Grief Stage #482

I seem to have hit yet another stage in this grief journey. I don’t even know what you can call it. The “if he where here stage” or “he’s missing this stage”? Whatever you call it, for three weeks now I just cry every free moment alone I get.

It started when preparing for my sister’s wedding. She and Richie are only a few years apart and were more like siblings than aunt and nephew. The whole time all I could think of was how excited he would have been for her. I have no doubt he would have been a groomsman or fought to give her away. I try not to live in the thought of every second of the fact he is not here but during the ceremony and reception it was all I could think of.

I have been doing that in everything. Even little things like what I am cooking. I have picked up the phone to text him what is being fixed so many times lately. I have all but stopped cooking. A movie was coming on the other night and wanted to tell him to watch it. I hate when we have anything lately with family because I can feel his absence. I just keep thinking about what he would be doing. Would he be aggravating Lexie and Kane? Would he be teasing his Grandma? Would he have been yelling at the football game on TV with Jeff and his uncles? Is he missing out on everything that is happening here?

Yes, I know everyone says he is watching down from heaven and isn’t missing one thing but I find that hard to believe. The only thing that gives me comfort in him being gone is that he is in heaven. As I am lead to understand from studying the Word, in heaven there is singing, worship, serving, ruling, fellowship with others, eating. (Rev 15:3, 5:9, 22:3, 22:5, 2:17, 2 Tim 2:12, Matt 17:3) Richie is experiencing a life of fellowship with God (Rev 22:4), a life of rest (Rev 14:3), a life of service (rev 22:3), a life of growth ( Rev 22:2) and a life of worship (Rev 19:1). Why would he be looking down here at this messed up world? He is probably having such a glorious time with no worries of this world, sickness or trouble that he hasn’t thought of us. I am sure my Granny has gotten a good grip on him and is showing him off to everyone up there.

With all that being said, I am still mourning what he is missing but I am comforted by Richie rejoicing at the right hand of Jesus!

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At least…..

“At least you had 20 years with Richie” If I had a dollar for every time I have been told that! I could I certainly could live high in the hog until the end of my days! I usually just nod my head and not think about it. But in the past few days it has really struck a chord with me. Does this mean I am luckier in my son’s death for the 20 years as opposed to someone who only had a few days, weeks or years? I am going to give four different death stories that have touched my life. They all have different amounts of time and circumstances. Then we will see who is luckier.

Let’s start with Renee. She was pregnant and excited for the new life she was carrying. Her family was busy buying everything they could get their hands on. Then she went into early labor. Just a week before the six month mark. She fought for more than a week and then the doctors had no choice but to deliver. Little Ian was delivered and only survived just shy of 2 hours. In this short time she held her baby, loved him, prayed for him and memorized every part of his tiny self. Time with her child: less than 2 hours.

Zack was the son of Tonya. Tonya spent ten years trying to have a child. Then when she gave up, God blessed her with a son. She raised Zack for 18 years. He was on the way to his high school graduation rehearsal when he was in a car accident. A few days later in ICU, he turned 19. Five days after that, he succumbed to his injuries. In the 19 years Tonya had Zack, she raised him, loved him and lived for her only child. Time with her child: 19 years 5 days.

Richie was my son. He was my firstborn of three. If you have been following my blog, you know our story. Summing us up because I will spend hours writing of his life, he was called home after an auto accident almost two years ago. Time with my child: 20 years 5 months 23 days

Ricky is the son of a precious lady named Mrs. Laurie. He is one of two sons she had. He fought hard to beat cancer but lost his battle in March. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather. Time with her child: 52 years 5 months 21 days

So which one of use Mothers is luckier? Is it one that has lots of memories to cling to? Lots of memories at times that cause us to want to scream because they are nothing more than memories now? The one that got 19 years with¬† her only child she didn’t think she would have? The one that had 20 years and but has her other children? 52 full years with a son that she thought would bury her? I could go into great detail about what each has and what others don’t. The one that has grandchildren from her child to watch versus the one that will never have a grandchild. The way people say it it almost makes me think that I should have one the lottery. Oh I had 20 years so bells and whistles and confetti should come out. On and on I could go!

