Grief, again

I’m laying in bed. My room is a mess. My house is a mess. My head is a mess. I can’t seem to take that first step towards cleaning or tidying any of it. I have Buddy wrapped up under the blankets with me. He is doing so much better than when he first got here, but I know that at 19, he is on borrowed time. I don’t know how I will be able to say goodbye when the time comes. He is Sam’s dog and I’m just taking care of him until they are together again. Will my heart be able to handle that day? It’s already completely broken so what will happen to me when that day comes? God only knows. I have no regrets for caring for Buddy but I wish my family might have considered how difficult it will be when that time does come, when they asked me to take him. Every morning I wake up and I look over at him to see if he is breathing. I want a peaceful death for him – in his sleep. Yet I watch for his chest rising every morning, dreading the day when it doesn’t.

I dreamt I was in an airplane last night, and that it crashed. I think I was flying it. I knew the dream with such clarity when I woke up, and I should have written it down but these last few days it’s been very difficult to even open my eyes when I wake up let alone find a pen and paper to write about it. I wish I could remember the dream but it is fleeting quickly out of the grasp of my memory as I try to recall it. It felt like it was important: there was an urgency to remember something about it. But it’s gone.

I had a good few days but, as it does….grief has clawed me back under the blankets where I just want to stay and never come out. Darkness is spilling out of me as it runs down my cheeks. My doctor prescribed some stronger painkillers to deal with what has become chronic pain and inflammation that is wreaking havoc on my physical body, yet I know that it’s linked to my mind, (and probably the excess grief-induced weight gain that is making me not want to put clothes on). I somehow need to will myself to get out of this bed: I need to be somewhere in a few hours. I made a promise to my body that we would do yoga this morning but, here I am….laying here in bed with Sam’s dog tucked in under the covers.

I wish I could be good again. But I wish my little family was intact: that Sam was alive. I wish for a lot of things but it all boils down to the emptiness that can not be filled. My usual go to’s: a bag of candy kisses; a trip to my favorite store; yoga; music; a walk along the ocean; ginger snaps – none of these bring me happiness aside from a momentary distraction that the tides quickly fill in again with debilitating sadness. I can’t close the portal to my imagination where I keep seeing his last moments. I wasn’t there when he took his last breath. No one was: Sam died alone. So my imagination keeps drawing a picture for me. And it’s brutal.

Life changes after suicide. We know that our loved ones were suffering. I’m happy for Sam that he is at peace. But my peace is gone. Joy is gone. What does my future hold now?

Seven Months

It’s been 7 months today.

I’m trying to will myself off of the couch to do yoga. But I havnt any motivation. I have a headache. I didn’t get dressed until 4: still not sure why I bothered at all.

I dreamt two nights ago that one of Sam’s friends was mentally struggling. Actually, I dreamt that he was going to take his life. So at the risk of sounding like a lunatic, I reached out to his friend today to ask if he was OK. It turns out, two nights ago he came across a photo of Sam and he reminisced and laughed and cried as he talked to him into the night. It was a tough night for him. I hadn’t spoken to this particular friend of his ever. So, I can’t help but wonder if there wasn’t some intervention on Sam’s part going on there. His friend didn’t think I was crazy. He was appreciative that I cared enough to check up on him. We all need to check up on one another. It’s been a tough few years on everyone

Seven months. I can’t believe we have gone through autumn, winter and now we are into spring. Five more months and it will be a year. It still feels like yesterday: It doesn’t get any easier regardless of what ” they” say. I don’t suspect it will.

I can make it through a week now without crying. But, usually, when I do break, it isn’t pretty. I’m disgusted with myself: I have eaten for comfort all of these months and now most of my wardrobe doesn’t fit. I can’t seem to control my bad eating habits . I almost don’t care: except it’s a real hassle to exchange my uniforms at work. I’ve been trying to intermittently fast to get in under control and shed the extra weight but, these last two days it just wasn’t possible. I’ll try again tomorrow.

It’s funny how all the things that seemed so important before the traumatic loss of a loved one don’t seem to matter much anymore. I just wake up day after day now, wishing I had a countdown to when I’d see him again.

I miss my other children. I really don’t hear much from them, and with the busy lives they all lead I always feel like I’m interrupting if I call them. Having Sam gone really exaggerates the echo I feel when I don’t get to talk to my family.

Seven months of life without Sam. I didn’t think I’d make it this far. I don’t know how I’ve made it this far.

Between here and there

Im floating. I’m between two worlds : I want to be in both places but that’s not possible. I’m neither here nor there. I’m torn between the living and the dead.

It’s been 7 months – well in two more days it will be anyway. Today is Thursday: It was the Thursday night that I said goodbye in that casual sort of way you do when you expect that you will be talking to that person again tomorrow. How could I have known that when I said ” bye for now” it would turn out to be the the last time. At least I said” I love you”.

