Life is not birth and death, but everything in between!
Author: Christina Herold Trueblood
My name is Christina Trueblood. I am married and live in Central Illinois and am the mother of two, a daughter and son. Unfortunately, I lost my son in August 2017 in a single vehicle truck accident a couple of miles from our home. He was 24. I have documented some of my story on Facebook over this first year and have been encouraged to start a blog. I hope to help other families who have gone through loss and struggle to make any sense of it. My faith has kept me going and I believe one day, we will meet those loved ones we have lost again and it will be as if no time has passed. Until then, I want to honor their lives and know they left a mark on my life! Please follow me and share your stories.
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!!
For almost three years, I have been strongly and adamantly searching for positives from negative situations. Sometimes, it takes hours. Sometimes, it takes days. This time, weeks.
Several months ago, we were hit with a pandemic. A corona virus my son would have nicknamed the “beer flu.” At first, when they closed schools, I thought ‘knee jerk’ reaction. Then, things started seeming more and more serious. I thought to myself, maybe it wasn’t a knee jerk reaction. Granted, I am probably not considered someone of high risk. As days, weeks, and months went on and restrictions were mandated months after the onset, I am back to knee jerk. Putting on a mask three months after the virus started seemed like going on birth control when you were three months pregnant.
Then, the chaos started after a man was killed by a police officer during an arrest. The world came unglued. In many ways, I totally understand the uproar. Police brutality in this situation. Unnecessary force by all accounts. It was a white cop and a black man. This has been seen before and that has to stop. This does not mean all cops are bad either, just as all blacks are not bad!The protests were done, and for many, were done peacefully. But, then there were riots. The riots that followed instilled a lot of fear in a lot of people and took away from the point at hand. How did looting a store and hurting, if not killing the owner, prove this ‘cause’?
I have described situations as a ‘cause’ or a ‘bandwagon.’ A cause is something that will benefit a lot of people. A bandwagon is something people jump on without thinking or knowing what outcome will happen and not thinking of the cause and effect of their actions will have. For the above situations, it involved both.
I have always tried to be a peacemaker in situations. I have never looked at anyone for the color of their skin. Yet, during all this, I have been accused of being unsympathetic to the virus; instigating hatred from a shared Facebook post, and called on about what was thought to be a white supremacy attitude. That’s a lot to take in for a peacemaker! Hard to spin the positive, but I am going to try.
First off, I cannot apologize for the color of my skin. I was born that way. My point was not the color, but that we all bleed red. Personally, I think everyone should embrace their heritage!! I also believe we should all be treated with kindness and respect until we are faced with a reason not to, such as someone endangering you. The thought or implication of danger due to the color of their skin is not ok!! Second, I am sympathetic to those who have contracted this illness and suffered or died. I just happen to not be afraid of it. I have been out and about and have not tried to make anyone uncomfortable. I also sat in a salon chair with no one around knowing it was part of the non-essential businesses and then went to the grocery store that was packed and wondered how a grocery store was safer. To follow up with instigating anger, my only comment to what I shared was how it resembled a movie! Now, I ask you, where was the original problem in any of this and why did I have to defend myself or my actions? We all have actions, but lately every move is viewed as “with” or “against” a situation! So why did I feel the need to clarify? Because I am a peacemaker!
Now, to find the positive in any of this… one thing I am grateful for now is my son is not alive to witness this. He would have gone full redneck on society and I would not have been able to contain him! I imagine he would have done a ‘Tony Stark’ and given out his address to have them come to him! He also wanted what was right, but did not like feeling like his liberties were at risk. Strange way to come up with a positive, but there you go.
There are many more positives here. I have learned a lot about politics, the law, the human race, and survival. I learned I have a voice and I might make a difference, though however small it is. I have found compassion still exists!! A positive I do not want to overlook is that I have never seen myself through the eyes of someone else, and for whatever I do going forward, I can now visualize that perception. I hope it is always positive from their side and mine!!
From this point forward, take nothing for granted and live! Follow ten simple rules and all will be good! For those that need reminded of those ten rules, open a Bible!! They are in there! I pray God continues to watch over all of us, even though there are many times I feel I have failed Him! He is a forgiving God! I pray peace is found soon and will continue to seek the positives!
Memorial Day, every day, especially to parents who have lost a child! These official holidays remind us of the void in our family. I still want to acknowledge ALL those who have gone before us, even those who were lost protecting me when they didn’t even know me. God bless them!
