There is no written statement anywhere that will designate: the right age; the right time; the right circumstance; or, the right order of dying. Death has no age range or order. As hard as I try to understand death, the more obscure it becomes. I can ask why my son went first over and over and over. I am not going to get an answer. What I will do instead, make sure the time he was here is never forgotten.
Today is Bereaved Mother’s Day, the first Sunday in May. I’d like to say I feel honored to have two Mother’s Day, but sadly, one is not necessarily celebrated. There will be no cards given to me signed by my child in Heaven. No phone calls. It is a reminder that my child died before me. And, unfortunately, I am not the only one who will be acknowledging this day.
I heard a song on the radio this morning, one that I had not heard in years, “The Chain of Love.” I am reminded again that we are all links in a chain, though mine may be broken, his link is now up to me and those who knew him. It really is an easy task as I think about it. Allowing him to live on through me and my actions as well as those of the people who knew him best. Another reminder, broken is not “shattered.”
On this Bereaved Mother’s Day, for all of those in this unwanted club, let the light of your child shine brightly today. This can be in the form of an action, favor, song, anything. The sky is the limit…literally! Your child had meaning and purpose. Don’t let anyone forget that! We are all better for having them in our lives and all have a void that will never be filled the way it was. I will cry because he is gone, but I will smile because he was here!!
When someone dies or a tragedy strikes, our emotions come in full-force and we tend to become empathetic, forgiving, less petty, non-political, and non-visual. We let our feelings guide us. We need to be like that more often.
Let me give a grand example: September 11, 2001. Those of us who are old enough are currently remembering where we were, what we were doing, and the emotions that overwhelmed us, not only as a human, but as a nation. We stopped a lot of things we were doing and started thinking about others. That list included our family, neighbors, strangers we had never met and their families. Why? Because the country was suffering and we became one source for comfort and caring for people we knew nothing about. We didn’t care about the color of skin, the job these people had, how rich or poor they were, or who they voted for in the last election. Why did we stop? My assumption is “normal” came back. For many, “normal” changed that day, but only for those directly affected and who lost something that day.
As a community, there have been rallies for a young teenager battling cancer. Sadly, she is losing that battle, but not because she didn’t give it a good fight! Such a trooper! I do not know this young girl, nor do I know much about her family, but I have seen what I call “the 9-11” affect because of her. Strangers wearing purple in her honor, signs in yards, banners in windows, and purple cancer ribbons everywhere. What an inspiration she has been to us in her battle. We can learn a lot from this and the responses made due to her.
I remember when I lost my son five and a half years ago (not like I will ever forget that moment) but the outpouring of love and unconditional willingness of people to do whatever they could that they thought would ease my pain and sorrow. This came from people I had no connections with as well as my previous examples. What I hope is that these same people are continuing that type of compassion and support of others. My fear is their life went on and their “normal” came back too!
Why do we wait for a tragedy to become a caring community or nation. We speak to people we don’t know without caring about their backgrounds during times like this and it is warming to my heart. Then, time passes and here we go again: seeming to care who someone voted for; who someone is sharing their bed with; how much money someone makes; how someone dresses; etc. Why? Why can we not go back to how we treated others in the face of a tragedy? When an outsider is showing this caring and compassion and then re-enters their “normal” as I stated above, those of us accepting this compassion in our time of sorrow will never have that “normal” again. We are turning a page to a new normal. Our compassion for others is never-ending because of what we have received.
I am changed forever due to that outpouring of love and support, as I know others who have been on this road are changed. The families of the 9-11 attack, families of airline passengers who had their family member’s flight crash, parents of teenagers and small children who have battled cancers, car wrecks, drugs, etc, will forever be changed by compassion that must need a tragedy to exist.
I am grateful for what I received, but my wish is that we treat each other with this caring and compassion regularly!! We are all battling a situation that could use caring and compassion. The old adage of looking at a situation through “rose colored glasses” comes to mind. We should always remember the ‘feeling’ we have when this situation hits a family, community, or nation at all times, even when there is not a tragedy. This action of caring unconditionally goes a long way during a tragedy or crisis, but it goes even farther when it is from the heart regardless of the situation!
I am sure people will wonder “how do you respond when there is not a ‘reason’ such as a tragedy of some sort.” Well, this can start by being nice and speaking to strangers in the grocery line, holding the door for someone even though they are still ten feet away, paying for the coffee of the person behind you in line, and removing the need to judge based on skin color, dress style, or type of car someone drives. It is that simple! And, it is free!!
As I put myself back in the moment I lost my son and remember all the emotions this new family will be experiencing, I never want to forget the feeling of compassion, caring, and sympathy that was extended to me by so many I knew, and more-so, so many I didn’t know. Please take a moment to reconcile any differences that have been present and remember there are many we can assist with a kind gesture. Many lives have been changed by doing so and I, for one, am among those who have been the recipient of those kind gestures and compassion we forget to show. Remember that feeling going forward.
It’s your birthday, your “dirty thirty!” Today, we celebrate you!! I would love to know what you would be doing and what you’d be like at this age. In the words of Mercy Me, I can only imagine! I try not to dwell on all the things I missed out on and want to focus on the blessings and memories I do have. Your birthday makes that almost impossible! As I have done every year on this day since you have passed, I want to write you a letter to recap this year without you!
I did do one thing this year that I still cannot believe I actually followed through with… I got a tattoo! Of course, once the words “I was thinking about getting a tattoo” were out of my mouth, your sister made sure I did not go back on my statement!! It is your actual signature tattooed on my wrist with a heart next to it. Now the outside of my body has a permanent mark of you just as my actual heart does!! She got a tattoo too that has your birth month flower of February, your death month flower of August, antlers, a fish hook, and the number “four” all entwined into a beautiful memorial display.
I have been posting pictures on Facebook every day this week counting down to your birthday. I tried to put them in chronological order. Some years just blend together. I think the phrase “same shit, different day” was describing a lot of what we went through with you (not all bad, but some moments changed my hair color)! Still, would not trade a single memory!
