August is hard!!

August has such a mixture of emotions! For many parents, it’s sending their children back to school. For me, it is a month of thinking about all the things I have done, and a reminder of all the things I didn’t get to witness or do with my son, Cody. These next few weeks will seem like a gauntlet: a long, narrow path I must travel to get to the next level. In three weeks, we will hit the 2-year anniversary of losing my son. Seems like forever and, then again, just yesterday… How has this time gone by so quickly, and yet every detail of that day is like it just happened? I will not celebrate the date, but I will celebrate the life of Cody! I miss him, so to honor his memory, we will do something Cody-like (that won’t get us arrested!!). It will allow us to feel his presence even stronger as we reminisce about the years we were blessed with.

My son was a gift to my life! I am sure there are many who feel the void, just maybe not in the same way I do! We are all going to die. It’s a given! But what will life be like because we were here? I know my job will get posted and filled if I were to die tomorrow. I know my house will still be standing. I know that life for all will continue on, but I hope will be somewhat different because of the part I played. I know that is the case for those I have lost, but I had never felt it as much until it was my child!! It changed my whole future, but he helped make many memories I will cherish!! We all hope to leave a mark, a void in time, a story to tell, and hopefully, pictures showing the path our journey in life has traveled. I am sure my son never knew the mark he was leaving behind on all those he came in contact with. Even the smallest of gestures might have left a permanent mark on someone. I hope it was positive, but I am sure there were some not-so-stellar moments!

I refer to the movie “Final Destination” a lot in my situation, but in reality, it is literally everyones’ destiny! We cheat death many times in our lives and do not even realize it. The end result is we will die another way if we cheat it now. I know my son cheated death more than once in his life! When he was 19, he cheated death. Can’t say he learned much from that experience, but it did not stop him from living “his” way! He did live!! Up until his last breath, he lived!! For that, I am grateful. Many parents who have lost a child do not get to declare that! They may have watched suffering and struggles that lead to the end result. I did not, so I did see him living a good life until death! I also saw my life flash before my eyes at some of his antics at times. I still have to color my hair because of those moments! I have convinced myself over these almost two years that this may have been his “final destination,” but he could have also been saved from something much worse, or had been able to put his demons to rest… I don’t know, and won’t know, until we meet again!

I will move forward, letting time play tricks on me! Again, a blessing or a curse, doesn’t matter!! I want to remember my son as if he was just here yesterday! I am so okay with that!! I will NEVER forget and NEVER get over this, but I will move forward!! LIVE!! LOVE!! And, for God’s sake, LAUGH!! Life is short!!

I know I have not traveled this path alone, and I won’t finish it alone. Even if I am standing by myself, I was NEVER alone!! The strength of those around me has held me up and helped me see tomorrow in my future. My faith, my never-ending, never-swaying faith has helped me wake up every day knowing there is a rainbow after this storm.

These next few weeks will be emotional, difficult, comforting, and heart-breaking all rolled into a blur!! I will survive it because my son would want me to, and expect nothing other from me! He is in good hands!! I can live with that image!! As always, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here!!

#heretodaygonetomorrow #livelaughlove #momentstoremember #thestruggleisreal

Life can change in the blink of an eye…

When we are little and start growing older, we create all kinds of futures for ourselves. As a young girl, I fantasized about a fairytale wedding, kids, a huge home, never worrying about money, always being my ideal weight, and thinking I would have my parents well into their golden years. Well, guess what? So many of those things came close, but close only counts in horseshoes. What I did get was a prince of a husband, two beautiful children, a house I will always refer to as home, enough money to provide for our family, and I got to know my parents as an adult. The dreams we have as children are just that, dreams. The rest is a day at a time!!

What I didn’t think about when I was younger was losing a parent before I even got to have children, burying three of my six brothers before they even got to see a glimpse of retirement, and burying a child before he got to get married or had children of his own (that I know of!). The positive here: I had two beautiful children, a daughter and a son, who grew up friends! I am so proud of that! They actually enjoyed doing things together and their friends were friends. It made for a lot of enjoyment! Don’t get me wrong, they had their moments. The relationship between my brothers, sister, and I was not a lot different than my children’s relationship. We had fun growing up. Still do, with those of us who are left! My sister refers to our household growing up as an amusement park! Never a dull moment… ever!! I don’t think my children would have called it that, but I think it was far from a bad rearing.

