Time moves on

It’s been 1 year, 1 month and 16 days since Sam left us. I can’t believe how quickly time is flying by. The good in that is that the time moves quicker and I can be with my child again before i know it.

The grief hasn’t gotten easier. It’s become softer and I can go days without breaking down now. But inevitably I will find myself in a pool of tears when I find a safe and quiet place to let go. I rode home from work after dark the other night, and while the road was quiet under the stars, I couldnt help but to let go a guttural scream at the top of my lungs as my motorbike carried me down the lonely highway towards home. I needed the release. I’m afraid to show my emotions to others. I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable with my tears.

I started to watch a series on Netflix before Sam died called “Afterlife”. It was a dark British comedy about a man ( played by Ricky Gervais) in the aftermath of losing his wife to cancer. It was a wonderful series that concluded after 3 seasons. The premise of the show was about life after the loss of a significant love and moving on. But he didnt want to move on and considered so many different ways to end his life. He was befriended by the most colorful characters: a lonely postman; a junkie; a prostitute; a widow. It was a series that you couldn’t wait to watch the next episode. Had I watched the final show before Sam died, I probably would have hated how it ended. I would have cried for the loss of such a beloved character and hoped that the writers would do one better by re-writing one last script where that final episode had been just a dream. But it was the last show. And, after having lost someone I love so much, it was an ending where I felt so much peace in it. You see, the leading character went to a village festival and he happily took in how life had moved on, as life always does. New loves; new friendships. He smiled, and he and his loyal dog who had started to go grey around the muzzle and long in tooth, turned and walked off into the sunset. And as they walked up the hill, they faded away until they completely disappeared. I loved that ending. I cried my eyes out, but I completely understood. It’s how I feel- I watch the world move on as it should, but I don’t feel a part of it anymore. I don’t feel like I belong anywhere anymore. I wish Abe and I could just walk off into the sunset and quietly disappear like he did.

On another note: the Board of Inquiry finished up months ago. The officer in charge will fly out to me with the envelope containing the findings. I will sit with him, read the pages and afterwards when he leaves, I will sit alone and cry for the son who felt so lost in this world that he decided to leave. He told me that last night, that he just didn’t feel like he belonged anywhere. And lord , how I know just how he felt. I can honestly say that today, as I lay on the couch, I thought how nice it would be to just close my eyes one last time. But, today is not going to be that day.

Dreams

I dreamt about Sam last night. I hadn’t dreamt about him for a year, well not that I can remember anyway. I don’t often remember my dreams. I once asked him a question back in January on my birthday as I was drifting between sleep and awake, and I heard him answer inside my head…. like, I heard him in my thoughts, but it wasn’t my own thoughts if that makes sense. Anyway, around this time last year, just days after the funeral, I dreamt of him but it wasn’t like a dream. He was there. A visitation perhaps? No doubt actually. Since then though: nothing. Until this morning.

I have good days where sometimes my smile isn’t a fake ” hey I’m ok smile”. It’s genuine. I usually end up crying later that night because I feel guilty for feeling almost good in the moment. That’s just a normal part of grief. But yesterday work started off good. Around 5pm I got a message that I will be getting a copy of the findings from the Board of Inquiry into his death within the next few days. The military is good about doing this: they are sending the president who resided over the board to go over them with me in person. He lives almost 5000 kms away.

The findings, to me anyway, probably won’t tell me much more than I already know. But it finalizes it all. Ha….”finalizes”. As if this isn’t already final. To me, it will be like reading the autopsy report: which I never got and I doubt I could read it if I wanted to. It would only state the obvious : 31 year old male. Relatively healthy. A little overweight but not significant to cause health issues. Smoker. No substance abuse ( the coroner told me the day he died that there was a six pack of Corona on Sam’s counter with only two full bottles left in it – but that six pack with two full bottles had been there for the last month or so that I Facetimed with Sam). He was not a drinker. There might have been a little THC in his bloodstream. Cause of death : strangulation due to self inflicted hanging. I don’t need to read the autopsy. I already know. But the Board of Inquiry was conducted to see if the military hold any responsibility in his death, and to take away any points that may prevent another suicide from happening. ( suicide in the military is so prevalent lately. We lost another soldier just days ago). I don’t blame the military although there are situations that they contributed to, leading to his final mental health state. And I do feel that the psychiatrist and his casual prescribing of certain drugs without proper observation played a key role in Sams death. I hope…that is addressed. If not, I will be speaking to that and probably addressing the Board of Physcians and Surgeons of Ontario.

So anyway, long story short: I broke down in the bathroom at work and I couldn’t get my emotions under control so I left. And I called in sick today too.

