2019, You Are Going Down

What a year! What a past 6 years! Better yet, what a past 45 years! Years that have been filled with many joys but far greater lows, sadness and burdens. I have had almost two weeks off work and I have used this time to really reflect on my life.

Is this life that I continue to live day in and day out the life I want to take into 2020? Do I want to take this life with me until I take my last breathe? Do I want to keep waking up in the same groundhog’s day cycle and going to sleep fighting tears for the things I wish I would have done or things that I wish would have happened?

Then I question, do I deserve that life I want? From the outside, my life looks perfect. I have two wonderful kids that adore me as much as I adore them, a precious newborn granddaughter, a husband that works hard and come home every night, a job that I love and want to make my lifelong career and amazing family and friends. But why am I so empty? Why am I so lonely? Why am I so sad when not with my children? Why do I feel like I need something more? Why do I go to bed each night feeling as if my day was a waste?

I know most of the answers are as simple as I have conformed to the environment around me. When I am at work, I feel like I can do anything. I can multitask and handle anything. I can get something done at the last minute with time to spare. I am sharp. I am on it. When I am with my kids, I am all about them. I am so focused on what they are saying, doing and hanging onto their every word or breathe. I fuss over them. I pamper them. I jump when they even whisper my name. I am supermom.

But when work and children are not around, I am sullen and blank faced. Why is that? I’ll tell you why, I have become so accustomed to doing nothing unless I make the plans, arrangements and details that if no one has made plans, I just sit. When did this happen? I have always been the one with the hair done, clothes just right, nails done and from head to toe just working it. When did I stop exercising and hiking? No I sit staring at a tv, book or phone letting the weight take over. When did I stop visiting my friends? When did I start saying “one day I will” instead of “today I will”? When did I become this person I do not know?

I can’t be this person anymore. I can’t wake up another day and look in the mirror and see this stranger. I have to get my happy back. I need to get my groove back. I need to find the joy I had that radiated out of me. It is scary for me. I know there are some people that I am going to have to leave in 2019. I know there are people that will have to evolve with me or be let go. I deserve to be happy, loved and adored. Not by just people, but by myself.

Look out 2020, Belinda is taking you and making you her B*#¥$!!!!! I am going to do what makes me happy! I am going to be the old me! I am not waiting on others to decide they want to join me. I will not be stuck in a cell phone and ignore this wonderful world! I will live. I will make memories. I will work my ass off at work. I will spoil my kids even more. I am going to be me. The best me I can be. Ready, Set…… GOOOOOOO!!!!!

Joyfully Hurt

Tonight I was texting with my best friend and to her summed up our hearts. She, like I lost her precious son also and is trying to navigate emotions through this grief journey. And here is what we talked about:

How do we explain our feelings when life goes on around us without our sons? We are very happy for our son’s friends when they get graduate college, get married, have a child or have a huge life event. But while we are happy, we still have that what if in our minds. What if Richie were the one becoming a father? What if Zack was the one that was watching his bride walk down the aisle? All the plans we have built in our hearts and minds for them are now but dreams that drift away as our eyes flutter open each morning. Only to escape as we reach for the alarm clock with a tear running down our cheek because that dream will never be. And they are always just that, dreams.

So I told her that my heart joyfully hurt during these times. Joyful for the happiness that his friend’s have found. But hurt for the dreams that I have lost in the blink of an eye. Joyfully hurt. Joyful. Hurt. Forever broken-hearted but trying to let the cracks fill with some love and laughter. Joyfully hurt.

What if????

At what point is it okay to do what is best for yourself? When do stop believing in the words and empty promises of others? When do you start chasing the dreams you have rather than the ones that are in reality a black hole of lies? Do you hang onto that moment of hope or let it go because you know it is like the wind? When is it okay to stop putting your feelings away on the shelf? Is it possible to not break because you may upset another because of your needs? When do you walk away from what you thought was your soulmate but realize when it comes down to it, you are just a wife, not a mate?

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over while getting the same result. Is it insanity to stay in a life that is just the same day after day? Where you just feel dread the second you pull in the driveway? Where it is the same mess, the same arguments, the same hurtful words? The same place where there is a lack of the love that you need. The love you long for. A place where you know that the few moments of love are only used as a way of pacifying you for the greater need of the other. A place that was once your safe haven but is now your insanity.

