Every Day is Mother’s Day

My mother used to say “every day is mother’s day.”    As a child I never knew what to make of that.   I am loath to admit I thought she meant that we were supposed to put her up on a pedestal, bring her flowers and candy every day.   Maybe we should have.   She never explained herself.   She would have a look that my young eyes could not discern and later with repetition of the phrase, I came to ignore it.

There were things I made for my mother that I wanted to give her.  They were met with mixed reactions.   I had my feelings hurt.  There were things that I gave my mother because I thought she expected them and when she would gush over them it felt hollow.

I wonder how many times I have done that to my own children?    My mother is gone now.    She was not an easy woman.    I don’t miss that.  I miss what I wanted and did not have.    Perhaps that is what all missing is.

My daughter is a person of great compassion.  She and I share a sense of humor and a sense of taste.   I love her audacity, complexity and drive.   I love that she is so strong while being so fragile.  She is a giver, a nurturer and a true friend if you are lucky enough to win her favor – which is very easy to do because of her generosity.   She is able to learn anything she sets her mind to and is willing to go whatever lengths it takes to do so.   She appreciates nature, music, beauty, ideals.  She lifts up the fallen, cheers for the underdog, and I think sees people – and tries to appreciate them for who they are.

Her brother is gone and left her at a juncture in her life when they were just beginning to be friends again.   The teenage years were gone when both were struggling to be independent.     He saw in her all the things I saw and maybe even more.   As a male I am sure he had insights I missed.

There are photos of them together at every age.  The bond they shared was emotional and physical.   He was a perfect match for her genetically as we found out after his death.

Because of them I have my own understanding of the phrase “every day is mother’s day.”  There is no day that my children are not a part of.   My daughter with her calls, visits and checking in.   My son in my memory.  I carry them both in my heart.

As much as I would like to think that I was a part of the nurturing that made them who they are and were – I have to admit that the gifts they imparted to me have made me who I am for better or worse.

So I write this and do not include a photo of flowers or candy.   No image of children or mother’s with babes in arms.   I say simply to my daughter and to my son – thank you for making every day mother’s day.

I love you both so much.

Forever.

Mom

 

History Channel’s history of Mother’s Day

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child, Holidays, Memories, mother's day | 2 Comments

Furniture

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I have in my studio the one non-office chair my son purchased. It is chair from Ikea. I was with him when he shopped for it. In the Ikea store they have this  same model of the chair in a plexiglass container along with a device that simulates a human sitting down and standing up over and over and over. I think he really wanted that whole contraption with the simulated human butt for his home but ended up with all that they would make available – the chair. The seat and back are covered in blue fabric and the arms and frame are wooden, curved in an arch that supports the seat and back. You can bounce slightly in the chair. One of my dogs prefers it to sleeping on the floor on the big dog pillow I have for them. I keep a towel in the seat because of the dog’s habit.
My son bought himself a bed frame too. The rest of his furniture was comprised of hand me downs. There were two futons that his dad and I purchased for him. I never found them comfortable for sitting or sleeping but there again his dogs seemed to like them.
There is something very adult about buying furniture. I remember the first purchase my husband and I made of two rattan swivel rockers. I wish I still had those chairs they were so comfortable, but I gave them away. I have given away a lot of furniture.
Furniture is intimate stuff. A lot of things happen there. Eating, reading, sleeping, relaxing and other things too intimate to mention here. Crumbs and fur get buried deep into the crevices, earrings disappear, jellybeans, tissues.
The back of the couch in our den is torn to bits from our two dogs who love to perch there. We bought leather but I did not realize the top part of each cushion along the back was vinyl. Dog claws applied with great enthusiasm as they use it to hurdle from den deck window to breakfast room window have damaged it. We have placed a quilt over the back but the dogs have decided they must remove it and dig into it to cuddle down to sleep.
There are scratches too on the window facing of the breakfast room window. My dogs stand with their feet against the window watching squirrels at the feeder. The den deck door is painted with nose prints.
We leave our mark too.
Perhaps not as indelibly on woodwork and floors as the marks dog claws make. But the marks are there all the same.
My sister once carved her initials into a wooden toilet seat in boredom and then tried to claim it was not her. I carved up a vinyl chair once when I was a child – the forbidden razor blade slid so smoothly through the vinyl.
There is a very uncomfortable wooden church pew on our patio. It was meant to keep church goers awake – sitting ramrod straight and hard against bony hip bones. I wonder who sat there and where their mind wandered.
My daughter bought her own mattress and bed frame. She has accepted many hand-me-downs too.
There is a point where you want to express your own taste and style. It comes with time if it is something you are interested in.
The chair in my studio resembles my son’s taste. Functional, comfortable, no frills – thin framed, light, portable and slightly laid back – like him. I feel it curve against my back as I sit here to write. I wish he had stayed around long enough to wear it out.

