A Story of Addiction & Loss

Category: missing son on Mothers Day

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. 💔  

Time Does Not Ease The Power Of Grief

Matt,   tomorrow is Mother’s Day.   My 6th without you.   Even as I type these words my heart continues to disbelieve my reality.   I can feel those waves starting to change from swimmable to ones that will pull me under sucking the breath out of my lungs.   That familiar chest heaviness has been following me all day waiting behind every corner ready to pounce.

This year, my grief is multifaceted.   A blend of old and new.   Still having the power to bring me to my knees.   This is my first Mother’s Day without my mom, your grandmother.   Last year I struggled to find the appropriate card.   We weren’t best friends.   We were oil and water.  She was black and white and I am grey.   Mother’s Day changed after your death.

Before you died we went through the motions.  Both uncomfortable but playing the game by presenting a false front to friends and family.   After your death she abandoned me.   She wasn’t there to hold me as I screamed.   She disappeared from my life like that sailboat you see on the horizon floating further and further away until it’s no where to be found.

Most of our fights began when I questioned her behavior.   I just wanted to understand how she could walk away from her grieving daughter.   She died with her secrets untold.   I grieve the relationship we never had.   I grieve the life you should have had.   Her death, so unexpected just like yours.   I was foolish with both of you always thinking there would be another time to talk, to hash things out.   Your deaths hold  shocking similarities.   Sudden and so unexpected.

So now I once again fight to pick up my pieces.   To try to make it through a day to celebrate Mothers.   Realizing I no longer have to stress about finding that perfect card for her has churned up emotions I never thought I would feel.   Knowing there will be no card from you shatters my already scarred heart.

Time does nothing to lessen my grief.   Mother’s Day is bittersweet.   I will always be your mother.   I long to hear you voice.   To see you coming in the door with that smile lighting up my heart.   I long to step back in time and redo everything done when I foolishly thought there would always be more time to say what needed to be said.

I long to have a relationship with my mom.   One that was loving and natural.   I long to hear her say I love you.   I needed so badly for her to explain why she chose to ignore my grief and get on with her life.   I long to return to the past when you were both here and time was something we had plenty of.

Reality is harsh.   Tomorrow will be filled with loss.   I feel like I’m floating on a very small life raft in a very big churning ocean.   I know those waves are coming.   I remember their power to pull me under struggling to find dry land.   Tomorrow I will have no control over when or how they hit.   Memories will find me as tears will fall.   Life as I knew it is gone.   All I can do is hang on and wait for the seas to calm again.

 

 

A Letter To My Son On Mother’s Day

Matt,  This Sunday is Mother’s Day.   My fourth without you.   I actually had to stop and count the years.  I was so shocked and breathless that I needed to count the years on my fingers like a preschooler.   May of 2015, 2016, 2017 and now 2018.   Four years and I’m still having trouble believing you won’t be calling or walking through my door.

Today is only Friday but I feel that familiar grief grabbing onto my chest and starting to tighten its grip on my heart.   I’ve tied hard to not go there.   To forget that this Sunday is that day.   The one that honors all Moms.   Unfortunately,  every other commercial shows kids and flowers.   Smiling mothers giving hugs and kisses to their precious children.

I’ve kept very busy today.   Cleaning out closets. Exchanging winter clothes for summer.   Cleaning like the energizer bunny.   Trying to keep my brain occupied and away from what is coming.   As fate would have it, or maybe it was you, a box of pictures fell from a shelf to my closet floor.   I found your smiling face staring back at me.   I could no longer fight.   Seeing your picture, knowing there would be no more shattered the pieces of my already broken heart.   I slid to the floor and cried out like a wounded animal.   Raw, guttural sounds flying out of my battered soul.

I tried to resist looking further.   But my hands were already searching through the scattered prints searching for more of you.   Pictures from years ago.   You and Mike standing side by side.   Two precious smiling faces.   Brothers 1 year and 20 days apart.   People called you Irish twins.   I called you double trouble.   I never remember seeing one without the other.

Memories of past Mother’s Day flooded my mind.   My two boys running into the house.   Hands full of buttercups and dandelions.   “Happy Mother’s Day”  your little voices shouted together.   When you got older, my gifts became more sophisticated.   Pieces of jewelry or a hand painted picture.

After Mike left for the Coast Guard, you realized how much he was missed.    You never failed to remember my day.   A card, flowers, or a surprise visit.   Distance never mattered.   You’d leave your precious beach and spend the day with me.   You were never too old for a hug or to say “I love you, Mom”.

Now, I’m left with precious memories.   Cards from Mother’s Day long ago.   Oh God, how precious they have become.   Treasured pieces of paper signed by you.   I’ve kept them all these years, never thinking they would become so priceless.   I run my finger along your signature remembering teaching you to write.  Never thinking that one day your unique signature would be something left behind that would bring both joy and unspeakable pain to your mothers heart.    Both my boys so precious.   One now gone forever.

Mother’s Day, once a day I looked so forward to has become a day of loss.   Memories of two boys becoming men.   Always showing up together to surprise their mom.   Both so handsome, sharing childhood antics that bonded them forever.   Stories kept secret from Mom, being shared with howls of laughter.   Mother’s Day now so different from anything I could ever have imagined.

This year I will give myself a gift.   I will allow myself the luxury of tears.   Tears I hide from the world will flow as I remember you as a young man.   Bounding through my door with flowers in your hand.   Your handsome face.   Your smile filling my heart with joy.   I will allow memories to fill my mind.   I will reaffirm that I will always be your mother and you will always be my son.   Our connection continuing through time and space.

I will pray for a sign, a feeling from you.   Your gift to me on this most painful day.   Be the rays of the sun gently kissing my face.   Be the tender breeze whispering in my ear.  Be that puffy cloud or the cardinal in my garden.    Be with me in spirit as I remember your love as both a child and as a man.   My love for you will live on forever.    A bond stronger than death.   A Mothers love transcending time and space.    Her youngest son gone.  Forever holding a piece of her heart.

 

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