This Memorial Day is a bit different than those past, but still the same message. For me, almost all holidays are some sort of Memorial Day, but for family members. My family picks holidays to leave this Earth, but that is an act of God. Brings a different meaning to those days. This one in particular is my second oldest brother, Denny. He had his heart attack eleven years ago and died the following Friday. He was always the life of the party!! Now, this holiday is his. But not only…
As we head into this Memorial Day, think about those who have sacrificed so that we can have the freedoms we take for granted, at least, prior to this covid thing. We can go anywhere and do almost anything, and do we really appreciate it? We don’t always acknowledge it until someone tries to take it away. Welcome to the first pandemic holiday!!
Being shut in and not allowed to go out to eat, or travel on a three day weekend should not hinder us from spending the day thinking about those no longer here! Call a friend! Visit a relative! Visit the cemetery (trust me, they can’t give you this beer flu)! But acknowledge those who made that sacrifice so you could do those things. But, it shouldn’t just be one day a year. Acknowledge those sacrifices every single day!!
I spend almost every day thinking about people who are no longer with us at some point during my day. This does not, however, prevent me from remembering ALL the wonderful people still here today!! I have had such a support system during my life, and I want to say “thank you” to all of them today, those here and gone.
This is the third Memorial Day without my son, but it is the 30th without my dad, and as I said before, it was eleven years ago I last had my brother here with us. So, as I think about them, I also remember all the other family members not with us and all the wonderful times we shared. I pray I never forget. I cry because they are gone, but I smile because they were here.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions… How many times has that been said? That phrase never leads to a happy ending. We know the road to hell could be what you leave behind. I know my son set out to have a good time that fateful night and did not think him not living through the drive home would be the end result. What we went through from that point on, as a family and group of his friends, was a lot like hell!! Because of this, I have vowed to try harder to get my message across to those who want to just have a good time! I don’t want to put a damper on their good fun, but I do want them to think hard about the choices they are making and the ramifications involved. So here is my next step…
I have been asked if I would be willing to speak at a DUI offenders class. Without hesitation, absolutely!! There are so many things I want to say, but I know I need to send a message and not just share my story. After the most recent loss of another young life, I know whatever I say to this group must have valid and strong facts to go with my message. So, as hard as it was, I got the records of my son’s wreck. That was a big step for me since I had not seen any of the information from that night! Wow! Glad I waited almost three years to do it.
Here is what I received: the police report; photos of the wreck and scene, but no photos of my son (purposefully withheld); and the toxicology report. That was a lot of information to absorb! Not going to lie, my heart hurt from it because it didn’t have to be! One phone call could have changed everything!!
After viewing these records, I did some research. How many drinks did my son have in order to be in the condition he was in? What would that do to his frame of mind? Well, the answer was a lot to drink and the truth of the matter is that he probably didn’t feel anything. I am conflicted between seeing that as a blessing or a curse! Blessing for him, curse for me and the survivors!!
My goal now is to share this information and try and stop the next loss. I have completed a PowerPoint to share this message, and I hope it works. If it stops one more person from joining these young men, it will be worth going through the pain of looking at those pictures and reading those reports! I don’t wish this on anymore families!!
So, I felt it only right to share this information with his sister, girlfriend at the time he passed, and one of his closest friends that was like a brother from another mother! Can’t say they were completely shocked either, but I am glad they had the ability to see them this way and not spread out through social media. I don’t plan on sharing those in that manner, unless shock therapy is required. Trust me, it took me almost three years to look at them! They are not pleasant, even now, but I feel they are necessary to make my point.
Until we are able to reconvene in public again, I will sit on this PowerPoint. It will not, however, prevent me from continuing to spread a message that drinking and driving do not mix! In honor of my son, and those friends who have so recently joined him, refrain from drinking if you are driving, or call a friend, family member, Uber, or cab!! It doesn’t have to end badly!! I still cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here!! I want to honor his memory and remind everyone he was more than that fatal decision that night!
I did a couple of posts awhile back about how we are all different, yet more alike than we realize. This reflection keeps coming up as I meet new people who have this unwanted club membership. We all have a story to tell. No one is immune to the trials and tribulations of life! We have battle scars, open wounds, heartbreak, tragedies, and loss. How we survive those things and still see beauty is one of the many wonders of the world. Before passing judgment on anyone, think about the pieces of a person you cannot see. This is not the same as looking at others through rose colored glasses. This is looking at someone through the literal masking tape that is holding them together.