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The End of March

Dear Son,

Your dad has retired from his job.  He seems to be content with the choice.  He could have worked longer.  He could be like some men I know who identify so closely with their job that leaving it is like leaving a part of themselves.  Surprisingly it is not so for him.

He works in the yard as much if not more than he ever did.  We have the chickens and he dotes on them.  He is getting bee hives soon and I hope they are successful.  We worry about bees because of environmental concerns.   The solar panels will soon be a year old and they have provided well for us.  We talk about travel but never make plans.

Ms. Ebbie died.   Do you know that?   She had a great day playing with Newman.  I actually did a video of her that day because she was so playful.   She lay down that night in one of her usual spots and when we went to get her to go to bed we found that she had died.   She would have been 16 on Tuesday.

Daddy buried her up on the hill with Kaycee, Sonny, Honey and Cocoa.   I made a new marker that hangs up there now and catches the morning sun reflecting it into the kitchen.    The boys seemed confused by her absence at first but now seem to have adapted and maybe it is my imagination but  somehow they seem more close.

We have a hard time venturing far from home.    It settles on us sometimes like some sort of apathy or maybe it is fear.   Maybe we are just weary.  Making plans; especially elaborate plans makes me feel weary.   This has been a weary year thus far.

The presidential election has not helped the feeling of weariness.   It began with dread that now has merged into a daily need to walk to the train track where our country is speeding along and see what is going to crash.   I am loath to say it because in some ways I would like to get your opinion but in other ways it is probably better that you not know.

I am sure there are people who have been my friends who view me differently now.   I am vocal (and I know that does not surprise you).  I try but probably do not succeed in not being  vitriolic.

The problems that you expressed concerns about six years ago have only gotten worse.   Everything you observed and I so hoped you were wrong about has proved to be correct.  The world could use more wisdom and insight like yours and we just don’t have it.

We miss you.  Your dad and sister and I miss you.   The reminders have not ceased, the situations in which we find ourselves when we are so aware of your absence have not decreased.  I have accepted the fact that each day I will look for you and often find something of you somewhere.   Maybe that is why it is hard to plan a way to leave home for any length of time.

Yet I know that if we were to travel we would find you there too.

I know I am not going to fix the situation our country is in.  I feel like it is important to be involved because of you and your sister and your dad.  It is important to me to be a part of any solution that I can – whatever that might mean.   I feel like I must honor all of you- my family- however I can with the days of my life.

I can’t retire from being a mother.    And though your dad can retire from public work neither can he retire from being a dad, nor your sister- your sister.   That has been driven home to me.

At night I pray and sometimes it is only to repeat the Lord’s prayer because all other words fail me.  I ask for healing yet people die.  I ask for peace yet wars rage.  I ask for equality yet misogyny, prejudice and discrimination reign.    I recognize that I am having to deal with my misunderstanding of God and my own sad acceptance of mankind as broken.   I wish you could weigh in here.

There are so many words I have spoken to you as the days pass.  So many thoughts that seem almost like prayer that I give up to the universe hoping they reach you.     Power and control are the cruelest delusion.

Know this as you have always known.  In this we are all secure.

We love you.

Always have, always will.