My memories of growing up are fond memories that I will never let go of. Same with memories of my children when they were little. I am sad that my dreams of seeing them both grow into adulthood and start families of their own was only realized by one of them, but as I found out early in life, there are no guarantees. I am thankful for the dreams that did come true! When things don’t go our way, we tend to forget all the things that did go right, or as wished! I hope to never forget to appreciate those moments.

Life can change in a moment’s notice. It is 22 months tomorrow that the unexpected happed, my son died!! He was only 24! I didn’t plan on it. It was not part of my dream at all. I had no plan laid out should I bury a child. I am guessing my mother didn’t either when she had to go through that, not once, but twice! My grandmother was 87 years old when she buried my dad at the age of 60!! I’m not sure she ever mentioned his name again. I asked my mother why she thought that was. My mother said that was because the thought of him being gone must have been very painful for her. But I wanted to talk about my dad after he died in 1990. It kept him alive for me!! Then my brothers in 1994 and 2002!! My mother in 2007. Then, another brother in 2009!! None of those were planned either. But, life can change in the blink of an eye. My mother had no plan going forward, just as I had to rewrite my future…again! What we do going forward should include those loved ones. Their mark should not end there, and neither should ours!!

Life can change for the better, or for worse. In 100 years, I won’t be here either. The only thing we can do is leave a mark that may be talked about generations later. Make them good ones. Be the positive in someone’s future that brings them strength and hope. The unexpected can happen, and does happen, every single day. The obituary section is full of unfulfilled dreams being laid to rest. But, in the lines of those obits is a story that saw dreams come true, children were born, successes were achieved, life was lived. I don’t want to plan a funeral, but want to fill a story book!! That will include stories of my son, my parents, my brothers, and a lot of other near misses that I at least had envisioned, even if not realized!

I am not a huge Miley Cyrus fan, but her song “The Climb” has got to be one of the best songs ever!!! I heard it the other day!! It is the climb!! It’s the climb out of despair, out of unfulfilled dreams, of plans that changed on a dime! I want to make my loved ones proud, all of them!! They didn’t all die and I have a great support system who also mourns the same losses I do! Never alone!! We climb together! Achieve goals, or don’t, but at least try. Dream!! Don’t be afraid. If I look back in time, I have had a lot of both: fulfilled and unfulfilled dreams. But I am alive and here to tell my story. I am different. My dreams are different. But I still dream!

Life did change in the blink of an eye! And, it happened more than once!! My dreams have to change with it. This does not mean I change, at least, not on purpose! I want to hope these changes and unfulfilled dreams have made me stronger, made my loved ones proud, and tells the story of hope and survival!! I am better for having those I have lost in my life, for whatever time I had, I am grateful! I will cherish those memories forever!! I cry because they are gone, but I smile because they were here!!

#lifechangesintheblinkofaneye #thestoryofdreams #lifeismadeofchanges #memoriesmakemesmile #thedashinthemiddle

The “honk” story…

A lot of people don’t know why I am so thrilled when someone drives past my house and honks. Well, I thought I’d give a little insight into my obsession…

My son had a lot of friends. His wing span spread several states we realized after he died. But before that fateful night, whenever someone drove past the house and honked, we would tell Cody that his friends just drove by. When he died, I feared those honks would stop.

To my amazement, it became an iconic situation. The days that followed August 20, 2017, it seemed we were outside in front of our house more than we were inside the house. I think it was because we didn’t all fit inside! There were a lot of people here, and for that, I am grateful!! But because we were all outside, and Cody so well known around town, people were honking every time they drove by. Again, my husband and I felt the presence of Cody’s friends in those honks, not to mention the love of our friends and neighbors. So, we asked that they continue on. The first year, it was great and constant. This second year, I haven’t heard as many. Now, that could be because we were not outside as much and my house is brick, but I have missed those honks.

Lately, as the weather gets warmer and I have an open window, I have been hearing them. A couple of his friends sent me messages that they drove by and honked! I love it!! Keep that going!! I feel like putting up a sign that says “Honk if you miss Cody!” I would need to get a recorder so I could replay them. At least, I hope that would be the case. Guess I am needing a little confirmation that he is still missed and present in the hearts and minds of others. Those honks validate that for me!!