I am still spreading your message! Brandon’s mom has joined me for the presentations, which is great! Strength in numbers! Unfortunately, I have met a lot of people who knew you boys. I may start presenting to high school ages and I really hope to do so. I’d like to think it might have made a difference for you had you had an image of me giving this presentation prior to that fateful night. We will never know for sure, but I hope it is making a difference to those who hear it now. One group at a time, we will continue to try!
Well, this was a weird year in government! Politics are crazy! I’d voice my opinion if I thought it’d make a difference, but sadly, I fear it wouldn’t. So, to keep from trying to get debates going, I will keep those opinions to myself. I mean, truthfully, the lame logic (stole that description from your past), is beyond arguments at this point. You would have pulled another “Tony Stark” and given out your address to those trying to push laws on banning guns. Even the sheriffs were not going to enforce it. Luckily, the Supreme Court remembered what the Constitution says even if politicians forgot! For once, you would have been on the same side of the law!! Lol!
Your sister has her hands full! Your niece and nephew are growing like weeds! Your nephew wants to be a mechanic! He helps your dad every chance he gets! I smile picturing you guiding him and giving him pointers! Your niece is a spitfire and is so strong willed!! You would be such a great uncle to them! I do hope they can feel your presence every now and then! I know they have inherited some genetics and mannerisms from you that link you all! Makes my heart happy!!
I promised myself not to ramble on and on this time. I would appreciate a sign if you feel so inclined. I look for those signs every day. We will be celebrating the wonderful memories you left us with! I still may cry because you are gone, but I smile more because you were here, but we all miss you every minute of every day… ❤️🎁🎂🙏🌈🛻🎤😇🦌💙🚙♥️🎶🇺🇸🥾🎼
Dates are everything to a lot of people. Our life is a calendar of events! We have our birthdays, the date on the calendar from our first date with our first love, the date when we graduated, got married (or divorced), and so many other moments trapped in time. It’s like a calendar is a diary of sorts.
Coming from a large family, I managed to formulate a way to remember dates. So many birthdays and anniversaries of the “normal” dates. Fun fact: only two of our ten family members have a birthday in the same month, and we are twins! I don’t know why I find that fascinating, but I do. But now, I have added so many “anniversaries” that came with losing someone, it’s getting hard to know if I am happy or sad each time one of these dates pop up! I didn’t know I would have so many that included a death date.
I don’t want to be sad every time an “anniversary” pops up. It is still a time to celebrate a life, but it is hard to celebrate knowing they are not here. “Death dates” just kill me! Again, I know we should celebrate the life, but it is like they leave us all over again.
Every date is a reminder of what we have to look forward to, where we have been, and the wonderful memories of life! As the anniversary of lost loved ones show up on a calendar, I challenge those who are missing their loved one to say a prayer. Thank the Lord for the time we were given and pray for our ability to remember all the good moments they left us with. Pray for those who are still suffering a loss, that good memories will sustain them as well.
Enjoy the memories and never forget the date: of birth, of marriage, of a lesson learned, and of the date we have them forever in your heart. If you are like me, you cry because they are gone, but you smile because they were here!!
How many times have we had someone say, “I don’t know how you do it” about anything? Well, if I was paid by the number of people who said that to me after losing a child, I would not have to work for a living any longer. Truth is, we don’t know our own strength until we are forced to experience it. I didn’t want this to happen, but here I am, surviving the loss of a child.
As the holidays hit full force, I find myself getting through the impossible yet again. I didn’t know that kid of mine was so easy to buy for until he wasn’t on this Earth for Christmas. I find so many things that would be so easy to purchase for him and that he would absolutely love. I am sure I am not alone in that scenario either. Brings tears every time it happens. I am sure people shopping in the store wonder why that woman over in the hunting gear is crying. People tend to avoid that. I will say there was one time a couple years back that a stranger came up and hugged me during an episode just because she knew I needed it. No explanations needed. Restores the faith in humanity, that is for sure. Also reminds me there is still good that can happen.
As we mark another year off and turn the page on this calendar, I hope those who didn’t think they could make it through this year are feeling the strength of those who have been there helping to hold them up in thought and prayer when they didn’t feel strong. There is not one person who goes through a horrible situation that wished for it to be that way. I want to say 2023 might be a better year, but for me, it will never be the best year. I will take my blessings where I can and hope that it is better than the last.
Merry Christmas to those here on Earth and to those we wish were here on Earth, but are here in spirit instead. May we all find peace in 2023. Be the best version of you and that is all we can do. Like a lot of people, I cry because someone is gone, but I smile because they were here!!
Survivor’s guilt is quite the hurdle!! Five years in and I still have moments. Truth be told, I always will. Something I should actually be used to, but still catches me off guard and sometimes, just out of the blue. Those darn triggers!! But I have to tell myself, good things can still happen, and that is ok! Hallmark calls then “God Winks.” Sounds good!
Driving down the country roads (no choice with where I live), the beauty is everywhere during the changing color of the trees and the wildlife that abounds when BOOM! a song comes on that changes everything!! I could hear my son singing like he used to when he was driving, in his room, or taking a shower, loud and somewhat off-key, and there I am, in the midst of beauty, crying like I had just lost him yesterday. I don’t know why, but I take those moments and realize, I will have good moments and I will have sad moments, and I will always miss him.
During this hunting season, I think it hits me more. I know it hits his dad harder. They were hunting buddies! They were a duo and when that void is this big, you can’t help but feel it. I think that may be why it hits harder. I know I am not the only one. That being said, I have NEVER been the only one affected by his death. That should make me feel, if nothing else, not alone. If it were only that simple.
As the holidays hit, I find the void and triggers to be even bigger. I always take my thoughts back to the first Christmas without him. My husband and I were crying if the wind blew the other direction. When it hits hard now, I remember that one moment, at my darkest moment that Christmas, being shown the sonogram of our future grandchild! That ONE MOMENT is iconic and always brings me back to the reality that I will still have good and moving moments in the future. My son would want that happiness for me and that alone will keep me in the here and now as well.
