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 💔
Matt, After all this time my brain continues to go back to the memory of our last hug. You were staying at a treatment facility in Pennsylvania and it was visiting day.
I remember seeing you walk toward me as I sat outside waiting for you to join me. I remember thinking how great you looked. How clear your eyes were. How your smile lit up your face. How healthy you looked and how great it was to be wrapped up in your bear hug.
We sat and talked about your future. You talked about finally having that monkey off your back. You were so excited to begin a new life in a sober home in Florida. Although I was not in favor of you moving so far away from your family, your excitement was contagious and I finally got on board.
I felt that you deserved a fresh start and you always loved living by the sea. I remember thinking how great it would be for you to leave the cold weather behind and enjoy life under the warmth of the Florida sun.
Never did I think our last hug goodbye would be the last hug. That 6 months later you would be gone. That monkey followed you to the sea you so loved and took you from me.
Now I sit with closed eyes and remember. I remember feeling your breath on my hair. I remember the smell of your clothes. The Axe body spray was your signature scent. To this day I fight the impulse to spray the scent as I walk by the aisle full of mens body products knowing that if I do I will fight to remain in control of my emotions.
Oh how I wish we were given the chance to spend more time hugging. More time talking about the hopes and dreams we both had thinking your disease was under control. How I wish I had more time to tell you how proud I was of you. How I loved you unconditionally through your addiction and the aspirations I now had for you in your recovery.
The memory of that hug now haunts me. How I wish I knew then what I know now. How I wish I held on longer and never let you go………
Matt, before you died August 31st was just another day. Now, it’s a day I wish I knew nothing about. This day that was once so innocent has become a day that hits my heart and soul. 💔.
It’s a day that now has a title. International Overdose Awareness Day is a day I don’t want to participate in. It’s a day I’d like to fly by and disappear never to come again. 💜
This day is a heartbreaking reminder that my amazing son is no longer here on earth. It’s a day that makes me want to scream until I am no more.
This day signifies incredible loss and longing. I acknowledge my loss and long for it not to be reality.
This day binds us to one another. 💕 Those left behind after losing our precious children to Substance Use. This day thousands of parents unite in honoring and remembering our children. We support one another from afar. Our grief wraps around the world as we hold each other up offering a hope that together we will survive our tremendous losses 💜
Together we say their names. We make banners including the children of others who know our pain. 💜
We light candles and tell our stories as our tears blend across the globe. We send hugs and love when we hear of another’s loss. We reach across 50 states offering support as only those of us who walk our journey can. 💔
We light the world with the color purple. We set out our empty chairs. We fight for better treatment. We fight stigma. We fight for our right to grieve. We fight for our states to lower flags to acknowledge the precious lives of those we lost.
International Overdose Awareness Day is still a day I wish I knew nothing about. It’s a day I’d rather be spending with Matt relaxing by the sea. Instead I will be standing together with thousands of grieving parents as we refuse to let our children be forgotten. Together we stand allowing our hearts to touch knowing that as broken as we are we are never alone.💜
I pray for Gods peace for all who like me would rather have nothing to do with this day. 🙏🏻🙏🏻
“I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end. I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend. But I always thought I’d see you again”.
Matt, tomorrow July 30th is your birthday. I never thought you would be celebrating in heaven 🙏🏻.
Even though it’s been 8 birthdays without you here, my heart still breaks thinking about what could have been. You always loved birthdays. You were the first one to run your finger thru the icing laughing as I tried to slap your hands away. I can still see your smile and hear your laughter as you ducked while sticking your icing covered fingers into your mouth.
Even as an adult You would celebrate like a kid. Blowing out candles and making a wish thinking I didn’t see you sharing cake with the dogs. You were a boy in a man’s body and I loved that about you.
You should be turning 45 but you are forever 37. I wonder what you would look like today. Would you have any gray starting to show. Would you have a wife and children. What would life be like for both of us had your disease not won. So many unanswered questions dance through my heart and head…
Tomorrow I will honor you. Tomorrow I will spend the day by the sea that you loved. Tomorrow I will help feed the homeless showing them that their life’s matter and they are loved.
Tomorrow we will serve Italian subs, your favorite food and give out 100 backpacks from A Hug From Matt.
Tomorrow tears will be shed but I will continue to follow your lead in helping those the world forgot. I will tell your story and celebrate your life that was cut too short.
Tomorrow and everyday of my life I will celebrate you my beautiful boy. Happy birthday in heaven. Forever 37. Until we meet again. Love you forever. Mom ❤️❤️
Matt, July is always a tough month for me. Both you and your brother have birthdays, Mike on the 8th, you on the 30th. You were my Irish twins. Born one year and twenty days apart. I have memories of parties before you left that were full of love and joy. Both you and Mike standing together as we sung happy birthday to you both as you tried to grab a part of the cake and shove it in your brothers face.
You two always smiling with an arm on each other’s shoulder. I never thought those birthdays would end. I never thought you would die.
I don’t even have pictures of birthdays without the two of you standing side by side. So trying to get through this month is a daily struggle. I can feel the grief creeping up and getting closer day by day. I am training myself to stay in the present and not to think of what’s coming in the future.
I’m also training myself to look for joy in the daily things of life. Every morning I start the day with prayers asking for peace and comfort never knowing if God was listening or not. You remember my love of gardening and how every empty space surrounding the house was full of beauty and multiple blooms of vibrant color. Year after year my gardens never disappoint.
Early one morning I decided to brighten my spirits by cutting some flowers to enjoy in the kitchen. I grabbed my nippers and proceeded to walk into the garden never thinking I was intruding on a miracle.
Mama duck flapped her wings scaring me half to death. She followed me onto the grass daring me to visit my garden again. I ran into the garage to avoid her scorn then looked out the bay window watching her return to the spot she appeared from.
Later that day I mustered the courage to go take a peek trying to solve the mystery that lay waiting in my garden. What I found was an empty nest with ten perfect eggs. I was amazed and now enlightened as to why mama chased me away I made it a habit of quietly checking on her daily. Ray set up a camera so we could watch mama from the comfort of our house rather than in person.
I read up on everything “duck” then started the daily ritual of visiting her giving her bits of lettuce and seeds. Slowly she began to trust me to get close. Never chasing me away again. I watered her on the blazing hot days as she never left the nest. I talked to her telling her how beautiful she was and what a great job she was doing. It became my daily dose of joy.
I was given the gift of watching her babies hatch on your brothers birthday and today I watched as she led them to the pond and introduced them to the water they will spend the next months living in until they are big enough to fly.
The journey has left my heart a little lighter. I felt the joy that had eluded my heart for so long. I now know that God gave me a chance to experience watching life unfold. My garden has always been full of beauty, now it was full of life. I will cherish this memory along with memories of you for the rest of my life ❤️🦆