When my daughter was in kindergarten, her teacher told me she would believe half of what my child says if I promised to believe half of what I heard. Makes sense for a five year old. Think about that comment and realize now how we only hear half a story and leave out details when speaking about our own story! Life is literally the telephone game all over again!! So many details are overlooked, misinterpreted, ignored, or unspoken. These are the details under the tape, the ones that hurt to talk about and would definitely change the story!! Be kind! We are all dealing with a different story!
My personal battle scars have left so much scar tissue, I am not sure I have regular tissue remaining. I need to know what these battle scars have provided. I have preached and preached over the last few decades (thanks to my mom’s influence) to find a positive from every, and I mean EVERY, situation. I try! I am also trying to help others through horrible situations so they may find or see some beauty through the cracks!
So, what makes me ‘me’ and you ‘you’? Many of the same things, yet so much more. I have faith and lean on it regularly! I am a mother and a wife. I am also a bereaved parent. Dig a little deeper, I have lost siblings, three to be exact, and at a fairly early start. I was 26 when I lost my dad and 30 when I lost my first sibling. Little did I know that dealing with those losses at an early age would be prep for losing a child who was only 24 years old. With my faith, I know there is a plan. I don’t always analyze the plan, but sometimes the dots just line up. Doesn’t mean I talk about those losses, even though they are a huge part of what makes me ‘me!’
Be kind. Know there is a big part of the story you don’t know, didn’t hear, or is covered in masking tape. Our kaleidoscope of life’s trials and tribulations taped together into a story with a beautiful underlining. We are who we are because of what we have been through and those who have crossed our path, been born into our lives, and are part of our roll of tape holding us together.
We are not in this world to be compared and charted. It is not a competition of battle scars and who survived ‘better’ if that should even be a thought! Remember the stitches and tape holding our lives together are entwined with each other. We are more alike than we are different and not all our rainbows have the colors in the same order.
For all those I have loved and lost, parents, siblings, and my son, I cry because they are gone, but I smile because they were here!! They made me “me!”
I have found the best motivational speech someone can give me usually starts with, “you can’t!” I believe there is nothing I cannot do aside from surgery on anyone. I thought I enjoyed a challenge. This current one, not so much, but I am doing my best. If someone had asked me three years ago if I could survive losing a child, I could not see how it could be part of my future. I have said it, and heard so many people say they could not bare losing a child. Yet, here I am, doing what I thought I couldn’t do…
We all need to know what moves us and motivates us to take that first step, and then the next. What makes me want to see tomorrow dealing with this tremendous loss? I can tell you emphatically, I still live for my children, living and not living! But, I do have to take it in steps. Another step forward means I can do another thing I didn’t think I could do. Last week, I requested the records of my son’s wreck. Baby steps. I am four months away from the three-year mark and two more of the boys on my son’s friends list have died. That is now my motivation, an opportunity to shed light on this tragedy to avoid more tragedies!
So, what will I do with this information? Well, first, I need to find the courage to open the file. It should be here today or tomorrow. The county actually called me personally and asked if they could refrain from sending certain photos, especially those of him. Remember, I have seen nothing from that night and did not get to see him after. I saw my son walk away from the house that night to go fishing and the next time I saw him, he was in an urn. Since he was identified through dental records, his dad and I did not have any chance, and that could have been my son’s gift to us. I don’t want the image of him afterwards to be what I see when I close my eyes at night, but I know he left a message that needs to be shared.
I have been asked if I would be willing to speak at a group of DUI offenders. I most certainly will, but I need a strong message as to what they risk every time they get behind the wheel when they shouldn’t. I am living proof of that aftermath! And, now, two more families are members in this unwanted club of parents who have lost a child, and this is why! This is why I need to take this next step!
The motivation to stop these young adults from an early departure is allowing me to take the step I didn’t think I could take. It is a step that may be parceled out a little at a time. This is not something I want to do. This is something I need to do! Big difference. I would so rather have the angelic image of my son in my brain, and I am well aware the information I will view in these files will not come close to a heavenly image. I have faith that the message he is going to provide will outweigh the need for me to not see this file. If you knew my son, you know he fought for the underdog and was always willing to lend a hand. I know that is still the case!
So, as I take this step, please keep me in your prayers. I believe in their power and know they will allow me to do another thing I didn’t think I could do. I know this is a huge undertaking and will change me more than I think, but it is not about me. It’s about the message going forward and the need to shed light on this subject to stop others. We need to honor those young men we have lost and prevent their peers, as well as others, to leave their families and friends in a manner that can be prevented.