But why compare. If we all four were to sit down to discuss our stories together, we would all have the same feeling… This is horrible all around. None of us is luckier for the amount of time we had. None if us are sitting around thinking about how the time we had was just the right amount. Not one of us would say that if we had a minute more it would have just ruined our lives. Or one minute less would have been much easier. You cannot put an amount on time when it comes to your children! The natural order a Mother thinks is this: The perfect amount of time we should have with our children is the time we have until our death, not theirs. That is the most perfect time no matter what it is. No matter how many other children we have. No matter how many memories we have.

I am not lucky for the 20 years, 5 months and 23 days I had. I am grateful for the 20 years, 5 months and 23 days I had. Forever grateful! Anytime we have with our children we should be grateful for. No matter what age our children are called home, we will mourn the could haves. We will forever wonder what they would be doing at this time in their life. What would we be doing. All I know is each and every day when I talk to God, I ask him to give my son love for me and ask him to just let me live one minute longer than my children still here with me.

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Bandages

When I first got to the hospital to see Richie, I didn’t know what to expect. What does someone who has been in a freak car accident look like? My mind had built up a scenario that had me scared to death to walk in the room. When I got in the room, he was laying there with nothing wrong with him but lots of white bandages around his head. I looked him all over. He had not a scratch on him. All 10 fingers. All 10 toes. Freckles in all the same spots. Just the white bandages. It looked as if they had rolled miles and miles of white gauze around his head. I could just see the tips of his ear lobes hanging out. He was perfect except for the gauze.

I have been in counseling or therapy as some call it. I call it crying time. Sometimes angry time. I spent an entire session recently on wondering if I am crazy. See, I now have a fear of white gauze. When I see it, I panic. It cuts me to the core. I feel like I have been punched. I lose my breathe, my mind and all sense of what is around me. My mind feels like it is going in every direction at once. Screaming as loud as it can. My brain is yelling for thoughts to get out of my head and all while trying to tell my body to calm down and remind me to breathe. Breathe in, Breathe out.  I cannot look at it. Not just head bandages. Any bandages that are white. Someone had their finger wrapped in some and I immediately went back to being in the hospital room looking at my son and the doctor telling me he was gone. Like I was magically transported back by a genie blinking her eyes.

I have been told things to do to make it better or to try and help. Apparently I have PTSD. Not just for war heroes like I thought. I talked to my cousin about it and he told me,”That S#$@ is real. Take your time to heal. Cause it may never go away.” I asked the one counseling me. And Josh was right. It may never go away. You can just learn to live with it and cope or maybe you don’t. Another cross to bear along with unending grief from the loss of my precious boy.

So why am I being so open about it? Why do I feel the need to share about my fear, hate and anger over white gauze? Because with the way media sharing is now days, I cannot go one day without seeing a person laying in a hospital bed wrapped in gauze! Every single day there is someone that shares some picture with a story of the pictured and their accident. How we need to pray to heal them. Yes we need to pray! We need to pray hard for them. But does the world need to see them in the bed fighting for their life? Why can we not just share a picture of them as if they were up and running? Do you think there will be less prayers without a picture like that? Truthfully I doubt half the people even looking and sharing the picture are praying for them. Most are just doing it to show the “gory details” and to be able to way they saw them that way. At the hospital, we had a strict no media policy. You could ask for prayers on Facebook but you were not allowed to post pictures of Richie in the hospital bed nor were you to give details that were not approved by me. The news story of his accident was not to be posted because it was not fair or respectable to the family. Why do we as a society want to see the pictures and stories like this? I have been there! You do not want to see it. It is not a spectator sport, not a gossip item. It is a human life and families are involved. Respect. It all comes down to respect for others.

So I am asking each one of my family and friends…. with my most sincere heart…. Please if you are friends with me on social media, watch what you post. What may seem like an innocent story to you can be a horrible reminder of loss to others. It can be a trigger into a world of panic and despair for others. There is no need to see people dying in a hospital bed. No need to see blood, bandages and any other thing like that. And truthfully if I am being honest, I do not need to see the picture of the accident site. None of us do. We can pray with just a picture of the person smiling.

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595

595. That is how many days since I last held my son’s hand. .595 days.

1 year, 7 months and 18 days since I kissed his cheek last.

85 weeks since I last cried on his chest.

14,282 hours since I last felt his heart beat.

856,944 minutes since I last watched him sleep.

