This is my 31st Father’s Day without my dad. Mind you, I only had him for twenty-five before he died. Yet, I can still describe him in detail, feel his presence at pivotal moments in my life, and both my kids could describe him growing up without ever having physically met him. How is that? Faith and love. I never let him die completely. He lives on in my heart, my words, and my actions. My faith tells me he is still very much a part of my life! I am ok with that!!
People who have never really lost someone very close to them, at least at an age where death is understood, have a hard time because they feel death is final. It may seem so until you had this happen, lived a few years after, been through other major life hurdles, do we then realize those we lost are never really gone.
I swore to behave the same way when I lost my son. This may be the reason people think I have dealt with this loss with grace. Again, until you have gone through the actions of having a person live on in your heart, this may look easy and graceful, but it really has to do with faith. Faith got me through this before. Faith will get me through this again. Faith is knowing we will meet again because the love you have for those in your life will have an everlasting meaning. First time around was not easy, nor has any loss been easy. Without my faith, it sure would have been a lot more difficult.
I hope that when I am gone from this Earth, a positive mark will be left behind that allows those I love to never forget me. Don’t know if it will be, but I hate the thought that what happens on Earth is finite for any of us. I feel there must be a higher purpose for our being here as opposed to just existing. That is where my faith gets stronger. I want to believe those we have lost are guiding us to a better outcome and will be there waiting for us when our Earthly life is done.
My dad was, and is, very important to me. He was a pillar of strength. My son is no different. He sure left a mark on a lot of people in his 24-1/2 short years. My brothers and my mother all got into the same category, as did so many others who have gone before us. As long as we think about them, remember who they were, what they taught us (to do and not to do), their lives will live on forever!
I hope that those who have their fathers still with them realize the gift in front of them. To all the fathers who have lost a child, I hope you feel your child’s presence today and know you are loved and appreciated! I know not all relationships are Hallmark examples, but many are!
I miss my dad as much today as I did when he first died, but I know he is in a better place and in good company! I look up today and know my son finally got me meet him and they are celebrating! Faith and love! I cry because they are gone, but I smile because they were here.
I was asked if I realized how much I loved my son after he died. No, I realized how much I lost when he died. I knew how much I loved him. I could not love my children more, alive or dead. Simple, right? Oh, if only it were that simple. We never truly appreciate what we have until it is gone. Truth!
When a child dies, we tend to put them on a pedal stool and highlight only their wonderful qualities while forgetting their human ones. I tried not to do that for a couple of reasons. I truly hope that my children know/knew how much I love and admire the people they have grown into. I never want to reduce the level of the pedal stool, but I never want to forget the real humans and emotions from being a mother! I know that sounds strange, but it keeps the memory more alive by remembering ALL the things we have been through. I don’t want to only remember the great kid my son was! Ever! But he wasn’t perfect! He was real!
You cannot measure love, nor can you measure loss. The thing I lost out on was the same thing my son lost out on, his future! That was never a guarantee. Our only guarantee at birth is death. Everything else is what we make it. That leaves me with 24-1/2 years of what he lived and I take it all and refuse to let go. That includes the trials and tribulations he put me through. They were real! The gray hair I had I earned!! Why I only got 24-1/2 years is not my focus. My focus is the 24-1/2 years I DID get! I loved every single minute of it!
No, you cannot measure love. It is timeless and endless in this situation. No, you cannot measure loss. I can only imagine what I could have had. That’s all any of us can do. Truly, I am not sure any of us will cross every item off of our bucket list. Doesn’t mean we should keep it short. It does, however, signify the importance of living!
Make your dash count! We will all have a beginning and an end! We will all have happy moments, sad moments, learning moments, but never have regret moments! Your life, and mine, will be measured by the dash in the middle! That’s where all the memories, life, love, special moments, heartbreaks, good decisions, and bad decisions will live. As stated before, the beginning and the end are finite. The dash is everlasting!! It’s the reason we cry because you are gone, but smile because you were here!!
Mother’s Day! So many thoughts. So many emotions. The Lord knew what he was doing when he created our mothers. I know this from every person posting how their mother is the best. Some proof He put the right kids with the right parents. I could argue with them all because I know I had the best mom in the world. I thought I could never be like her, yet here I am, on Mother’s Day, and one of my children is not here to say “I have the best mom ever!” Just as my mom experienced! I know my son loved me and I hope he thought I was the “best” too! I do hope I get a sign from the heavens that makes me think he is saying Happy Mother’s Day!!! My focus of this blog is not my story on Mother’s Day. This is Cody’s story. I have been feeling like it was time for his side to come out.
Teenagers and young adults who have a mother who tell them to call them when they reach their destination, or wake them up when they get home, I want to share Cody’s story and tell you why this makes them the best mother for you. I want to tell you what visions they have from Cody’s view. I want you to honor their wishes every single time they ask you to do something. This is the message Cody left behind. But let me warn you, it can get graphic, but it is real and it is what goes through a mother’s (and father’s) mind every night they wait.
Cody’s message has been spoken, but not to the world. It has been relayed to the Victim’s Impact Panel for Peoria County once a month for almost a year. Granted, it took this mom two and a half years to ask for and acknowledge the information. Now is the time to share his side of the story. It is Mother’s Day and getting warmer. The young crowd is starting their bonfires and gatherings that usually contain alcohol. Cody needs every person to know what one person’s one decision on one night can do to their mothers, and fathers, and siblings, and friends, and world!
Cody left the house that night to go fishing. He went with a friend and was not far from home, a couple of miles behind our home, at a friend’s lake. He drank too much, too fast, and fought his friend for his keys. He only had a couple of miles, a few turns, and he would be home, right? Wrong! One person, one decision, one night.