I see these steps in small doses: hold the file in my hands for a few days, or weeks; have my daughter (a nurse) review it first; view the file myself; pick a few things out that I know will help; let his girlfriend at the time of his death see what I want to use (she deserves not to be blindsided with this!); and put together a PowerPoint message. I write this like it is bing, bang, done. This could take awhile, I know that. One step at a time, and baby steps at that.
There is a message to provide. If it stops one person from dealing with this tragedy, it will be worth it, I am praying the message will be heard in a larger audience. Time will tell. Parents do not want to write their child’s obituary. It was, by far, one of the hardest things to write!! I am trying hard to keep others from writing this story! I know I will have hard times putting it together. I also know I need to do this. Someone once told me doing the right thing is not always doing the easy thing. I will struggle during this process, but I will be okay. I know it. I will keep pictures of my son as I remember him close for obvious reasons!! I still miss that kid and cry because he is gone, but I continue to smile because he was here!! My next post may seem quite different, but I appreciate the prayers and support!!
They say it is difficult to learn from someone else’s mistake. That is unfortunate and very apparent. Today, another one on my son’s friend’s joined him in Heaven. As a parent, I tried to warn others. It is evident they believe they are all invincible, just as my son thought he was. At my son’s funeral, I tried to tell ALL the young people there that his death was avoidable and to learn from his misjudgment. I tried. As a parent of a 24 year old, to stand up and speak at his funeral was difficult, but I felt it was necessary, and I tried.
Today, yet another friend, acquaintance, or buddy, joined my son and his friend that just passed three short months ago. I don’t know what else I can say. I know what that news does to a parent! To know the exact emotions this family will endure for the rest of their lives… the exact emotions their siblings will deal with for the rest of their lives… All the moments this family will miss out on going forward… knowing all they will have are memories and photos to replace the huge hole in their lives… I tried, and I am so sorry for them.
All the families with this unwanted club membership can speak until we are literally blue in the face. Maybe I should have gotten photos to show the brutality and devastation involved. Truth be told, I have not even seen pictures of my son’s wreck. Even so, if it could have prevented anything from happening in the future, I would have done it. I may still. I know I have to try harder.
To the newest members of this horrible club, I am sorry. I am sorry for all the nights going forward when you lay awake hoping you will hear the door open, only to end up crying yourself to sleep when reality strikes. For all the times you want to pick up the phone and call just to hear his voice message, I am sorry. For all the posts and mentioning of him that will leave you in tears, but glad to hear his name just the same, I am sorry.
To all the parents with young adults, please share my blog. To all the young people who read this, you are not invincible! Bad things happen, but some of that bad can be prevented! As a parent, you are a piece of us and we love you. We know we can’t be with you 24/7, but we would do anything in our power to keep you safe from harm. What do you wish for us? Do you want us to bury you? Do you wish harm on yourself? Look into your future and ask what you can do to make sure your dreams come true, hence, allowing our dreams to come true.
We get upset at our children’s actions sometimes. That being said, parents, the next time your child calls you in the middle of the night to pick them up to avoid driving, you hug them and thank God!! I can get over being upset with my child. I cannot get over losing my child. That is a grief that never goes away.
This is me trying harder. After starting this blog, I have already sent the request to see what it takes to get my son’s police file from the night of his accident. Still don’t know what I will actually be able to do, but I knew I would get a sign when it was right. I think it is right. Until then, I pray that no more of my son’s friends parents have to get the same visit I did, or have to write their child’s obituary, or have to look over their life in photos knowing there will never be a new photo to add. We have to try harder to make sure. Until then, we cry because you are gone, but smile because you were here.
Devil, you got nothing!! I have been to hell and back and it is not for me. I choose Heaven and to follow my Lord through anything. Hell had nothing to soothe the pain I felt and have endured these last couple of years. The devil once whispered that I could not withstand the storm. I reminded the devil, I am the storm!! Here I am, and I am still standing…
During this Lenten season, do not let this corona virus (or as my son would have called it, the “beer flu”) let you think our God does not exist or that He would ever leave you alone and helpless. Not going to happen. We are strong and we are still standing. No man-made virus will destroy us or our faith.
Every day I wake up and get out of bed is a good day. Whether I am quarantined or not, it is a good day if I am alive. Since the loss of my son, I realize every day is a gift. I do not want to disrespect God by thinking otherwise. We all know we are going to die someday. We don’t necessarily get to choose that path. If you are choosing to disobey the guidelines in place to protect you during this pandemic, you are not only making a choice, you could be forcing that choice on innocent bystanders. Unless you are front line workers, follow all precautions. Please.
