A Story of Addiction & Loss

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

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???????????

 

Learning To Dance Through Shattered Glass

Matt,   Thanksgiving is in three days.   I’m feeling my grief’s grip around my throat.   That familiar tightening in my chest has returned.   This Thanksgiving feels impossible to survive.   My loss and disbelief of living through unfulfilled hopes and dreams feels heavier as the holiday season approaches.   I’ve heard the saying about learning to dance in the rain.   I feel like I’m navigating life dancing through pieces of shattered glass.   Life as I planned for us shattered at my feet the day you died.   My life was broken with no chance of ever being repaired.

This season my grief feels heavier.   I not only grieve the loss of you, I’m also grieving the loss of me.   Of how I hoped Thanksgiving would always be.   It’s so hard to feel thankful this year.   Your empty seat continues to break my heart.   My cancer battle has left me with little reserve and feelings of just giving up.   It feels like I’m layered in grief.   Of wondering how to survive the triggers the holiday season brings.

I have days where I’m so thankful for your life.   Days I feel like I will survive your loss.   Days when even my cancer is put on the back burner and I feel joy in the blessings  of everyday life.   Then I see those painful commercials.   The one’s of beautiful, happy families celebrating Thanksgiving together.  Everyone around the table is smiling.   There are no tears of loss.   No empty chair where a loved family member will no longer be seated.   It’s those moments when our reality hits like a cold slap and I want to scream letting the world know that life is not as it appears in these fantasy advertisements for how the holidays should be.

It seems the holiday season highlights my grief.   Memories of how life used to be unbury themselves from my safe place and resurface bringing a heightened awareness of my loss.   I’m ashamed that my feelings leave me unthankful for the blessings I do have in my life.

The blessings of memories.   Remembering our last Thanksgiving together.   You and Mike out back bundled up against the cold.   Your breath floating above your heads as you shared a memory that brought a smile to both your faces.   The blessing of that moment captured in time as I snuck a photo of my two boys together.   I look at that photo and feel a mixture of pain and love.   How I wish I could blink my eyes and return to that holiday.

The blessing of a loving husband.   Ray has been amazing.   My broken body is no longer capable of physical activity.   Everything I used to do has now fallen on his shoulders.   I watch as he walks the dogs down the street.   My heart fills with gratitude for this man.   He has taken over everything with a smile and a positive attitude of for better or worse.   He sits by my side on those chemo days.   He continues to tell me we will get through this.   He is such a gift from God as he has held me on those days I sobbed over your loss or cried over losing who I used to be.   He reminds me that I am still beautiful with or without my crazy, curly hair.

In my brokenness true friends have shined through my darkness.   Rallying around me as I struggle to find my new normal.   These women stood by me as I grieved your death and continue to stand by as I battle this cancer.   Letting me know they have my back.   Being sounding boards when my reality becomes too hard to carry and I need to rant and repeat the things they’ve all heard before.   True friends.   Another gift from God.

The blessing of your brother.   He understands my grief.   He is the only one who really gets what your death has done to our family.   We cry together on those days when the grief finds us both.   The holidays hold painful memories that only we share.   Memories of brothers fighting over the last piece of pumpkin pie.   Brothers who would share stories of childhood antics as I cringed at the holiday table.   I’m thankful for his presence in my life.   His mannerisms are yours.   He is the part of you that remains with me.

This holiday season when I’m not feeling so thankful, I will remember these blessing God has placed in my life.   I will remember that the holidays although painful also hold joy.   I will remember our life together.   I will shed tears as memories hit but will focus on the light that shines through my darkest days.   I will continue to pray for acceptance and peace, knowing I am in control of nothing.

This Thanksgiving I will give thanks for your life.   I will give thanks for those who remain in my life.   I will give thanks for the days I feel like I’m human again.   I will give thanks for another day of life.   I will search for the beauty that finds it way through my brokenness…………

 

 

 

My Father’s Day Fantasies

Matt,  tomorrow is Father’s Day.   It’s the first Father’s Day since your death that we will be having what used to be our traditional family crab feast.   Except this time it’s only going to be your brother, Heather and Maddie who will be here with us.  Since your death these special days are just too painful to continue the traditions of the past.  Your absence leaves a huge void in what used to be a happy time together.   There is no avoiding the empty space your death left behind.