Time has frozen over for me. 7 months has passed by in a moment but it has stood still from where I’m floating. As I watched the world and everyone move on from that day I have stayed there: waiting for some sign of life ; Some miracle: Any chance that I could slip through some door that was accidentally left open into yesterday and somehow change the turn of events that has left us here mourning our beautiful boy.

I feel that my children have begun to heal from this nightmare and that brings me hope for them. I want them to be able to find solid ground to move onto but I know that they hurt. How can they not? I feel guilty that I can’t seem to find my way back to being the mother to them that I once thought I was before all of this. I love them with every breath I inhale. But every breath I exhale is full of pain and loss for the one who chose to leave us. I’m broken. The kind of broken that can’t be fixed. I float here between their world, and the world that he went to: not fitting into either place. So I stay by his graveside and weep.

Floating should have weightlessness about it. But in reality, my bones hurt. My head hurts most of the time. And I’m tired. This place of purgatory is my personal hell. It leaves me watching life go on by the sidelines – wanting to join in but never quite being able to. I feel an alienation from those remaining who I love. I feel like I’m slowly evaporating. I’ve felt alone in this lifetime; but never as alone as I feel now.

How am I supposed to move forward? Can anyone help me? Can anyone take my hand and lead me back into life? Is that even possible?

Dragonfly

I was reading a post earlier today that discussed life after death and whether it is real or not. I choose to believe that there is so much more to our existence than just… here.

I am not religious by any exageration of the mind, but I am spiritual and I have faith that whatever you choose to believe in: whether it is God, Spirit, Allah or any other divinity: it all boils down to there being more than just here and now. I believe that we are so much more than we realize and these earthly bodies are just how we experience our time here on Mother Earth.

My son, Samuel James Hills, was 31.5 years old when he died last summer. He was my third born child of four. Not a breath goes by that he isn’t in my thoughts and not a day goes by that I don’t have a panic’d thought that he is gone. That I will never feel his hug or see his grin and hear his voice again, has left me in mere shreds of who I used to be. But, I know he is with me. And I have been so gifted to receive the signs he sends me to remind me often that he is not far. I believe that we all receive these gifts from our loved ones: but some folk are just more tuned in to receive them than others. This is so very sad because I hear so many moms who are desperate for a sign from their child but don’t receive them. Chances are, they just don’t understand them when they are gifted by their loved one.

The night of Sam’s funeral, we had a reception at the family cottage and invited those who attended as well as anyone who couldn’t attend ( Covid mandate only allowed a max of 60 at the funeral) to join us for refreshments, and a get together to remember such an incredible and missed young man.

Sam loved the cottage, and had said to scatter his ashes there. While we had most of his ashes interred at the National Military Cemetary in Ottawa ( he was a soldier and I felt it fitting that he be buried amongst other heros in a place of honour) I did hold back a small packet of ashes to scatter at the cottage as he had requested in his final note to us.

Most of our guests started to leave just as the sun was starting to go down. At dusk, I asked family to gather by the river side so that we could all remember Sam as I scattered his ashes to the gentle breeze. I asked my oldest son to play the song ” The Crow and the Butterfly” by Shinedown as I did this, on Sam’s Bluetooth speaker. ” (The Crow and the Butterfly” is a song about a mother’s loss and if you haven’t seen the video, you should watch it.). As the music played, we watched his ashes disappear into the air and when the music stopped, I wanted just a moment of silence. Except, Sam’s Bluetooth speaker had a different idea. It started to play a song by Creed called ” My Sacrifice” and the words to that song will give you goosebumps after I tell you the rest of my story. Seriously : listen to the song and read the lyrics as you do.

Anyway, just as that song started to play, this big dragonfly flew down right in front of us and started swooping and diving and hovering before our eyes: as if dancing to the music. It was beautiful. As I watched and listened I figured that when the music ended the dragonfly would still be there as it was probably just hunting…. but when the music faded away, the dragonfly hovered in front of us- facing us for the briefest moment, and then it flew off into the night sky.

What makes this story even more moving and beautiful, is that the day before his funeral, I started wearing a necklace with a dragonfly pendant which contains within, a small amount of Sam’s ashes.

While Sam has given me so many more signs since that night, the Dragonfly was such a beautiful gift at the end of one of the hardest days of my life. I have zero doubt, that it was my son coming to tell us that he was with us.

Now….go and listen to that song.

I can’t help but to wonder what is going on in the world. Right on the heels of a global pandemic we are staring down the barrel of a madman who doesn’t seem to be concerned about how the world perceives his plan to take over the Ukraine and threatens nuclear retaliation if anyone intervenes.