For those going through this pandemic from the front line, I applaud you!! I have braved this from the comfort of my own home. I know a large percentage of us will be exposed, but I sure don’t want to be one who gives it to another! Stay home and stay safe if you can! But do so knowing others took the front line for us! Sounds very familiar and biblical! God bless them!
For those who have lost a loved one during this outbreak, my heart hurts for you. You are now experiencing a version of my hell. For that, I am sorry. Please do not give up on your faith. I have found my way through this is to be the person my son would want me to be, that he would be proud of. Never give up and know you are the storm and you are not alone!!
Stay safe and out of harm’s way if you are able. Your life is important and so is that of others in our paths. To the front line and first responders, you are true heroes!! Thank you! Together, let’s be the storm that wipes out this devil! The world can come together, even though we are physically apart!
I sit in the dark… a lot! Sometimes, I think I am trying to make myself believe none of the things that happened actually happened. It is similar to an out-of-body experience. I see myself, but it is different. Almost make believe. But, it did happen. And, here I am… living the dream! Not in the context I would like…
How did I get here? Am I doing what is “normal” according to others? Is there a normal? I have been told I handled my situation (ie the loss of my son) with much grace. Not sure how true that is. I think there are times I pretend. I do this so I can get up and go to work each day, or hug my daughter and still be able to let go and let her leave my home. Maybe I do so I can play with my grandkids and not see how much he would have influenced his niece and nephew.
I am sure there is a coping mechanism that I cannot analyze, or need to analyze. Bottom line, I have to exist. In whatever form I take or methods that take over, I have to find reason to get out of bed every day. If not, I will die with my son. So, I choose life and memories.
Memories are something no one can take from you. We have ALL had bad things happen, misfortunes, loss. How we deal with those define us. No, we are not all weak, strong, or incapable. We are ALL survivors… of whatever misfortune was bestowed upon us. Trust me when I say this is not an overnight transition. It has been two and a half years plus for me and I am still trying to find my way. I am also hoping I am helping lead others to the path of “moving forward.”
I use that term kind of loosely “move forward.” We do not, and cannot, move on. We move forward. The child I lost is always ever-present in my life. I think that I needed to write this out to gain that perspective. I kept feeling like I was living outside my body and the motions I was going through were just that, motions. Feeling a little better calling it a “coping mechanism.” Still feels a little like a dream or, for a better word, “not real.”
Repeating what I have said in all of my posts, death will not change the love I have for my son. It will not take all the good things that happened while he was alive. It will not overshadow all the good things I have in my life. I miss him every single day. I hurt for the things I did not get to witness. Those things were never a guarantee. They were a wish. A dream. A hope. I have to learn to live with the fact they didn’t happen. But I can dream. I can close my eyes and think about what might have been. Had he lived. Had he gotten married. Had he had children. But those are just wishful dreams…
My real dream was that I had a son. A good son. A wild son. A redneck son. A son who liked beer. A son who liked music. A son who loved to sing in the shower. A son who did sing with a famous person onstage. A son who was a phenomenal mechanic. A son who took apart every vehicle he owned and left half the parts in the yard. A son who came home late and blared the tv. A son who slept at least eight hours a day, usually during daylight hours. But he was my son. My reality. He may be a memory to a lot of people, but in my heart, he is still my son. His heart will beat within me until mine stops beating.
Therapy. This is therapy. My out of body experience is a dream. Or a memory. I choose to not stop dreaming if this is the case. If this keeps my son alive in my heart and mind, so be it! You will catch me living this dream for a long time (I hope). As always, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here. Thank you for sharing my dream…
When faced with an emotional situation, our minds are overwhelmed trying figure out what is ok, or not ok! We think we have to be strong in front of others. I say, “don’t hold back!” It’s ok to laugh, and it’s ok to cry! I think there is a Patty Loveless song in there somewhere. Grief is an odd duck! It comes in waves, and we try to control it. That is a very hard thing to do! The stance we take of showing a brave face is painful!! I write my way through it!!
Survivor’s guilt can jump in on good days. Good things are going to happen in life after the loss of a loved one. We can’t stop the good anymore than we can stop the bad from happening, nor should we want to! It’s bad enough we guilt ourselves for smiling or laughing. It’s a whole other story when we blame others for having good moments, or God forbid , someone tries to make a grieving parent feel bad for having a good moment. I’ve witnessed it. It didn’t happen to me personally. If it had, trust me when I say that person would have gotten an earful, and then some. What people don’t understand of a grieving parent is that we are fighting internal battles constantly, and no one should ever pass judgement, especially on those grieving!