At around midnight or shortly after, mom here started texting and calling. No answer. I sent him a text message and asked if he needed a ride. No response. Started calling after that. My calls went straight to voice mail. My heart was hoping he had just crawled in his truck and fallen asleep at the site he was fishing at. My mind had an entirely different image, and it is the image every parent gets when their child has not called them when they get to their destination if that destination is different than their home. Now I wait…
About 1:30am, there was a knock on the door. I was already awake as every mother is when in this mode of “where are they and are they safe?” Standing at my door was a Deputy Sheriff. He asked me if anyone at this address drove a green ‘98 Chevy truck. I said “yes, my son” with dread already coming to my words. He asked his name and if he was at home. I told him “Cody” and that he was fishing with a friend. He told me the vehicle was involved in an accident and could he come in.” My mind has now shifted to another DUI!! Crap!! He started in through the door and I yelled for my husband, Cody’s father. The officer came in and there was another person with him as he introduced us to the coroner! Yep! My heart sank! I stopped him from speaking and immediately called my sister! My brother-in-law is a retired LT Deputy Sheriff. I wanted to be able to speak before anything was said because I was afraid of what I was about to hear. My brother-in-law answered the phone with one word—-“what?” Can’t be good getting a phone call at that hour. I informed him that a deputy sheriff and the coroner were standing in my living room. He swiftly said “on my way” and hung up.
So, what happened next is a recollection as best as I can describe it. Other than the world caving in, this is my best guess to the following chain of events… The coroner knelt down in front of me as I had to sit down. He held my hand while my husband was knelt down next to me holding the other and asked if I knew how to get a hold of his friend. I didn’t have the number, but he proceeded to tell us the truck hit a tree and caught on fire. Then he asked if my son had a dentist. What!?!? Why!?!? The victim in the vehicle could not be identified! Now I am in a position of “Do I now want that to be my son or someone else’s!! I wanted option ‘C’ but wasn’t offered. I gave them the orthodontist that Cody went to for braces. Thought that would be the most recent. They did tell me they were pretty sure it was Cody, but had to wait to confirm. My sister and brother-in-law arrived. They went over everything with them. From there, it’s kind of a blur. I don’t even know when they left.
Here is what we found out later: a passerby called 9-1-1 at 11:23pm, just one hour before I started texting him. That passerby knew Cody. Pray for that passerby! I’m sure there are very few fires he will witness in his life where this image is not haunting him.
We then proceeded to call his sister (almost 2 hours away working third shift as an ICU nurse) and his 19 year old girlfriend. Let me tell you I think I know what dying feels like! I did it every time I had to call someone and give this news. By 7am, my house was full! All family! All just as scared, shocked, and bewildered as I was! Then, around 8am, his friend he was fishing with pulled in our drive to pick up his trailer. Confirmation made! He was pale as a ghost as we explained Cody didn’t make it home that night. His friend had left before him. He had NO idea!!
Now, I was planning the funeral of my 24-year old son. Remember, one person, one decision, one night. I even got up to speak after the priest was done speaking that day. I warned all the young people there that this could have been prevented. I didn’t know the details, but I knew THAT detail. Now let’s fast forward 2-1/2 years…
January 2020, one of my sons good friends was killed in an ATV accident. Drinking was involved, but now I put myself right there where his mother is and relive all the steps! Not that I had gotten very far in my own steps, but now I knew what they are feeling, what they are thinking, and what they have in their future! We are going to call this the first major sign. His friend was 20 years old and a passenger. I wished his friends would have heard me.
Sign Two: three months after his friend in January, another accident by one in his group. This young man was 21, single vehicle, now what do I do!?!?! What is the message they need to hear to assure them they are not invincible? My next step…
I contacted the county and asked for my son’s police report. Remember, I had not gotten any details of that night. I knew it would not bring my son back. But now, I needed this information to stop any more of his friends from joining him! The county personnel actually phoned me one day. It was a woman. She told me she had received my request. I asked if there was an issue, were fees involved, I would pay. She said “no” because of the Freedom of Information Act, I was privy to the records, but as a mom to a mom, could she please withhold the photos of my son. (The last time I saw my son was him walking away from the house to go fishing. The next time I saw him, he was in an urn.) I told her she could withhold them, but I wanted pictures of his truck and the scene. “Not a problem,” she said. This took me 2-1/2 years to ask for! I was nervous.
A week later, my package arrived containing the police report and a cd with photos. I knew what was in it but couldn’t open it. I called and told my daughter it was here. My daughter, ICU nurse and protector, came over and grabbed the disk and took off to view them first. Nothing really shocked her from what she expected, so in I went! This is what I saw!!
The photo is disturbing, but puts the pieces together of what happened and why he didn’t live through this accident. What people don’t know is that if his truck had went right instead of left, it could have hit a house that had small children in it. Praise Jesus for looking out for them!! Note: he uprooted the tree where the bark is missing, so his truck bounced. Hard to look at, I know. This is where my son died. The young kids and young adults need to see this. They need to ask themselves, “is that drive worth the chance for this to be what I leave behind?” THIS IS CODY’s MESSAGE!!
Remember, he was fishing just a few miles behind our home. A few turns and he would have been home. Here is a little perspective:
Cody’s message: it doesn’t matter how far you have to go, it is not worth the risk. This year, make a pact to do what is right, not what is easiest (or what you think is easiest). I want all people reading this to spread the message: Designated Drivers (DDs) are heroes!!! Period!!!
