A Story of Addiction & Loss

Tag: broken promises (Page 1 of 5)

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……….

 

 

The Question That Has No Answer

Matt,   I went to your memorial garden yesterday to water the flowers we planted.  The weather has been scorching hot and I’m trying to keep the beauty surrounding your stone alive in this heat.   It’s typical July in Delaware.  I remember you complaining about the crowds and traffic that would invade your happy place as the temperatures soured.  You hated sharing your paradise and always wished the summer season to finish giving you back your peaceful place.

My neighbor, Debbie has become my garden companion as my back surgery has made it impossible for me to plant or water your flowers.  My job is to keep the bird feeder full and she lugs the watering can around the garden giving those flowers a refreshing drink.

We pulled up and parked next to the garden.  Deb grabbed the watering can and I grabbed the bird food.   I headed toward the garden as she headed up the parking lot to where the hose is stored.

A piece of paper was lying on your stone held in place by 2 quarters.   My curiosity peaked as I wondered who visited and left this mysterious note.

As I began to read I could feel the tears forming in my eyes.  My body enveloped in chills even in the 90 degree heat.   The letter was written to God by another mother who knew my grief.

She was asking God the same question I did after your death.   Why? Why? Why? did God allow her son to die.   She poured out her heart onto this precious piece of paper.   As I continued to read I could no longer hold back my tears.   Debbie seeing my tears thought I was crying over you.   I handed her the note and watched her face as she read this grieving mothers words to God.   Both of us stood silent with tears running down our cheeks as we continued to read this broken mothers words.

She was begging God for her son back just as I did and continue to do.   She was begging for just another moment in time with her precious son.   Begging God to give him back to her just as I have begged.   To think this mother came to your garden and stood at the foot of Jesus’s cross pouring out her grief was so bittersweet for me.   I could picture her talking out loud begging for her pain to stop and her son to be alive just as I have done many, many times.

I will probably never meet this mother but I know her as I know myself.   A mother who’s heart holds the unbearable grief of losing her precious son as does mine.  Mothers, strangers bonded by a grief no mother should carry.   Both standing by your stone in the peacefulness of your garden asking the question that has no answer………

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.

 

 

Surviving Those Aftershocks

Matt,   an aftershock is defined as a smaller earthquake that follows a larger earthquake.   It generally occurs in the same area as where the main shock occurred and is caused by the displacement of the earth that followed that first main shock.

Part of living through earthquakes is learning to live with aftershocks.   It’s obvious I lived through my first major quake.   January 3rd 2015 my world was hit with a quake of unmeasurable magnitude.   That day my life was knocked off it’s axis and left free spinning into an atmosphere of shock and immeasurable grief.

Since that day these unexpected aftershocks hit just when my mind is starting to feel stable once again.    I’ve read aftershocks can last for years.   I’m living proof of that truth.    Four years and ten days have passed and the ground beneath my feet remains unsteady.

Grief is a lot like aftershocks.    One never knows when that shaking, unstable feeling will strike.    Usually there is no warning.   A thought, a memory, a word can bring on the most unsteady of feelings.   Almost like the ground is moving under my feet.    It’s a feeling of being out of control.   Of wondering what is happening and why now.

I’ve come to understand that most of what has been written about grief is untrue.    Grief knows no time limit.   It doesn’t lessen as the years pass.   It doesn’t let go after you have passed all those “firsts”.    It certainly doesn’t follow any stages or steps.   It knows no boundaries.    There are no certain series of programs or steps to follow to get you through to the end.   Because there really is no end.    Grief is the journey of aftershocks that hit unexpectedly and can be as powerful as that first major shock.

I have days where I feel pretty steady.   Days where I can think of you and smile as a memory flows through the projector in my brain.   Days when I can tell your story without feeling that jolt of reality hit my piece of earth.   Days when I can enjoy the warmth of the sun on my face as I remember our talks on the beach.   Days I see your smiling face as a breeze blows my hair gently across my cheek as if a kiss is coming from heaven.  I treasure those days.   Those are the days I feel like I will survive even when the aftershocks hit.

Just when I’m feeling the illusion of joy, I feel the shift.   Some days the jolt hits as my eyes open and reality is there waiting for me.    My brain starts screaming, “He is dead”.   “Matt really died”. Its then the aftershock throws me off balance.   I see the cracks opening in the earth beneath my feet.   I catch my breath as I try to navigate through the rubble that was once my intact heart.   The immense power of the aftershock of reality put me on unstable ground and has me questioning my surviving the next one.

I want to scream.   I want to punch.   I just want not to be.    I want to disappear.   I want to run as far away as I can.   To leave this unstable ground and find a safe place to dwell.   I want my ground not to shift on a dime.   I want to walk on a steady path not this twisted, shattered piece of earth.

There are days the aftershocks leave me paralyzed as I try to navigate an escape.    Days when the grief is relentless and nothing I do helps erase the pain.    What I once thought about life has shifted.   I used to think life would go according to my plans.   Every belief has started to crack as I continue to live with your loss.   All my hopes and dreams fell through the earth and have disappeared from my life forever.