I have encouraged those grieving (by the way, that never stops) to write down a positive thing that happens every day. It’s therapeutic and life -changing! We need to acknowledge the good that continues! It is in those moments when we will start seeing a common thread. I like to think they are signs from our loved one to let us know it will be ok. Call me quirky!!
Flip side, some people want to hold back their tears when they are sad. Why? Tears are not a bad thing and there is no shame in shedding them. Don’t let people guilt you if you cry anymore than they should if you smile or laugh. We all have emotions and it makes me sad to think we criticize a person, man or woman, who has emotions they need to express.
People are complicated, yet not. Some people read. Some of us tend to write. Some people put themselves into those words. I know several have been though similar events I write about. I had someone tell me recently that she cries when she reads what I write. I want you to know I am touched by the fact she told me and it is possible to feel the emotions of my words. I hope the tears are healing and therapeutic for those readers. They are for me.
I have written for my own therapy for many, many years. I actually cry, and sometimes laugh, at what I wrote. The emotions are still there for me too!! Words are what gets me through tough situations. I can go back and reread them when I feel compelled. Don’t misunderstand. I enjoy therapeutic conversations too, but unless they are recorded, I may not retain ALL the wonderful advice and conversations shared. That does not mean I don’t want to talk about situations. Trust me! I am never at a loss for words!! Ask my family. Lol!
Whatever is therapeutic (and legal!) should not be disputed or lessened for those who have things they need to deal with or expressions they wish to convey!! You have all heard the expression “laughter is the best medicine.’ It is very healing, but so is letting go of the tears. Tears are not a sign of weakness. A good cry can calm the emotions just as much as a good laugh!
I encourage those who feel overwhelmed to seek outside help. Some try to be so strong around certain people, maybe an outside person can be your sounding board. This could be the best of both worlds. Bottom line, you are never alone! Talk, cry, write, whatever, it is ok to laugh and it is ok to cry!
I am finding as time goes forward, we all have very different coping mechanisms. I never want to forget those who have gone before me, especially my own son! I will continue to write, talk, speak his name, laugh at some of the stories he left us with, and cry at the void that will forever remain! And guess what, it’s ok! I don’t ask you to agree with me. I ask that we respect those grieving, in whatever coping methods that will allow them to get up each day.
As we head into the Lenten season, we are once again reminded of the sacrifices made on our behalf. We relive Mother Mary seeing her son die before her. I can relate. There is a spiritual feeling in me when I think of my son up there in Heaven standing next to our Heavenly Father in all His glory. I will survive this knowing he is safe. It will all make sense later. I can’t try and figure it out. I won’t get the answers down here. Until then, I will remain a witness in life.
Please note, I have, at no time in my life, ever wished to have my child die before me nor do I wish that for any parent!! The statistics from 2017 were 19% of parents will have a child die before them!! Those statistics compute to almost one of five parents. That may have changed, but if it did, it only went up!! How do we get passed the stigma that it will never be us? How do we say, “enjoy our children now!!” Tomorrow is not guaranteed!! Bereaved parents find this out the hard way.
I view my situation as that I didn’t lose my child. I know where he is. What I lost was a future with him, seeing him get married, have children, and seeing the person I knew he could be. That makes me sad all by itself. I cannot say that it should’ve been me. I can only wish it had been. To say you are not supposed to bury your child gives me guilt. Why? Because I did have a child die before me and now I have to live with that just as Mother Mary did! Continually reminding me of the fact just makes the pain an endless heartache. I would rather be grateful for the time I was blessed with and hold tight to the memories rather than continually remind myself of the things I will not get to experience. It just extends my heartache.
I think we perpetuate the sadness we feel when we convince ourselves we should be above surviving our children. As I have said a thousand times, our only guarantee is that we will die. We don’t get to choose the order sometimes!! When I say we perpetuate the sadness, I am referring to the statement that we convince ourselves it will never be us, and then it is!! Every time we remind ourselves it was us, and that it should not have been, we are sad all over again! It seems unfair, but then again, we all know life is unfair!
So how do we get over repeating our sadness. We don’t. We get through it knowing we will meet again! That is what the Lenten season is all about!! It is my guiding force. We should all focus on enjoying the love of those in our lives now. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. None of us.
I have convinced myself that my son is still with me: in my heart; in my actions; in my life. He just happens to be in a room I am not allowed to enter yet. Our gracious and loving God will tell me when it is my turn. I have offered the care of my son up to Him until then. That gives me great peace!