I am not posting this to make mothers cry or to allow anyone to feel sorry for me. According to several mediums and/or psychics, Cody is very sorry for what we have gone through and he didn’t mean for this to happen. I know in my heart that if he were standing next to me, he would want me to forgive him. I did that on Day 1, just so you know. This is his message, not mine. Please take this as a message it was intended.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers here on Earth, including my wonderful daughter, and to the ones we have had to say goodbye to. As we celebrate today, remember the joy of becoming a mother, having your mother with you, and all the ups and downs that created the life you live and the memories you have! If I could do it all over again, I may change a phrase or two, but I wouldn’t trade the years I was blessed with. For all I know, God put Cody here for me to be able to spread this message. When I get to see him again, I will confirm that! I am proud to have had the mother God gave me and to have been Cody’s mother!! I am who I am because of my mother. I know she is hugging my son and I am grateful for all they gave me! I cry because they are gone, but I smile because they were here.
A very wise person posted this phrase recently: my chance, my choice. Profound words when you think about them. Those words can be applied to many, many situations. We are given a chance every day we wake up. We get to choose what we do with that chance. Make it count in the best way possible!
Today is Bereaved Mother’s Day, the first Monday in May. It was not my choice, but today is my chance to help others. I have no miracle cure for the sadness that comes with the title. It is a forever sadness. I do, however, celebrate that I was my child’s mom! I want to help others in this club to choose celebration!
The reason I think this hits me so hard today is because of the blame game being spread across this world! I don’t know how so many can blame others for the choices they are making. We can blame many for their actions, but we can’t blame them for our reaction! That is our choice!
I could go on and on. Take the chance given and choose happiness. Choose gladness for what is and what was, and know we are not guaranteed the future we dream of. We are, however given the chance to make today count. If my son taught me anything, that is it! My chance, my choice!
To all those thinking of loved ones no longer with us, choose the memories that make you smile. To parents in this bereaved club of survivors, choose memories that fill your heart with moments that say “I’d do it all over again just to feel this emotion again!” My chance, my choice! I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here!
Easter brings out some raw emotions for me. Hope, life, and everlastingly love of a mother to her son. Jesus was only 32 years old when his prophecy was fulfilled. Losing a child at any age is difficult! I wonder what Mary thought about the loss of her son. Of course, she already knew he was special being the Immaculate Conception and all. But what did she envision for Him?
Losing an adult child seems to have other issues! We have so many memories of when they were little and so many expectations during those times, when they pass before we get to witness those expectations coming to fruition, our imagination runs wild!
My son died at 24, was not married, and to my surprise, had no children. I still hold out hope that someone may knock on my door and introduce me to a grandchild, but as time goes on, that hope fades. I did get to witness him finding love! That makes my heart happy! But I still have that wonder of what I didn’t get to see him experience. What kind of future would he have had? Was he saved from something worse? Would my son have had children of his own, and if so, what kind of dad would he have been? Would he have, at one point along the way, realized everything we did for him and know how much we did out of love, despite what he thought at the time?
I know I will never know the answers, and none of us usually get to cross everything off of our bucket list. If we keep that list short and simple, maybe. Top of the list: love those around you as if you may not get another chance tomorrow! None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. Even bubble wrap cannot protect us from our destiny. And for all I know, this was exactly that, as it was with Jesus. Questions will forever remain unanswered until we meet again. Well, unless you want to trust the supernatural. I may indulge, but the answer still comes with a question mark to its validity.
Imagination is a wonderful and powerful thing. I get to create the future in my mind I had wished for my son since the day of his birth. It lets me sleep at night. I also imagine him next to Jesus, living it up, and happy. My ultimate wish for him. If I am sad, it is my sadness, not his. He reached his final resting place. I can only have peace that even though he didn’t live and experience my expectations for his future, he fulfilled the destiny set the day he entered this world and was rewarded on the day he left us. I can live with that.
This Easter, I look to the Heavens, smile, and know in my heart, my imagination isn’t too far from reality. Easter is about redemption, everlasting love, forgiveness, and light. I may not get to hold him, but I have him in my heart always! He is my prodigal son and he has returned home. He was here on loan, but the love I have for my children is eternal. Easter reminds me of that every year (even though it is an ever-present fact). He is Risen! As always, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here.
So, another psychic story. This is getting good, as well as eerie. The newest message given to my daughter last month regarding my son is that Dad and I need to let go and heal. Well, I, for one, would like to know how that works! Is it possible and what exactly does it mean?
Letting go is not something I can do. Deadbeat dads do this when they father a child with a person they had no intentions of staying with, and then go through life like it never happened. That is NOT something my husband and I can do. My pregnancies were planned and welcomed! We love our kids with all our heart. Letting go doesn’t happen because one died. Letting go of guilt, in whatever form it takes, is something we need to let go of. Survivor’s guilt comes to mind. Guilt of words spoke or unspoken, maybe. Some of this is even a hurdle to try and let go of. If this is what he was referring to, I can promise to try.
Healing is another thing. Do you heal from this type of loss, the loss of a child? At any age? Do we ever truly heal when we lose a loved one, at any level? I know I am better for having my son in my life. I know he is at peace. I am not sure healing is what I would call this, but I get up every day and function like a person who has a job. I eat. I laugh at funny things. I also know my son is not coming back. I say with confidence I do these things because several parents in my shoes cannot say this! To me, that is a huge step forward towards healing.
So, what is the next step? I write, and write with hope. I have never lost hope of many things: my son at peace; me at peace; my husband and daughter at peace; the sun shining another day; and last but not least, seeing my son when this Earthly world is finished with me and I go to my forever home! I will also see my parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles! All of whom have left marks on my life and helped form me to who I am today. You can thank them or blame them. Either way, I have hope of seeing them again if they let me through those gates! As far as healing, I am not sure I will ever be “ok” with losing my son. It is not a parent’s dream when we bring them into the world, nor our expectations during our living years. Truth is, I am not alone in this club, and never will be.
