A Story of Addiction & Loss

Category: holidays without a son (Page 1 of 3)

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  💔

 

New Year Same Grief ♥️

Matt,  Seven years ago you wore this hat celebrating what we thought was going to be the best year ever. You spent New Years Eve at a meeting and posted how great it felt to be doing the right thing.

We texted and I told you how proud I was of you and how amazing the new year would be for us both.
We were excited about seeing each other in February and began making plans for my visit. You were so proud of all your accomplishments in Boca and wanted to share your new life with me.

Seven years ago I was walking on air. Feeling like we finally made it through the horror of your addiction. Feeling like life was returning to how I dreamed it could be.

Little did I know that on the 3rd day of 2015 our world would come crashing down and new year’s would take on a new meaning for me.

Today I sit fighting to breathe. Today I can remember like it was yesterday. Today I want to turn back the clock and change the trajectory of our lives.

New Year’s Eve has become bittersweet. The grief is hanging like a cloud ready to burst. The ground is quicksand waiting to swallow my soul.

Seven years ago we watched the ball drop one thousand miles apart. My heart full of hope and dreams anticipating the joy of celebrating your new life.

Tonight my tears will fall as I watch the ball drop remembering the dreams that will never come to be. Tonight the ball falling to the ground symbolizes my life.

Seven years ago……….💔

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.  

 

 

 

Surviving Mothers Day One Breath At A Time

 

Matt,   It’s finally May.   The gardens are in bloom,  the weather is finally getting warm.   I lay in bed and listen to the birds singing outside my window.   I love the rebirth of the earth that comes this time of year.   May was once a time I looked forward to.   Especially planning my yearly Mother’s Day gathering.   Looking so forward to be surrounded by my boys.   Having you and Mike together under my roof brought back memories that now have become bittersweet.   Mother’s Day now holds a different meaning.   A mix of emotions as my heart breaks with your absence and is grateful for your brother’s presence.  ❤️

Mothers Day.  Those two words once brought happy memories of cards and flowers, crabs and beer. My family gathered together to celebrate motherhood.  Three generations laughing and loving. Sharing the memories of childhood, then teen years that became adult years  changing our families women into mothers.   Every year we gathered together at my house.   A beautiful family tradition.  Grandmothers, Aunts, Mother in Law, sister, sons and daughter.  To celebrate family and love.  This year Mother’s Day grabs my heart and shatters it like glass.  Broken in too many pieces to ever be repaired.  Our family forever changed by addiction.  A beautiful family tradition now missing a very large presence.

You, My youngest son gone forever.  Your demons more powerful than a mothers love.  A family broken.  A mother broken. Thinking of this once special day brings me to my knees.  A day I once looked forward to, now a day that will forever be a reminder of the profound loss. The gut punches become relentless taking my breath away in sobs that I can no longer control.  It is said losing a child demolishes the mother.  I can tell you it absolutely does.  

How does a grieving mother survive a holiday in her honor.  There are no Hallmark cards dealing with moms like me.  There are no “how to” books explaining what to expect on days that are meant to bring joy but now will bring incredible pain.  There is nothing happy about Mother’s Day for this mother.  Yet, I recognize I still have my sister, daughter in law, and most importantly my oldest son.  My mind knows I still have much to be thankful for, but my heart is missing a very special piece. How do I explain that all I want to do is close my eyes and wish I would disappear. How do I make everyone understand that my heart has shut down to protect my sanity and Mother’s Day is now a day I want to forget.  

Now along with grief I have guilt.  Mother’s Day has always been my holiday to do for everyone.  I cook the food and provide the drink.  Buying beautiful flowers for all to enjoy.  I transform my gardens into the peaceful place for all the mothers to relax and appreciate Mother Nature .  While affording my adult son’s precious time together.  Watching my two boys now men laughing and sharing their lives, filled my heart with joy.  Now I see the pain etched on my oldest son’s face and my heart feels the depth of his loss.  His grief washes over me. His bravery astounds me as I witness his silent tears.  How does a grieving mother help her grieving son?  