Forever,

MomIMG_3610

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The season of reason

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This is the 5th Christmas season since the death of our son. Something about the numbers five, ten, fifteen and twenty and the milestones they represent taunt those of us who continue to grieve, yearn for and miss our children.
During this year I have felt myself waking up. I don’t mean that I have literally been asleep but parts of me have been. I’ve had a difficult time paying attention in the past five years. There are things that have happened that are documented complete with photographs that startle me a little when I realize “When did we do that?”
One of the things that I have been unaware of is the political state of this country. My son would have kept me on my toes about that. He would have pointed to trends, warning signs and fallacies. He would have held me accountable and questioned my understanding of the issues. He would have been being vocal.
Given the state of things now, I expect he would be applying for citizenship elsewhere.
I am a bit ashamed that I have not honored him by continuing to be alert concerning these issues because though they do not effect him now, they do my daughter and my family and friends.
My son was not overly impressed by the outgoing president. He understood my joy when Mr. Obama was elected but he also understood there is no perfection in any man. I can’t begin to understand the complexity of being commander in chief. There are things in which Mr. Obama has a right to take pride and other things that will be laid as blame at his feet. It is true for every presidency.
I can’t write about my son or family any more without it being cast in the light of what is going on in Washington. I am not a part of a family who has made and inherited millions and billions of dollars so there is no chance for me to make a bid for public office. Even in the most public of arena’s I have a very small voice and very little sway.
I can ,however, go back to the things I learned in civics classes, sociology and philosophy. I can draw conclusions based on the premise that during all these years I have seen played out again and again. That is the premise that “past behavior is a predictor of future behavior.”
I won’t use this page to deride anyone.
I am disappointed in the things a large portion of our nation believes or at lease says they believe by the votes that they cast. I really thought that people had gotten past the color of a person’s skin. I witness that there has been little change in perception concerning gender and objectification of women. There is an oppression going on in places where it seems to be done because of entitlement which is a concept I have never understood. I worry about the environment and support efforts to preserve it – most recently by installing solar panels on our home. I know my son would like that.
I don’t understand the source of the anger that I feel and see. I have been taught that anger is a manifestation of fear. I can’t quench everyone’s fear but if there are words that can be said or things that can be done to help, I am willing to try.
My biggest fear was always that of loosing my children.
After my son died I was angry for a while. Angry at God, angry at the world for being so unaware of the pain of such loss. So you understand why when we are shown the brutality of loss day after day in the news it becomes easier to go back to sleep.
I can’t stop children from dying. Wars, disease, mistreatment, accidents and addictions take control away from us. Being unable to control is the one thing we as parents of loss understand and are frustrated by. Now there are people who are lining up to take active roles in making choices for us that we have no control over either. I truly hope though I doubt that all have good intentions.
So what can I wish for everyone (myself included) this season while many of us mark another year without our child?
I wish that we may stay informed and keep a level head.
I wish that we take nothing for granted, good or bad and that we search out the truth in all things.
I wish that we will take a good hard look at our neighbor and see how at the core we are very much alike and that if we believe in a Creator then we must accept that we were all created in His image- every nation, tribe and people.
I wish that though we cannot bring our children back that we can live a life that would, if they could or can see us, would make them proud.
I love my son and I miss his voice more than ever in this world that needs a voice of calm reason.

 

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Socially acceptable

 