51,416,688 seconds since I last felt complete.

595 Days, 2 hours, 24 minutes and 48 seconds.

595 days

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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.

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UGH!

First I want to say that I am not wanting sympathy or anything! I am just posting this because I am having one of those days. I have to get the feelings out of my head, through my fingers. So please, don’t pity me and let my written emotional diarrhea begin!

It is only noon and I have already been through every emotion I can. I am angry, sad, happy, worried, hurt and all in between. I have no idea what has triggered this day. Maybe lack of sleep or a slight sunburn from the extremely fun day in the sun yesterday. Maybe it is guilt because I had fun yesterday. I don’t know what it is but I am just over it. I am missing my son so bad that it feels like I have been gut punched today. I am missing my living children because they are always gone living their life. I am upset that the boy was snappy at me this morning for no reason. Aggravated because the girl decided to wash clothes on the one morning I could sleep in a little. Frustrated because I have no clue what to make for supper with no desire to do it anyway. Depressed because I am just not wanting to fold the massive pike of laundry that has built up. The dog has been spazzing out and running up and down the hall all morning and when she does get still, she farts constantly. I am hurt because I feel like I do not get any recognition of pride from the ones I look for it most in. I feel like nothing I do matters to anyone around here. I feel like I am not as important to most of the people that I put first and on pedestals, I am sick of hearing about the latest Monticello scandal when people should be rallying around a little girl in town that lost her father in a senseless shooting. I want to go back to the beach. I want to go to the mountains and sit on my Uncle’s porch and have him tell me it’s all going to be okay. I want a back slapping hug from my Granny. I want to eat a bowl of strawberry ice cream with my Grandpa. I am wondering if I was as good of a Mom all these years as I should have been. Did I give my children all they needed growing up? Do they resent me because I could not give them all they wanted? I am worried about my Mother, what reason I cannot pinpoint. I feel fat. I feel ugly. I am mad at myself because I have those superficial feeling. I am at a loss to fix a relationship that just never comes easy. I am at a loss as to how to make some things at home better. I miss Dillon who has moved to another state. I miss my house being filled with teenagers during the summer. I am mad because I feel the empty nest. I just ate a handful of Cheet-Ohs so now I am feeling really fat. I feel like a failure as a friend for not being there for everyone like I should. I feel like I am too needy at times. I am tired of keeping things inside when they make me want to explode. I am terrified of making changes soon that will benefit me for the better but may upset other people. I am sick of saying yes. I dread saying no. I just want to go back to bed. I just feel UGH!

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Live From the Scene…….

When our son had his accident, it was on the news before we ever made it to the hospital. Before I ever saw my son, I saw the scene of the accident posted all over FaceBook. Before I ever even knew what happened or had talked to a doctor or officer, it was posted to my daughter’s page. Before I even made it to the ICU desk, I was tagged in a breaking news story.

Yes, we need the news in our lives to keep up with the weather and what is happening in the world. But is there not some tact and class? Would it have been “old” news for the reporters to wait just one more hour so that his family could have known the details first? Do they not know the hurt that my daughter felt when she saw a news story on FaceBook about her brother? What about my nieces and his friends that were gathering with us waiting for an answer? What about my Mom? Do they not know the pain I felt of not knowing what happened to my son yet could see a “breaking” news story with the lead in picture showing my sons shoe on the side of the road?

Why did they feel the need to lead off with this story? Do we not have soldiers in other countries dying for us? Were there not murderers on the loose that should have been plastered as a lead off story? What about the weather? I am sure that there were plenty of things that could have come first or at least until we knew the details first.

I guess what I am getting at is where does common decency and respect for families come in? The images of my son’s car or the scene where not something we were prepared to see at that time. We were still trying to just see our son and talk to the doctor’s. Yes, I know that it was a newsworthy story. Does the media not know that if they would have just showed us some respect for one more hour that we would answered more questions than the few measly details they reported?

And where is the media now? Why are they not reporting on the life that came out of the tragedy? What about the story of how on New Year’s Day of 2014, four people were given a new chance at life? What about the story of his tissue donation? I guess that is not as newsworthy as his death. (And no, I am not looking for the spotlight. Just were was the follow-up?)

