Catch 22 of a Grieving Parent

I had a wonderful weekend! I got to go away for the night with Jeff and have a very delicious meal at a little place we found. The next day I got to spend the entire day with Jeff, Morgan (Richie’s tissue recip), Rodney (Morgan’s Dad), Tracy from LifeLink and her husband Shane. We spent the day at Atlanta Motor Speedway with Joey Gase and his family and crew. I was having just the most wonderful time….. And then it hit me!

I was sitting up on the pit boxes next to all these great people watching the race which had gotten kinda dull. No wrecks, no pit stops. Just driving in circles. It hit me in the “down time” that I was only right there in that moment at that particular time because my son had died. I replayed over a year’s worth of events in my mind. The call, the hospital, the death of my child, donating his organs, the funeral, the crying, the pain, the letters to his recipients, the letters from his recipients, meeting his recipients…. The whole year flashed in a few seconds. I looked over at this beautiful girl sitting next to me that had received a gift from my son, Our paths would have never crossed if he was living. I looked at this lady from LIfeLink who I treasure as a friend. I would have never known her if he was living. I looked at the Donate Life car as it passed by us. I would have never even thought about being an advocate/volunteer for this if my son was living. Probably would have never heard of it. All this in this moment in my life would not be happening if my precious boy were still breathing and at home raiding my fridge! How sad to think that I only know these wonderful people because my wonderful amazing son is not here.

This is where the catch 22 of a grieving parent happens. We would trade all the breaths we are still breathing ourselves for our child to still be here. We mourn and cry every single day. We may not do it publicly. In fact, mine is usually done when home alone or between the hours of 12am – 4am (as you can tell from the bags under my eyes). But what are we Moms and Dads to do when we catch ourselves having fun and smiling? I still have two living children that deserve a Mom who laughs and smiles. What am I to do when the thought creeps into my head while having a family fun day with them of, “what if Rich was here?” Life goes on as everyone tells me. I feel like I am two-faced for telling everyone to live, laugh and love when I am feeling guilty at times for doing it.

Now, do not get me wrong, I cherish each and every single person I have met since our on D-Day. A whole lot of these people I cannot imagine not having in my life. But the thought more often than not creeps in my mind of what if or would I be? I would have not know the friendship from most. The smile and dreams of a young girl. The life of a grandfather trying to fill his grand-children’s life with love for as long as God allows. I have talked to some other Moms who are in my grieving shoes about this and they agree with me. We are all trying to live life like our children would want us to yet we get sucked back in with guilt when we are catching ourselves doing just that, laughing and smiling. Sometimes it does not hit me until hours after and I am in my alone time. Then as I reflect on the day, it hits me. I think I will forever be in this catch 22 of sorts. I will forever be in a never ending circle of grief. Like the car I was watching on the race track. In turn one, I am happy. In turn two, I am laughing. In turn three, I feel guilt for laughing. Turn four I have to pull it together and take a quick breather. And by the time I come across to turn one again, I am laughing. Forever in a circle, forever in a turmoil of happiness and grief.


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