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When the hard things happen in life – the failures, the losses and defeats- social media has become a spotlight that few can stand in for long. The struggle most of us already have to know the right and polite thing to say gets stretched. We not only want to say the right thing but also want the thing we have said to be judged as good – to get as many “likes” as we can. Our posts have become our vanity plate.
For the hurting, the wounded,the one whose hopes and dreams are now shattered and scattered like dry fall leaves there is the conundrum as to whether it would help to bare their soul or to simply disappear. How does either make them look? And the fact that we worry about how we look in the eyes of others is most disturbing because at times it seems to override all decisions.
The concern about how we look, how we present ourselves is based mostly in facade. The political arena is perhaps the most obvious place, but it happens in our jobs, our schools, our churches and sadly even in our homes. There is nothing wrong with putting your best foot forward or choosing to try and put the best authentic face on something that you can. Social media, however, has become a new gauge of benchmarks. It is a lie.
Social media is subjective. It is driven by the users, their culture, their sense of right and wrong, and their own life experiences. Who has not cringed when they have heard the words they hated coming out of other’s mouths now coming out of their own and to make it worse they are typing them and inflicting them on others.
When Jesus squatted and drew in the dust sitting alongside the women caught in adultery whose accusers stood armed with stones to kill her, he averted his eyes just long enough to give the accusers the time to retreat. He knew that by not looking them in the eye they also had the opportunity to raise their stone against him in their anger and indignation. The question I have always had in this scenario is where was the man with whom she committed adultery but it was a dominate male culture – that Jesus recognized and stepped in to avert.
On social media you can just imagine how that story would have been handled. Misogyny, discussions of adultery, who was her paramour, would the children suffer, who was wronged, who was right -hit like, love, wow, angry. The point about forgiveness and understanding that there was not one person anywhere who had not committed something either outright or in their heart that convicted them also of human crime would be buried under reaction. We are a nation that reacts and spews opinions without even recognizing the stones we are throwing as we hide behind our keyboards.
Watching “The Durrells in Corfu” last night on PBS there was a character portrayed – a prisoner that is befriended by the youngest Durrell boy. His wife had died when he shoved her in anger and he had gone to prison for it. The wife had fallen and hit her head when he shoved her. He stood by her grave and confessed that within him flowed a river of tears.
I read the posts on social media. I see a lot of fluff and I wonder what is flowing underneath it all.
For me there is a constant current that sometimes threatens to flood my life – the loss of my son is a part of every day. Friends have lost husbands to health issues, friends have lost friends to suicide, accidents and the host of parents who have lost a child or children are a part of my network.
All these events no can do a thing to remedy – to bring back those who are lost to us or to rewrite he days that lead to their demise. What is strangest to me is that few outside of this group and some within it have not learned how to offer condolences. We are expected to get over it as others do the simple bumps and bruises of life.
Yet give them a political, economic or military situation that they disagree with and they release a diatribe without any intention of putting their warm body in the front line to change it. Nor will they physically give the grieving a hug and say “I am so sorry. I am sorry that your son is no longer in this world. When did we become so stunted, emotionally and lacking empathy. When did we growto believe that the face we put on for everyone else is the real thing.
In the scene with Jesus we are never told how many men were there poised to stone the woman. We are never told who was first to put their stone down and walk away. We are not told if Jesus or anyone else put an arm around her shoulders as she kneeled there sniveling and shaking expecting her life to end. We are not told how she was treated by the community afterwards, whispered about and held at arms length – talked about behind her back perhaps never again embraced. We don’t know. We can’t ask.
Today, with our social media we can ask. We can use it for good as well as evil. We can ask after those who we know are hurting, hiding, depressed, suffering, drowning in the river of grief that flows through them though they post only the things that others might want to see. Sincerely asking does not make grief worse. By giving it a name, by acknowledging the pain we actually gain strength. Pretending that the posts of sunsets and kittens, balloons and birthday parties really represents what is going on in a life is a lie.
Soon enough all the swords drawn to do political battle will be sheathed and put away again. Just words without action to back it up or to make any material difference for a suffering neighbor. “You who are without sin, cast the first stone.” Jesus said and knelt to draw with his finger in the dirt.
If all you can do is drop your stone and walk away it is possible that that might be enough. But you might want to learn how to take those few steps, offer a hand to the ones kneeling waiting for the blow to fall and help them. Look into their face if you dare because you might just see your own face mirrored there.