I have not watched the news but one time since his accident. The top story was a young lady that died in a horrible wreck on the way to graduation practice. This sent me into a spiral of emotions that I felt the night of the accident. Last night, Jeff and I were watching TV and the breaking news came across of a train accident. I went into panic mode at the images of the flashing lights and train. Jeff could not get the remote fast enough to just turn the TV off. I know that I am sensitive to certain stories but even after a year, I cannot watch the news. So if we are about to get blown away by a tornado or invaded by aliens, give me a call because we are a news free home.

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Giving To Heal The Hurt

Giving. Do you know what it means to you? Everyone translates that one word to mean what suits them best. Whether it be a selfish translation or one of utter selfishness. My translation may be one to surprise you all.

Giving to me is all about my survival right now. Yes, survival. I have always been one to help others or jump when needed. But now, I give even when I am not needed. I give when it is not going to be known to anyone but to me. I give to keep from crashing into the rigged rocks on the shore of grief.

There have times when I get so withdrawn into my grief and sorrow over losing Richie that I would go to dark places in my head. I would just shut down from all family and friends. Then one day, when I was at a low point, I really thought about the feelings. If I was feeling this then certainly some other Mom in grief was too. So I sat down and wrote a note of love to a Mom that I knew was grieving. This one note started a pattern. Now if I am sad, I send a note, email or text of cheer to someone. If I am lonely, I send a random text to a friend wishing them a great day. If I feel ugly, I send a text telling someone else they are beautiful. I will bake someone their favorite cake and take it to them if I simply need to keep myself busy.If I need a laugh, I just snap chat one of my nieces a picture being silly.

You see, this whole life we have been given is not about us as an individual. It is about each other. It is about what we put out n the universe. In Luke 6:38 Jesus says, “Give and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give to your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” To me, this means that whatever I give out to the world, will surely be given back to me. What does this mean I will be given? Well, it can be something as simple as a smile I was needing when I drop that note in the mailbox. Or it could be the thought of knowing someone later in the day will enjoy a slice of that cake. Maybe I will receive nothing but the fact of knowing I did it. No matter what the reason I did it for or the return I get from it, I know I am being measured by God. He sees the things I do and he is building my rewards that are going to be greater than anything I can get here on Earth. I also like to think that the giving young man that went to heaven is watching what is being done here. I do not think he wants me crying in self-pity but rather wants me doing like he did for us.

So for me, giving is healing. And in healing, I am doing what is expected of me as a child of God. In all the crazy messed up ways the world is now, maybe it would be better if we all tried to heal the world by small acts of giving. Just think if we healed the whole world!!!!

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Welcome to the club….Sorry you had to join.

In the past week, two mothers joined our club of Broken Mothers. One is a friend of mine’s cousin. Her 12 year old son passed away. Another hit really close to home. He was a deputy where my Mom and Sister live. He was also one of my Brother-in-Law’s best friend growing up.

I learned of the 12 year old boy last Sunday while at ball practice and came home just aching for his Mom. I cried for her all night because I know the pain she feels. I learned of the deputy when law enforcement friends started posting about it on Facebook and then my sister text. A young man, just married starting his life. I cried for him, his new wife, for his Mother and for the way this world is now.

I wish I could run to these Mothers and just cry with them. Not to tell them anything, just to cry with them. There is nothing you can say. Nothing you can do. I just wanted to cry with them for the hurt they are feeling. The hurt all of us Mothers who have been where they are at this moment. Only we know what they are feeling, what they are going to feel and the road they have ahead of them.

I almost feel like we Mothers already in the club should have them a basket of useless welcome crap to give them. Here is your lifetime supply of tissues, you will use them forever. Here is some ice packs for when you have cried so much your eyes are swollen shut. How about a blanket to hide under on the days they don’t want to face the world? Here is a book of ideas of things to put at the cemetery for the holidays and such. How about a crappy plant that will just wither and die when you are too lost to take care of yourself? Maybe a trashcan to throw all the useless information people will give them on grief. I personally would love to have been given a “Go Away” sign to put on the door or around my neck.

But instead of a welcome packet or basket of goodies, I will send these Mothers a card with my sympathy and let them know that I am here for them night or day. To let them know I am praying for them and to let them know they are simply Not alone. They have joined a club that many of us do not want membership to. A club we can never leave.

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