I will be honest here. My son gave me five years of pushing the possibility of losing him in a driving accident. I cringed every time I knew he was driving. Not all because of drinking. He was a dare devil. But, the legal system took his license away a couple times for the very reason of drinking and driving. So, was this a shock? Not entirely. Still not what I wanted, but something I warned him about several times. He never left the house without a warning. Seems kids/young adults are invincible. They never believe it will happen to them. We don’t want to think they will get sick, get cancer, get in trouble, etc. The list goes on and on. Another club that cannot be avoided, the club of “not my child.” It happens and it happened to me too.
Not sure where I was going with this post other than healing is a long, drawn out process and does not happen overnight. As long as I am getting out of bed to see another day, I am one step closer. Closer to healing or closer to my son? Six of one, half dozen of the other. Good news is, I am ok. We are ok. My son is ok. I wanted to be mad, but when he paid the ultimate price with those actions, I can only be thankful I had him for the time I did! I cannot live with regret, remorse, or the “what if’s!” I will heal a little more every day, but I will never let go of the love I had for my son. I let go of what I cannot control and let God do the rest. Bottom line, I am a mother. I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here.
Ever since you have left us, I have written a letter directly to you on your birthday. Well, today is the day. I will celebrate the 24 years I was so blessed to have with you!! So, what has happened from when you would have been 27 to now, when you would have turned 28? I will share what this past year has been like and tell you I might be slightly jealous you got to miss some of it.
The downturn started when Kobe Bryant died along with his sweet, young daughter in a plane crash. Maybe you’ve met them! So sad. But at the same time that happened, a pandemic was hitting our nation. It kind of went to hell from there.
Mid-March, the world started closing everything down: restaurants, movie theaters, hair salons, gyms, and kids had to start learning online with their parents helping the teachers. The elderly were the most at risk, so your grandma and grandpa stayed home. We were glad for that. I don’t think you would have done well in many of the shutdowns. You would have been okay not going to school, but not learning from home. Been there, done that!! Your teachers remember you for that, and many more things. You were smarter than you ever gave yourself credit!
Then, the end of May, a man was killed while in police custody in Milwaukee and more hell broke loose. This is another span of time I was jealous you didn’t have to be here. I am sad at the chain of events that transpired from there. I have said it more than once, you would have gone all Tony Stark on the world and given out your address and told those rioters “Come get me! I’ll be waiting!” You were always my rebel and sticking up for those who couldn’t fight themselves. I’d have been proud and scared for you at the same time!
So, eight months into shutdowns and a pandemic, we had another presidential election. Well, that was fun…NOT!! We are going to skip this part of the year!! I bet you and Jesus are up there banging your palms onto your foreheads right now. Right there with you, son!! I miss the conversations we would have been having. Truth be told, I have imagined some of the conversations and they have been quite entertaining in my head.
The love of your life is doing well and being well cared for. She is still part of our family, of which I am so thankful. Her and her boyfriend bought a house. He is taking good care of her and has been a shoulder I know you would be glad she has! She was quite young to go through the loss of you, and, though she is strong, she needed support. For him, I am grateful!
Another thing this past year, two people have had psychics tell us in one way or another that you wanted us to know you were sorry about what happened! I never thought otherwise. One person mailed us a letter and said you were a very strong spirit. They said now that you’ve started talking, you won’t leave them alone! I’m jealous of that! So is your cousin! She wants you to haunt her too!! Lol! Feel free!
Your niece and nephew are being told all kinds of stories about you! That little niece of yours has been quite inspirited by you. It’s almost like a reincarnation of you as a girl! I am loving every minute of it!! Your sister has her moments where she is not as thrilled! Lol! She’s only two and a half, but she has that mischievous look in her eyes a lot!! We do get a chill every now and then!
This letter ended up longer than I had planned, but I had so much to say! I miss you every single day and know you are saving a spot for me! As I celebrate your life today, I will, at times, face reality that you are not physically with us! I keep you very much alive in my heart and will continue to do so! As a mother, we hold our children in our hearts for eternity. Some get to do this while watching their children grow into adults, parents, and even grandparents. I keep you forever 24, but I still keep you! As always, I cry because you are gone, but I smile because you were here!!
As I was flipping channels the other day, there on Hallmark, another lovey, dovey wedding. Who knew, right? So, the couple exchanged their vows (or tv version of the vows), but then I heard “till death do you part.” It hit me rather odd. Does death stop love? I know in wedding vows, it means you will stay married until one of you dies. I get that. But does love stop? I don’t think so, but for the loss of a child, it goes even deeper…
When a spouse dies, the surviving spouse can literally pick up, remarry, and go about their day. Sure, they may miss their previous spouse, and I am sure they do without a doubt. But their days can be replaced with a sense of normalcy. They remarry, share a home, dine together. The void gets filled so to speak. I would want that too. But there is a permanent void when the loss is your child…
There is no replacing that void. I will not get another hug from my child. I will not get to make him dinner. Well, I could, but he’s not eating it! I have nothing to replace that spot he held in my every day world. No sugar-coating. No resemblance of life before. That is the hardest thing for those who have never lost a child to ever understand. Many will have empathy for those of us in this club. I hope those who have never experienced this type of loss never have to. Truly. There is no comparison in life, or death.