And what if you run? What if you just left it all behind to find your peace, your place, your dreams, a love unrelenting? Is there such a place where you feel love like you never have? A place where you matter as a constant, not as a convenience? A place where you know without any doubt that you are wanted and desired? A place where there is a soul mate to be your person? A place where

The sad reality of it is, even if you do run, find that life, live those dreams, you will still be utterly and eternally unhappy because it is not your life. When you have built a life for so many years on hopes, dreams and promises, it becomes your being. To shed that life would be like a death of self. How can you live if pieces of you die? So you will simply stay, in your misery and broken dreams, because you cannot bear to step a foot on an unknown path. Unhappy here, equally unhappy there. What to do? Where to go? Who even cares?

Self Under Construction

Well, I did it. I have officially decided to take time for myself, I have decided to for once to take care of me. This decision has racked me with pain, guilt and many sleepless nights. By all means, the outward appearance that everyone sees is of someone who is smiling, handling life and seems “okay”. The truth is that person has mastered putting on the face of happy deception. In reality, I spend my nights tossing and turning. Crying and screaming into my pillow. I spend my days with headaches and pure exhaustion. On the days that are good for me, there are the moments that fleet across my mind and will have me crying hysterically for a brief second. But that second is enough to leave me just ready for the day to end so I can crawl into the bed with sleepless exhaustion.

I was spending my days taking care of children when I could barely take care of myself. It is hard to put on a smile and fix grill cheese for these innocent faces when you just want to be alone. It has not been fair to them or me. They are not getting the best me they deserve. How do you answer them when they ask why you are crying? Well little child, I am crying because I miss fixing my son peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Or how about I am crying because Richie used to play this game with you and it hurts me now to do it. Not fair at all for them to have this sad mess instead of the MumMum that used to dance with them and sing at the top of my lungs over the littlest things. Not fair at all.

So what do I do when the last child leaves each day. I immediately go into shut down mode. I do not want to deal with life. I do not want to do anything. I want to go to bed at 5:30 and sulk in my own world. This is not fair to my husband or two children living at home with us. Well, Luke and Savannah are grown you may say. They can take care of themselves.Jeff can get his own supper and let you rest you say. Yes, they can and yes at times they do. But is this fair to them. They did not sign up for this grief ride either. I am the Mom. I am to take care of them no matter their age and I am to be the Mom. They do not deserve a Mom that shuts down from life every evening and does not share in their life fully. I should be making meals for us to eat around our table and hearing about their day. Instead they have been getting a Mom that is quick tempered, stressed, red eyed, frazzled and just a teary mess. My husband does not deserve to come home to a wife that tells him she has had a bad day and is going to bed the minute he walks in the door. How many moments have I missed with them that I can’t get back? Have I gone on too long like this that they no longer desire to be around me?

Then there is this….. Jeff and I have no more children we are responsible for. They have been raised, graduated and are off making there way in the world. What do we do now? We have always taken care of them and put them first always. I can’t count how many date nights were spent with a car load of kids and their friends because we didn’t want to leave them. Now what do we do? Are we even still close enough as husband and wife to be us? What if we don’t even like each other? How do we be us with just us? This scares me more than anything. How do we handle being married with just us? We are having to learn each other all over again.

Now the biggest one…. How do I take care of me? I have always taken care of others. My kids, their friends, my husband(s), others people’s kids, my family, my friends and even the daggum hamster! Now how do I take care of me? I have decided to start counseling to work through some of the things that are haunting me.Things that have haunted me since childhood. I have decided to rest. That is the hardest adjustment so far. I cannot sit still from thinking I have to do something. I am going to write, read, cross-stitch, volunteer at church and just take a walk. If I want to stay up all night crying, I will. If I want to scream at 12:34 in the afternoon because I want my son back, I will. If I want to go have lunch with my handsome son Luke, I will. If I want to go rambling with Savannah, I will. If I want to surprise Jeff with a picnic lunch in his office, I will. (I have always wanted to do that) I will do what makes me happy. I will take care of myself. I will for once let the grief out instead of holding it in until everyone else is taken care of. For once in my life, I will be under construction to be a better me for me. Not for others. Please pray for me. Aside from burying my son, this is the hardest thing I have ever had to do.


Realistic Relationship With My Son’s Recipients

Since I have met two of Richie’s recipients, people have been asking me how it is. Have I talked to them lately? Have I seen them? What is going on with us? I do not think they know how hard it is to answer these questions. I have never been in this position before.