So, if you are ever driving past the house, whether you think we are home, sleeping, whatever, sound the horns!! It really helps me! Rainbows and honks!! Who knew? These things that play a huge part in feeling his presence, especially since I don’t have his spittoon bottles, laundry, and his kitchen mess!! A mother needs what a mother needs!!

Keep it going! Make it loud! Those with stacks, feel free! I miss that kid every day!! And, as always, I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here!!

#honkifyoulovesomeone #lifeisshortnottosmile #rainbowsandhonks

Mother’s Day…

As Mother’s Day approaches, many memories and thoughts are going through my mind!! Being a “mom” didn’t come with instructions. No one told me how hard it could be or how rewarding! All I can say is “I try.” When I gave birth to my children, I can’t tell you what I expected life to be like. What I can tell you is I didn’t know I could love any humans as much as I do my children. I still have children. Even though only one is alive, my love for my son will never go away, hence, children!! Not to mention, grandchildren are now in the mix. That’s a whole new kind of love!!

My own mother has been gone over 12 years now, and what a guiding force she continues to be in my life! I miss her every day. These last almost 21 months, I know she was right here with me, talking me through the sadness, being a strong shoulder from Heaven, for she, too, had been in my shoes…twice!

I know a lot of people will post on Facebook and other social media sites that they were blessed with the best mother in the world. Well, they don’t mean to be liars, but they are not telling the truth. Know why? Because I had the best mother in the world, hands down!! She taught me more about forgiveness and acceptance of all the things we cannot change while giving me strength to attempt to change the things I could! Lord knows, I needed that these past few years.

My mother gave birth to six boys and two girls. Let me tell you, those brothers tested my mom and dad for every ounce of patience a person could possess! Yet, both parents had a sense of humor… kind of😜!! My dad had a few repetitive jokes he used over and over all us kids had to pretend we had never heard before! My mother just found humor in every day life. She let things bounce. At least she never let on things got under her skin. She taught us we have two choices: laugh or cry. Period. She reminded me a lot of Erma Bombeck. If you don’t know who that is, I highly suggest you check out her books!! So funny!! She has passed away, but her words are printed and hilarious! I believe Erma and my mother were kindred spirits!

I will tell you one thing my mother wasn’t. She wasn’t my friend. She was my teacher. She was my protector. She was my rock. She was my judge and jury of right and wrong. She was everyone else’s friend, but she was my strength. I can only hope I have some her mothering in me to pass on. I try!

I watched my mother as she dealt with the loss of two sons before she died. Living through those losses, little did I know, would be a prelude into my future!! My sister told me several times before that fateful night, that my situation with my son and his antics seemed very similar. Oh how I already felt that, even more so now!! My sister is a lot like my mother and I am so grateful for her and her presence!!

It’s Mother’s Day this weekend! For those who remember land lines, it was the busiest day at the phone company. It was also one of the largest mailing week’s for the post office. It may have come close at the florist, but Valentine’s Day still has the lead there! ❤️

My message today is, if you are lucky enough to still have your mother, call her; send her a card; buy her flowers. If you had a fight, apologize and mend the fence with the person who gave you life! If you have lost your mother, as I have, say a prayer and thank God for the blessing she was in your life! Be the person she knows you are capable of being!!

I know my mother is with me in spirit! I know she mourned my loss with me and is holding my son tight until I get there! I am not sure I thanked her enough while she was with me on this Earth, but I have a warm feeling in my heart that she continues to be there for me and my family.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms! As I have said before, don’t wait to tell someone how much they mean to you. Don’t wait for Mother’s Day to tell your mother, daughter, grandmother, sister, or friend, what an amazing mother they are!! Better than saying it, show it…every day!! You do that by being the best version of yourself!!

Enjoy your day, Mother’s!! You are special! Today and always!!

#mothersarethebest #iamamom #wearerocks

The cross at the side of the road…

As I drive down roads, every once in a while, I will see a wooden cross at the side of the road. It automatically tells us someone died there. I asked myself, time and time again, why do they mourn the spot where their loved one died? It seemed morbid to me. I want to think about the places where my loved one LIVED, not where they died!! That was, until the other night. There is a new meaning to that cross since I heard a hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul,” written by a man in the 1800s who was in a boat that was crossing over the spot in the ocean where the boat transporting his four daughters went down resulting in their loss. He became right with the Lord on that spot. Now I get it!!