So, I write. That is my void filler. I do have situations I will bring my child into now and then. I imagine his reaction. I picture him standing there making fun of me for whatever just happened and it makes me smile, for a second. Then it’s gone and the void comes right back. I have started sharing what happened to him as a goal to bring awareness to what one decision on one night by one person can do to an endless list of family and friends. I hope it helps others. It helps me and brings my son to the center of my conversation and I am good with that. I speak his name often. I don’t want anyone to ever forget him.
I do laugh. I try to be the same person I was before. Living through many losses, parents and grandparents, siblings, etc., I know life goes on. But my “normal” will never be the same. Ever. I cannot rebuild, nor do I want to. I never want to “replace” him, and I have accepted my “new normal.” Denying it doesn’t bring him back, but trying to replace him would be as if I am claiming he never lived. Death does not do us part, my friends. It only changes my future when his was cut short.
Till death do us part, and then some… cherish your family. Here and now, alive or passed away, they are forever in our hearts. Say their names, share their stories, give those that never met them the memories you have, even the ones that made your hair turn gray! Keep them real. Keep them present. Love is eternal between a parent and a child. I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here.
On this day, fourteen years ago, we said goodbye to our dear mother. What a difficult thing to do! I miss her, the advice she gave, and so much more. If you are blessed to still have your mamas, go hug them, call, or drop by! Let them know you feel blessed to still have them. I knew there would/could be a day I have to bury my mother. You think you are prepared, but it is still hard.
My mother was very busy with us eight children. She never treated any of us better than the other and loved us with all of her being. We lost our father first and then she buried two of my brothers before she passed. That, in itself, taught me more about my mother than anything. Little did I know I’d be wearing those shoes too!
As I reflect on the last fourteen years, the last three-plus without my son, I think about all those survivors who say we are not supposed to bury our children, but how so many of us have. There is no law written that says we will not outlive our children. My mother taught me that. If I died at thirty, and had a one year old, does that mean he can die now because I already did? No. There are no guarantees for any of us! This is, by far, the hardest lesson to learn.
What my mother taught me was patience. She had a lot of it with that many children. She most definitely earned her wings. Surviving the loss of a child, or in her case, children, our time on Earth is short. It’s even shorter in Heaven, or so I am told. When I get to Heaven, it will be as if no time has passed between any of the loved ones I have lost and myself. This gives me comfort even though it feels like eternity on this side of the clouds! Patience!
I want to thank my mother for all she gave in life, and for all she continues to give. She didn’t know it but she left a legacy of truths and advice! On this day, I recall the immense loss, but also the enormous gains in my life from one person, my mother. The last fourteen years, she continues to be my voice of reason, an example of what grace really looks like, and my true guardian angel. I have been blessed and I never want to forget that! I cry because she is gone, but I smile because she was here!!
Writing has been my therapy since, well, since forever! I have been writing poetry since I was thirteen! After having reread some of those writings from way back when, I am praying the therapy worked! It sure sounded like I needed it!! I seemed to write a lot about loneliness and sadness. Funny how some things never change. Although the source of those feelings is very, very different today!
Loneliness and sadness, they are two very different emotions. I am not sure I knew that as a teenager, but I sure know it as I slide down the backside of my fifties! You can be lonely for many reasons. You can feel lonely in a crowd of people! The ‘lonely’ is: a void, a space, something missing. Sadness is an entirely different, yet similar feeling you can have even if you don’t have the void or space. You can be sad it rained, or sad something you were looking forward to was cancelled. Those of us in this club of bereaved parents, we have both intertwined. The loneliness from the void of our children who passed before us and the sadness of the things we all missed out on! I say “all” because we are sad for them as well. How do we hurdle this fence of emotions that stop us in our tracks?
I encourage everyone to find passion in doing something they feel is worthwhile to their mental health! One thing I do is I try to find a positive in every single day. If we are finding those positives, we find our loved ones on the other end. The “butterflies” that inhabit our space and let us feel our lost loved ones’ presence! This is one step over that proverbial hurdle.
Another thing I do is write, as noted before, as therapy. Whether it is in journal format or with rhyming words, it is my escape. I feel my son looking over my shoulder, correcting my grammar, and helping me choose the right photo to match my words. He did that every year when I would write my annual Christmas card when he was alive. I miss those critiques!!
The loneliness may subside during your “therapy” sessions, even if the sadness does not. I am sure the word “happy” will never be associated with this loss, but it doesn’t mean you won’t be happy at times or ever know peace. It’s ok to be happy or at peace. Our children would want us to be happy. I have to believe that with everything in my being! It is the only way I can sleep at night.
I know I have repeated my therapy sessions with myself over and over. I keep recalling how many times I would have to tell my son to do something: his homework; taking out the trash; putting his clothes away; etc! Why would this process be any different?!?! It isn’t. In my heart of hearts, I don’t want it to be over. I want to continually have something bugging me and hanging undone. It keeps him active in my life. My son has been gone almost 3-1/2 years and I still yell down the basement steps to tell him to come get his crap off the dryer! The items are still there, and will remain there for all time as far as I am concerned! Gives me a reason to yell at him and keep him real!’ Feels normal!
If you see the same sentiment over and over in my writing, that is just me trying to convince myself of the words I am typing. It is that simple! You know the person who asks the same questions five different ways looking for the one answer they want to hear? That’s me in dealing with this loss! I can ask myself many different ways how to deal, but the answer will remain: one day at a time, no matter how the question was asked! If I get up another day to face the world, I am over another hurdle and that is a good thing!
Be kind to yourself. Do what gives you momentum to face another hurdle! I promise you will feel your child(ren) closer than ever when you do! I write, but if you deal with plants, grow flowers or plant a garden! If you exercise, take walks or become a body builder. If you read, find a book that reminds you of your loved one or write. Whatever your therapy to handle the loneliness and sadness, it is the right way. There is no wrong way if you manage to bring a leg up over that hurdle. If you cannot bring that leg up, please speak to any professional or grief group. That is not a sign of weakness, in fact, requires inner strength! It is a hurdle in itself.