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Saturday, July 2nd

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Dear Son,

I remember distinctly July 2nd 2011. I know there are details missing, but there are details that stand out – that are burned into my brain. I have a few days that are like that – but I have allowed the dates to blur – but that day and awful date I remember. I am sure there are others who remember it too. Maybe they don’t remember the exact date – but because it came in such close proximity to the 4th of July – perhaps they do. I hope for them some of the pain has eased.
If there were a box or a devise to secure those memories out of the way maybe someone would want to use it. I would not.
I don’t remember July 2nd of 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015. I know the days came and went and I am sure there were tears but I cannot tell you one other thing I did. Maybe there is something on a calendar somewhere or something I wrote that day. Beyond that there is nothing.
So how will I remember today besides the fact that it has been five years since I last saw you? Maybe these few words will remain. I wish they held more.
I know this sounds crazy but I still worry that you suffered. I think that is every parents fear. I am astonished at myself that I did not worry this much over the other times when you obviously suffered. Maybe I did but not to this obsessive degree. A lot of those times you kept hat suffering to yourself. You were if nothing else a meticulously private person.
For a while I hated the days after you died for moving me farther and father from you. Now I realize almost daily that I am moving closer to you.
As for people “feeling sorry” for me or our family I’ve decided it is okay. If people can feel “sorry” because you are not here, then I’ll accept that . People need to feel something these days.
Conversely, I feel sorry for them. They didn’t get to know you (if you would have let them). I remember when I told you that I had run in to the mother of young man you had known as a child you lost touch with. She and I agreed to remind you of each other and you were so annoyed with me – at us – the meddlesome moms! Then her son Caleb reached out to you and you responded and the friendship that ensued! It still makes me smile.
You introduced me to Matt and Zach, Travis, Joseph, P.T., Chris, Andrew, Jennifer among so many others. You shared your friends with me. What a gift!
Thank you for teaching me about dinosaurs, praying mantis, cobras, birds of prey, hiking, ethnic foods,craft beer, authors I would have never read and philosophy. I might never have considered learning about any of those things had it not been for you.
Thank you for loving us, your family.
So today is another day to pull out all the poignant, fine, sparkling memories. Louise Penny in her book The Long Way Home says “Maybe every now and then he (she) simply wept. Not in pain or sadness. The tears were just overwhelming memories, rendered into water, seeping out. (You) could almost see the images inside the tears.”
I love you babe.

Forever – Mom.

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child, Death, Family, Friends | 3 Comments

What does it taste like?

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I go out to eat.  There is something on the menu I have never seen before so feeling brave – I order it.   Everyone with me watches as the waiter places the hot plate before me.  They watch as I take the first bite.  They will decide if they will ask me for a taste after they watch the expression on my face.  Upon that bite as they watch me chew and analyze the question waits right there on their lips.

“What does it taste like?”

What can it be compared to?  Give us a reference point.  Does it taste like chicken?

When my dad died I had a lot of people who understood ( at least they thought) how I felt.   I’ve had friends who have lost parents and I can strongly empathize but I know deep down that I don’t know the nuances of their relationship with their parent.  I don’t know how they feel.

Maybe that is the lesson.  We need to stop thinking we understand.  After all, is there any way to figure out if chicken really tastes the same to me as it does to you?   There will never be a way to analyze and prove that one way or another.

What seems to be important here in the human experience is that we figure out a way to find some common point upon which to relate.   The danger is we manufacture, make-up and invent common points, we project our own feelings on to others without really being able to understand their feelings because it takes too much time and energy to listen.   We  are quick to check it off our list.

We say the words that are meant to close the door and secure it when others want to talk about the uncomfortable, the sad, the grievous.   “I know” we say.   Even though we don’t really know at all.

When my son died no one could stand to watch for long to see the expressions on my face as I entered this time.  I lost friends.  I did not loose my son – he still lives in me – but I lost friends. They don’t want to know how this tastes.

I have made friends with people who have experienced the death of a child.   The facts about what we have tasted go unspoken.  We can sit together in companionable silence assuming our feelings resemble each others.  There is nothing to prove and I can accept it when they respond to me “I know”.  Yet this connection wears thin too with time.

Family members have a hard time with me too.  Perhaps because they think they know me, having grown up with me to a point (when we were barely grown up at all)  and the changes they see and can’t pinpoint frighten them.

I have always wondered if ghosts were real.  Now at times I think I have become a ghost drifting through days, down halls I have always inhabited, interacting in a flimsy way with  the “real world.”

I pay attention to people with what “we” call disabilities.   I see how they work to compensate to function in a world not built for them.   I relate to that now.  I spend a lot of energy compensating. I thought it would change with time and it has but instead of becoming easier it  seems that once one hurdle is crossed another is in its place.

