   

I remember how you were always so giving.   Memories of you giving your shirt to a homeless man prompted me to keep going.   I held each sweater, running my hand over the material before placing them into the box.  I managed to donate several sweaters, a jacket and a pair of pants.  

Driving to the donation event, my tears were flowing wondering if I was strong enough to hand over the box to those who would take your sweaters to the streets handing them out to people who have nothing.   Pulling into the parking lot I was greeting by smiling faces.   Women thanking me for helping take care of other mothers children.   

As I handed over the boxes I had a feeling of profound sadness mixed with joy.   Knowing I was giving away pieces of what I had left of you re -broke my heart.   Knowing that your sweaters would provide comfort to someone with nothing gave me a bit of joy.

Once again I’ve learned that grief knows no time line.   It lives in pieces of clothing that will never be worn by you again.   It lives in memories that surface unexpectedly.   It lives knowing that even doing the right thing can be the most painful thing in the world.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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……….

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