My son’s birthday is in four weeks! He would have been 28 years old. I will celebrate that day for the 24 years I was given. This includes the many memories that must sustain me for the rest of my years! I will write him a birthday letter as I have done every year on his birthday. More therapy! I do not wish him a happy birthday on that day. I do, however, celebrate his life and the day he came into this world! I look up to the heavens and pray he is smiling down on us!
Therapy, in the many forms I utilize, will help me get over the daily hurdles. Those sessions are not required every day as they were at the beginning. Nevertheless, they are still important! I pray for those in this club and hope your children are smiling down from Heaven and helping you over those daily hurdles. I know my son is at peace. That acceptance was a major hurdle through the tears. As always, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here.
Oh, the holidays and all the joy they bring!! Most already know, holidays bring a lot of sadness too. For many, Christmas is the hardest holiday of all. I know why this is for me and do all I can to overcome the odds, even if it requires a little osmosis!!
The first Christmas after my son died, I cried at the drop of a hat. I cried trying to shop for my daughter and her family. I found everything my son would have loved! Every time I did, I cried again. I was not sure that would ever change. It has. That doesn’t mean I don’t cry, but now I picture my son with whatever gift I found he would have loved and imagine the joy on his face. That makes me happy.
I have great memories of my childhood and the days when my children were little. I think I used the “Santa” thing for several months leading up to Christmas!! If Santa could only make more trips during the year, my kids might have behaved a little better a little longer, but then the truth comes out eventually…
One of my tricks for getting through the holidays is thinking of my childhood and the things my mom did that made it special. Being one of eight children, we didn’t usually get a huge pile of gifts. My parents spent about the same amount on each of us. That means one or two might get several things while another got one big item. We tried to do the same, but even so, it always seemed one would try and calculate in their heads what something cost. As we get older, we know it has nothing to do with the money spent and everything to do with the physical presence of just being together with those you love!!
As I head into this holiday, we may only have one child to buy for, but now we have the grandchildren we get to spoil too!! Christmas will be different every year, and I cannot stick myself in a time warp thinking time would never change what I once had. It will change every year no matter what has happened. But, it will not stop me from remembering those holidays, and I do, with a smile!!
Remember all the family and friends, here and gone, and remember, we are not alone. We have real angels with us and they are happy when we are happy! Hold onto the people they were and keep them alive in your hearts!! It is my hope and prayer for all that this Christmas be spent with great memories, as well as the creation of new ones. It is what our loved ones would want for us! I know that in my heart of hearts!! It’s ok to have happiness!! As always, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here!
As Christmas hits the calendar, and in a year of a pandemic, many will know what it is like not to get a photo of all their family together. I live that every single holiday. Some will not get to hug their kids goodbye. Been there too!! But I still have much to be thankful for!
I have my mom heavy on my mind right now. My mother was very strong! How strong was she? She buried two sons before she died and never let us know how bad that hurt. She got out of bed every day, though some days had to be excruciating!! Now that I’m there, too, I think about my mom in a whole new light!!
This is my fourth Christmas since the loss of my son. I keep thinking of how sad my mother must have truly felt during the holidays. She never let it show. That had to hurt. I don’t think I am like my mom. I tend to speak my heart’s feelings out loud and on paper, but for me, it feels like therapy. I don’t remember her speaking of her ‘hurt.’ I differ in many ways than my mother, but I hope not in all ways.
My mother NEVER forgot any her children, ever!! She never put one above the other and, when we were all alive, there were eight of us. Even after my brothers died, she never lifted them higher than those of us still around (which I have seen a bereaved parent do). I have two beautiful children, a son and a daughter. Just because one is in Heaven doesn’t mean I don’t have him. He is in my heart, my thoughts, and my actions every minute of every day. I don’t want to ever forget the “real” person he was, with all the things he did that come with that description. My daughter is a huge bright spot, not to mention the littles that call me “grandma!!” I am still so blessed! I never want to forget that within my grief!
As this holiday nears and families start “gathering,” remember those who have gone before us and are not here to celebrate in the conventional way. I know the first year, I cried every time I had a friend post their family photo around the tree. Now, I look at them and know how blessed they are to have that photo!! When those photos are the memories you have now, you relish in the happiness of having them.
May this next year bring peace to those suffering, healing to those with fresh loss, and comfort to those doing this all alone. Christmas is one of the best, yet saddest, of all holidays. It’s about the birth of hope! May that hope be within all of us for the future as we remember those we have lost. As always, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here!!
I have had several people mention the “what if’s” lately. It has me thinking a lot about our choices, what we can control, what we can’t control, and how we can change the outcome despite the question itself. It starts here and could end here, but probably not…
I have referred to the movie “Final Destination” more than once in the last three plus years. This is my theory on the “what if’s.” Nothing may have changed the situation’s end result. Maybe the scenery was changed. Maybe the players would have been different. Maybe it would have been a different day and time. But, in reality, the “what if’s” cannot be theorized, anticipated, or made into realities. They will always be after the fact. So, we can’t ask “what if?” now. My thought for my situation is my son may have died anyway. This may have been written in a time book I wasn’t privy to. It might have had some details different is all. This is how I cope. Truthfully, I may have had him longer than was meant to be. Can’t prove or disprove it without a physic. The “what if’s” are infinite.