I don’t want to perpetuate the heartache and relive it every day. I need to know my son is alive in my heart and I had a great life with him! I miss his presence, but he is with me in more ways than I can count. My actions are enhanced with the love I had for my child going forward with each breath, step, and action. I want the love I still have in my heart to be reverberated in the life I live from now on. And that applies to both my children. I still have a child alive who is watching me, no matter her age. I LIVE for her and my grandchildren too! They are my witness.
I know I have repeated myself several times. I don’t want to be reminded of what I don’t have. I want to remember what I experienced and was blessed with! This time of year hits me right in the heart, literally. The prodigal son has returned home. I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here. I am a witness to the Glory He provides.
It’s your birthday, son! On this day, 27 years ago, it was quite a joyous celebration!! The 24-1/2 years that followed weren’t too bad either!! You gave your dad and I a run for our money during the last five years you were on this Earth, but I wouldn’t trade the time I had with you for all the money in the world!!
Saw a gift that would have been perfect for you this past weekend! Actually, the entire event reminded me of you! It was the Whitetails Unlimited event! Everything was guns, camouflage, or an American flag!! I just walked by and smiled knowing you would have been eyeing it all!!! You were so easy to buy for without a doubt!!
There are a lot of people who still miss your everyday presence!! I am at the top of that list, but I am so grateful for the years I did have! I don’t want to ever forget them, or have them overshadowed by the grief I have with you gone! I want to relish in the wonderful memories and stories you left us with!! A lot of those memories still make my hair change color, but they were a part of you, therefore, a forever part of me!
I must say, it has been quite a year already! I see so much of you in your niece! She is so spirited and funny!! She absolutely loves music!! ALL music!! This fact proves you are an influence on her!! You were our human radio and she is right in tow!! Not only your love of music, but her expressions!! Love every one of them! You would be such an awesome uncle!! Your nephew still remembers you quite fondly and loves knowing all the things around the house that were yours!! Melts my heart!!
One of your dearest brothers from another mother gave us quite a scare when he and your dad went to make sure the deer stands were safe and secure for hunting season!! Up the first deer stand and he came crashing down!! Luckily, your dad took great care of him, but the emotions were hard to contain! He came so close to permanent, if not fatal, injuries!! Luckily, he healed from the fractures he suffered in his back!! I thought he had an angel looking out for him. He thought maybe you pushed him!! Wink wink!! We know better!!
I know you have more company with you this year than you had last year! I am saddened one of your hunting buddies has joined you!! His parents need to know you are watching out for him and guiding him around up in Heaven! I need that too! All his buddies (and a lot of yours) gave him a great send off with another truck run. I hope it is not a trend that is repeated anytime soon! I want it to be many, many years before anymore of your friends join you!!
After the truck run, those kids all got together to toast their lost friend! I must say, there were a couple that looked like you! One in particular kind of freaked your sister out a bit!! He was tall, had your thinning hair and scruffy beard-like hair on his face! He knew of you and said he had been told by several people that he resembled you!! Another one that resembles you is one of your friends that you did hang with! He also had been told he looked like you, but he wasn’t losing his hair as quickly!! He mumbled like you though!! I did enjoy listening to him! It was like you were there with us, but I already knew you were!! That was just another sign proving it!!
As I send this letter up to you, know my heart is heavy knowing I cannot hug you and wish you birthday wishes in person!! I can’t say “happy birthday!” It isn’t that I don’t want to. I know every day in Heaven must be happy! At least, I hope so! I am sending birthday wishes galore though!! I celebrate today for you and because of you, my son!! I am better because you graced my life!! I am proud to be your mom!! Death can not change that!! You and your sister were my greatest accomplishments!!
For those other parents in this boat, I hope they, too, know that with the grace of God, our kids are happy and taken care of. Most of all, we know you are safe in His loving arms!
I will celebrate the life you lived today with stories and music! I know your friends are all thinking of you!! It makes me happy that they still smile when they speak of you!! They still honk as they drive by!! Smoke stacks on a diesel truck still bring back fond memories as well as burning rubber!! Today, we raise our glasses and beers in toast of a short life that was full!! We miss you and love you!! May God wrap you in His arms for me and hug you in a way I wish I could! Until we meet again… I cry because you are gone, but I celebrate because you were here!!!
Mass this weekend was very interesting. The homily gave me a new way of thinking about those out-of-the-ordinary moments in our life. When something happens; good, bad, or indifferent, who do you turn to? Who do you talk to? Who do you ask questions to? If your answer was “God,” your answer matched mine. For those that don’t have faith, this won’t make a lot of sense. If you have faith in our Lord, you, too, know there is a Plan we know nothing about, but hopefully can accept with grace.
