A Story of Addiction & Loss

Category: grief (Page 1 of 12)

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. 💔💔

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…………

 

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……….

 

 

Searching For Beauty Among The Ashes

Matt,   Christmas is in 15 days.   I’m trying to hold on.   This will be our 6th Christmas without you and I can say it hasn’t gotten any easier.   I’ve decorated the house.  Not like I used to but it does look like Christmas.   Every year since your death I’ve purchased a deer in your memory.   I remember when you would be so excited that hunting season finally arrived and I would cringe and call you Bambi killer.   You were such a lover of animals I could never understand your love for hunting.   Perhaps it was the bond you shared with your brother Mike.   The two of you always competing for the biggest prize.

You would brag about the “rack” on the deer you killed and I would cover my ears and tell you I would never eat Bambi.   You would have jerky made and you and Ray would smile as you devoured it as I would close my eyes in disgust.   I told you no Bambi meat was ever allowed in my freezer.   You’d smile that beautiful smile and tell me you had the meat donated to a homeless shelter but the jerky was definitely staying.   I never did try it but to this day Ray still talks about how it was the best he ever tasted.

Little memories of seasons past sneak into my brain bringing both joy and heartache.   Today I would welcome your deer with open arms.   Today I would welcome anything that had to do with you.

I’ve decorated your garden for Christmas.  There is a wreath hanging from the cross.   Poinsettias are carefully placed next to your stone along with white lights that shine through the darkness of night.   This has become my peaceful place.   It’s where I come to talk to you and God.   It’s where I allow the tears to flow.   To let my mask fall to the ground and shatter into a million little pieces.   This is the place I run to when life beats me down and I feel like I can’t survive one more day of my grief.

I sit and absorb the stillness.   I listen to the wind as if I might hear your voice.   I dream of what you would be like today.   Would you be married, have children, have a home filled with laughter and love.   I let my imagination wander, let my fantasy take over closing my eyes I picture your home.   A beautiful tree loaded with presents.   Children and dogs chasing each other as squeals of laughter fill the air.   I hear your voice saying Merry Christmas Mom.   I feel your arms as they wrap me in your famous hug.   I allow myself the gift of how I prayed life to be.   I allow my heart a few moments to take a break from the grief that has moved in and refuses to leave.

I struggle to find the beauty in little things.   Yesterday a hawk was sitting on a tree near your garden.   He flew over me as I got close.   I felt like I’d been given a gift.   His beauty in flight lifted my spirits as I wondered for a moment if that was you.

Since your death I look at life differently.   I know that in the blink of an eye everything once expected can shatter at your feet.   I take time to scan the night sky looking for the brightest star lifting up a prayer for you.   I talk to God like he is my friend.   I ask for signs that you are at peace.  I walk on days once considered too cold enjoying the crispness of the air and the songs of the birds.   I take nothing for granted.

Life has taught me that although it can be filled with heartbreak, there are still moments that continue to take my breath away.

 

 

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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