Robert Frost wrote a poem about the fork in the road. What would our life have been like if we had turned right instead of left? I am here to tell you, sometimes, that road we end up on is based on others’ choices of right or left. So, what put me on the path to get me to this point? A road my son died on. Period. So, now my fork in the road is to accept and understand or fight and never be at peace. I need to be at peace with this to function. I need “to be well with the Lord!”

Listening to that hymn and this man’s ability to put God in view with his loss has helped me realize I, too, have come to understand my situation is truly with our Lord. He may not have put my son on the literal road he died on, or the path that led him there, but He was there with him to see him home. Again, not the home he set out traveling to when he left that fishing area, but a different home; the one I hope I get to go to as well, when my time to go arrives. I do truly believe my son not surviving was a blessing in disguise. Had he lived through what I was told happened, he would have been in terrible shape. Though I love my son dearly (present tense), I would not to have wanted to see him suffer unbearable pain!! That all being said, I would have rather him not have been on the road at all, but again, a fork he came to in the road, not my choice!

I am right with our Lord. I know all is well and I am ok with that. This does not mean I do not miss my son!! I miss him every day. The answers will come in time, and maybe not until I get to meet up with him again, and that has got to be alright. I will drive myself crazy if I fight it, and face it, according to my husband, it may be a short walk from here to there!! Lol!!

All is well with my soul !! I still won’t put a cross at the side of the road because I do choose to think about where he lived more, but I will pray for those families and lost souls still when I pass their cross at the side of the road!! I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here!!

#alliswellwithmysoul #theforkintheroad #woodencrosses

He is Risen…

I have spent a lot of time this week thinking about life, the meaning of, the sacrifices made, resolution, forgiveness, and death. I have faith. The path we take to get from Point A (birth) to Point B (death) is a path with a lot of bumps, mistakes, revelations, and, if you are like me, a lot of prayer. It is not out of the ordinary to have all these thoughts, especially today, Easter Sunday.

When I go to mass, I want to know how the gospel reading each week relates to my life today. How did what happened over 2000 years ago resemble anything of our time? Amazingly, it does… every single day!! Especially this week!! There are signs that we are still in His presence! Today was no different!!

It’s the end of Easter week. I want to speak about the cross. Many religions worship just the cross, but as Catholics, we worship the crucifix (Jesus still on the cross). I know others view the fact that Christ has risen from the cross and is no longer there. I agree, but I want to remember why He was on that cross. It was for me, my sins, my redemption and absolution! He suffered for me! I don’t want to ever forget that! We have all carried the weight of that cross at one time or another. At mass last week, we covered the situation where townspeople approached Jesus about a “lady of the night” and they wanted to sentence her and have her stoned. Jesus gave permission for anyone who has not sinned to throw the first stone. No one ended up throwing stones at anyone else for we, too, have done things we should not have done. That cross reminds us we can be forgiven!

As I have said before, so much of my situation is brought to life in the Bible during Easter Week!! Palm Sunday, Jesus has made his plight known to his disciples. He is going to die. The path had already been set. What if my son’s situation was the same? What if the only difference is my son didn’t know it? What I really want to be sure of is that he made it to Heaven!! Based on what I know of the Bible and of my son, I’m sure he did!! Just as the one next to Jesus on the cross was forgiven, so shall he. I am sure he is in paradise now with many of my family who have gone before him.

Through these last several weeks heading towards today, Easter Sunday, I am reminded that our life on Earth is not the end of our life, but a new beginning. The Bible talks about how we should speak His name often and I know how that feels. I speak about my son as if he is still here. My son’s life had meaning and lives on too, maybe not in the biblical way, but maybe so…

It is Easter! He is risen!! My faith is stronger now than it was even before I lost my son, if that is possible. It could be because I have felt His presence every step through losing my son and know there is peace in death. Those who have lost, may you find that peace as well and know our lives on this Earth have meaning well past the grave. I know that and pray for those who struggle to realize it. Easter proves it to me every year!!