Many people having this interruption, whatever it is, will look up and ask God “why?” It is not something we may get an answer to right away. It may not be anything God had a hand in creating, but He will be there to see us through. Remember, the devil walks among us! We need to trust that our actions from there will lead us to the best possible outcome. Sometimes, we have to walk the line and have faith that there is a reason at the end of our walk, wherever that leads us!!
We question our own actions to see if we are partly to blame. We ask if there was anything different we could have done to stop whatever events happened in our path. We want to blame others if we think it could have been avoided. There are many reactions, but the most important reaction is to look up and commit, “give me the strength and guidance to get through whatever happens from here.”
Prayer is a very powerful thing. Trust is also powerful! Having trust in someone or something means you will accept things that may not be easy.
Sometimes, the message is very clear when things happen. Don’t mess with fire. Don’t drink and drive. Safety first. To a lot of young kids, that sounds boring. I have threatened to wrap up all of my son’s friends in bubble wrap to avoid the thought of their parents going through my situation. My interruption was outside my control, and I don’t regret that my son lived life to the fullest!!
When something out of the ordinary happens, we don’t always stop and appreciate all the times things went right. Maybe this is an underlying message as well. We don’t know why things happen; why cancer exists; why accidents happen; why people feel the need to take out a slew of complete strangers before ending their own life; why planes crash; why famous people seem to be held up and expected to never have bad things happen. It’s called life and we are all subject to its misfortunes.
I, too, had all the above- mentioned questions. I just look up and ask “what do I do with this newfound situation? How do I turn it into a positive?” Writing is how I try to contribute. I hope it helps others. The loss of my son is not my only “interruption” in this program called “Life.” This one just hit a lot harder. I have found some positives to pull from it. I still wish it had not happened and hope that is not how that statement is portrayed. I lived to see another day. There is a reason for that even though I felt like part of me died that day!!
When your regularly scheduled life hits an interruption, step back, look up, ask for help and guidance. It is not a sign of weakness. Prayer, as I stated, is very powerful. Remember, the devil preys on our weaknesses. Do not succumb to his level. Have faith. The sun will shine another day and whatever hell we are going through on this Earth, we are not alone. The answers will come in due time, and maybe not while we are on this Earth, but is part of the Plan we know nothing about.
You may now proceed to your regularly scheduled program…
Watching another family go through the loss of a child is difficult, knowing I know what they are thinking, feeling, and have to expect going forward!! And, just as in the case with my son, the send off was a room full of young persons blended into a big blob of camouflage!!
I never want someone who has not been through the loss of a child to ever really try to put themself in that position. If you have never lost a child, thank God right now, where you stand!! Seriously!! I would not wish this on my worst enemy!!! It is similar to being stuck in a sad time warp! This past weekend, the wormhole opened up again at the loss of one of my son’s friend!!
Those who have tried to empathize have compared this loss to their child leaving, for whatever reason. There is quite a difference between leaving the homestead and dying. Some parents think they feel some similarities, but the difference is more like a Grand Canyon. When a child drives alone for the first time, leaves for college, or moves out on their own, some of those anxieties parents experience might be very similar, but ours are permanent. Our child won’t be driving back home after their trip, or moving all their crap back in when money gets tight, or packing up a dorm room after graduation. As a parent, we choke back tears, have fears and anxiety about the child not being at home anymore, but those feelings are laced with a layer of hope that a bereaved parent won’t feel. Our feelings are them leaving and remaining stuck in an endless time warp of never being able to return, but us not wanting them to feel gone.
I will continue to share my stories because that allows me to talk about my son. It won’t bring him back, but it allows him to still be present in my life that way. I hope the new members of this unfortunate club feel that way too! So many people are afraid to bring up his name for fear it will make me cry. I am okay with that! Crying is, and will always be, part of this process! The tears don’t stop, but we still smile too! Those conversations and stories are important! Don’t hold back. If we are in a position or frame of mind that is different, we will let you know. For the record, I haven’t asked one person yet to not ask me about my son!!
As we lay another person to rest today, know it isn’t about the age or the things they won’t get to do, it’s about the life lived! Remember the dash in the middle of those two dates, beginning and end, are the story! How we live when we are alive will tell the stories after we are gone! Share often and never forget!
Brandon, our newest angel, now with his buddy, we will cry because you are gone, but smile because you were here!! Rest easy. The hard part for you is over. Just help the rest of us now…