Stupidly, I drove the motorcycle home from work: tears uncontrollably streaming down my face, riding the highway into the low setting sun. I may as well have been riding with my eyes closed. I’m surprised I made it home at all to be honest. Part of me didn’t care if I did.

I didn’t sleep well at all. Randy’s PTSD had rendered him useless for emotional support: he couldn’t even muster a hug. I went to bed with swollen eyes and a wicked headache from crying. I lay awake for hours. And then I slept. And awoke. And slept again. And awoke. It was a shitty sleep to say the least and I had to get up early for a peri-ondontist appointment (to find out that I have to have a root canal through an existing crown…yay…whatever).

But…. before I woke up for the last time this morning, I had a dream. Like most dreams, it was strange. We were at a resort type of place, and for some reason my daughter was there and she couldn’t breathe so I was panicking to find her epi pen. I found it and injected her to stop the anaphylaxis attack she was having, and then I was running through the corridors looking for what I’m not sure. But I went into this room and there was a young man with dark hair and I said ” do you know where Sam is?” He pointed to a door and told me he was in there. At that moment, Sam walked out smiling and I ran to him and wrapped my arms around him and told him not to disappear on me again. That hug lasted only long enough for me to wake up. But I woke up smiling. And then crying, but then smiling again. It felt so damned good to see his face.

All these months, I have gone to bed every night hoping and pleading with the Universe to let me see him; let me talk to him. But no dreams other than that first one. And now this.

I was in one of my darkest places last night but Sam showed up to help me out of it. I’m still struggling today: I’m in quite a funk actually. But, I got to see Sammy this morning. God I love that kid so much. If nothing else in this strange fucked up world: at least I was blessed with the four best children any mother could ever hope for. One day, we will all be together again. I hope for the 3 who still are on this side of the veil, that they will be here for many many more years to come. But I know that I don’t have many years left, and I’m good with that.

I just found this photo from about 13 years ago. Maybe it was why I dreamed of the hug. But I think the dream was much more.

A year came and went.  I couldn’t write. 

This is slowly killing me. 

I’ve bargained.  I’ve begged.  I’ve cried.  I’ve screamed. 

I’ve tried to be a pillar of grieving.  But I can’t breathe.  My heart feels like it is suffocating right now.  I watch the world move on one day at a time.  I don’t want to move on with it.  I want my family.  All of them.  I want to go back 15 years ago.  I want my children home.  I want everything to be normal.  I want to call my mom and for her to know who I am.  I want to call my father and not have him tell me of all the people visiting him at night when he is falling asleep… those people including his parents.  Who have been gone 30 years or more. My dad is dying and I don’t want him to. He has spoken to me twice now about MAID . I told him I understand and I’ll support him if that is what he really wants. But I don’t want him to die. I’m not ready. Is it wrong to make it about me?

I want my life back as it was…. before Sam died. Everything feels so bleak now.  I wake up.  I go to sleep.  I wake up.  i go to sleep.   How many more wake ups? How many more sleeps? Until I don’t have to any more.

The alcohol is kicking in.  And the pills.  Tomorrow is another day. 


One year ago today, we laid you to rest in a beautiful place surrounded by heros: a place so serene and so sacred. I felt you there that day: I know you watched in amazement at how many were there to say goodbye and to support us in our deepest time of sorrow.

We had a custom black granite urn made for you, with your rocket ship that was so meaningful to you etched into the stone. I now wear that rocketship proudly inked into my own flesh in memory of you.

That night, as we remembered you by the river in Merrickville, a blue dragonfly danced in the gentle breeze over our heads as the sun began to set while I let some of your ashes that we held back from the urn scatter in the breeze, as you had requested.

This past week, a blue dragonfly landed on Tess and Blaise right over the place where she wore a pin with your picture on it as we took pictures after their wedding ceremony. I had not seen a dragonfly on the property in the days leading up to the wedding, or in the days after. And trust me: I had watched for one.

So I know you were there with us.

Sam, my heart is made up of four quarters : one for each of my children. With a quarter of my heart missing, I am no longer full. I miss you so much.

Rest peacefully my sweet child. You are loved more than you ever knew. I love you, and I’ll see you on the other side.

Control

I recently started buying house plants. Like, literally everytime I go to the store, I go to the plant section. Oftentimes, I buy healthy plants, but when I see a plant that looks like it will just be thrown away, I feel sad for it, so I buy it and bring it home, take off the sick or dead leaves and flowers, and I attempt to nurse it back to health.