I am hyper vigilance.   I have tagged a lot of triggers and know where they are. There are unexpected triggers everywhere and I have to be on my guard.  Time is precious and entire days can be destroyed with a hidden trigger.

I can not really relate to the  situation I am in  either – not really.  It is never quite “done” and I don’t like how it tastes.  I do not  understand it. There are no rules.  This person, my son is present and not present.  He is here and not here.    I am not asking anyone else to understand either yet I keep trying to explain- if only to myself.   It doesn’t work.  I can not explain how this feels or tastes or looks.

Nothing is adequate.   It is not like when I lost my dad or my mom or my friends that have died.  It is not like when my daughter was sick, or when I miscarried.    It is not like anything else.   It is this.  My son died. He is still twenty-nine and I am still his mother.    Yes it will be soon be the fifth anniversary of his death and it is still yesterday.

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child, Death, Family, Friends, Memories | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Each passing day

 

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Dear son,
The world is still going crazy. The government is ridiculous. People  believe crazy things and  the politicians  making crazy promises and I apologize to you. I apologize about some of the things you used to ask me to question and for my stubborn stance. You were right.

 
I want to see you so badly.  I want to talk with you.  I want to take a hike somewhere. I would love to hear your opinions about the current presidential race. I need your arm around my shoulder. I need to brew us a cup of tea. I need you to make fun of my television shows. I need your critique about my paintings -there are so many you have not seen.

 

I wonder how you would be wearing your hair and what you would be doing now. Would you be teaching somewhere, involved in a post-doctoral program or earning a bicycle at New Belgium Brewery?

 
I don’t understand how things have come into being without you being here.

 
I can’t believe you have never met the youngest craziest dog in our pack.

 
I don’t know what I thought would happen with time. I keep going through the motions and I live and even have new adventures. There are real moments of joy because I love your sister and your dad and we support each other. Your dad, your sister and you are my home.

 
I still don’t know what to do.

 
There is nothing to be done for it.
I even stopped writing to you because I hate that I get no answer.

 

The red tail hawks come circle above me on these warming spring days and I wish I believed in signs. Regardless I tell them hello and thank them for coming by.

 
I am exhausted by the changes around me and the changes that age brings and the lack of change in the way I feel.

 
I am so thankful (and that sounds so strange) that I have so much I miss about you. I do the missing in many different ways and I’m not really good at any of it.
I don’t want to have to miss you. I really would rather be taking you for granted. (Sad truth in that sideways joke). I would like to have my concerns for you to distract me from this sorrow.

 
It is Spring and you, as ever, should be here. I’ve got hours and hours of things to say to you or hours and hours I would love to spend quietly with you but there is a mountain of snotty tissues beside me and saying anything more would just be repetition.

 
I love you. I love the memories I have of our time as mother and son. Oh sweet pea I love you so much.

 

Forever
Mom

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child | 7 Comments

Anger

IMG_4790Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and my son’s birthday have passed. The light lingers a bit longer and the globe is repeating the pattern that slowly guides us into Spring. The year that was 2015 brought about good changes for some family members and friends. It also brought with it some sorrow.