As the world looks on, we all offer our support from the sidelines as we watch in horror while millions are displaced, or brutally killed in unprovoked attacks. But essentially, we do very little to help.

Everyone is afraid of the madman. The bully.

Of course there is also the threat from China who, no doubt, would probably jump in to back Mr Putin given the opportunity.

We are all living in a world that many of us could not have imagined. In a blink of an eye, everything could be over.

If the past few years of natural disasters, inferno wild fires, pandemic, insanity hadn’t been enough writing on the wall: I don’t know what else could have presented the human race with a reality of what, in all possibility, could be the end of our species, and probably this planet.

I am neither a scientist, nor a scholar, nor a psychic or a politician or by any far reaching grasp of the word: a genius, but I have foreseen the demise of us from a very early age. Of course I hope I’m wrong about it: I hope that things can turn around on a dime, but the road we are walking on now, seems to have almost a sense of finality to it.

Maybe it’s just my state of mind. But I think it’s more than that.

The few bereavement groups that I belong to are alarming to a society that is crumbling. The number of suicides just grow higher at a rate that is scary. Although we can never know what goes on in the mind of another, often these free will decisions are unexpected by loved ones. Looking at the photos of the departed show young men and women who look like they are full of life and self esteem. And then suddenly they are gone: leaving grief behind to their loved ones who wander aimlessly lost in a world most think they could never endure. I know I didn’t think I could survive the loss of one of my children; I still don’t know if I can, but here I am: trying.

I can’t help to wonder if this exodus of souls is just a trickling of what’s to come. Do we have long left on this planet? Is Mother Earth getting ready to shed us because it’s become clear that although there are wonderful people here, war and greed and hatred continue to prevail and our time here is ticking down? All the millenia that we have walked this earth, and we still have not learned what we came here to learn.

While I’m sad and I’m scared for mankind, I’m no longer scared for myself.

Where have you gone Sam?

Why can’t I see you?
           Where have you gone?

I’m still here.
            I’m all around you mom.

Why can’t I hear you?
          It tears out my heart.

Listen in the rain,
           We’re not far apart.

When the sun shines,
             I  promise I’m there.

When the cool wind blows
              That’s me blowing your hair.

Nothing has changed
               Between you and I.

I’ve not gone too far mom.
               I did not say goodbye.

Look to the nightsky
               I’ll twinkle at night

I’ve not gone too far mom
               Everything is alright.

And when your time comes
               I’ll come to you there

And bring you to heaven
                On a bright golden stair.

We’ll soon be together,
                 I wasn’t saying goodbye

I’m still all around you mom.
                    I didn’t die.

As I was going through some boxes today, I came across some of Sam’s clothing and a pair of dress shoes that I had bought him when he was still living at home. The shoes struck me the hardest for some reason. I’m not sure why.

It was like ripping a scab off.

Six months in, and I have good moments; good hours and even good days. But then I’ll turn a corner and something will set me off. It can be an item of clothing, or a flash memory that comes into mind. Some times, I can’t seem to stop the flow of memories as they cascade from one decade to the next. Even yoga is not exempt from the thoughts that seen to dominate the forefront of my mind.

Today was particularly brutal. It’s March on Canada’s west coast. The sun is a rarity and dark grey skies and rain permeate the forecast. It really doesn’t contribute to happy days for the best of us. But when you are already struggling, it’s hell.

I stopped taking my anti-depressant medication in Dec. I had been taking it for three years and it always helped me. Sam was on that same medication and it did nothing for him: it seems to have made things worse in fact. I’m not an expert but I attribute that medication as one of the factors in his death. It doesn’t seem fair that it worked for me but not him. So I won’t take it anymore. I know that seems counterproductive. It is. But nothing makes sense to me anymore. I’m in a messed up, fucked up world now that I no longer belong in.

My own suicidal ideation is more than just looming in the background now: it’s present most days. Either Im wishing for a disease or I’m trying to find a quick and easy solution to this pain that engulfs me daily. But there is nothing easy about this. I can’t go. It wouldn’t be fair to those who love me.

How is a mother supposed to live on after burying her child?

Pets and Loss

I have Buddy. He was Sam’s dog. For as long as we had Buddy ( almost 19 years), he had ALWAYS been Sam’s dog.

Buddy ended up on our doorstep when he was enroute to the shelter. He had been passed around a group of teenagers for a week or so and no one was able to keep him. He was approx 10 weeks old; scrawny; full of worms ; and homeless. He was the cutest puppy I had ever seen.

I begged my then-husband to let me take him in and find him a home. We didn’t plan on keeping him so rather than give him a name: (to name him would mean to keep him), we just called him Buddy.

We kept him and we named him Buddy.

From early on, he was Sam’s dog. He slept in Sam’s room; in Sam’s bed. They were best buddies. Eventually, when Sam grew up and moved away, it was only fitting that Buddy went with him.