I havnt cared much for having house plants in many decades so I couldn’t explain why suddenly I’m buying plants, especially the sick ones. I had a green thumb when I was younger but it was lost on me many many years ago. I even bought a cactus yesterday: I named it Dom Pedro.

But I think I figured it out this morning.

I’ve lost control of so much in my life in the past year since Sams untimly departure. I couldn’t stop eating and I couldn’t stop the grief weight from gaining. I can’t control my lack of motivation to get back to running or to the gym. The injury to my Achilles tendon prevents running but I know that the extra weight is partly to blame for that injury not healing. I can’t control my emotions and you have no idea how exhausting it is to try to act ” normal” at work all day. Yet, i cant fall asleep at night for hours and then when i finally do, i have a hard time waking up in the morning. I can’t control the dark hole that I can’t seem to get out of: I don’t want to even tie a bottom at the bottom of the rope .

But these plants: like my dogs and my cat – I make sure that they have food. I make sure that they have enough light. I talk to them. I love them. I keep them going for the next day, and the next.

I can’t love myself. I couldn’t keep my son alive. But I am trying my hardest to keep these plants who have no control over their lives happy and healthy.

Will I gain back control over my own life one day? I don’t know. I’ve taken control for 7 days of what I eat, and finally I have reached the point where I am not fighting cravings. It is a start. But I broke down last night to the point I couldn’t catch my breath. My life is not as it was a year ago. It turned 90 degrees and I don’t think it will ever get back on the straight and narrow. Grief is not linear: that is for sure. But I know that the old path I walked is overgrown now and I doubt I will ever find it. No : I know that it is lost to me for good.

I miss you Sam. Xo

11 months 11 days

This is the last month of the year Sam was alive in. It’s been a year of firsts : much like the 1st year of his life except as each date passed, they were filled with sadness rather than joy. The milestones have added up – first Thanksgiving; first Christmas; first birthdays; first Easter ; first winter spring and summer: first year. All of these milestones we celebrated 32 years ago – but this year they were just filled with an emptiness – for me anyway.

It’s been the hardest year of my life. And as I navigate each day and each tear, it doesn’t get easier.

I’m told by other grieving parents that the second year is even harder. I don’t know if my heart can, or will survive it.

My thoughts of my son are obsessive: I can’t get him out of my head. I can’t stop the thoughts or the flow of memories. I’m afraid to say his name because it makes people uncomfortable. I used to speak freely of him, and of my other children in general conversation but, with death it seems that we are expected to not speak their name anymore. And I hate that. I’m proud of who he was just as I am proud of all of my children but it feels like I’m supposed to steer away from any conversation that his name would come up. Our society and culture has such an unhealthy attitude about death. I believe we should celebrate who our loved ones were in life even after they are gone.

But I started a ribbon campaign in my neighbourhood that starts tomorrow : many of my neighbour’s are going to tie teal and purple ribbons on a tree or fence post on their front lawn for the month of Aug. It is for Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention. It has opened a dialogue amongst us. The local paper is even picking up on the story in hopes that it reaches more neighbourhoods. So talking about Sam is having an effect, sadly, amongst strangers. For me, the ribbons are a way to celebrate my son but they are significant in bringing a lack of mental health awareness into the open : Sam will bring about an awareness of mental health and suicide prevention into the open. I hope that it helps to save someone, somewhere. I’m so proud of my boy.

The other night I was watering my garden and I felt like if I would turn around at that moment, I would see him standing there right behind me, with a big grin on his face. I wanted that so badly : just to have a brief moment with him. But I didn’t turn because I was afraid that if I did he wouldn’t be there and the vision in my head would lose any meaning. So instead, I just smiled at the thought. And it was special.

Compassion

Grief can be a nasty thing. I can’t believe the coldness of some people who are grieving.

Recently, a mom in a bereavement group that i belong to spoke about her son being incarcerated in prison for life. She misses him and grieves that he has lost his future and his freedom. She misses being able to see him every day. Her grief is different, but it is still grief none the less. While I agree that it probably isn’t the right group for her to belong to since her son still is alive and she can still see him; talk to him; hug him: we can’t. But instead of kindly suggesting that she might be in the wrong place, a few people launched on her. They were actually brutal to her.

If the death of our loved ones – in my case, my son, doesn’t teach the grieving an ounce of compassion or empathy for what others are struggling with on this journey, then they are not learning anything from the lesson that they were sent to this life to learn. In my belief, we have to keep coming back until we get it right. To be mean, and cruel and rude to anyone who doesn’t match your journey tells me that you have completely lost touch with your soul and who you are : which is an energy of all encompassing light and love.