As we head into the Christmas season and the hopes for the new year (which is to just be better than this last year), move forward with the realization that good days and good moments still exist. We may have to look for them sometimes, but they are there, giving hope for the future. Embrace them! Know that bad times will come, and that is ok. Good times will be there too! I still encourage a “positive of the day” and to acknowledge those moments, as small as you might think they are. They are a guiding force!
I am entering this Christmas with faith and hope. I think the world has forgotten the reason for the season. I don’t ever want to forget the real reason. Forget about the ribbons and bows. I think it is love for each other and proof that a miracle can, and will, happen every day. It’s about love of family and friends, those with us in person and in spirit!
May everyone have a blessed Christmas and cheers to a better year in 2023! They say you only live once (yolo). I disagree. I believe you only die once. We live every day. I don’t want to take any of those days for granted, the good and the bad. For all of those who are suffering, may you find the joy in Christmas. Like you, I cry because they are gone, but I smile because they were here, for whatever time I was blessed with!
In every aspect of living, we are given choices: stay on the ground when you get knocked down or get up; run away or stand and fight; love with forgiveness or hate with bitterness; laugh because you can or cry because you can’t find the good. There are many more, but you get the point. The choice isn’t always easy. Our biggest challenges we face are when life throws changes we didn’t plan on and we are given two choices: accept it or deny it. That’s the start of a chain reaction of choices.
No one wants to lose a loved one. I pray for those that do because more than likely, they had to watch a loved one suffer! Without question, hard to do!! The choices we are faced with when losing a loved one are just like every other situation in our lives, two choices at a time. One may lead to the next option, if there are still choices we have to make. Fate may present the situation, but, ultimately, we decide the actions we take in response. No two people will respond exactly the same either, and that is ok!
When I lost my son five years ago, I was faced with options, and yes, one decision presented me with another set of choices. I chose to continue to love my son, as opposed to being angry at him for his decision. I had to accept it was his decision to drink and drive. Then, I had to find a negative or a positive from that decision. I found a positive that no one else was hurt, that he didn’t know it was coming, and that he did not suffer (which many parents have had to witness their child do)! And then, I had to decide to die with him or live for him. I chose to live! I try to live the best life I can FOR him. He would not want it any other way. I also chose to find a positive every day that reflects a good life and a blessed life!
My son gave me several years of frustration, but there were many happy times that outweighed those moments by far. I still loved him every single day of it. He had to know it! The best way to measure the love you have for someone you have lost is to honor the life and moments you shared. Some deaths are of people you knew, acquaintances, friend of a friend. Many hit you at your core and you have to learn all new. A new way of getting up; a new way of going out; a new way of breathing each day; a new way of life. But still, two choices at a time.
I could really go on and on with this. Life does give you choices. We choose more options along the way than we can count, or even realize they are “choices.” I choose the positive for me every time I can. This goes for those situations I didn’t ask for and had no choice but to deal with… one choice at a time. With my son, I cry because he is gone, but I choose to smile because he was here!
Today, my parents would have been married 71 years. I think about the life they built and the legacy and stories left behind. They had eight children together, all very different, but very close children. We had eight different personalities; eight different opinions; eight different lifestyles; and one love for family! We all were successful in our own right and, for parents, I think that is a lot to be proud of. No, we were not all doctors, lawyers, and CEO’s. In fact, none of us were. It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, but we all lived well because of those two people. What an amazing legacy! What will my legacy be?
I write so much about survival, which must include being the youngest of eight children (by four minutes of my twin) as well as loss of some of those siblings and loved ones. I tend to forget about just being me and what my input into society will be. Legacies are not created from just getting through things. Legacies are created by changing and creating. What we put in is what we get out. If surviving is my only goal, it won’t be my legacy, but my legacy may be weaved in somewhere.
Several people recently have mentioned to me that I should write a book. My book would be about survival. It is already started, so I did some deep diving into what moves me to write. As I reread my words, almost always I am writing about how to survive and get through situations. Most times, they seem sad, but with hope written in between each line.
My motivation to write tends to come to me when I am rattled or facing an iconic or difficult situation. Words help me through. Putting them on paper (metaphorically) puts them in guide format. Analyzing each segment of my writings takes time, but I see the guidance outlined. This may only be visible to me, but my hope is that others benefit from that written plan.
So, if I am analyzing my words, I must ask myself, where does that inspiration and motivation come from? That is an easy answer—parents and faith! My mother has been guiding me since Day One! Faith has been there since as well because I believe it is what guided her. When I was younger (like 50 years ago) I would write with hope and faith. One of my first “shared” poems, I gave to a friend who gave a baby up for adoption. My poem was placed with other items in case that child ever wanted to find his birth mother. I was 14 when I wrote it. My mother was so moved that I wrote the poem and that my friend did what she did with it. She mentioned that “act of love” many times over the next several decades. Faith guided me to that moment.
Many times, I would write something, not even knowing I had friends in situations that related to it. I hope others related as well. I think words help us, whether spoken or written. I tend to lose myself in the words and something else steps in and finishes the sentence or finds the word that rhymes. I don’t believe I am ever alone with my writing. I can describe it almost as if it were an out-of-body experience. Many times, it was the ONLY way to describe it.
This post also came about from a keynote speaker I had the privilege to listen to recently. She asked us what the three words were that we hoped described us the best. I wrote: survivor, faithful, and inspirational. This is what I want my legacy to be. This is what I aspire to become. I know I may not always live up to these descriptions, but my goal is to live up to them the majority of the time.
If the passing of my son is what inspires me to help others through their situation, then I must include the faith and survival aspects on that mission. They are a combo. I cannot do one without the others. And please do not think I am any way asking for affirmations to this. I am not fishing for compliments. These are wishful goals I can only try and aspire to. I think we all truly want this outcome in the actions we present. We just present differently. Some do this in the form of music; others preach gospel; and, some, become motivational speakers.
This speaker also asked what our favorite quote is. My quote: “be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Ghandi. Too many rely on others to make their life better. I don’t. I don’t believe we are all leaders, but we are not all followers either. The world needs balance. I need balance. This is why I write.