Buddy was never accepted by the woman Sam eventually married. This cute little 15 lb terrier cross annoyed her to no end. She kept him locked up in an unheated room and the only time he was allowed out of that room was when Sam was home and he took him out. She hated everything about this little dog. Even his walking annoyed her ( thus….being locked away from her). Eventually she convinced Sam that they needed a puppy for her son, so they got Theo. He was an Aussie Shep/ Border Collie cross. And Buddy was left even more out of the picture. Sam included Buddy in every way, but as he wasn’t at home as often, it led to him being locked in his dungeon. The few times I visited them in their home, I always believed would be the last visit with Buddy as he never got out of his bed in his isolation. The dog was physically and mentally deteriorating.

Theo had some real insecurities leading to stranger reactivity. His ex wife didn’t know how to handle the dog so it meant quality time at the dog park for Sam, Buddy and Theo. He would go get a ” Timmies” at Tim Hortons, take a ball and off the Three Amigos would go.

Sam and Jackie split up in the early days of Covid. She announced this intent to break up over Christmas Dinner at my ex husband’s house unbeknownst to poor Sam prior. My ex husband’s new wife assured her that she would always be a part of the family. In those months that followed, she heaped so much support on Jackie, and none on my son. It was sickening. The lack of support that Sam received from his father and his step mother during those early months of Covid isolation, was truly mind bending and heart breaking. I can only imagine how it felt for Sam.

That same night, Buddy was severely bitten by a visiting pit bull. The dog was blind in one eye and it’s believed that Buddy startled him when he walked by. Buddy’s forearm was snapped and bone was protruding. Jackie apparently laughed. Sam drove two hours on his own to an after hours emergency vet in Ottawa. He had his arm set and nursed him back to health over the coming weeks. I really figured it was the end of Buddy. In hindsight, it’s ironic now that Buddy is still here, and Sam’s not.

Jackie had been seeing an old high school flame and wanted to be with him regardless that at the time he was awaiting sentencing for drug trafficking and would be going to prison for awhile. ( The relationship was short-lived, as six months after she left Sam for this guy, he died of a drug overdose. )

Theo and Buddy, Blackie ( Jackie’s mothers cat) and a hampster that she had bought her son for his birthday, were left for Sam to care for. When he asked her about returning the cat to the mother, Jackie refused. When he asked her if she would like him to bring the hampster to her son, she told him to find someone with a snake and offer it to them. This is the sick minded person who she was. Sam kept the four pets, eventually finding a home for the cat. The hampster died just days before Sam did.

The morning that Sam took his life, he did it outside the front door on his verandah. Theo and Buddy had been left inside. I can only imagine how those dogs felt: could they sense his panic beyond the door? Did they sense him leave his body?

I don’t know what time of the morning that my son died. His upstairs neighbor found him when he was leaving for work. He cut him down, called 911 and started CPR. He told me that so many emergency vehicles came screaming down the highway to the house.

I noticed last night that Buddy almost panicked when he heard emergency vehicles on the TV. Twice. He is very hard of hearing at his advanced age of 19, and he barely comes to me when I call him. But the sound of emergency vehicles triggered a response in him.

When the police entered Sam’s home, Theo of course was very protective and had to be subdued. The detective that called me, seemed to be pretty upset about having to leave these two dogs in a cold kennel at the SPCA but assured me that they were together. My son Matt picked them up the following morning.

Buddy and Theo stayed with Matt in the early days. Theo would sit looking out the window as if he was waiting for Sam to come and get him. Buddy, just roombad around is his own lost little world.

Sam’s best friend stepped in eventually and offered to take Theo. And three months later, Buddy came out to the west coast to live out his years with me where the climate is much more mild. .

I really didn’t think that Buddy had much time left. He rarely got out of his bed. I had him vet checked and he was treated for a bladder infection. But I figured he was on his last legs.

He has been with me for two months now, and what a change. I’ve come to realize that he had been depressed and that was why he rarely got out of his bed. But Buddy gets noticeably excited now when someone comes to the door. He gets especially excited when I come home from work. Although he can’t keep up, he loves to go for walks with our other two dogs. His nose can smell bacon from a deep sleep, and in the evening: Buddy gets zoomies.

So what I am writing about today is grief, and how it effects the beloved pets of those who have gone on ahead of us. We don’t give them or their feelings and emotions nearly as much credit as they deserve. I used to believe that Sam was safe from suicide because he would never leave his precious dogs behind. Sadly, I know now that mental health has a way of making someone do things that we could never expect. But I know the bond ran deep between my boy and his dogs. And seeing Buddy react to emergency vehicles, and to see him starting to come out of his depression, makes me understand animals on a whole new level.

