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!
I have mentioned before, when my son and I meet up again, the first thing he will say is, “I’m sorry.” That was confirmed recently, sort of. Caught me off guard a little, but not as much as you would think.
I received a letter recently in the mail from an anonymous person. I’m assuming it was a female because who else would Cody haunt, right? In this letter, it was mentioned his funeral card kept showing up after ‘she’ thought it had been put away. Finally getting the hint, she left it out and told Cody to let her know what he wanted to say. A couple weeks went by and the message was delivered. She told me in the letter, she got up at that moment and wrote it down… “Tell my mom and dad I am sorry. I didn’t mean to do it.” Message confirmed what I thought.
Do I believe our loved ones speak to us from beyond? Absolutely!! I love the thought of new messages coming from him, or anyone I have loved and lost. Those we have lost are not really lost. We know where they are. They also never die. They will live in our hearts forever.
I also want to thank those who continue to read, follow, speak of, and share stories regarding Cody. This allows his life to continue and I will continue to share as long as people are willing to listen! As always, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here.
I have spent the past week posting one poem each day on Facebook that I had written since my son has passed. Writing is my therapy. It helps soothe my thoughts and anxieties. I hope it continues to help others since I just renewed my domain for another year. Speaking of another year, here we are! Another anniversary…
This date is my cross at the side of the road. Today marks the third anniversary since my son died. Yesterday, I got to say it was two plus years. Now, I am forced to acknowledge an additional year. We knew this day was coming. As a bereaved parent, like all bereaved parents, certain things are triggers and hit us all very differently. For me, dates are huge! I still want to celebrate the life he had and the years I had with him. Death does not change the love you have for your child(ren).
As a married couple, “we are having a baby” should be the happiest words you share. I know for me they were! All my pregnancies were planned. We beamed with joy each time we shared our good news. We knew what was coming!! Now, imagine the sorrow when you get the news that your son has died. It doesn’t matter the age, but in my situation, he was 24 years old. Three years ago today was that day…
The days I had my babies and became a mother were the happiest days of my life. When I speak of dates, it is similar to biblical terms for me. We have “BC” in biblical terms “before Christ” and then we have after. Same here except it is “with Cody” and then “without.” I had a life before children. It was great. The part of my life, since I met my husband and started our family, was a totally different “me,” a better me! Same for my life after losing a child, a totally different me, but changed in a totally different way, with appreciation for many things I had taken for granted! I am sad, but know happiness. I feel weak, but know I am strong. My heart breaks, but I have so much love!
When I miscarried in between my two kids, it was devastating and heartbreaking, to say the least. One of my sister-in-laws and my best friend we’re both due around the same time. My mother wanted to tell them so I could avoid the awkwardness of it, but I chose to tell them. If I hadn’t, they would not know how to share their joy with me. And, I was still very happy for them. It was my brother’s first biological child and my best friend’s first born. Turns out, getting pregnant wasn’t my issue. I delivered my son three months after them.
Now, telling people you are expecting being the happiest news, telling someone you lost your child (after delivering and at any age) is by far the worst and most devastating news! In the same case as my miscarriage, I choose to talk about it openly, and for the same reason. I don’t want anyone feeling awkward around me, especially when speaking about my son. I enjoy talking about him and truly hope people don’t get tired of me doing so. It keeps his memory alive for me.
As I acknowledge this date, August 20th, I am reminded of the joy of finding out I was pregnant again, of delivering a son to carry on the family name, to the chaos that comes from having a boy who was involved in so many things, loved all kinds of music, fought for hours to do fifteen minutes worth of work, could take a truck apart in no time and never failed to put it back together with leftover parts, who loved to sing at the top of his lungs, loved to hunt anything and everything, and when he loved anything or anyone, it was with everything in his being (which turns out was how he fought also), and left a trail of many family and friends who still miss him almost as much as I do.
So, we knew this day was coming. For the next 364 days, I now have to say he has been gone three plus years. Another year! Forever and yesterday combined into one. I do hope the message he left for me to tell others has stopped any new members to this club. I am not sure what the statistics are today for families who have lost a child. They used to be around 19% (or almost 1 out of 5 parents). Today, I am sure it is higher with the rampage of violence we have experienced. Too many, but again, none of us are exempt.
Today, put a smile on your face if you knew my son. I will. Speak of memories or stories that make you laugh or smile. He is missed beyond belief by many, and his life is worth never forgetting! Today, with the many who have gone before, and several who have followed, we cry because they are gone, but we smile because they were here. Forever loved and never forgotten…
I am getting close to the 3-year anniversary of the worst day of my life, the loss of my son! How have I gotten here in what seems the blink of an eye? I have some theories. As I spend time and think about how I managed these almost last three years and the motions of my new normal, it seems to ease my anxiety as that anniversary approaches. This date is difficult. A far cry from the anticipation of waiting for Christmas Day, but there is still a countdown. The closer it gets, the tighter the feeling in my chest and the wonder of “how” did I get here!
