Matt, tomorrow is Father’s day. Today my mind is full of what if’s. What if you found recovery. What if you found the one. What if you married on the beach like we both dreamed you would. I picture you standing by the crashing waves holding the hands of your bride. Her gown is softly blowing lifted by the soft sea breeze. You are dressed in khaki pants and a white shirt. Both wearing flip flops. Your sun kissed face so handsome. You glance my way as our eyes meet sharing the joy of your recovery The sun is shining down as you become man and wife. I’m standing by your side. Tears of joy falling from my smiling eyes. The sound of the crashing waves take the place of a band. We dance in the sand to the sound of the gulls laughing as if they know how amazing this day truly is.
I imagine getting that call. I can hear your voice. The joy and fear mingled together as you tell me you are going to be a father. My heart so ready to welcome your child. I close my eyes and remember my little tow headed boy. Your crooked smile and silly laugh. I remember your tenderness with animals. Your love for the sea. Your feistiness when trying to keep up with your big brother, Mike. Most of all I remember your beautiful eyes. Indescribable in color. A beautiful contrast to your natural sandy hair.
Memories of your childhood rush through my mind. Losing your first tooth. Your first home run in Little League. That proud smile as you yelled at me to let you go as I stood back and watched you take off on your first bike. Your tan face shining in the sun as the biggest fish hung from your pole.
I allow myself to imagine you as a father. Meeting you at the hospital as you welcome your first child. I always imagined you with a girl. A sweet tow head like you. A tiny thing you would carry close to your heart. I would watch as you wore your heart on your sleeve as she wrapped you around her finger. I imagine you placing your precious child in my arms as we both cry tears of joy at this miracle of life.
I stare into those amazing eyes just as I did so many years before when you were placed into my arms for the first time. Overwhelming love floods my being as I remember your softness. Your smell. I imagine her grabbing my finger like you did and holding on as we rock together.
I imagine you bringing her to the sea you love. I see the two of you running through the surf with a black lab puppy biting at your feet. Familiar squeals fill the air. You glance back at me remembering when it was us. A mother and her young son loving the innocence of running through the crashing surf. The dogs barking, the gulls yelling. You are now a man, a father, and my heart is soaring like a kite caught in a beautiful breeze as I watch you.
Reality hits and shatters the beauty of my fantasy.. You are gone. You left no one behind. No precious child to help your broken mother survive life without you. During your active addiction I was relieved there was no child to witness your struggle. Today my arms ache to hold a piece of you. To be able to hear a voice and see a smile that brings you back to me. To be able to look into those incredible eyes and know you are still with me.
In my Heart I pray that Heaven is a beach and you are holding a child on your shoulders looking out at the vastness of the sea remembering me. My beautiful boy you are loved forever.
Matt, Grief is defined as keen mental suffering over loss. It encompasses sharp sorrow and painful regret. Grief and Guilt take turns pounding pain into my heart. Each hitting me when I least expect. Sweeping me up in emotions I can no longer control. I never knew that Grief could physically hurt. I never knew that Guilt could be so cruel. My body feels beat up. Every muscle and bone feels the pain of loss that no one can see. This incredible anguish cannot be described. I could never imagine that this type of pain existed until it crept into my soul the day you left me behind.
My books on Addiction have been replaced by books on Grief. Books that no mother should ever have to touch or read. Books on the stages of grief and how to survive each one. Titles lining the shelves that bring tears to my eyes. The Bereaved Parent, Transcending Loss and When A Child Dies From Drugs have replaced Stay Close, An Addict In The Family and Beautiful Boy. Those books gave me a false sense that you like their children would also survive. Those books met their demise on a snowy, grief filled night as I tossed each one into my roaring fire. These books made me feel like I failed to be that perfect parent who did everything right. You know the parents who can brag that their child beat the demons and now leads a productive life. My jealousy rears its ugly head and my Guilt slaps me like a foulmouthed child. Where were the books that had our ugly ending? The books that would have warned me that endings are not always answers to our prayers. The books warning of middle of the night phone calls that bring parents to their knees..
Guilt then replaces my grief. The what if’s and I should haves wrap me up in a tight cocoon refusing to let me go. Feelings of failure course through my veins replacing my grief with powerful emotions of hopelessness and regret. Flashbacks dance through my brain . Things done and said in anger and frustration whirl through my mind. Knowledge I have now eluded me then. Trying to save you and survive life changed my rational mind into a crazy, calculating one. Your addiction became mine. Staying a step ahead of your demons took every ounce of my being. Now, in a calmer state I see things clearly. My mind in a rational state sees things I should have seen when I was losing it. I have become someone I do not want to be. My soul caught in a perfect storm. Tossed between two painful emotions. Grief and guilt holding hands as they dance over my heart.
Some days weathering the storm is almost impossible. There are days I want the storm surge to carry me out with the tide. To drown my grief in the sea we both so loved. To stop my pain, to sweep me away allowing my pain to dissipate with the sea spray. Sadly, I have become a swimmer. I am the one pulling parents out when I find them struggling to stay float fighting the same storm surge that has consumed my soul. I throw the life preserver forgetting how soaked I am in my own grief and rescue those drowning in my sea. Still there are days that even rescuing another has no impact on my heart. I fall into the abyss of the perfect storm. I wonder why your grip kept slipping from the life preserver I continued to throw in the midst of our storm. Why were you swept so far away from my attempts to save your life? I look at the sea and remember holding tight to your small hand. So tiny, but fitting perfectly into mine. As you grew, your hand became harder to hold slipping away again and again until you disappeared.
There are days the grief storm is manageable. Putting on storm shutters and hunkering down, I survive. There are days the power of the grief and guilt pulls me into the undertow of reality sucking the breath from my lungs. This sea of grief and guilt ever changing is where I live since you left me that cold January day. Navigating through the powerful waves on a daily basis. Some days the waves hit gently and I can walk through without falling down. Other days a wave hits without warning knocking me to my knees. Learning to weather the unpredictability of my storm takes practice, patience and self forgiveness. Navigating through this storm is tough. Attempting to hold myself together while I slowly pick up pieces of broken sea glass that used to be my heart.