I get that anger is a stage of grief, but it’s not right to treat others like shit. We never know what someone is going through at any given time. We never know when our cruel words might push someone over the edge.


This particular group is for parents who have lost a son. Our son’s died. But that doesn’t give us reign over the struggles of all human beings who are on this journey of life. If losing your son hasn’t heightened your spirituality and taught you empathy, then I’m truly sorry for you.


Grief is an awful thing. It can twist and distort our minds and even our bodies. But it is also a beautiful thing because it is the love that we have for someone who is very special and very loved by us. I feel truly blessed that my son chose me to be his mother and he would be devastated if his death : therefore he….were the reason why I had turned into a cold and embittered person.


We should have compassion for others. I know that not everyone was born with empathy. Sometimes i envy those people. But we are all capable of compassion. I am blessed that i had my son for his lifetime – no matter how short.

To those parents who were cold and callous towards that mother, all I can say is this : Let your son’s death teach you selflessness rather than selfishness. Everyone is on a journey. Just be kind. Always, just be kind. Maybe my son would still be here if more people were.

Triggers

I broke down at work today. I was up on a stand, reinstalling an engine driven compressor into the engine of an aircraft, when the song ” Take On Me” by Ah Ha started playing over the speaker that my co- workers were using to make our job a little less tedious. One of them saw the new Top Gun movie a few days ago and so he is hung up on listening to the sound track of the original and any other 80’s music on his playlist. It does create a nice working environment when we are all singing along to the music. I was enjoying myself and turning wrenches and feeling productive.

But then that song began to play. I stopped what I was doing, turned around and said ” please turn that song off. Please. Right now”. They were so good about it. They didn’t question me, they just turned it off and played the next song.

I tried to go back to what I was doing, but it was too late as I had reached that point where the tears were starting and as hard as I tried to hold them back, I couldn’t.

I climbed down off the stand, and I walked to the bathroom and tried to stifle the sound of my sobs. I tried to hold my breath to let it pass. The lump in my throat made it feel like I was having a heart attack. To be honest, at that moment I’d have been fine with a heart attack if I was having one. But the pain I felt, was only grief. A grief which is apparent, is not going to go anywhere anytime soon.

Why that song?

Shortly after Sam died, somebody told me to go to Sam’s Instagram. The day before he died, he video’d himself playing that song on his guitar and singing it.

Take on me;

Take me on;

I’ll be gone,

In a day or two….

He was gone in a day.

And now I can’t stop hearing those words.

Among his last words to me, were ” I don’t want to do this anymore”.

I understand. And I don’t want to either.

I’m tired.

I’m tired of this world.

I’m tired of trying to fit in. Or to be accepted.

I’m tired of trying to feel like I matter when I’m just one of billions of faces.

I’m tired of thinking that I make a difference to anyone when I don’t, aside from my dogs.

I’m tired of being invisible. I’m tired of having nothing to say that anyone wants to hear.

I don’t matter.

I’m tired.

I’m just so tired.

I miss my son.

It’s been 10 months since my son decided to leave us. I used to wonder how parents survived the loss of their child. But now I’ve come to realize, that we don’t. I mean, we continue to breathe and function in a living body, but who we once were, died with our child. I don’t think there is any way to ever really come back from this kind of loss.

My son did teach me some valuable lessons through his early departure though: I thought I was spiritual before he died, but I’ve become so much more so in these 10 months of my grief. I was empathetic before but I am ever more so now. I’ve learned that materialistic things aren’t important. I’ve learned that you should never leave things unsaid, and I’ve learned to really listen to others and to see the struggles that they also go through. I’ve learned not to minimize others experiences in comparison of my own. Many parents are so so fortunate not to have to experience this and I hope they never do so when they talk about the losses they have experienced I offer them my compassion. I am grateful that I wasnt left with anger, or resentment ( mostly) towards others.. I see so many parents that are dealing with so much anger and that coupled with grief must be unbearable. I find that the grief alone is more than I can handle some days as it is.

It baffles my mind how quickly time has passed since he left. I find comfort in that knowing that the quicker it passes the sooner I will join him. I’m grateful at the end of each day knowing that I am one day closer to that glorious reunion. I have 3 surviving children and I love them as I love him: more than life. But it is the natural order to lose a parent and I know that after the hurt, they would be OK.

I don’t know why but i feel that I don’t have a lot of time left: maybe that is just wishful thinking but if my gut instinct is right, I won’t have to wait too long to make my own way out of this world. But what is long really? A year? Five years? Maybe it is just my grief talking. I am surrounded by beauty but I no longer revel in it. All I know is that I really just don’t feel like I belong here anymore. I don’t feel apart of the beauty of this wordly existence anymore.

