Matt, I know it’s been a while since I’ve written. I feel like I’ve been hit by a tsunami and I’m still struggling to come up for air. For some reason, the holidays smacked me in the face as reality that another Christmas was here and you weren’t coming home. I could feel the darkness beginning to close in and surround me with dread.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the New Year brought your 6th year angelversary. January 3rd the day you left my life continued to batter me like an unexpected wind knocking me off balance. January 4th added to my unsteadiness as I had to be at Penn for my total body Cat Scan to evaluate my cancer. I felt like I just couldn’t carry the weight of all that was happening piled on top of each other day after day.
Just when I started to regain some balance, Aunt Mary ended up needed more care than we could handle and it was up to me to find her a safe place to spend the rest of her life. I remember spending hours on the phone begging for some help from the medical professionals who really seemed not to give a damn.
In the midst of all this I was still dealing with my unresolved grief over the sudden death of your grandmother. Still reeling from all the things left unsaid and undone. I was also waiting for a biopsy result from a mole removed from my eye lid. I felt like I was surrounded by doom and I started thinking a lot about death. Both yours and mine.
I became obsessed. I could think of nothing else. I began to find myself in a constant state of panic. I wondered what it was like for you as you were taking your last breaths. I wondered if you were afraid or in pain. I wondered if you were really in Heaven and if I would ever see you again. I then relived the moment I was told you were gone. It was like my life was a replay of everything I feared the most. I wondered how I would die. How much longer it would be before my cancer returned. I focused on the treatments I endured to get where I am today. Chemo, two major surgeries and 54 rounds of radiation.
I felt like I was losing my mind. Like after 6 years I was no longer able to cope with what life threw my way.
I finally went to seek professional help. As I sat before a new doctor and spilled out my journey since your death I felt as if the horrible weight was being lifted. Telling my story out loud and seeing the doctors face I felt validated. I felt like I had every right to feel like I was losing what was left of my mind.
She confirmed that I had PTSD. Her validating what I felt started the road to my self healing. Rather than fearing what I can not control, I’ve started to count my blessings. I’ve started praying more and worrying less. I talk to you and your grandmother asking for signs that you are together and healed in heaven. I’ve started saying the rosary everyday. It gives me a peace I haven’t felt in such a long time. I’ve started to attend support groups where I can be the grieving parent rather than the facilitator of the meeting. I’ve come to realize that I like every other grieving mother needs to find support on this journey of unrelenting loss.
Little by little I’m learning that life even though it can be filled with pain and anxiety, it can also be filled with beauty. It’s up to me to learn not to run and fear what might be but to open my mind to the possibilities of joy.