Mothers Day, once a holiday I loved has become a day that will always remain a painful reminder of our families loss.  Most of my friends are mothers with living children. Now rather than sharing their joy of our day, I’m jealous that their children are here and one of mine is not.  Guilt again.  How can I feel this way?  What kind of mother is jealous that another mothers child is alive?  Grief has changed this mother. I’m no longer the woman I once was.  The loss of my youngest son has made me question the circumstances of life.  Many days I wake and the tears fall as reality creeps into my sleeping brain.  He is gone my mind says and the pain of my new life begins again.  I have enough trouble trying to navigate through a normal day, how will I ever make it through Mothers Day? 

My mind is filled with memories of happiness and joy.  My two little men.  Hand made cards and hand picked flowers would be thrust into my arms by these precious children who stole my heart the moment they were placed in my arms.  Motherhood with all the ups and downs still remains an incredible gift from God.  Mother’s Day held new meaning once I became a mother.  There is no greater love than that beautiful bond shared between a mother and her child.  There is also no greater pain when that bond is severed by an untimely, unexpected death. 

Recently,  a very wise mother, a mom like myself gave me some incredible advice.  She told me to imagine you are on a plane.  The oxygen masks drop down.  Save yourself first, she said.  Place the mask on your face and breathe.  Keep breathing and take care of yourself before you take care of others.  This Mothers Day,  I will say your name. I will let my tears come. I will feel your absence and not hide my pain.  I will tell your brother, Mike how much his love means to me and how amazing of a man he has become.  I will not pretend I am fine.  This Mothers Day I will be on that plane and I will take care of myself one breath at a time. 💔  

Mary Did You Know??

Matt,  Christmas is in 4 days and I’m struggling with bouts of grief.   The waves come and go at unexpected times as a memory from your childhood finds its way into my brain.   Seeing you as an innocent child warms my heart like nothing else.   Looking at photos of you from infancy to adulthood fills me with wonder as to what could have been.

I heard a song yesterday called “Mary Did You Know?”   It asks Mary if she knew who her son was born to be.   Did she know He would grow into a man who would suffer a horrible death to save people like you and me.   Listening to those words, I found myself thinking about Mary.   Knowing that she gave birth to a precious boy, raised him, loved him as I loved you then watched him die on the cross.   It hit me that Mary like me grieved the death of her precious son.

I wonder if Mary knew what she signed up for when she said ok to God’s plan.   I wonder if she knew her son would die and break her heart as your death has broken  mine.   Losing our children is not part of the plan when we think of life.   Yet, here was Mary, the mother of Jesus experiencing the excruciating grief of child loss.   As mother’s we only see a bright future for our son’s and daughters.   We never think of losing them in our lifetime.

Like me, Mary was as helpless in trying to save Jesus as I was in trying to save you.  Like me, I’m sure her mother’s instinct took over as she tried to protect her son from harm.   Her grief journey parallels mine as both our son’s lost their lives and we were helpless to intervene.

It hit me as I listened to the words of that powerful song, that I’ve been selfish in my grief.   Never thinking that the mother of my savior felt the same soul shattering heartbreak at the loss of her son.   I’ve heard that song before.   I’ve read the story of the crucifixion, but never once did I think of Mary and the pain she lived at her son’s death.

Mary never questioned God’s plan for her son like I have.   She never demanded answers like I have.   She never yelled and screamed at God like I have.   Mary trusted in God’s plan knowing he knew best.

As fate would have it, I was visiting your garden as that song started playing on the car radio.   I sat in silence and looked at the cross.   It stands in the center of your garden.   Some of your ashes are scattered beneath your stone.   I closed my eyes and could feel a peace come over my soul.   I no longer felt so bitterly alone as I looked up at the cross.

I want to be more like Mary.   I want to trust that God saved you.  That he knew what your future would be and spared us both of more pain.   I need to believe you are healed and living in paradise with Jesus and his mother.    I need to believe that one day you and I will be reunited as were Mary and Jesus.

Neither Mary or I knew that when we gave birth to our precious son’s we would share a bond of grief.   That we would lose our son’s very close in age, one due to the sins of mankind, one to the power of a horrible disease.

Mary did you know???????????

 

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