Let me start with my relationship with Morgan. She is a tissue recipient who is my son’s age. Meeting her was like meeting someone who had been his friend for ages. We laughed, talked and cried. I feel like she is one of the many kids that we have come to meet with all of our children. We are lucky that our children’s friends are ours and we call, text and socialize with them also.I call all my children’s friends my “kids”. Morgan fit right in. I text her time to time and check on her. I will send her messages of love and support if I know something is coming up for her. The relationship is easy going and I think of her as one of my “kids” I don’t get overbearing with her and watch her live her life. I smile when I see pictures of her doing things she may not have been able to do before her gift. I laugh at her silliness on Instagram. I am very fond of her and look forward to watching her blossom in life.

Lance. Lance was 68 when he received my son’s heart. And before you think anything about his age, let me tell you. Age means nothing to me. If he was 107, 53 or 15, I would still be proud of the person receiving the gift. My relationship with Lance was a tough one to navigate at the beginning. Nothing to do with him or the person he is, it was me and all my nerves and thoughts. When we received the call that we were going to meet, I had two weeks to prepare myself. I was worried that he would not like me. I was worried that I would not like him. I had done some research on him and knew that he was a very successful businessman. I knew he had traveled the world.Did I mention that he is originally from up north? How was this man going to fit in with a bona-fide southern stay at home Mom? I called a friend of mine who had met him when her daughter was at Emory waiting on her heart gift. I cried to her, “Debbie, you have met him! How is he going to fit in with us? We like to have bonfires and play in the mud!” She laughed and just told me I was silly. I asked my friend Tonya how she got over her nerves when she met her son’s recipient. She said they all just vanished when you see the person smiling. Well, me and my bundle of nerves, fears and anxiety met Lance. It was easy and smooth and we talked as if we knew each other for ever. He told me about his story, his life and what he is doing now. I left happy and looking forward to where we would go from there. Over the next few days though, I had to catch myself. I kept wanting to call him and ask him if he was ok. Had he ate a good breakfast? Did he take his meds? Had he made poopie-doodle? I felt this overwhelming urge to Mother him. This started me having a few days of turmoil and trying to figure out where do I go with him? He was 68! Not 20. Even though he had my child’s heart, I was not his mother. Nor did it give me a right to mother him, He has a wife to do that. (BTW, I LOVE her!) He didn’t need me smothering him. I knew he was fine and taking care of himself. And the age thing certainly did not make me want him as a Father figure. I had one of those once and it didn’t work out. So where was I to go. We exchanged emails, cards and phone conversations here and there. We just naturally fit into a comfortable friendship. We are still, or better yet, I am still navigating this life and relationship I have now. I like where it is now. We are in each others lives with an understanding that we have a long time of learning about each other. We do not have to rush it all in a week.

I must say, seeing pictures of Lance with his grandchildren playing soccer in the yard, reading them books cuddled on the couch or like yesterday’s picture of waking up with his grandsons and all of them including Lance having bed head, makes me smile and laugh and think how awesome it is. How awesome is it that my son gave this family many more years of memories? I smile at the pictures. Sometimes I have tears of joy from them. When Lance calls or emails to tell me that he is going on a trip with his family, I get excited as if it is me going too!

I have made it clear to both of them what I DO NOT WANT from them. I do not want them to feel as if they owe our family anything. I do not want them to thank me for caring out the wishes my son had already made clear. I do not want them to feel as if they have to include us on anything. This was their gift from my son. Not me. I do however and I have made this very clear to them, want them to do live, laugh, love and do very silly things. I want them to experience all that life has to offer them. Time on this Earth is numbered and they need to have all the exciting and adventurous times they can. Lance said once, I am going to take care of this heart and protect it. Well that is all fine and dandy but is he gets the urge to jump on a skateboard and try to do a trick, I want him to do it! LIVE! Do something they have never done before! I want Morgan to get married and have tons of babies! I want her to go on trips to exotic places. I want to Lance to build a fort in the dining room with the grand babies. I want him to be at their graduations. I want him to dance in the rain with Mary! LIVE!!!!!

There are still days where I feel an overwhelming urge to call and check on him like I do my living children. On those days I just send him a short message saying I am thinking of him. I do this with Morgan too. I will probably always do this, But it is ok. They have both figured out by now that I have a little crazy in me. And that is quite alright!


The Returned

The Returned. A&E’s new show that everyone has been raving about. We have been real busy so I have DVR’ed the first four episodes and Tuesday, Jeff and I finally started watching it. It starts with a school bus going over the side of the cliff. You see this young girl on the bus, then you know she is dead. Next scene is the girl walking in the front door of her home telling her Mom not to freak out cause she was late. The Mom just stands there stunned. Years have passed and this precious daughter walks in the door. What is the Mom to think? Has she finally lost it or is this real?