My parents inspired me every day to be me. My dad died when I was only 26. Two brothers followed him leaving my mother to deal with those losses without him. She had shown me the strength to survive and also relied on her faith to get through it. So, on the anniversary of the day our “family” started, I can only hope to leave a legacy of memories, strength, faith, and inspiration. It’s a goal if nothing else.
I cry because they are gone, but I smile because they were here!!
At this time, five years ago, I was numb. I had questions with no answers. Truth: I still have questions with no answers! The big difference from then and now, I quit asking. Now, I don’t take anything for granted! The sadness of losing a child never really goes away. With faith and hope, it is comforted, but I will always be sad at the future we all missed out on but thankful for the years I did have.
Time is an oxymoron. Time stands still and moves forward at the same exact moment. I am different than I was five years ago, yet feel like the same person. I am an oxymoron as well. Part of me died that day, yet another part of me came to life. It was the epiphany that none of us are getting out alive. For months after, I literally was a robot in many ways. I got up and went to work. I came home and made dinner. I still did all the motions, but with a dark cloud looming over me. I had to burst through the darkness. Was it easy? Hell no! But I could no longer live stagnant.
Physically, when I was pregnant with each of my kids, I ate for two. Their life depended on me. Mentally, I realized that in the death of a child, my child’s life still depended on me. My heart still holds that child tightly, as does his father’s heart and soul. We decided to “live” for our son. That tradition started three years ago. We took our first “Watch this, hold my beer” vacation to do things Cody would have loved! Those who knew him knew he was fearless! So, zip lining, mountain climbing (as best as two old people can do), and a little day-drinking it was!! I went outside my comfort zone to honor his memory! If stupid Covid had not hit, we would have done it every year. Turns out, “Watch this, hold my beer 2.0” happens this year! We are ready!
I think back to this day from five years ago and feel so many emotions. Most prominent emotion was the warmth in knowing how many lives were touched by the child I brought into this world! I was proud that so many had positive things to say. Of course, no one wants to hear negatives of their recently departed, and most have the decency not to speak ill of the dead, but I know that it is unrealistic to believe everything he did was the “make you feel good all over” stuff! That is truly what keeps him ‘real’ for me. Strange thing to hear, but even stranger to say, I know!
Truth of the matter is what happened to my son five years ago may have been his fate, but maybe it was mine too. For two years, I have shared his story with others. Many have asked during my presentations, “How do you have the courage to stand up and share this story?” How? How can I not!? The better question to ask is “Why?” To hopefully prevent other families of repeating this outcome. It is therapeutic in many ways. I don’t know how to explain it any better than that. To do nothing cannot be part of the plan!
Five years and so much has changed, yet remains the same. I catch myself still listening for the garage door to open. I still flip through his Facebook and tag him in posts all of the time! I still have his boots by the door and his tools spread out in the garage. Another truth, I still have his shirt by the dryer so I can yell down the steps for him to come get his crap! It’s a mom thing.
Five years gone, and yet here I sit: writing, sharing, smiling, and crying. Again, not so much has changed. Moments that I sit just thinking of the memories and reliving them over and over like an old favorite movie, makes me smile. I think to myself, “I brought that ball of energy into this world,” and I don’t regret a single minute. I miss him every day, but I also know he is safe where he is. No pain, no heartache. That is for us, and if we didn’t feel it, I would be sad. He had a great sense of humor and he would not want us sad. It is ok to be sad at times, but he would not want me to live there, so I won’t.
Five years, wow!! Every time I say it out loud, it is with disbelief. My love for that kid lives on and on. His spirit, well it has been consumed and reincarnated in his four year old niece!! A spitfire and ball of energy just like her uncle. I’ll take every second of it too!! It does pose the question, “Are we ever really gone?” Nope! We live on in those around us.
Five years from now, I will probably still feel the same, but with more comparisons to his niece and nephew that will prove, once again, his spirit lives on (at least I hope). I will continue to write and I will also continue to smile and cry. I have noticed a trend starting… For those that knew Cody, think of a story (hopefully one that makes you smile and not cringe) and look up to the sky and smile. If you drive a diesel, blow some smoke. If you still drink (but don’t drive when you do!) raise your beer and yell “here’s to you ‘Merica!! Yee yee!” He would love it and so would I!! And, if you are like me, you cry because he is gone, but smile because he was here!!!
I read a post from a young father who lost his young daughter, I am assuming to cancer. It was heartfelt and faithful… to both our God and his daughter. It truly had me moved and hopeful that I am just as strong. He mentioned the hope he has to pull him through, for without hope, we will not survive. He is so right! Faith has been the rope I hold onto, and hope is the stronghold knowing I will see my son again. It is with that faith and hope I march forward every single day.
For those of us in this unwanted club of parents who have lost a child, hope is a factor in how we survive. With no hope and only despair, we succumb to the dark hole that sucks faith right out of our soul and life from the living. I have seen it and it breaks my heart. Grief takes many forms. One of my first blog posts describes it very straight-forward. I didn’t see it as much then as I do now, but hope is the centerpiece. We have a choice: go skydiving and live for your loved one, or dig a hole right next to them and die with them. Both stand for the love you had for them, so the choice is ours. One of the things I think that pulls us into the darkness, besides no hope, is we are afraid others will think we don’t care. Far from the truth! I am not sure there is a gauge to measure that, but I don’t believe that is the case. There is no judgement on how people grieve. We can only decide for ourselves which route we take. But, what would our loved ones want us to do?
When my father died, my grandmother was still alive. She was 87 years old. She lived another 8 years after his passing and never spoke his name, at least that I can recall. I asked my mother once, “why doesn’t grandma talk about dad?” She said that it must cause her great pain to think about him no longer being here. Me, I wanted to talk about him all the time! I never wanted to forget the stories or memories I had. I was afraid not to talk about him. The loss of my son is no different.
I hold onto faith and know he lives on in my heart and that I will see him again when my Earthly time is done as I will with all those who have gone before me. My faith tells me this will happen and I believe it with all of my heart. No one can prove me wrong, so if it makes me face life head on, so be it! Faith is the rope, hope is my strength. It doesn’t mean I don’t have to hang on tight for the ride, but must keep my faith and hope during those times when the palms are slipping knowing in my heart of hearts, a glorious reunion awaits. And, as always, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here!
