It’s your birthday, son…

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 buddy 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 being 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!!!

Love,

Mom

#itsyourbirthday #rainbowbabyangelbaby #lifeisshort #thedashinthemiddle

I interrupt this regularly scheduled program called… life!

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…

#thingcalledlife #lifeinterrupted #thedashinthemiddle

It’s like a time warp…

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…

#resteasyupthere #youngagebutbiglife #flyhighonthatmountain #thedashinthemiddle

Welcome home!! It’s not final, but it can feel like it…

Give me strength!! We are about to attend the funeral of another young person in our lives. It is always hard because they seem so final. But it isn’t always the finale. During these moments, I draw on the strength that has gotten me to here… my faith!!

Even though it has been nearly two and a half years since I lost my son, the void is still like a crater. I fill that crater with memories, stories, pictures, and prayers! The void will always be there, but so will all those things I have to remember him. I just don’t get “new” stories, memories, and photos to go with them. That has to be the hardest part.

The first thing I realized is nothing can replace my son. From there, I had to learn a new normal without him. The new members of this unwanted club will have to learn that too, as hard as it is. I hope they, too, will draw on the strength of their faith to get there. We have to know they are in a good place. As a parent, that is always the hope for our children. We want to know they are ok!

I have repeatedly said that our only guarantee in life is that we will die. We don’t always know when or how. We don’t know if we will suffer horribly or go peacefully. We also can’t guarantee that our children will outlive us, as many of us have found out the hard way!!

As we start the day tomorrow, say a prayer for the family saying goodbye to their son, brother, nephew, and friend and hello to their new angel. May the Lord wrap them in his loving care not only tomorrow, but also for the road ahead of them, knowing that his suffering is over and he is in his forever home with those who have gone before him. This is not the final step, and he awaits us with open arms. Now, many more understand how we cry because they are gone, but smile because they were here!!!

#gonetoosoonforus #inHislovingcare #newangelamongus #thedashinthemiddle

I’ve been there, and am still there… and am not alone!

As I sit here, thoughts are rampant!! One of my son’s buddies was killed last night in an ATV accident. He was 20 years old. My heart hurts… for many reasons!! For those of you who have lost a child, when another passes, it is like repeating your own loss all over again!! We know exactly what that family is going through… step by step by step!! 😢

To those that are new to this unfortunate club, my heart aches for you and I have no easy words. I wish there was something I could say that takes away the pain of your loss. The only thing I can tell you is I am here for you!! I will stay quiet in a corner if needed. I will hold your hand. I will get you more Kleenex. I will listen to you and do whatever is needed. But I can’t take away the pain!!

I can tell you I will continue to talk about your son. I will share stories to remember the life he lived! I will look at pictures over and over and over. I know his life had meaning, and will continue to have meaning!! He was here for a reason and has changed the lives of many!

I know the first of everything you experience without him will bring tears: first holiday; first birthday, of his or anyone; the first day you don’t get a call or card of condolence; and so many more. I can tell you there will be triggers you cannot prepare yourself for. They will hit you out of nowhere! You might be driving down the road, folding laundry, cleaning up a mess, buying groceries, or watching tv. No prepping yourself. Just know on those days, I will be praying for you!

Grief is not something you will get over, especially the loss of your child! It is different than any other loss you will have. This does not mean you don’t love others you have lost. This loss doesn’t make you a widow(er) or an orphan. This loss makes you incomplete. You may never feel whole again. You will not get over this loss, but you will get through it! Hold on tight for the bumpy ride ahead. Through all of it, know many of us are here still praying! That won’t stop!! Ever!!

I want to sugarcoat it but I can’t. I can only stress to not lose yourself and your purpose. You are now living for your son as well. Live the best life possible. You will find joy in the things around you. Give yourself time to heal and some of that beauty will return. You will never stop missing your child, but he will continue to give you purpose! He will be shining down on you and give you signs right when he knows you need them. Keep the faith and know he is in good hands!

This is an ongoing process you will go through. Do not feel alone or that you have to do this alone! Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. You have many here to help along the way. As with my son, I know you will cry because he is gone, but I want you to smile because he was here!

#gonetoosoon #neverforgotten #buddiesinheaven #thedashinthemiddle

Another New Year is coming…

It’s the end of another year. I have mixed emotions at this time of the year. Every person hopes your next year is your best year yet! My year may be better than my last, but it will never be my “best” year ever! I have peaked for the “best” years’ ever and I wish I had known it then. I may have treated those years better and respected my time more. I know I would have been a lot more thankful!! Those “best” years were when I had both my children to hold and hug and touch!!!

What happens after the worst year ever? That was 2017 for me! Leaving 2017 and heading into 2018 was rough. I felt like I was losing my son all over again. I had him alive in 2017 for a lot of it. Closing that year was facing an entire year without him. It was a mindset I could not change. I have done better since, but the feeling of desertion was hard to shake. It was a cold reality.

I will still have good years, maybe even great. I will still make great memories, but they will never come close to what I had! I had always appreciated my children and I know they knew (and know) they are loved! Any years that follow 2017 may be described as great (hopefully!) but they will never be the “best” year!! The really great news here is that does not mean I will stop trying to live my best life!

The first year, 2018, was spent trying to redefine “normal ” and move forward. We all know you don’t “get over” the loss of a child. You get through it. I have finally lost all the weight that came with my depression in 2018. I also started this blog to help others as well as myself. This is my therapy! 2019 was spent trying to move forward and in a very positive direction. Hitting 2019 came with personal changes and constant ways of trying to honor my son’s memory! I feel I have accomplished that!

As I head into the year 2020, I am continuing the positive attitude! I will strive to live the best life possible and continue to honor the memory of my son. My husband and I plan on doing a trip every year near the anniversary date and do things that would make him proud and do things he would have enjoyed, too! I still want people to drive by and honk! Share funny stories! Smile when you think of him! Those are the best ways to keep his spirit alive and thriving…never forget! As always, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here!!

May all of you enjoy your your holiday. Be safe! I won’t wish for the best year yet, but may you live your best life possible in the year to come!!

#happynewyear #memoriesliveforever #thedashinthemiddle

Went by to see you today…

For all those grieving a loss this holiday season, know you are not alone. Our hearts are always heavier during the festive times because their absence is much more evident. My prayers to you and your families.

I went by to see you today…

Went by to see you today, it’s getting close to Christmas

Wanted to fill you in, tell you what’s happening with us.

I talked about the kids a bit, my job and all that stuff

Went on and on about money, how there never seems enough.

It’s getting cold outside so the conversation was shorter than wished

But I wanted you to know how much you are loved and missed

I knelt down to brush the dirt and leaves away off the stone’s hearth

And to once again say “it’s lonely without you here on Earth”

The holidays are a time of year that is heavier on our heart

And reminds us ever so gently that we are far apart

As the families gather and celebrate this holiday

Know I miss you, I love you, and think of you every day!

Christina Herold Trueblood

12/16/11

#alwaysinourhearts #forevermissed #thedashinthemiddle