Me holding Buddy the day adder Sam died.
Happier times
Theo looking out the window, waiting for his person 😦

Anger

I read somewhere that anger is the second stage of grief.

I haven’t hit the anger stage yet; at least I don’t think I have. I know I am angry at my son’s ex-wife for the role she played in Sam’s mental decline. And I’m mad at his supervisor for the way she treated him in those months leading up to his death. But I was mad at both of them before he died. I did once publicly say that his ex-wife left him for someone else, and my daughter got” all in my face” for saying it. Apparently I’m not allowed to be hurt or angry or say anything that might hurt the person who hurt my son, and who in turn played a pivotal role in the destruction of my life. Maybe I’m mad at my daughter now.

But I read from other parents: mostly mothers, who are just so angry at God and friends and family. I feel like the only overwhelming emotions that I feel are loss and sadness. Some days I feel like I might go crazy, but that isn’t an emotion is it?

I realized today, that the path in life that I was once on, no longer exists. I don’t have a future anymore: I don’t think about one anyway. Where I once had dreams about buying land, or advancing my career, there is now nothing. I used to dream of winning a lottery. I used to think about what it would be like to be able to go on lavish holidays; or buy a nice sports car or new motorcycle. I used to think about one day marrying Randy. I don’t think about anything anymore regarding a future. I don’t have a future. I have the present: the here and now. And Aug 2021. That’s it. That’s all.

Every day now for me is waking up; doing what needs to be done that day, and then going to bed to hopefully sleep. Sleep brings an escape from all of this. In my perfect world, I would stay in my dreams and never return to a conscious state.

It’s been six months in a world without my third child. I’m no closer to figuring out how to live in a world without him. All I do know, is that every day brings me one day closer to being with him.

To anyone contemplating ending their life: this is what you will commit your loved ones to for the rest of theirs. Please, think about them. I know your pain is strong. But, try to think about your loved ones. I don’t know how long I can sustain this life of mine. But I’m trying. Life is hell on earth for me now.

Happy Birthday Sam

Happy Birthday in Heaven my sweet Sam. 32 years ago today I looked into your eyes for the first time. I was so lucky to be your mom that day and truly blessed to share your 31.5 years of life. You will be with me for the rest of mine : deep within my shattered heart…. but I sure wish you were still here.

You are missed with every breath I take. I hope that where ever you are, you know how much you are loved and missed.

Love mom

Bam Hills

Pain

I’m on holiday.

Everything triggers a memory.

As much as I try to get into the groove of enjoying the surf, sun and beauty of Hawaii, my mind constantly contorts itself to remembering or thinking about my son.

Is this what I am destined for what time is left?

“I don’t want to do this any more.”

Those were some of the last words my sweet, beautiful son said to me just hours before he left.

I have 3 other children. I know they would be devastated if i was gone. I don’t know how to even be their mother anymore. I love them all. But I know they are settled in life and surrounded by love. I think they would be OK in time.

My dog Abes big beer bottle brown eyes are what keep me here the most in my darkest moments.

I live my life these days hoping that every ache; every headache; every stabbing pain in my head or abdomen is something that will take me out of here.

I don’t know how long I can do this. All I do know, is that like Sam: I don’t want to do this anymore.

Sinead O’Connor

I read an article about Sinead O’Connor this morning. It stated how she said that she would never sing again after losing her son to suicide a few months ago. Of course, there was “that” stupid comment made by one reader stating how she always made rash decisions and comments in “emotional” moments.

“Emotional moments”. Let me contemplate that for a second.

All I can come back with is that I’m happy for whoever made that comment, that they just don’t know. I don’t even have the strength anymore to be mad about what others say.

I don’t have the luxury to stop doing what I do in order to afford living. I could, I suppose, live on the streets. I’m in Hawaii at the moment and I see so many living homeless on the beaches. In tents. I could do that. But the reality is that I do like my bed, my shower, and the comfort of my roof in a storm. And work is a distraction most of the time.

Sinead O’Connor was born with a beautiful gift, but I truly understand her decision. When we lose a child this way, the grief re-wires our brains. Nothing brings us joy, excitement, happiness, not even content. The things that once meant a lot to us no longer do. It’s as if we are living in a state of suspended animation, or purgatory. We can’t go back to save our child….yet we feel like we can’t go forward either. We are literally stuck.

I’m here on Oahu on a much needed break ( as others have said to me), but I don’t feel any of the excitement I should be feeling. Not even when I climbed down into a cage 3 miles off shore yesterday to swim with sharks. There were many sharks down there, and just off the starboard bow of the boat: two humpback whales breeching dangerously close to the boat. But I couldn’t feel excitement….as much as I wanted to. I did feel sea sick though: so much so that I vomited both in and out of the boat several times. But that’s another story.