I speak with a lot of people who have lost a loved one. Those loved ones can be at any level: parent, sibling, child, or spouse/significant other. There is one common denominator in every conversation: they all had plans that didn’t get to happen. This, in turn, leaves us with unfinished plans, memories that didn’t happen, pictures not taken, and dreams of what could have been.
I do believe this is the hurdle that many get tripped up on. We feel robbed, denied, and broken. How do we get “over” these unfinished parts? How do we come to terms with something we looked so forward to never coming to fruition? I have but only one suggestion: faith! Sounds easy, but isn’t always a wave of a wand. We have to believe our loved one is safe, happy, and that their life left a permanent mark for us to hold onto.
Everyone has plans for tomorrow that are not guaranteed. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow. If we don’t live to see it, it is a loss to those who survive it. Almost every death is the same story, different people. We are born and then we die. What we do in the middle is our legacy. This legacy can be for minutes, hours, years, or decades, but every one of those variables is just as precious as the next!! That is what we need to focus on. This existence should always supersede the unfinished list left behind. This is our mark to hold onto.
The biggest hurdle for me was getting over guilt of a good or happy moment. How can I be happy with this loss hovering over me? This is another faith moment. Those happy moments were being sent to me. My loved one doesn’t want me sad all of the time. This is when I decided to do some of those “moments” for my loved one. No, not all moments can be created and fulfilled, but metaphorically, I live “for” them. I do things I know my loved ones would have loved. I believe they would want that. I cannot complete the life I wished for them, but I can make sure they live on in the life I now live!
So, with faith and love, I get up and breathe for those loved ones lost. I live my best life with them tucked safely in my heart, knowing they will never know pain now and are at peace. Faith knowing that I was blessed with my specific amount of time and I am holding onto those memories with all my strength and will. I cannot dwell on what didn’t get to happen, and if I do, I am forgetting the good I did have. I don’t ever want to forget the good. I still may cry because they are gone, but I continue to smile because they were here. ❤️🎼🦌🌈🎤🎶💙🛻😇🥾
I know I have written about this particular subject previously. When we lose a loved one, our first thought is, “I wish I had one more day…!” What would we do with one more day? Many country songs have been written making the same plea. There are no right or wrong answers, but I had a glimpse of this. I am not sure what triggered it, but it provided many mixed emotions.
“How did I get a glimpse?” you ask. Well, I dreamed it! I dreamed that I “dreamed” my son’s death and that he was really alive! I was thrilled and relieved! I loved hearing his voice and wondered how I could imagine him dead when he wasn’t! He had not changed. He was still the son I remembered and still did things I was not exactly happy about. It was real!! I did not all of a sudden think the things that I wish he hadn’t done were now ok! Again, it was “real!” Then, I woke up and relived the heartache all over again! Is that what would happen with one more day?
My suggestion is treat every day as if it is your last. Say the things you want to say and hug everyone if that’s your thing (it is mine)!!! One more day only happens for the living if we are lucky. I never want to take that for granted ever again! One more day would not have removed the heartache that followed the loss. One more day would not have “prepared” me better. One more day could have only provided another day of memories. It would not have provided less regret, less heartache, or less grief. It only leaves us wanting one more day… then one more…
My way of coping has always been to trust my son is safe in the arms of our Creator, safe from harm, happy, and Home. We are all temporary for this Earth, every one of us. My advice remains the same: live like it is your last day on Earth! If we are blessed with one more day, make it count! LIVE for today. Tomorrow is not guaranteed!
So, my one more day was a dream! In this dream, I still don’t believe I acted like tomorrow may not come for my son. I enjoyed hearing his voice, and I think I actually enjoyed being with him, happy with him, and mad at him. Again, it was real! I didn’t swoon over him, babying him, or letting him believe any wrongs were now ok just because he was alive!
My glimpse was just another day, but it was also another day of waking up to the realization he was no longer here. Watch what you wish for. The heartache and grief were still there and would be no matter how many days I was given. It just is. I never want to forget he was here. I want to remember every single minute: good, bad, or indifferent. But, I can’t wish for one more day. It turned out to be groundhog’s day and repeated what I already knew. Call me selfish, but reliving the loss already happens without a wish being granted! Every day is one more day of crying because he is gone, but smiling because he was here!
I catch myself telling a story but not sure I have not already shared with the audience in front of me. I suppose I should start telling my story with the first line being, “let me know if you’ve heard this one…” Certain stories never get old and should be repeated… often! If a story about a bad situation or decision can stop even one from making the same grave mistake, it should never be shelved, but used for reference daily.
So, I have reached out to a few more venues to share Cody’s story. I feel bad that it makes me feel good to share this story over and over. As I stated before, I always want to talk about my son. I never want anyone to forget him or the kind of person he was! He was a good kid! I also don’t want any more family members to go through this anguish. I have also come to realize there are a lot of my “sons” out there.
Raise your hand if you have to tell your kids more than once to do anything! That goes for cleaning their room, taking out the garbage, doing their homework, or just picking up their stuff. We have to, as parents, repeatedly tell them things. This situation is no different. In fact, it should be said over and over and over on purpose! There was not one time my kid left the house when I would NOT tell him to behave; don’t drink and drive, it’s not worth it; and so on. So telling this over and over makes perfect sense to me.
Another mother has joined this club, and again, not nominated, encouraged, or celebrated, but still welcomed with open hearts (and arms) as we mourn another loss that didn’t have to be. A story we don’t want repeated, but still is to our dismay. This represents a loss of a future, dreams never realized, and memories never made. I want to say, “Stop me if you’ve heard this one…” but sadly, I repeat myself again! 🥲
When a parent loses a child (at any age), those of us who have been through that loss relive every moment again. We don’t want to, but we do. It’s inevitable. It is a foot in a bucket of cement for us. Not one parent who has lost a child will tell you different.