I still am in awe that my mother and my aunt (on my dad’s side) did this twice! Those two women both lost two sons each. Even though they were at different ages and for different reasons, we know a loss is a loss. Those ladies didn’t have social media and the support I feel I have. How did they do it and not die too? A question I will never get an answer to, but am guessing it was similar to mine, living every day with a beating heart for them!! Also, knowing where they are and that they are at peace!!
For me, I keep my son alive in my heart every second of every minute of every hour of every day! The time seems to stand still and yet goes by quickly, or so it seems! Just as the fact that my daughter is turning 30 this year when it seems like yesterday I gave birth!! I do believe by never letting him die in my heart, he will not die in my every day actions. I have said it before, and it works, I live for him every day!
Last year, my husband and I took a trip on that anniversary and tried to do things our son would have enjoyed doing. A lot of it was outside my comfort zone, but since our son lived on the edge of fear and fun, I did too!! We called it the “watch this, hold my beer” tour. He would have loved it! We zip-lined, walked across the sky bridge in Gatlinburg, and drank moonshine! All things I had never done before.
This year, I have just changed positions and am not taking a week off to celebrate his life. I am still hoping to take the day off. There are two days a year I will not work if at all possible: his date of birth and his date of death. If I did work, my mind would not be in it. I think most would understand that. I still want to do something. Just haven’t decided what it will be yet.
As I approach that fateful date in one month, I know my heart will be heavy again for all the things that both my son himself and us as parents missed out on. I have to know with my faith, he is still with me and I am happy for all the joy he did experience! I think he would be proud of some of the efforts I have made to honor him and live in memory of him!
I did speak at my first DUI offenders class as a victim’s advocate this month. I was nervous. I talked to Cody a lot before and after. I knew I would get emotional during the presentation, just wasn’t sure at what point it would hit me. I made it almost all the way through my slide presentation. Pretty proud of that too. I wanted facts to go with it and it took me almost three years to uncover those facts. I knew he had been drinking that night. I just didn’t know how much! Shocked at what I discovered, yet not. I know I would have not dealt as well had it been earlier in my grief. Glad I waited for the signs for that discovery.
Here is what that lesson taught me. Cody still has messages for me. I don’t always know, at first, what they are for, but it always makes sense down the road. I am so grateful for those signs! It makes it easier to get up each day knowing I will still have new moments in which he is a part of. I would prefer his actual presence, but I still know he is there in spirit! It will have to do.
As I await the next 31 days to pass, know that losing a child is, and always will be, the worst thing a parent will go through. Also know, we are never alone in that situation and need each other to hold our hands, be a person to turn to and lean on, and we were blessed to be their parent! The life they leave behind is something we never want to forget or stop talking about. I speak my son’s name often as if he is in the next room, or is about to get off work, and even on his way home to eat his favorite meal that I still cook! I do these things a lot while in this stretch waiting for that anniversary. As much as I hate adding another year gone, I don’t ever want to forget the years I had!! As always, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here!!
It’s summer! This time of year brings so many thoughts and memories! As we get closer to that anniversary date, it’s hard to not think about that last summer in 2017. Although, right now, I can’t imagine what it would have been like for my son. He was a rebel of epic proportions. He definitely would not have quarantined well at all, let alone let someone tell him you can’t have fun on July4th!!! It was his favorite holiday!!
Lately, it seems every song on the radio is reminding me of my son and I can hear him singing!! Just heard “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus and I’ll be damned if it didn’t bring tears! Funny, the most out-of-the-blue things can just hit me like a brick!!
Last night, the trigger was the smell of the fire as I was burning the trash in our burn barrel. That kid loved a good bonfire! He loved any reason to get together with friends! My little social butterfly!!
This past weekend, my husband and I went up to LeClaire, Iowa. Quaint little tourist town. Buffalo Wild Bill Cody was from there and has a museum located in town. The main road is Cody Road and they have Cody Road Coffee House, Cody Road Whiskey, and Cody Road several others stores. Hard not to think about your child named Cody!
As I muddle through July, Bereaved Parents’ Month, I inch closer to the month of August, the anniversary month. I try not to dwell on all the things I missed out on, and want to be thankful for all the great things I did get to experience with my son. I know many did not get as much as I did. I am grateful, but that doesn’t mean I still can’t be a little upset and sad. I am both! I will celebrate my son this month, and next month, and the month after that!
For all his friends that choose to celebrate this July 4th despite the recommendations, lift one up to Cody and yell ‘here’s to you, Merica!!! He would love that!! And, as always, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here!!