Sending love and compassion to Sinead O’Conner today. Although we have been on different life paths; have different views on politics and religion – I share a journey with her now. And it’s a journey that unless you are on …. you won’t understand it. And I pray for you, that you never have to.

Almost six months

It’s been almost 6 months. Six months of not hearing his voice. Six months of longing to hear it. Six months of falling asleep at night and whispering ” I love you Sam” and not hearing his reply. Six months of waking up every morning and remembering that he is gone. Six months of feeling broken; incomplete; lost. Six months of not being sure that I want to stay here much longer.

My birthday came and went two weeks ago. My children all called, and even my dad called. But I still waited for that one call : it felt like there was something missing: Sam’s call. And of course, it never came. I do feel as if I heard him talk to me in the early morning hours as I was waking from my dreams: I do know that what I heard in the form of a thought inside my head wasn’t my own thought. I was sure it was him and that was comforting.

Sam continues to send reminders that he is still around. Some of them so strong that they can not be denied: others a little less subtle but I know they are meant for me.

God I miss him.

I have better days, and I seem to cry less. But when I do: it’s ugly. I actually had to leave work last week after breaking down in my supervisors office. I know people understand but I still have a hard time showing my emotions. I wish I didn’t. I want people to know just how special Sam was in this lifetime and I fear that if people think i” get over it” quickly, that his life didn’t have a huge impact on me. It did of course : he was my sweet Sammy: my third born son. My curly haired angel. I feel like I’m not meant to be here without him.

No parent should ever have to go through this. No mother is meant to lose her child: no matter how old that child is. Sam’s death is meant to teach me something in this lifetime. I may never know what until my time here is done. But what I do know is that it had taught me about pain. It has also taught me about my own empathy and compassion. I’ve always had both qualities, but getting through this with both still intact, I think speaks volumes about who I am. I can’t help but to feel that my lesson is nearly done though. And, I wish my time would hurry up so I could just go home.

Guitars for Vets

Today I bought a guitar. It’s beautiful. It’s glossy and it’s smooth. The hard shell black case is bare, and just waiting to be adorned with the type of stickers that musicians like to put on their cases.

I wont be learning to play it however : I’m donating it to a wonderful cause called ” Guitars for Veterans”. It is a program that pairs military veterans who are struggling with PTSD, OSIs, depression, anxiety ( etc) with a guitar, in the hope that music can help to soothe a hurting soul.

My beautiful son loved his music, and it got him through some of the hardest days of his life. Sadly, it wasn’t enough on that final night.

It’s been just over 5 months. Every day I wake up and look at the tattoo on my wrist that I got in memory of him: it grounds me and reminds me of the reality: he is truly gone.

His birthday is this month. And I still don’t know how I will get through it. But today I went out and bought this guitar. My son was a serving member of our military at the time of his passing so I am gifting this guitar on his birthday, in memory of him. I decided that this is what I will do on his birthdays from now on. It won’t bring him back. But he will live on through the music.

I’ll be donating anonymously, but I will put a letter in the case with his story as well as one of the cards I had printed for him. As well, I will have just one request : that the person who gets this guitar learn to play Rocket Man, as that was a song that Sam loved to play. It’s why our family lovingly refers to him as our Rocketman.

I hope it will bring peace to someone, somewhere. In Sam’s memory.

It’s ” Bell Lets Talk” day. Why isn’t it everyday?

January 26th…..” Bell Lets Talk” day.
Where do we even start?
There is so much stigma around mental health. And there shouldn’t be. I’ve heard people call out others as :


” weak”,
” drama queen”,
” attention-seeking”,
“pathetic”,
” nut job”,


… the list goes on.

I’ve seen people roll their eyes, or whisper about others who struggle. But then when someone actually dies from their mental health, I’ve heard the remorse emphasized with disbelief and shock. ” Why didn’t they reach out?”. ” why didn’t they get help?”

Our society isn’t just breaking: it’s broken.
Far too often we don’t see the red flags or read the signs even when they are glaring at us: until it’s too late.

Psychologists, therapists, social workers all come with a hefty price tag that many just can not afford. And even if they could; there are waiting lists that are weeks, months, and sometimes a year or more.

It’s a small wonder that we have a mental health crisis on our hands. An average of 10 people per day in this country die by suicide. It’s the 9th leading cause of death in Canada. For every death by suicide, at least 7-10 survivors are impacted by their loss. And those survivors, are now at an increase risk of suicide themselves.

I belong to a suicide survivors bereavement group, and the number of members increase dramatically each week. I’ve talked to parents of children as young as 8 or 9, who have taken their own lives.

Read that again.

Children as young as 8…..or 9.

😞 what are we doing wrong?

We need to talk about it. And we need to let everyone know that it’s OK to need help. And that there is no more shame in mental illness than there is in heart disease, cancer, diabetes or any other health issue.