The show goes on to show other returned and the stories of them. It is actually a very good show. I, however, just went to that place that I go to while watching something that sets off a “what if” trigger. What if this happened? What if Richie walked in the door and yelled that he wanted a sandwich? What would I do? What would I say? Would I even be able to speak?

How can a TV show that I know is fake and the events 100% impossible trigger me so badly? Maybe it is just the way my brain is functioning now. Or maybe there is no reason. Let me tell you though, it was a rough night. I went to bed thinking about this show. I guess I thought too much about it because I spent the entire night stuck in the same dream. I would dream that I heard someone in the living room and yelled out, “Who is in there?” Then I heard the voice I crave to hear answer, “It’s me. Are you cooking tonight?” (Yes, he thought I should cook 24/7) This one scene kept playing in my head every time I closed my eyes. And it seemed so real that each time, I jumped out of bed and went to see my boy. Each time, I had to shake off the slumber and realize it was a dream. I would cry a little and then doze back off. This repeated all night until I finally gave up and just laid there. Scared to close my eyes again. Fearing that i would get heartbroken once more.

Laying there fighting sleep I went through a ton of emotions. Sad because this would never be my reality. I would not have an unbelievable miracle happen to me. I will always feel this loss. Always. And forever.

Then I was angry. Angry at the creators of this show and its makers. How dare they make a show like this! Do they not know that I am grieving? Do they not know that I am still hurting? How could they make a show about someone’s child returning from the dead looking perfectly normal and unaware of the events taking place? How dare they! Out of all the scripts in the world they have come through their doors a day, this is the one they picked? Did they not think about me? I am a very loyal A&E fan. How could they do this when I have lost my precious son in a freak accident?

Then I just went to that place I go to where I know that if I don’t stay busy and keep moving that it is going to be an even worse day. So I cut the phone off and went to scrubbing. All the while working out this grief, anger and sadness. Didn’t really help. But the house is clean.

All of this may seem silly. Who could get triggered over the opening scene of a show that drastically? Who could have a horrible 24 hours because of the first 5 minutes of a show? Well, apparently me. I have started noticing that there are a whole lot of triggers lately. I turn off the TV and listen to the radio. This also has triggers. I am a year and 3 months in and I have this trigger phobia now. I guess I am a late bloomer in grief.

For now, I will go and rearrange the closet. Pray the next trigger stays away for a few days. And try to navigate this next stage in grief. Oh and watch episode four of the Returned tonight. After I got over the first 5 minutes, it really is an amazing show!


My Christmas Wish!

Well, it is getting to be closer and closer to our first Christmas without Richie. Everyone keeps asking me what they can do to make it better. What would I like for Christmas? I really do not want anything for myself except prayers. But I have found something I want and wish for and need your help!
When my son passed away, a fund was started at the local bank to help us with funeral expenses and such. Well, this special young girl was the first one to show up and donate her very own money to our family. She is Richie’s classmate, friend and cousin. Her name is Lauren. Before any other adults gave, she did. Isn’t that something that someone 20 years old would just give so easily? Lauren is a very lovely young lady who works hard at everything she does and always, ALWAYS has a smile on her face. In the small town we live in, gossip travels fast about the kids. I have never heard one word about her other than how sweet, smart and extraordinary she is. She studies nursing at Middle Georgia State College during the week and works as a CNA during the weekend.
Now Lauren has the chance to study abroad in Scotland! How exciting! The trip however is very pricy. She has been working hard to raise the money on her own. Most would start a Fund Me account or whatever they are. Or ask everyone to help. No, Lauren has been asking about doughnut sales and bake sales. I sat down at my computer one morning a few weeks ago and pulled up Facebook and her smiling face was staring at me. Right then I knew to help her! I talked it over with Jeff, Mike and Angie and they agreed! We sent Lauren some money to help her go to Scotland.
So now I am asking each of you to help me fulfill a promise I made to this young lady. I told her that I would help send her to Scotland! She deserves this! When we were at the worst time in our lives, she was the first to help. She never asked for recognition or a thank you. She just did it out of the kindness and love in her heart. It says in the Bible- Luke 6:38 – Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
I ask each of you to dig in the couch cushions, get the change out of the cup holders in your cars and in the bottom of your pocketbooks! I have 803 friends on Facebook. If each one sent her $5 that would be $4,015. That is more than she needs and would even give her some extra money to bring her little sister a souvenir.
I believe that everything we do in life comes full circle. All the good you do, no matter how big or small, will give you greater blessings in return. Lauren blessed us and now I want to show her the same blessing. Now dig deep!