This journey: no matter how you look at it, just sucks. No matter how much logic tells you that it wasn’t your fault, as a parent you feel it to the core. And all the assurance from others can’t change that. If you are someone who is struggling and who is having suicidal ideation, please get help. Don’t put your loved ones through this because they love you so so much. Also, there is so much more good things waiting to happen to you. Stay ok? Just, stay.

I failed.

I loved my children more than I could ever have loved myself. But it wasn’t enough.

I failed Sam. He reached out to me that night. I didn’t understand. I failed him and he died.

Why do I continue to wake up every day? Why am I still here?

I just don’t know anything anymore.

I feel like saying fuck it and throwing in the towel. I told my psychologist this. I told her that I am happiest when I’ve decided that I’m not going to stay for the long haul, because, even though I havnt an end date in mind, I can see an end to it. Living in this emotional hell, is hell.

She said this is good. Which of course sounds bizarre. But she said when I have those good days, it makes healing easier: it’s easier to heal when you feel some happiness. But am I healing? Will I heal? I have lost so much. I’ve lost my son. I’ve lost my family. I feel like a burden to them now.

I become overwhelmed when I think that I could possibly live another 10, 20, 30 or more years with this pain. I try not to think of long term. I think as far as next week : I book my physio, dental and psych appointments and I don’t want to think beyond that.

But Randy and I are putting an offer in on a house tomorrow. This house isn’t my safe haven anymore: when I wake up in my bed and the sun shines through the window it brings back that phone call: that moment I knew he was gone. Most nights I just sleep in my guest room. Sam visited me in this house shortly after I moved here. I have memories of him here. I feel his spirit here, but I just don’t think I can stay. So here’s to hoping a new house is in the near future.

Pergatory

I live in a space between;
I’m neither here nor there;
I walk a line between two worlds;
I live deep inside a hell.

My dreams are filled with torment;
My soul has gone amiss;
It’s searching for my child;
Who left behind a dark abyss.

His voice I long to hear now;
I miss his sweet and gentle gaze;
My heart is all in tatters;
These are torturous and dark days.

But I know that just above me
In a place not far away,
His smile radiates  peacefully;
I’ll meet him there one day. 

But until that time Ill walk my steps,
In a place neither here nor there.
I reside between two worlds now:
I reside in a private hell.

What is left behind

The last few days have been a real struggle for me. I wake up, and immediately feel sad because I’m still here.

I go through the motions of daily life. Sometimes it feels surreal. Some days I feel like I’m in a matrix and I just wish I could find a glitch that my son could somehow come back through, or that I could slip out from.

The weather has been wreaking havoc on this beautiful little paradise island, and it has been doing it since Dec: rare is the day that we see sunshine. Rare is the day that it is actually warm. The two week forecast shows nothing but rain. It’s bullshit. And it effects me more than it ever did before. I hate this place.

My house is a mess; I can’t find the motivation to plant anything in my gardens. I have haphazardly thrown in a flower or two but I don’t take the time to or have the pride to stand back and think how pretty it looks. The weeds will just end up choking them out anyway. I really just don’t care. I tried to clean the house the other day but it really has gotten away from me and I just don’t know where to even start. My ADHD doesn’t allow me a start point and a finish point: instead I start one thing and then i see something else that needs doing, which leads me to see something else…. nothing gets done. My partner is struggling with his own problems and if I try to bring up needing help with the everyday chores, it just causes a fight.

This grief is killing me. Its eating me alive. I either cant sleep, or i sleep so deeply i cant wake up. My body is in a state of constant chronic pain so I’m living on doses of advil and/ or tylenol daily. Pills to sleep. Pills to wake up. Amphetamines for ADHD to function at my job. Blood pressure pills so my heart doesn’t explode. Or implode. Or both. It’s already broken so I don’t know how it keeps beating anyway. Pills pills and more pills. I’m sick of all of them.

” I don’t want to do this anymore. ” Those were some of the last words Sam spoke to me that final night. And they haunt me. And they scare me because I find myself thinking those same words almost daily. Actually, they don’t scare me at all to be honest and that is what scares me about them. I’m exhausted. I’m tired. I’m tired of feeling sad. I’m tired of crying. I’m tired of trying to act ok around others so that I don’t make them uncomfortable. I was told by a loved one that I only identify with my grief now: as if I somehow should be able to function normally. How? How do I do that? There is nothing normal about losing your child. Its not supposed to happen. I didn’t lose an arm or a leg; or a cousin or a friend; or a cat or a dog. I lost my child. 1/4 of my heart is gone. What is left of it is shattered. I’ve not had the luxury of having family around to support me through this. I feel like an outsider: an outcast. I see a psychologist regularly but after my session yesterday, I felt like just going home and dying. And it’s nothing she said to set me off… it’s my own mind. I’m in a battle against my own mind now.