Last week, a dear friend was discussing her daughter moving many states away. She is very sad her daughter and grandchildren are now a major jaunt (vacation time) away from her reach. She confessed to me that she gets through it knowing she can still talk to, FaceTime, and visit her family knowing her co-worker (me) does not have that opportunity with one of her children. For that, she is grateful. I am happy for her, but little does she know, I get through each day with the same perspective: I, too, will see my son again! It just isn’t going to be by traveling by car, plane, or boat. Doesn’t change my mindset. It is how I cope. He is in another room, but not one I can enter just yet.
As Easter approaches, which is such an emotional time for me, I am reminded that Jesus also left his mother in the same situation. With Faith and love, not to mention a solid conviction, she knew he rose to the Heavens and she would see him again. Passion of the Christ is a moment in the Bible I can truly relate to. I will see him again, and it will be as if no time has passed. No need to rush on my part. And truth be told, if he had a chance to come back to Earth, he wouldn’t! He made it home! He is safe! He is loved! As a mother, what a wonderful vision in my mind! I can sleep with that image in my head. Easter, like my story, repeats itself and reminds us telling a valuable story is worth repeating every chance we get!!
So, stop me if you’ve heard this one… A faithful servant who died young (to me) is now in Heaven watching over us! He is missed and loved as much today by all those who let Him into their hearts. We will see Him again and it will be glorious! He taught us much in life, and just as much in death! We are forever changed because He was in our lives. We are better for knowing Him! And, as always, we cry because he is gone, BUT we smile because he was here!
May the spirit of Easter renew your faith and love of Christ. He is Risen!!
Every person has another person they look up to and admire. If we are lucky, we are surrounded by them. But there is always that one: the one who just makes you smile; the one who convinces you it isn’t as hard as we think it is; the one you never want to disappoint; the one who is a role model; the one you want to aspire to. For me, that was my mother.
Today, February 18th, is her birthday. The year she graced this earth was 1932. This is her 15th birthday in Heaven and there has not been a day since her passing I have not thought about her. I have missed her in every way, especially when I lost my son. But, she taught me so much about that loss before she died. She buried two of my brothers before she passed. The Lord works in mysterious ways, and that was evident!! Because of that, she was literally there with me. I can’t explain it, but it is true!
As I age, (and I am on the downside of the hill) I still aspire to be like my mother. She had a great personality, an infectious laugh, a sound mind and thought process, and listened as well as conversed. I say these things with confidence that all who knew her felt this way. Those attributes are not uncommon, but they truly are rare to all be in the same person, especially the listening and talking parts, and she did this all with grace!
I put my mother on a pedestal because she deserves it. She raised eight children who, I must admit also, turned out to be great humans. I don’t think any of us were perfect, but we were perfect as a family. That is a fact I am very proud of!! She taught me more than I can ever repay.
People have told me how well I have survived the loss of a child; that they are proud of me. Well, first off, “Thank you.” Secondly, we are all survivors, until we aren’t. I had two choices: surrender or survive. I truly hope I am making both my mother and my son proud, but we all grieve differently. I just happened to have a role model to show me how she did it with such grace. Did the Lord do that? I have no doubt, because we know He has a plan we have no control over. Did God make us lose our sons? Let’s just say the Lord held our hands and our hearts while we grieved through it.
While I can still hear and feel my mother in my life, I know it’s just the echoes she left me with. I smile every time I think of her! She warms my heart. I have an image in my mind of all the family I have lost, sitting up in Heaven, conversing around the table, and laughing at how we fumble through our every day existence without them. My mother was my role model, and I am blessed by that!
As always, I cry because they are gone, but I smile because they were here! Here is a poem I wrote that describes it best…
Every year, I have written you a letter on your birthday. This year will be no different. I like to recap all the experiences we have had this past year. We know you were here in spirit! We felt it many times!!
We have just had a send off to Heaven for your Uncle Mark!! I know you greeted him with open arms and thanked him for being here for us in every way when we lost you. He and your aunt were the first call I made that night. Truth is, I didn’t even know what had happened to you yet when I phoned him. I just knew it wasn’t good and that all the words being spoken to your dad and me by the deputy sheriff and the coroner would need a sound person to decipher and translate for us! That he did with flying colors!
One thing I also did this past week was I posted a lot on Facebook leading up to today. Maliciously, I wanted to make sure no one forgets you. It is my biggest fear. I can’t explain it, but it’s the greatest fear I have. I told your story several times this past year for the Victim’s Impact Panel. I do believe I am helping other mothers/parents/offenders avoid our predicament. I hope so anyway! I feel it has been a calling for me! It also doesn’t hurt me to spend an hour talking about you! Especially when I have a captive audience that cannot escape. It reminds me of when you and/or your sister would get stuck in the car on the long ride into school after you made me mad before leaving the house!! Lol!! You once told me it was the worst part of moving so far out into the country. The lectures only lasted 3/4 of mile before we moved and got lengthened to a 20 mile drive!!
This year, the pandemic and politics have not changed too drastically! Although, I do believe the people of this country are starting to understand that what we hear and what actually happened resemble the stories a kindergartner tells their parents, and the blame game just has older kindergartners yelling “it’s not my fault!” I’d say it was funny if it weren’t so sad… Prices have soared! Your gas guzzler truck would not be fairing well at all! You would still drive one though, I know!!
That sweet girl you fell in love with is getting married this year! I believe you would be very proud of her strength! I know you will watch over her as well as she embarks on the adventure of her lifetime!!
Speaking of adventures, we have sure been on one with your niece and nephew! That little girl is the female version of you!! They both are actually a lot like you; cute, stubborn, smart, funny, lover of animals, witty, messy, and very good eaters! I can pretty much write the book on what your sister will experience! When she was younger, her view was that of a sibling, not a parent! Changes drastically from the other perspective!
As always, my letter just rambles on and on! I want you to know you are loved and missed every day. I will always continue to share stories and smile when others tell stories! Just so you know, my hair still changes color pretty quickly for some of them! I know your 24-1/2 years are not as many as I had hoped to get with you, but I never want to forget you lived in those years. I could write a book on the amount of material you provided (and may still). We will see… One thing remains the same, I cry because you are gone, but I smile because you were here!! Today, and always, we celebrate you!!
