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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What Do Our Children Owe Us?

What do our children owe us? The answer is simple. They owe us NOTHING! Yep! When it comes down to it they owe us absolutely, positively nothing. But we as parents, owe them EVERYTHING!

Our children did not ask to be our children. They got the luck of the draw as being our children. We did the “deed” and nine months later, they were welcomed into this world. So now we are parents of these little bundles of joy. They are dependent on us from the beginning for every basic human need. Food, clothes, warmth and even the cleaning of the lil hinies. We are to teach them how to walk, talk, feed themselves and become functioning little humans. What a task we have! As they get older, it is our job to continue teaching them and nurturing them. We are to teach these little humans how to become young adults. Then we are to teach them how to become independent adults.

All of those things are the basic that we owe them. But what about the “extras”? There are so many of them that we owe them and hope that we get from them in return. Some parents say that the children owe them respect, time and even gratefulness. One Mom even said to me not long ago that she had put her life on hold for her child and now that he was successful, he should support her. I was just speechless. Let’s break them down and see if they owe it to us or if we are deserving of it.

RESPECT – If you have raised them with manners, then your children already know that they are to respect all adults. But what about yourself? Do they owe us an outpouring of respect other than what we have taught them to give other adults? Have we shown them respect? What? Could I be saying that we owe our children respect? Why yes we should! They deserve the same amount of respect we demand from them. They are our children and are from our genes. We have raised them this way, taught them this way and we should respect the people they have become.

GRATEFULNESS – Why should our children be grateful that we were their parents? That we fed them, clothed them and all that jazz? That is our job. Our responsibility. They need to be grateful that we didn’t abandon them? Should they include in their next speech on Mother’s day, “Thank you Mom for not throwing me in a dumpster after I was born?” Or “Thank you Dad for making sure food was on the table so I wasn’t one of the kids on a Sally Struthers commercial?” Seriously! Our children do not owe us one debt of gratitude for being responsible parents. Once again, we chose to have them. We should be grateful that we are the parents of these children.

TIME – After our children have turned 18, do they automatically now owe us their time? Does our duties as Mom and Dad stop? Is it their responsibility to make sure that they come see us, call us or have dinner with us? No, certainly not! Now if we have raised them with our full-time attention and presence, they will do this on their own but we are ultimately responsible for giving them OUR time long after the 18 years we are “required” to put in. My children can tell you that the first thing I do when my eyes open in the morning is check on them. The first text they get from me in the morning is, “Have a great blessed day. I love you every day.” The last thing they hear at night is, “Good night. I love you bunches.” They hear from me so much during the day that they get aggravated at times. I still get up in the middle of the night to check and see if my 20 year old son is tucked in and breathing. I make sure that we have family dinners. I make sure that each day I ask how their day was and if they need anything. I make sure that each and every day, they have my time, my ears to listen and just my plain attention. Some days when we are all pulled in different directions and we are not at home at the same times, they still get texts and calls. They still know that they are number one in my life. Do they do the same for me? Not all the time. But they are my children no matter the age and it is my job not theirs to make time for THEM.

So I guess the point of all this is we as the parents are to be parents to our children no matter their age. We are to be the ones that constantly reach out even if they seem to be wrapped up in their own lives. We are to be the ones that constantly put in the time even when we feel like they are not giving back equal time. Think about it….. Do we as the children of our parents put in the same extraordinary amount of effort that we expect from our children to reach out to our own parents? I know that I don’t. I am guilty of not reaching out to my own Mother every day. So why should I expect the same from my children? My job is not done because they turn 18 or graduate. My job as a parent is never going to be done. Yes, my children have said more than once that they wish I would give them some space. But guess what? The Mom in me will not “back down”. They have even said that I am a stalker Mom. I still ask how their day is. I still tell them I love them a million times a day. I still do their laundry. I still clean their rooms. I still make them sandwiches at 11:00 at night. I still even ask them if they made a “poopie doodle” that day. No matter what the age of my children, they are still my babies. It is still my job to be the mom. No, it is my pleasure to be the Mom. An honor to be the Mom. I respect them and they respect me. I trust them and they trust me. Even on days when they act like I do not exist, they know that they are the first and last in my life. They always will be whether they are old and gray or young and dumb. They owe me nothing and I owe them everything.

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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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