I have my dog Abe : my sweet boy. He is my grounding rock that holds me down when i feel like I’m going to float away. And Sam’s dog Buddy, who at almost 20 probably will not be here much longer. Some days I look at both of them and i feel trapped by them. And I hate myself for thinking that. No one will take either of them if I’m not around. Abe was sick last week and i was worried about him. I still am. My son asked if he was OK, so at least he knows that Abe is very important to me. But no one else cares about my dog.

I don’t know how many times in the past 9 and a half months I have said ” I can’t do this”. But some how, I’m still here. Doing this. My body is in auto drive. My head is not in the game.

I miss you Sam. Why did you take you away from us? From me? Did you mean to? Or was it just an impulse that went too far and you couldn’t stop the outcome. Why couldn’t my words have saved you that night? Why didn’t you care enough about your family and how this would destroy us? I miss you sweet boy. I miss you so much.

Suicide is brutal.

To another parent on the loss of their son as they face the funeral…..

It’s so heartbreaking to see others have to walk this excruciating journey as they face the nightmare called suicide in the loss of their child. None of us want to be in this bereavement group.

No one ever knows what to say. There just are no words to cover it.

I reached out to another grieving parent today. I told him these words. They kind of sum it all up.

“I’d lend you my supposed “strength” that people all comment about. But I have none …. nor do I have the resilience that others think I do.
The fact is…. when we lose a child, we just go through the motions everyday for the rest of our lives. People think we are strong to survive the loss….but do we really survive it? I don’t think we do. We just exist on a different plane and our bodies and thought process become automated to attempt to fit into a place where we don’t belong anymore.

Just take every breath as it comes today Joe. Do what you need to do to just breathe. I feel your pain. It mingles with mine: with all of ours who are not here in the group by choice.

My thoughts are with you and your family on this horrible day. Give your boy a send off that he will be proud of: I guarantee you that his energy is there amongst all of you. His love for you will live on.

You will see him again.

Just breathe.

Big hug, from one devastated grieving parent to another.”

There are never the right words. There just, are no words.

The Will to Live

The other night I had what I think was an esophageal spasm. They present just like a heart attack. I had an episode back in 2014 and although the stress test was positive for blockage, the subsequent thalium stress test and ultrasound of the heart was inconclusive. They left it as ” possible esophageal spasm” because I didn’t want them to look further into it ( I’m in the military and if I had a problem with my heart it would end my career).


Fast forward to this weekend : it wasn’t as severe as the one many years ago, but as I lay there gasping ( breathing hurt) feeling the pain spreading across my chest and up into my neck and jaw, I literally felt at peace with it and was more than ready to go if it was indeed my time. We were camping in the middle of no where so going to a hospital wasn’t even an option. The spasm eventually passed and obviously I lived to see the mornings sunrise.


I believe that all living organisms have a natural instinctual reflex for survival : it’s why I don’t kill spiders or creepy crawly things or anything for that matter. I truly live with guilt for eating something that I knew was once alive. But it appears that my own survival instinct is gone after the loss of Sam.
While I am not out chasing death by any stretch of the imagination, I’m certainly not afraid of it should it decide that my time is up. Had Sammy died any other way, I would have been devastated but I feel like my instinct to survive his loss would have been stronger. Knowing that he was in that much emotional pain .. it’s just too much. As a parent, living with the knowledge that I couldn’t save him is simply more than I can wrap my head around.


I’m not suicidal….but I’m grateful at the end of each day knowing that I’m one day closer to joining him. I have 3 surviving children who I love more than life, but I feel that this pergatory I walk now doesn’t let me be present in their lives as I should be so what good am I? I can’t force it . I wish I could.


Why did life play this cruel fate on my family? It’s so unfair. I know that death is as natural as birth and that we all must face it at some point. But why? Why my family? Why my son? Why did Sam jump ahead in line? A parent is not supposed to bury their child. Its supposed to be the other way around. My family needed Sam in our lives. . I need Sam in my life. I wasn’t remotely ready to say goodbye. 😦

It’s been 9 and a half months.

………………………………………………………

I read this earlier today and it struck a chord. So I’m sharing it here on my page. I share it in hopes than my own grief becomes softer to carry one day. I still have so much to want to live for, but I’m broken beyond what many can comprehend unless they have lost such a huge part of themselves. Our children are as much a part of who we are, as we ourselves are. To lose that big a part of oneself is something that you just can never fully come back from.