I decided not to write about each incremental step of the holidays and the markers that are mileposts for my own journey. It was conscious and deliberate to see what it felt like by fasting from talking about everything.
I made some other decisions that might have appeared to some in my family to be abrupt. I made them because I was determined to see something change. I thought primarily, selfishly, that it was change that needed to happen to those I live with.
I decided to go to counseling again. The pastor at the church we now attend spoke so highly of her counselor and recommended her to me that I decided why not? Here was someone who, at least, would be bound to have to listen to me. After all I would be paying for my time with her. I felt there was so much to be said about my frustrations and fears and anxiety and dissatisfaction with life and most of the people in it.
I was being driven along through my days by a strong hot wind.
When I began talking to the counselor I felt every frustration bubble to the top. Where to start? Unhappy, frustrated and dissatisfied was the place I was used to being and without realizing it- what I wanted to hold on to.
I was talking and sniffling when she stopped me. I was on a roll and she stopped me and said “I hear so much anger.” Which I have so say, made me angry. Of course I am angry. I am justified at being angry!
Life itself is not what I expected. In fact very little if anything has lived up to my expectations. The world, country, town, my son’s friends, my friends, my former church, my husband, my daughter, my son have all fallen short of my expectations.
The counselor without missing a beat immediately led me through a short meditation practice. When she began it she asked me where I felt the stress in my body. I felt like my legs were made of lead – much like it felt right after my son died. The heavy wet blanket was draped over me. With legs of lead you can’t move forward.
I breathed through the exercise and I took note. I resolved to practice. After the instructions she asked me how I felt and I was honest. “I feel resistence” I said.
I hated to admit to myself that she was correct. Anger has ruled and it is toxic. Having let go of so many things I was loath to let go of this one thing I was so familiar with.
So I went home and I practiced. I practiced when the dogs were barking and the news from the world news was terrifying. I practiced when I saw photos of my son. I practiced before my husband came home and when I saw the sad expressions on his and my daughter’s face.
I am not in charge of their feelings and I need to be able to choose what to do with my own feelings with as clear a mind as possible.
The world – my world will never live up to my expectations. It is the way it is and it is not my fault nor is it the fault of the people in my world. I don’t meet their expectations either.
I am beginning to see how linked my anger and fear are.
I was afraid that I might not be honoring my son if I do not continue to express how much I love him and miss him. Yet there other ways to honor him and my family. I can continue to practice putting out the angry fires that fuel my fear and unrealistic expectations. I’ve practiced being angry long enough.

 

 

Posted in anger, Co-dependency, Coping with the Death of a Child, Holidays, meditation, mindfulness | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Surviving the New Year

 

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I always thought it odd when reading an obituary or when one was read at a funeral that “survivors” were listed. Survived by Uncle, Aunt, sister, brother, wife, husband, mother, daughter, father. The event that caused the end of the deceased’s life was either an illness or an accident and the ones still living were just . . . well . . . still living.

 

Here is the definition:

sur·vi·vor
sərˈvīvər/
noun
noun: survivor; plural noun: survivors
1 a person who survives, especially a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died.”the sole survivor of the massacre”
▪ the remainder of a group of people or things.”a survivor from last year’s team”
▪ a person who copes well with difficulties in their life.”she is a born survivor”

 

It never ever occurred to me what survivor meant until my son died.

 

When my husbands dad died, my dad died, my husbands mother died, my mother died – their age, physical health and lack thereof all made their passing seem inevitable. Health failed them with time. That was the order I was used to.

 

My daughter survived cancer. That issue of survival I understood. Other children being treated for other cancers while she was in treatment did not survive. It made no sense. I saw the families of these children and they terrified me.

 

The fact that bad things could happen was made very clear to me. I got the message – no need for more information. But some how whoever is in charge did not get the memo. My son died.

 

Healthy, beautiful, smart, talented, funny and caustic – he fell from a height (that some have fallen from and lived) and broke his neck and died. We, my husband and daughter and I were listed as survivors.

 

Surviving does not mean flourishing or that you are unscathed or uninjured or even whole. It means the body is still functioning for the most part. Beyond that I am not sure you can grade or assess it.

 

It is an odd term but totally accurate for those who loose a loved one. Now I loved my mom and dad, please don’t get me wrong. But I don’t think about them every day – every single day – several times a day and always before I go to sleep and always when I wake up and always when I wake up in the night and when I drink a cup of tea or when I play with his dogs or . . . well – you get it.

 

This is what I imagine surviving looks like. I picture a person hanging on to a little white life preserver bobbing about in a thrashing sea. That’s me some days . Some days the wind dies down and the sun comes out and I can relax my grip a little but I’m still salty and wet and weary – surviving. It is a lot of work and to make things even harder the cheer leaders left on the bus long ago.

 

Friends and family want to think you are alright, better, doing well because they don’t want to think otherwise, just as I did not want to think otherwise all those years ago watching bereaved parents of cancer patients. I get it. But if you get the chance or notice someone out here paddling with me and the others on this sea – give us a wave and thumbs up now and then – we promise not to splash you.

Posted in Coping with the Death of a Child | 2 Comments