We need to judge less, and care more. We need to tell our government that more money needs to be spent on psychiatric treatment, psychiatric wards, and rehab.

We need to care for one another.

It’s ” Bell Lets Talk Day”. So let’s just not STOP talking about it. Better yet: let’s stop JUST talking about it.

Let’s do something about it.

Inside my head

Inside my head, I used to go
To escape calamity, noise, and chatter.
Where I could quietly shut out the world,
And all that didn’t matter.

It was in those days that the little things meant, way too much to me.
The problems that felt insurmountable,
Were more simple than they seemed to be.

The quiet places of my daydream land
Were the caverns of my mind;
Where my world was safe from worry and fret
Where life was sweet and kind.

But all those things I’d leave behind
Mean nothing to me now.
For I’ve learned about perspective
And about the things that really count.

My mind is now a place I go
Only reluctantly
For the darkness casts black shadows there
And echos resound endlessly.

The more time I spend inside my head,
The harder it is to go.
It’s become a place of deep regret,
Of sadness, guilt and blows. 

My words and thoughts bury me
As I delve into my mind
It’s a carousel of demons I wish I could leave behind.

Am i going mad?

I’m tired. The ” I’m doing ok” mask that I wear is heavy. I wake up sad. I go to sleep sad. My son haunts my thoughts. And that’s my doing because I can’t let go. I don’t want to let go. So I won’t.

I need to find a way to leave this pergatory. I often feel that the only way out is death. But that is not fair to those who still need me. But….. I still needed Sam

😦

Death by medication?

I found out recently that Sam was taking three different prescribed medications at the time of his death: Fuoxetine ( Prozac), Buproprion ( Wellbutrin) and Latuda.

In the weeks leading up to his suicide, Sam told me that he was felt he was starting to experience psychosis. He didn’t elaborate much, other than to tell me they had booked him a consult with a psychiatrist. According to the notes in the Board of Inquiry into his death, the Latuda had been prescribed months before by the psychiatrist who Sam had a consult with via phone just days before he died. I am unaware that he had ever seen the psychiatrist prior to that last appointment, so the timeline has confused me. Did the psychiatrist prescribe this drug without even seeing Sam?

Latuda is a drug that is prescribed for schizophrenia, or for depression in patients who are diagnosed with bi polar disorder: neither of which, I believe Sam was ever diagnosed with. Certainly, a soldier who was considered” fit for full duty” in my mind anyway, shouldn’t have been on such a drug, or cocktail of drugs unless he was being closely monitored by medical professionals.

The fact that he was also taking Buproprion AND Fluoxetine as well, just makes me sick to my stomach.

Buproprion is known, on rare occasions to cause hallucination. Both Buproprion and Fluoxetine are known to cause an increase in suicidal ideation in some patients. These two drugs are prescribed for anxiety and depression. But why was he taking both?

I spoke to my pharmacist and asked him if it is” normal” to be prescribed all of these medications concurrently. He said that they ” could” be taken together, but it wasn’t common. He also said that it would be more ” normal” to be on these three medications while in care of a psychiatric hospital setting.

If my son was considered so mentally ill as to be on all three of these drugs, then why wasn’t he hospitalized? Why wasn’t he being properly monitored? Or did the medical ” professionals” just hand out these drugs like aspirin?

I somehow doubt that I will ever have the answers to these questions.

My birthday

I turned 56 yesterday. I used to omit the actual number: I’ve always sort of been in denial about growing older. I feel mentally that I stopped aging at 37. I’ve always felt much younger than my actual age, and I’ve been blessed with good genetics in that physically, I’m much younger than the 56 years my body has walked this earth.

I had absentmindledly booked my 3rd vaccination for Covid for the day before my birthday. Dumb. Although my reaction was not near as bad as the second dose had been, it was still nasty. I spent a sleepless night drifting in and out between fever and chills, and sharp pains and aching bones.

Sam and I had our second vaccine on the same day back in the summer and as such, we had commiserated our similar reactions and gripes over the phone with each other. But this time I had to go it alone.

I have a hard time remembering dreams these days. They are so fleeting that I don’t have time to sit up and write them down before they are erased from my memory. These last few nights though, I’ve had a sense that Sam had been in them as I woke up feeling some comfort which I can’t explain. But in the early morning hours of my sleepless birthday morning, for some reason I remember asking him where he lives now, and to which I heard a reply in my head ” oh I have a house”. I really dont know anything about the other side, or how our energies go about existence, but it feels good to think that he has a house. And I hope it is perfect for him. I suppose it could have just been the fever, but I really feel as if I heard those words in my head, and it wasn’t me who thought them. If that makes any sense?