Sharing.

I did not write this. My words could never be so eloquent. But I wanted to share this. Her words speak for every parent who has lost a child. It doesn’t matter the age, or how they died: Something dies in us when we lose a son or a daughter. Life is never the same, nor should it be expected to be.

I am a mother.
I am a bereaved mother.
My child died, and this is my reluctant path. It is not a path of my choice, but it is a path I must walk mindfully and with intention. It is a journey through the darkest night of my soul and it will take time to wind through the places that scare me.

Every cell in my body aches and longs to be with my beloved child. On days when grief is loud, I may be impatient, distracted, frustrated, and unfocused. I may get angry more easily, or I may seem hopeless. I will shed many, many, many tears. I won’t smile as often as my old self. Smiling hurts now. Most everything hurts some days, even breathing.

But please, just sit beside me.
Say nothing.
Do not offer a cure.
Or a pill, or a word, or a potion.
Witness my suffering and don’t turn away from me.
Please be gentle with me.
And I will try to be gentle with me too.

I will not ever “get over” my child’s death so please don’t urge me down that path.

Even on days when grief is quiescent, when it isn’t standing loudly in the foreground, even on days when I am even able to smile again, the pain is just beneath the surface.

There are days when I still feel paralyzed. My chest feels the sinking weight of my child’s absence and, sometimes, I feel as if I will explode from the grief.

Losing my child affects me in so many ways: as a woman, a mother, a human being. It affects every aspect of me: spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally. There are days when I barely recognize myself in the mirror anymore.

Grief is as personal to me as my fingerprint. Don’t tell me how I should or shouldn’t be grieving or that I should or shouldn’t “feel better by now.” Don’t tell me what’s right or wrong. I’m doing it my way, in my time. If I am to survive this, I must do what is best for me.

My understanding of life will change and a different meaning of life will slowly evolve. What I knew to be true or absolute or real or fair about the world has been challenged so I’m finding my way, moment-to-moment in this new place.

Things that once seemed important to me are barely thoughts any longer. I notice life’s suffering more- hungry children, the homeless and the destitute, a mother’s harsh voice toward her young child- or an elderly person struggling with the door.

There are so many things about the world which I now struggle to understand: Why do children die?

There are some questions, I’ve learned, which are simply unanswerable.

So please don’t tell me that “ God has a plan ” for me. This, my friend, is between me and my God. Those platitudes slip far too easily from the mouths of those who tuck their own child into a safe, warm bed at night: Can you begin to imagine your own child, flesh of your flesh, lying lifeless in a casket, when “goodbye” means you’ll never see them on this Earth again?

Grieving mothers- and fathers- and grandparents- and siblings won’t wake up one day with everything ’okay’ and life back to normal. I have a new normal now.

As time passes, I may gain gifts, and treasures, and insights but anything gained was too high a cost when compared to what was lost.

Perhaps, one day, when I am very, very old, I will say that time has truly helped to heal my broken heart.

But always remember that not a second of any minute of any hour of any day passes when I am not aware of the presence of my child’s absence, no matter how many years lurk over my shoulder, don’t forget that I have another one, another child, whose absence, like the sky, is spread over everything as C.S. Lewis said.

My child may have died; but my love – and my motherhood – never will.

“For Grieving Mothers”
Wonderfully written by Dr. Joanne Cacciatore ❤️❤️❤️

Always

I was driving to work early this morning. As my car rounded the bend of 1st St, I said aloud ” I miss you so much Sam”.

Within 2 seconds ( I kid you not and no exageration) the song ” Always” by Killswitch Engage started to play. This song is on my Spotify playlist but I have over 4000 songs on that list, and this song rarely plays.

The lyrics go as below :

“In these moments of loss and torment
When the vast skies don’t seem to call to you
When the weight of this world bears down
And the stars have fallen like tears

I am with you always
From the darkness of night ’til the morning
I am with you always
From life until death takes me

Monuments built in remembrance of me
But monuments fade, erode and decay
The memories are all that remain (all that remain)
As far as east is from the west, remember

I am with you always
From the darkness of night until the morning
I am with you always
From life until death takes me

When hope seems lost down and lowly
I am here with you always

I am with you always
From the darkness of night

I am with you always
From the darkness of night until the morning
I am with you always
From life until death takes me

I am with you always
From life until death takes me”.

Our loved ones are always with us and they hear us. When they can, the give us signs.

I really needed this one today. Thank you my sweet Sam. I love and miss you.