Well, it’s Christmas again! The year went fast. A lot has changed, yet remains the same. One of life’s oxymorons we get to experience. As the holidays ensue, please remember to be kind. Not everyone is having a “merry” Christmas. Some are just trying to survive the holiday.
As we count the members of our families who are no longer here to celebrate, let’s not forget the ones that are! The memories of Christmas’ past will always be a goal in the present! Create memories that will be there to bring a smile to your face and warm your heart, but remind yourself, these are memories for others as well.
This is a short post just to say “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” to all! May 2022 bring joy and happiness. As I reminisce about years’ of the ‘good ol’ days,’ I want to remind myself today is a great day to create moments to remember! I miss those that are no longer with us, but they are forever in my heart!! I cry because they are gone, but I smile because they were here!!
I write for therapy, but we all deal with reality differently. I find it therapeutic to put words on paper (metaphorically since I don’t actually use a pen and paper) and sometimes, they actually rhyme. Many people have told me they find some comfort in my words, or can relate my writings to their own personal situations. I hope it does help, but I really use these words as guides mostly, ending each session with hope for tomorrow and gratefulness for the past. I spend a lot of time trying to find positives out of negatives. The loss of my son is no different, although I still struggle. How would I want someone to respond if the tables were turned and I died, which we know is inevitable? Would I want them mourning my loss everyday or celebrating the positives I left behind? I hope the latter. I really want people to just live with no regrets.
In one of my posts, I mentioned how I had asked my son, “If you were to write your own autobiography, what would your pages say?” I can only write what I am thinking or have done, not what I have said or done has been perceived, received, or acknowledged. So many go day to day wondering what people might think about them or their actions. I am here to tell everyone that we should look inside ourself and quit worrying about what others’ think. Our actions will define us more in our reflection and what we have to show in the mirror of life than anyone’s reaction or perception. Live for you!! My son taught me that!!
Hopefully, those who know you don’t look back with regret. How many times have you gone to a funeral and said, “I wish we had stayed in touch more.” Or, “I wish I had told them how much they meant to me.” Most times, we will miss someone for all the right reasons; they left a mark on our life and will leave a void in our future. The one thing we can’t change then that we can change now is how we treat each other while we are here on this Earth!
When we die, and we know we will eventually, the perception others’ have will be how they treat our death. Leave positives!! Choose joy and triumph each day and negate sadness and loss. I want to celebrate life, mine and yours! I want those I love to celebrate my life after I have been reunited with those I have lost. Find the joy. Share the love. Learn from mistakes. Most of all, live life and love life as if tomorrow is not guaranteed because it’s not. I truly hope my son would be proud of me that I want to remember the person and not the vacancy. That is what I would have wanted from him had I gone first.
We are all here for a short time. Every interaction we have gives us a fork in the road. You can choose right or left, up or down, love or hate, as well as joy or sadness. We can spend all our effort being angry at another’s actions, but we cannot blame them for our reaction. That is on us. Choose joy. Choose happy memories. But, most of all, live. If the tables were turned and I had gone before my son, I would not want him sitting around wondering “what if.”
The closer we get to the holidays, the more I have to convince myself my son would want me happy. Holidays can be a big reminder of those happy family times, but is the time that void is really apparent. Turning the table (or lazy Susan in my world), I will remember those I have lost and cherish those who remain. Positive vibes is what those I have lost would hope for us. It is what I hope for. No regrets.
This week of thanksgiving, be the one who takes time to visit, call, email, or post to those family and friends. Say the things that you are thankful and grateful for. Spin the positives and weed out the negatives. Life is short. Be the reason someone smiles. Look up and thank those who have gone before you for all the positive marks and changes they made in your life. And, as always, I still may cry because they are gone, but I also smile because they were here…
As life progresses, we all have moments that can be a defining moment or a pivotal moment. Some will define you with a label of sorts and some can cause you to change the path you are on forever. Up until four years ago, I am not sure I even realized I had a major, pivotal moment in my life. Defining moments, yes. I got married, became a mother, was employed. All defining. I don’t recall taking steps to literally change what I did or who I was based on a single event from a standing moment in time. This is how I view pivotal moments, ones that changed the very being of who I am.
When my brothers and parents died, my life went on. They were still my brothers and my parents. I can’t describe any moments that changed the structure of my actions. Yes, I mourned their losses. Yes, I miss them being here. But the lives that were pivotally changed were my mother’s life and those of my brothers’ spouses. I went home to my husband and children. Those losses still left a void, but at some level, being the youngest, I knew this would happen in my future at some point. It just happened sooner than I thought it would.
When my son died four years ago, it was both a defining moment and a pivotal one for me. I went from a mother with two kids to a survivor of losing one. I became defined as a bereaved parent. The hardest part of this for me was when everyone else went back to their “normal” life knowing mine will never be the same. This was what my mother and sister-in-laws went through making it a pivotal moment. My pivot was no different but developed further over the following changes: through my writing and then when we lost the first of one of his friends. That second part, the loss of another young life, was truly my moment of taking more serious action. Yes, I am still a bereaved mother, but now I am a mother on a mission!
A year and a half ago, I was asked to present my son’s story to the Victims Impact Panel for my county and I agreed. It was difficult the first couple times, but if I could change the path of even one person during those sessions, it is worth it!! While giving my presentation, I introduce everyone to my son and provide a list of attributes that best describe his life. Those are the qualities I want to define my son: a redneck, truck-loving mechanic who loved bonfires and music. He was my human radio and could name an artist and learn words to a song after only hearing it once. We all make choices: good and bad. We can’t change what happened, but we can pivot in this moment to change the future.
During my presentation, I see people that could have been my child. During the most recent panel, one participant said I reminded him of his mother. I took this as an opportunity. I told him I could yell at him if it helped, but what he needed to do was own the moment. It was a bad decision, but did not have to be his defining moment. Time to pivot. Learn from it. Change the course. Turn a negative into a positive.
Most of us seem fine to accept moments in time and move on. Those become defining moments. The day we got married. The day we graduated. For my son, the day a DUI was issued. Dates that define us, but did not change us as a whole. My true pivotal moment with my son feels just as strong as the day the twin towers were hit on 9/11/01. That day changed a lot of people, along with the country. It was more than a date on a calendar. It was pivotal.