Anyway, my 56th birthday came and went and today I embark on the second day of my 57th year. I received so many well wishes from friends both near and far. My children sent me a beautiful bouquet of roses, freesias, orchids, lillies and carnations. I cried when I saw Sam’s name was also included in the right order as it always was, on the card. It was tears of both happiness and of sadness, as I knew I wouldn’t get that third call with his voice on the other end. But, whether it was fever or not…. at least I feel as if I talked to him in the early hours of my birthday morning.

Untitled

Sometimes I feel like there is nothing between me and a complete mental breakdown. Sometimes I feel like my next moment will be my last competent thought before I dive into complete and utter madness. Sometimes, I wonder why the hell am I holding on to this semblance…this tiny minute strand of sanity. Why can’t I just let go and fall away into blackness. Into silence.

I feel cursed with a life that I no longer want. Health …. that is unwavering. A body that just won’t let go. Even though I want it to.

One last look back

The parallels of these two photos astounds me. Why in his picture does he get to leave. And why, in mine do I have to stay? He just looked forward and kept walking. I looked back, so i had to stay. I’ve always thought of this photo as my last photo, as Abe and I walk off into heaven.

Oh god! What kind of mother would want to choose death over life… to forego a future with her living children.

My heart is destroyed. My taste for life on this side of the veil is gone.

I know that these moments of my near insanity hold my son back from the peace that he sought. That is the string that pulls me back from the brink of insanity: that keeps me glued to this damned place that I have to stay in….for just a little longer. I want only peace for Sam. So for that, I will stay.

Another day has ended….I’m one day closer to seeing your beautiful face again Sam. I love you.

My mask

The world moved forward, but in my heart I can not. Please understand this when I seem to not be ” there”, or if I’m not making a lot of sense. Most days, I’m exhausted from wearing the mask just to try to fit back in. The thing is… I don’t think I’ll ever truly fit back in. Most nights I cry. Most days, I panic. As a parent, do you ever recall that moment of panic when your child was out of your sight for a minute too long? Well losing a child forever: no matter how old they were when they left is a lifetime remaining of panic and personal torment. Please bear with my in my grief.

New Years Eve

It is early, on the last day of the year. In mere hours, the sun will be setting on 2021 forever, amidst celebration and resolutions made for many, to see us through the next 365 days.

It has been… well, it has been a year. A year that many will be happy to move forward of and start a fresh in a world run by the concept of time. It is a chance to begin anew. Many will set new intentions tonight that will involve personal goals of  health and fitness and a myriad of changes meant for the betterment of self and society. Of course, many of these resolutions will die early in the first days or weeks of the new year, but some will carry forward. I personally resolve not to start a new fad diet that I know will not last into the first few hours of tomorrow,  but I will strive to realign myself with a lifestyle that was healthier during a better and happier time of my life.

2021 has been a strange year : it has been a year that has seen mankind both brought together,  but also divided.  It has been a year of natural disasters that struck the very core of us,  but also a year of coming together to rebuild.  It has been a year of cruelty but it has also been a year that has seen its share of kindness.

For me,  it was a year that brought a height of joy when my family visited us in Aug: seeing the excitement in their eyes: especially through the eyes of my young grandsons as we explored the beauty and majesty of Vancouver Island was the highlight of my year.  But sadly,  in mere hours of that visit, our joy was overshadowed and crushed by tragedy and despair that rocked the very core of my family’s beautiful solidity and strength with the gripping loss of our beloved son, brother and uncle, Sam. I don’t remember much of 2021 before that week anymore, as my life became a timekeeping of life before and after Sam  Aug 19th.

As we prepare to step through the doorway into 2022,  I want to wish for all of you: love and kindness:  I want to wish you all strength and resolve: and I want to wish you all resilient happiness that sees you through the challenges of this new year.

Although I have no choice since we have this concept of time to step through the door into 2022, my heart will remain forever in 2021 with my beautiful son as I can’t bear to leave him behind.

Welcome 2022. Please be a year of love and light for all. And above all: be kind to one another.

First Christmas

Five days til Christmas,
I wish that you were here
The tree is lit, the candles bright
I feel your spirit near.

Four days til Christmas
The tears begin to flow
The winter sky is open
And it begins to snow

Three days til Christmas
The presents are all wrapped
But the tree is looking empty
As my heart tries to adapt.

My heart has grown weary Sam
The days are growing long
I’ve adorned the tree with memories
But I can’t accept you’re gone.

Two days till Christmas
The night’s dark sky is clear
Your star is shining down on me
As it twinkles like a tear.

Today it is Christmas Eve
The trees are capped in snow
The lights are dancing joyfully
As they flicker in the glow.

Christmas morning came today
But that was no surprise
I feel the love you sent to me
Underneath the Christmas skies.

Loved and missed until my last breath.
I love you sweet son.
Merry Christmas in Heaven.