Camping

We are camping at Sointula : a beautiful island called Malcolm Island near the north eastern tip of Vancouver Island. It is a quaint little place where wildlife is abound and the Orca are known to scratch their bellies on the pebble shores. It’s a beautiful paradise three hours away from our home.

I needed to get away from all of the reminders that make me sad. Of course that is impossible but falling asleep to the lull of the ocean is almost meditative and I slept better than I usually do at home.

I awoke this morning and I had a sense that all was good in the world and for a moment I was tricked into thinking that I was finally waking up from the nightmare. In the earlier days, when I awoke (well on the nights that I actually slept) I would have a moment where I could almost forget that Sam had died: where it felt like everything was normal. But then I would remember. For a brief few seconds, this morning felt like life was normal. I lay here refusing to look at the memorial tattoo on my wrist which always brings me back to reality. But I didn’t need to look. I loved those few seconds though. I relished in them.

We ate a breakfast of French toast and pure maple syrup (a camping tradition ) as we listened to the sounds of the ocean and CBC radio. I usually enjoy listening to the stories but this morning it was all about the mass shooting in the US earlier in the week. 21 dead. Heart breaking. There was a time when I would think ” those poor families: I can’t even begin to imagine the parents anguish at losing their child”. But now I only wish that I couldn’t begin to imagine. I have no idea of the horror of what they went through in the hours waiting to find out about their loved ones…nor do I have any idea how it feels to lose a young child in such a horrific violent way. But I do know first hand, what it feels to lose a child. And I wish I didn’t. 😦 I can’t help but to wonder about the parents of the shooter. How conflicting their emotions must be because for all the horror their son inflicted on the lives of those who he killed that day; their families; and the survivors of his rampage : they also lost their son and right now, he is probably one of the most hated men in America. How will they grieve? Under the circumstances: how will they even be allowed to grieve?

There is just so much wrong in this world. Every day the news is filled with horrible things and atrocities and it just never gets better. Will it ever get better?

But just for tonight, I’m going to try to fall asleep again to the lull of the north Pacific. And tomorrow, I will awaken into a world where I just don’t know where I fit anymore.

The loss of a child

I’ve had many parents say to me, ” I don’t know how I would survive the loss of a child. I’d want to die with them”.

I’ve been told that I’m very strong to be living with this.

I don’t know about being ” strong”. Because I’m not. I’ve been resilient through out my life because I’ve had to be. But I wouldn’t say I’m strong. And this time, I wouldn’t even say I am resilient either.

Being a mother to four children, my biggest fear in life was something happening to one of them because I didn’t know how I would survive or how i would be able to be there for the surviving three. In fact, like any other parent: I would want to die. I didn’t though: I’m still here.

There are many days – most days in fact that I wish I could just let go and free fall into the whatever there is after this life. I’d be content if I found out I had cancer tomorrow. How fucked up is that? It’s not that I want to leave my surviving children : I love them more than life. It’s just that the pain of loss oftentimes is more than I can handle.

I’ve never had a favorite child although I have been told many a time by my children that I do. I hated it when they would say that. None of them ever said Sam was my favorite though. Poor Sam : he lived his life always feeling like he just didn’t matter as much as the others. He did though. He meant everything to me. Just like his siblings : each one meant/means the world. All of them are my whole universe. My role in this lifetime was to be their mother. None of the other stuff matters.

I talked to Sam alot in the last few years. He would often call me on his way home from work (when he was married he wasn’t “allowed” to call me from home so he would call on his way home). In the last year of his life he called me almost daily – sometimes twice a day. He always seemed to know when I was headed to the store and we would chat on the drive; often times he would call me when I was driving home from the next town. I have a hard time driving alone now. I miss hearing his voice over the speaker. I was never sure if he called because he worried that I was lonely, or if it was because he was lonely. I know that I am lonely now.

I miss him.

Strength and resilience : I have neither. I just keep going. Another day, and then another and another and another. I feel stuck: as I have said before, I feel like I am in pergatory. Just like any other parent – I have said in the past that I wouldn’t want to survive the loss of one of my children. I can honestly say that didn’t change after I lost Sam. Like any other parent, I still don’t want to survive the loss of my child.

Nine Months

Nine months today he left us. Nine months has passed so quickly. I carried him in the womb for nine months and 3 days : in 3 days he will have been gone longer than I carried him in my body.

I carry his pain with me now. But if that means he can be at peace, then I will carry it for him for the rest of my life : it’s the last thing I can do for him.

I was blessed to be his mom and I’d do it all over if I had the chance.

I love you Sam. I miss you.