Even after four years, my mind still slips into denial allowing me to fool myself and pretend you are just away.   Knowing that reality is just too painful to bear, I fantasize what life would be like today had you survived your disease.

I picture you with a little girl.  A towheaded beauty.  With the most amazing green eyes and crooked smile.   You would come bouncing in like you always did and she would be riding on your shoulders squealing with joy.   Of course a black lab would be in hot pursuit of the giggling girl.

You would greet me with a kiss wrapping me in that big bear hug while your girl wiggled away and ran to greet her Uncle Mike.   I picture my two boys, now men hitting each other on the back  and sharing your famous “Hey Bro”.

You would be grabbing a crab out of the pile and chasing the kids around the table.   You were always the prankster even as a grown man.   We would gather outside and share the happenings of our lives.   Laughter and love would envelope us like the rays of the sun as we shared the bond of  being a close nit family.

I picture the kids and dogs chasing each other through the gardens, laughter mingling with barking as we tried to regain a semblance of control.   Seeing my boys and their families together for a day to celebrate fatherhood would have been a dream come true for me.

You would have been an amazing father.   You were such a loving Uncle to Maddie.

Sadly I will never live that dream.   You are gone and there is no little towhead for me to love.     No wife, no child here for me to hold onto.   No child who has your beautiful eyes for me to gaze into and find you.   You took it all when you left.   All I have is deep unrelenting grief on what could have been and what is.

There are no words to explain how losing you is losing me.   All the hopes and dreams I once had for us shattered into pieces that will never fit together again.

Tomorrow I will think of you as I watch your brother and his beautiful daughter.  I will imagine you walking through my door.   I will close my eyes and see your smiling face.   I will always long for one more hug.  One more Hey Mom.   One more day of having my son’s together.

 

 

Memorial Day Memories

Matt,   Today is Memorial Day.   The day is bright and beautiful.   White puffy clouds dot the blue sky.   A hint of a breeze stirs the tree tops.   Memories are flooding my mind this morning as I sit on the deck listening to the birds sing.   Memories of happy times before you left.   Memories of sun and sand.   Dogs running through the surf while you and I enjoyed the warmth of the sun on our pale winter skin.

Closing my eyes I can hear your voice.   You hated the beginning of the summer season.   The noise, the crowds.   You complained that the tourists invaded your piece of heaven.   I can see that scowl on your face as you contemplated trying to find your way to the sea while fighting through hours of traffic.

The summer season was upon your precious peaceful place and you had little tolerance for the hustle and bustle that those crowds brought to your sleepy little beach town.    I remember you pacing as you grabbed leashes that would now be required when we walked the dogs.   Days of running free on the beach had come to a screeching halt.   I could see their eyes questioning what you’re doing as you leashed them up heading out your door.

I remember walking with you to the bay as we moved from one side of the street to the other avoiding the golf carts driving through the once quiet streets of town.   I knew better not to try to bring you out of your funk.  Grabbing your hand I reminded you of times not too long ago when I was the one complaining of the noise while you were enjoying every minute of being part of the beach crowds.   Funny how as you matured, we blended together in our dislike of noise and crowds.

Those were the days we would escape to the sea.   Packing the cooler with plenty of ice for the dogs we would head out for the day.   I was in awe of your ability to control such a powerful machine.   You became one with your boat.   I could see your face begin to relax as the sea spray hit and we bounced over the waves.   Your laughter was music to my ears.

So many lazy days were spent away from the noise.   You would anchor us as I watched you become one with the sea.   You would spot a school of dolphins and jump in while I stood back watching trying to keep the dogs from joining your party.  You taught me to not fear life but to embrace it.   So many great conversations were shared as we sat together under the warm sun floating on the bluest of seas.

Today my heart grows heavy as I remember those precious times together.   My heart refusing to think they would ever end.   Years have passed since we shared our Memorial Day tradition of escaping the crowds to spent the day in our peaceful place.

Both your precious boat and you, my precious son are gone.   I am left to remember and grieve the loss of times that are never to be again.   I always think of you as I look out at the vastness of the ocean.   Closing my eyes I can see you standing at the wheel, the sea spray hitting your face as your laughter dances in my heart.

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