I wish I could go back in time and teach the pivot move to my son. I did have him own his actions, but had not connected the dots of defining or pivotal yet. I think we were close, but not close enough. I cannot undo the past, but my hope is to change the future, one presentation, Facebook post, or blog post at a time! I am sure I can analyze my past to find more pivotal moments, but none will compare to the life-changing experience of losing my son. It changed me forever.
For those struggling through a pivotal moment in their life, I hope they can try and find the positive direction from that point in time and decide to use that experience to find what they are truly capable of surviving. I think I finally understand “what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” It took me a half of a century plus, but I get it. This experience has taught me the most about myself and how our lives can change, not to mention how we can change, in one pivotal motion.
I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here…
Everyone remembers their first heartbreak! We blame ourselves for our shortcomings. We blame our friends. We hold grudges against the other for the heartbreak caused. In all reality, this is one of the most valuable lessons in life. Why? Because it is one of the first times pain causes us to reflect on who we are and what we are capable of enduring. Let me explain…
Getting over a loss is not the same as living through a loss, but it’s where we start. Emotional pain is hard to describe, yet it can create a physical pain and make a person feel sick and broken. Break-ups and divorce are an ending. But there is life after that. It’s a new and different life than what a person may have perceived when the relationship started, so there is still an adjustment. Parties in the break-up might feel resentment, hurt, anger, betrayal, lack of self-worth, confusion, and sometimes, even relief. But the big picture is, break-ups teach us about the pain of losing something we had in our life.
Break-ups are different than loss from death of a loved one. In fact, I think sometimes break-ups are worse than death. We have no choice but to accept death at some point. Break-ups come with rejection and hurt. Doesn’t change the fact we have to get up and move forward, and I hope we all do!!
Living with the pain of a lost loved one is also creating a “new normal” that hadn’t been planned, especially when the loss was your child (at any age)!! We don’t ever want to plan on it. Circumstances may give us a head’s up of the possibility such as a cancer diagnosis. (Those words are heart-wrenching to any parent.) But, we have to move forward anyway. And that is hard and it hurts!!
People tend to say things to make a person feel better in situations of heartbreak and loss. It is with good intentions, but it doesn’t always work. I could provide a list of things not to say, but everyone reacts differently, so that wouldn’t really be fruitful. I can say this! “Time does NOT heal all wounds!” Not sure who thought that one up, but they are wrong. Time may heal external wounds, but even those usually leave a scar. Time cannot replace or repair the hole left when the loss is the death of your child, no matter how expected it may be. We just learn to live with that pain. Every day.
How do we survive? One day at a time. Sometimes, it is seconds at a time, or minutes. I could go on and on. My son has been gone four years today and I still have moments where the flood gates open and I can’t turn them off. Those usually happen when there is something I wish I could tell him, or when I would have enjoyed his reaction to a situation, or even just to hear his voice. It can come from thin air without cause or reason.
Time may help our soul, or our attitude, or our every day survival plan. Time doesn’t stop for the living. Another hard lesson! I totally understand emotional scars now. I get how people cannot erase the pain of certain experiences. Some things are there in our minds and pain for our heart with every breath we take. We relate the everyday happenings to survival of those experiences. Sometimes, we have to convince ourselves of how we managed the day before just to get through today, and many times, it is unconsciously done: a coping mechanism.
So, time does NOT heal all wounds. Almost all wounds leave scars of some sort, but sometimes, death leaves a hole that cannot be mended. We live, but it is different. It will never be better than before, but we still have many things to be grateful for. I don’t ever want to overlook those moments due to my scar tissue! I will do what I have to to honor the memories and mend as much as possible to continue and be the best version of myself, scars and all!! I continue to cry because he is gone, but I will always smile because he was here!!
It has been almost four years since I lost my son. Memories are the only things I have left. I say that, then I look around my house and our property. There really is so much more. But those things come with the house.
When my siblings and I downsized our mother’s living arrangements, moved her from the house she raised eight children in to a small apartment just her size, we convinced her that nostalgia lives in our hearts, not in the walls and in our belongings. I think we were partly right.
Now, I sit in a house that is really too big for two people, but I can look at the couch and imagine the times Cody and I sat in this living room and the conversations we had while he sat on that couch, or slept, or ate his food, etc. Will those visions go with me if I remove that couch, or put that couch somewhere else? Will it take more effort on my part to have those memories surface, where now they are there at every glance? Truth be told, if someone walked in my house right now, they’d assume Cody still lived there! His boots are still by the door. His tools are still in the garage. His hunting clothes still hang with all the other hunting things he had! Truth: I can change all that, but I don’t want to. Not sure how to process that.
Many things have changed, and I acknowledge that. No empty Gatorade bottles with his tobacco spit in it spread out through the house (not really an item I miss)! Pictures have been rearranged. His clothes are removed (except for a few sitting on the dryer)! I keep those there so that every once in awhile, I yell down the basement steps and tell him to come get his crap off the dryer, just because I can! It just feels right sometimes. But, again, I can’t take that situation to any other location and have it feel right!
I hope my mother adjusted well when we moved her. The big difference between the house and the loss of our sons is that my brothers did not live at home when they passed away as my son did. That seems to be the biggest hurdle I have with those memories! I don’t really have them with him anywhere else! I guess that mixes a little reality with the memory.
Bottom line, we find comfort where we can. I’m not sure I want to disrupt it, but I know at some point, I may have to. There will come a time when the furniture has to go, tools will need to be removed, and the hunting clothes will be given away, sold, or tossed. My biggest fear is the traces will be gone and I will have nothing “real” to go with that memory. It is a fear I hope truly never becomes a reality, but I am trying to brace myself anyway. I hope we were more correct when convincing our mother than I am right now, but time will tell. Until then, I will think of my son when I look at that corner of the couch, or trip on his tools in the garage, or see his hunting clothes hanging when hunting season hits, or when folding laundry and putting it on the dryer. It works for me. Least thing changed so far, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here!