On this day, 26 years ago, my oldest brother died at the age of 42. What if his date of death was predetermined? As it turns out, this date 18 years ago, we also lost another brother at the age of 40. What if…? So many “what if’s…” So, so many… what if this was their destiny? What if they were meant to die on the same date years apart? Who really knows? I know who knows and I cannot question the “what if’s” and will continue to focus on the “what was!” I was blessed many times because of the “what was!” I can’t denote those focusing on the “what if’s.”
“What was…” is I was blessed with a son for 24 years! “What was” is my mother lived to see her two boys that preceded her in death live, love, get married, and have children. She was blessed and knew it too. I may not have seen my son get married and have children, but I saw him live and find love. It has to be enough because there are those who didn’t get that far. I am blessed.
I know I am stronger for having had the experiences in my life and having those I lost in my life, for whatever time I had! I have to shy away from the “what if’s” and continue to focus on the “what was” and “what is!” I have learned so much from my brothers, my parents, and my son! They all taught me about life, love, and survival.
“What if” today is the first day you take a step forward, out of the darkness, and live for “what is!”? Ask yourself, “what if this is my opportunity?” Take it! “What if this is my last day on Earth?” Live it! “What if” you look forward, not backwards? I know these “what if’s” will continue to happen while we are alive. I don’t want to live that every day. I know I will make choices that would have turned out better had I went left instead of right. We all will. It’s ok!
For all those who have the “what if I would have changed my plans that night?” or “what if I had asked him to tag along with me instead?” I don’t want you to live there! I want you to have the “I am glad I did that thing when…” and “I am glad he was my friend!” and “thank God I have those memories!” As we head into the holidays later this week, Advent, and Christmas, take every opportunity you can to live without the “what if’s!” Take time to make those calls, send those posts, share those memories! Like you all, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here!!
Someone asked me once, “What song gives you strength?” There you have it. “I Am Woman” it is! I just watched the movie made last year about Helen Reddy’s life, “I Am Woman.” I remember watching her on ‘The Carol Burnett Show’, ‘Sonny and Cher,’ and ‘Johnny Carson.’ Yes, I’m that old! I never realized until I watched the movie how many women were also empowered by that very same song. Helen Reddy, may you rest in peace, know your song still builds strength within me I didn’t know I had.
Seeing someone motivate and build strength in another, especially someone they have never met, is mind-boggling! It actually makes me a little envious, wishing I had the power to inspire another human to know they have more ability to survive than they ever would have thought. I would love for my poetry to be a motivational entity, but then, I’m not sure I would handle it very well. Don’t misunderstand me, I would love it. Not sure I would accept that my words could move anyone out of their situation in a upward motion. I have always thought of my poetry as personal therapy. Sadness motivates me to write in rhyme. I hope it helps others as well.
Going through what I have gone through and still be living is an empowering personal achievement. I give so much credit to my mother. She never really talked about surviving the loss of two of her eight children. She suffered in silence and shared her grief with our Lord in private. I thought that, but it was confirmed after my son died. My sister gave me a book of my mother’s about surviving the loss of a child. It was a thin book, but on the inside cover, she wrote those very words. I cried when I read them. Part for her sorrow and part because I felt her loneliness. If she only knew how much strength she provided me, she was never alone.
Surviving loss is not something I have done alone. I’ve had a lot of help. I still have triggers that open the flood gates, but I am woman, and I do roar. I am pushed from within to live, and live large. When I was pregnant, I ate for two. Now, since my son died, I breathe for two. Motivation comes in many forms. It can be songs, people, movements, and just plain words. I may not be moving mountains, but I sure hope I am moving in the right direction. If you make your voices heard, use encouraging words, actions, and cliches: this too shall pass; what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger; storms are reminders the sun will shine again, etc. We have had enough of the other kinds in this year of 2020.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner. As the pandemic lives on much longer than any plant I have ever owned, please know we are all strong, and invincible, and we all roar. Be thankful for the things that inspire you. I want to give thanks to all of those in my life who have empowered me without even knowing it. To my family, we have been through a lot of loss in our time, but I know I am who I am because of all of you. I miss those we have lost, but they are never really gone. They live in our hearts forever. We may not all be woman, but we are all strong. We cry because they are gone, but we smile because they were here.
I have witnessed so many gracious acts of mercy the last three years since the loss of son, my heart is overflowing!! Their ‘act of mercy’ was simply doing something out of sheer kindness and expecting absolutely nothing in return! This is a “pay it forward” opportunity! In these troubling times we have been having, it sure was nice to experience an act of mercy and kindness!!
An Act of Mercy is a giving gesture: feeding the hungry; donating clothing; and more, expecting nothing in return. If you go around telling everyone you did something kind for someone and are expecting praise, then it is not an act of mercy. To tell others what kindness was performed in hoping the idea catches on is a learning experience. The two are different. A true act of mercy is given from the heart in a moment when the giver usually gets more satisfaction than the receiver (although neither can be measured)!! I have a million examples, and I am humbled when I am the receiver of such kind and thoughtful gestures!!
A few months ago, a very kind person made memory quilts for me and my daughter out of my son’s clothing. The warmth the quilt provides, being wrapped in the memories of my son, is a feeling that I cannot define. I, also, cannot describe the emotions when she did not want to accept payment. I did pay and asked her to donate that money to her favorite charity, but that does not negate her true act of mercy! Time to pay it forward.
Tonight, I saw a picture posted on Facebook on Halloween of a sign printed by a family so trick or treaters would not ring their door bell only to be disappointed. The sign read, “No candy. Sorry, child with cancer. See you next year. Nice costume though.” When they looked at their door cam, they were surprised at a huge pile of candy left there for them. And they say “a child shall lead them…” And so they shall. What a gesture!! I’m not crying. You’re crying!!