Peace to all and Happy Easter!! I cry because he is gone, but I smile because he was here…!!!

#easterweek #mysoulrevival #inhispresenceagain #heisrisen

I don’t want to be sad anymore…

I know there is no time frame on the grieving process. Well, that is a relief!! Not sure how long I will take but I don’t want to be dragging it on longer than allowed, or appear I “got over” my loss too quickly, as if anyone has a right to judge either way! The “survivor” stage, on the other hand, has no end…ever!! This is a permanent status from here on out. When do we know we are no longer grieving? I’m not sure we ever stop, but I know it is a metamorphosis that keeps going back and forth like a teeter totter in waves!! I know there is no switch, but I also know I don’t want to be sad anymore!

The date of death for my son has become a landmark, so to speak. It is a mile-marker in time. It designates the dividing line of our life before and our life after. It affirms the fact our lives are forever changed and will never be the same. Looking back, it was my life I took for granted, and then, my life when nothing was a guarantee. According to some talk show therapist, 88% of our being is emotions. I know we are guided by emotions and found that out gaining weight when the grief process started. Food has been a coping mechanism for several in my family. Some eat when stressed, some lose weight when stressed. I appear to be on the “eat when stressed” side of the family. I just cannot pinpoint the emotions that led me before August 20, 2017!

I have several friends, acquaintances, and family who are in this crappy boat of being a parent who lost a child! I am sure they, too, know what I mean about the dividing line and being sad!! I want to be productive and happy, but please don’t think this makes me ok with my loss!! I will never be ‘ok’ with the loss of my son. I do have faith, which I rely on, and I am so, so grateful for the time I did have!! I believe he would be happy that I don’t want to be sad. I think he would encourage that!! I know he is ok and I am coping this well because of my faith! He is at peace, and I want to be at peace with that fact!!

The thing I have tried to do almost since day one is to remove my personal life from my work life. It has been my “safe zone.” It was the one place my son was not a constant, physical presence. Sure, I talked about him at work, but I was able to “zone” into my work and remove my emotions. Doesn’t mean it works all the time, but it is much better at work than when I am home alone with my thoughts. This work zone apparently accounts for 12% of my being. I think that means I am emotionless during that time.

So, here Is a shot at my goal… It sounds like a simple plan. I am going to wake up facing the days as if they have a purpose! I am walking again and hoping to lose more weight! I am putting make up on as if I care how I look!! I am doing things outside the house with friends! I used to think I had a pretty good sense of humor. I want to laugh like I mean it without guilt.

I follow some other blogs of people who have battled and struggle with a loss. One family watched their son struggle after a head injury at the age of 2 until he died five years after. A year after their loss, they are still continuing their blog as survivors. The mother of this child posted a picture of herself after a fundraiser she participated in and she was smiling. Doing good in her son’s memory can make someone feel good, a chance to give back to those who helped her at a low moment. Someone following the blog had the audacity to comment about how ‘happy’ she looked as she mourned her loss!! WHAT!! She was kind in her response before she banned the person. I might not have been so nice! How dare someone try and guilt a mother for having a good moment!!

It seems we are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t. What would my child wish for my future if he could speak to me now? How would he want me to live? I am sure he would be endeared at the fact I am lost without him. He would be sad for me. He would wrap his arms around me and tell it was going to be ok. Coming from my side of the family, he’d have a sick and demented comment about something and try to make me laugh and it would probably work. He would want life to be normal, although we have to create a new normal. But I am trying and feel I am headed in the right direction.

I have so many things to be grateful for in my life! I have a wonderful daughter, a son-in-law, two b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l grandkids, a husband who has survived this path as well, and so many wonderful family and friends! I don’t want to ever forget they have also lost a loved one! We all mourn. Their lives were forever changed as well.

We have two choices here: laugh or cry. Well, I say we do both, and go to the next day, repeat. Story of my life. If you catch me smiling, be happy I had a good moment. If you see me laughing, don’t assume I no longer grieve. If you see me crying, just know I had a moment of another kind.

Life will go on around me and I am trying every day to be a part of it. I am forever incomplete. I am a wife. I am a mother. I am a grandmother. I am a survivor!! I will continue to cry because my son is gone, but I will smile because he was here!!

#lifeisforeverdifferent #thegrievingneverends #survivorstrong