Aftershocks have been noted to be more dangerous and damaging than the original earthquake.    I once thought that had to be a falsehood.   But as I continue to live through years of aftershocks, I realize they are far more powerful than the original assault.   The aftershocks are constant reminders that my ground will never go back to what it once was.    That I will always be at risk for an aftershock to hit and knock me off my feet.   That my terrain will always be full of fault lines and my grief will find a way through.

Grief and aftershocks have a lot in common.    We are never given a warning.    They hit.   Making us unstable.   Shaking our once steady world changing the way we look at life.   Aftershocks like grief can be deep or close to our surface.   What matters most is we recognize them when they hit.   We stop and feel them.   We allow ourselves to be where we need to be as the earth shifts.   We allow ourselves the time to learn how to navigate through our fault lines.

 

Heaven’s A Little Closer In A House By The Sea

Matt,

It’s Memorial Day weekend.   The weather is cloudy and grey.   You have been gone 3 years 4 months and I still find myself shocked when reality hits.   I remember when you lived at the beach.  You hated summers.   All the traffic and crowds.   I can still hear your voice complaining about how long it took to get from one place to another.

What I wouldn’t give to have you here complaining about summer tourists invading your paradise.   I can still see you standing in your boat. “ The only way to get anywhere around here is by boat”.   You still had that large grin on your handsome face.   I knew this was just an excuse to get you out on the water, your favorite place to be.

I dreamed about the house the other night.   I drove by and realized it was for sale.   I sat in my car calling the realtor.   I had to get inside.   I had to be where you were.   She was kind and listened as I told her this house once belonged to you.   I told her I desperately needed to walk through those rooms once again.   I had to touch where you touched.   She told me she had adult sons and couldn’t imagine what I was feeling.   Handing me the keys without any questions.  My tears started to fall as the lock turned opening the door. My mind flooding with memories of walking through this door hundreds of times before.

The house was vacant.   Eerily quiet.  Looking exactly as it was the last time we walked through these rooms together.   Both of us with tears in our eyes knowing your disease robbed us of our happy place.

I sat on the living room floor, the carpet showing signs of wear.   Familiar spills and puppy accidents marking years of our life were still apparent.   Each mark told a story.   I could picture our house the way it used to be.   Full of love and laughter.   Sandy dogs running through the kitchen after romping in the surf.   Both of us trying to shoo them outside.   Laughing as we became as sandy as the dogs.

I remembered every detail.   Every moment we shared together.   Ten years of wonderful memories flooded my brain.  My mind allowing me the gift of going back in time.   I could see you standing in the kitchen.   Khaki shorts, bare feet, sun kissed hair.   “Hey Mom, can I get you a drink?”   Your face handsome and tan. Your beautiful eyes always smiling.   You loved this house by the sea.   I loved your happiness.

I walked from room to room as precious memories washed over my shattered heart.   Memories of a time when life was perfect. Settlement day.   Moving in.   Hanging pictures.   Sandy floors.   The chaos of boxes everywhere.  The joy that living by the sea brought to both of us.   Oh how proud you were of the life you built.   I remember that beautiful smile.   “Mom, can you believe this is mine”.

How I wished I had the power to go back in time.   I wanted to open my eyes and see you standing there.   I wanted to undo the ugliness that took you away.   I wanted to wake up from the nightmare that is now my reality.

I felt a profound sadness wash over me.   Still in disbelief that you were gone.   Oh God, how did this happen?   How did life take this ugly turn?   I felt your loss like never before.   This once cozy, little home so full of life, love, and laughter now stood as empty as my soul.   Tears began again as I walked through that door for the last time.   This house now a symbol of profound loss.

Walking to my car, I allowed myself one last look.   My mind playing tricks on my heart as I see you coming through the door.   That smile on your face.   Your sun bleached hair hidden under your hat.   Kahlua bouncing at your heels.  For a brief moment you were there.  I wanted to yell out.  To reach toward you touching your face.  For a fleeting second everything returned to normal.   Life was as it used to be.    I felt joy.

I remember hearing of a saying,  “Heaven Is A Little Closer In A House By The Sea”.   Imagine my surprise finding that  print while visiting a seaside town.   I couldn’t wait to hang it in our little house that represented Heaven to both of us.   I remember standing on a chair trying to guide you.   A little to the right.  No just a smidge left.   Perfect.

That print became the centerpiece of the wall.   Surrounded by pictures we both loved.   The dogs running through the breaking waves.   You standing by your precious boat.   You and Mike swimming in the bay.   Both of you tanned and smiling.   Pictures of a life that now feels a lifetime ago.   Almost like a dream.

Those memories live protected and preserved forever in my heart.  That loved print now hangs in my home.    Seeing it tugs at my heart.    Its meaning now signifies unspeakable loss.  The casualties of addiction.   My beautiful boy and a little piece of Heaven by our beloved sea. 💜💜

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