In this year of 2020, people are wired differently. People who have never been into politics are suddenly very informed (and should be)! Many are frightened, scared, lonely, and battling information that is as diverse as the population! Let’s bring back kindness and acts of mercy. Let’s do for someone else today. Write a letter to someone in a nursing home that has been alone because of the pandemic. Buy the coffee for the person behind you at the drive through. Call your aunt or uncle that live alone and miss their family. Help someone who is struggling to get through the day when others turn to look away. Be the reason someone smiles. Acts of mercy are about people, and love, and kindness. Let’s bring it back.
Starting right this minute, do the kind thing. Every person is fighting a battle we know nothing about. We all have situations we don’t speak of, advertise, or know how to get through. Many things we will never get over, and must learn a new normal. These internal battles can definitely use an act of kindness, a gentle gesture, and/or an angel in disguise. Be that angel. You would be surprised how therapeutic it is for the receiver as well as the giver.
Let’s get through these last couple of months of 2020 with a giving attitude! Let’s be the change we want to see. We cannot bring back yesterday, but can make tomorrow better. Pray for our country, our salvation, and our most vulnerable!
I totally understand memoirs now. We could all write one and they would all be different. Life is a living book and all of our encounters with those we have in our lives are chapters. One of the motivators I have every day is, “What do I want my pages to say?” I asked my son that question once just a month or so before he died. He told me his pages would be full. At the time, I didn’t think he had done enough at 24 years of age to fulfill that statement, but I was wrong. What an eye opener! It is also a point of reflection for me!
We all have those chapters that we want to slam the book shut on and it makes us happy to be passed that part! Some chapters are very hard to close. They are happy things we don’t want to ever forget or grief-stricken moments we can’t seem to get passed. Some chapters are short. Some seem to be a book within themself. When a chapter ends, whatever the chapter consisted of, it is STILL, and always will be, a part of our book. And, we are chapters in others’ books, even after our book concludes!
Any time (or chapter) of each year can be easy or difficult! We have weddings, births, and happy times, but we may also lose loved ones such as our parents, siblings, and even a child or children. Those chapters are not over necessarily! I still draw on my mother’s strength and can hear her words as if she is standing next to me! She guides me in the chapters since I lost my son, knowing she had been there too! My son still guides me and is helping me help others (I hope I’m helping)!! This allows him to be part of my future chapters as well!
This post is not just about what the people we love have left within our chapters. This is about what mark we will leave on this world and in the chapters of those we have in our lives. The world is in a crazy place right now. I am not sure any of us want to write anything down. If we do, I think we are all going to look back at Chapter 2020 and freak a little!!
The point of this post is to reflect on these “Chapters.” Our book continues on. What do we want our pages to say? What do I want MY pages to say? My chapters are not over, and I am still the same person as previous portions of this book of life, but hopefully, wiser, stronger, and more forgiving than my younger chapters. I am a work in progress. I can’t be both God-fearing and hate-filled. I can’t stand tall and cower under pressure. Life is too short! Make sure your chapters reflect the real you!
As I continue on, please know those who are in my life are such a huge part of my story. I hope the lines I am within your chapters have left a positive mark in your life, or maybe I will be a bright spot in your future! As with my son, and all those who have left from the chapters in my book of life, I cry because you are gone, but I smile because you were here!!
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust… Is that all we are and have to look forward to? Not by a long shot! We only have one life, but what we do with that life leaves more than ashes!! We are so much more!! As I watched a Hallmark movie (because I didn’t know if this movie would be different from the other 999 😳), I did catch a scene I do not see often in a lot of their love stories, an older man releasing his late wife’s ashes. It kind of hit me… I don’t want to let go!
My son died in a single vehicle accident, and I know I may have mentioned it before but, his vehicle caught fire and I never got to see him after the accident. He was identified through dental records. His father and I had him cremated, for obvious reasons, and we decided not to bury his ashes. Now, he rests in an urn… at our home… in a corner… on a shelf… in a perpetual time out! As I watched the show with the older gentleman releasing the ashes off a dock and into a body of water. I just looked over at the urn in the corner (you have to know where to look because to anyone else, you wouldn’t see it because it is part of a shrine of memorabilia), I told Cody, “nope! You are home and that is where you are staying!” Similar to his boots by the door, home to stay. Right now, I can’t imagine him anywhere else. But I have so much more than ashes!! I have beads made out of flowers from his funeral hanging in my car, a charm holder on my purse with charms reminding me of him, a bracelet on my wrist made out of buttons off his shirts, a pillow in my living room with his actual signature, and so much more!
I have brief moments when I think someone might find this odd, but then I remember, I don’t care what others think. I have already told my daughter, the ashes will be handed to her as part of her inheritance! My husband and I both plan to be cremated and put in an urn… on a shelf… in a corner! She can decide where we go from there. It isn’t like we will be able to fight back! Or will we…😜
I think I do keep Cody here so my heart knows he is home, and I am ok with that! It does not hurt me to look at the urn, or to know it is there. I think it would hurt worse if he wasn’t home. If he had been buried, I would visit the cemetery! Can’t say I’d visit as often as I do with him at home. But, that’s just me.
So, as I write this and remember that childhood chant , “ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” I realize I gotta do what I gotta do!! In all seriousness, my son will always be here, whether in an urn, in pictures, on charms, in memories, or just residing in my heart. The image in my mind is what I see when I look in that corner. It is the same image I would have if my son had been buried in a cemetery, in a vault, or at sea. The person we are while we are alive is what those who love us will picture when they visit us after we are gone. Make those memories count!! As always, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here!