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.


Buddy

My son died 4 months ago tomorrow. He was 31. His dog Buddy was with him from the time he was 12. We didn’t think Buddy would be around for long after Sam died. But he is. He is 19. He went to stay with one of my other sons, but the stress was too much, and so Buddy is coming out to live with us in two weeks. I’m so happy to take him. He has to travel clear across Canada and I hope he will be OK on the plane. ( cabin).

I probably won’t have Buddy for too long. At 19 I am sure he is on borrowed time. But I will spoil him for what time he does have left. And when the time comes for Buddy to cross over, I know that as I hand him over to Sam in the spirit world, our hands will touch briefly. It will be my honor to hand Buddy over to Sam, and he will then take him home.

The morning he died

The morning Sam died, is etched in my mind, as clearly, as if it was just days ago.

I woke up, to daylight streaming through my window. It was probably not long after the sun came up.

I stretched, expecting it to be like any other day. I hadn’t yet checked my phone as I do every morning. If I had, I would have seen all the messages from Kris ( my oldest son) , and from my ex husband who were trying to reach me.

Instead, it was Randy’s phone that brought the scorching, debilitating reality of death, to life that morning.

As his phone rang, he looked at the caller id: it was Kris. I thought, he must have forgotten something important here as he and his wife and my two grandsons had only left the morning before after a five day visit. I thought that he must have forgotten something very important and only realized it as he was heading to work. But that’s not what he was calling for.

I answered, and his voice on the other end was filled with desperation. ” Mom, you need to call dad right away”. I sat up straight, and asked him why. What is going? He re-iterated ” just call dad. Please”. I begged him to tell me and he wouldn’t. He couldn’t. I cried out ” is it Sam?”. He said, ” please, just call dad”.

I didn’t have my ex husband’s phone number so I asked Kris to get him to call me.

The phone rang. I was already in a panic and starting to cry. Rick was very quiet. Before he could speak, I asked ” is it Sam?”. He replied ” yes”. I asked, or practically begged ” is he OK?”. Rick said ” no”.

That was the moment when my life irrevocably, changed forever. That was the moment, my heart shattered. I don’t remember if he ever even said the words ” he is dead”. I already knew.

Rick told me that they were transporting him to the hospital in Kingston Ont. And that the autopsy would be performed, the next day.

Randy already had his arms around me as the call ended. That is the day I started to cry, and I haven’t stopped. The phone rang again and it was my son Matthew. And then it was my daughter Tessa.

I don’t know why I felt the need to call into work after that. I needed to let them know what had happened and to ask what I needed to do next. My supervisor answered the phone, and I asked if our crew chief was in yet. He wasn’t. Until that moment I had managed to somewhat compose my self, but when he said to give a call back in a couple of hours, I broke down and told him why I was calling. In shock, he said he was going to call the Padre and find out what to do next. The base had already been notified, as it turns out, by my son’s base, where it is three hours ahead in time zone, so the duty officer here in Comox was contacted in the early hours before I was even awake. It just hadn’t filtered down to my immediate chain of command as most of them were not yet at work.

The phone rang again shortly after that, and the person on the other end identified them self: a name I didn’t recognize, but said he was from the base where I work, and asked if he could come by. I said yes, and he said he would be here in a minute. They were already parked outside my house.

When you watch a movie, where the next of kin of a serviceman is notified of their death: that is exactly what it was like that morning. The doorbell rang, and outside stood three men in uniform : the base Commander, the base CWO, and the Padre.

I invited them in, and sat down on the couch. The Base Commander sat down with me, and although he knew that I already knew: he broke the news, and offered me his, and from all members of the base, their heartfelt condolences.

He told me not to hesitate if there was anything I needed.

Shortly after he left, I crawled back into my bed. Randy sat down next to me, and put his arms around me. It was then that I screamed. It was at that moment that it all settled in. Sam, my sweet third born child: died. He was gone. I screamed as loud as I could as Randy held me tight. And then I screamed even louder. They say that the scream of a mother who has lost their child, is like no other. It came from deep with in me. It came with the piercing shattering of my heart as it broke into infinite pieces. To this day, I hear the word ” heal” from so many, but really, can a shattered heart ever heal? I don’t think so.

That was the longest day of my life. The detective reached out to me. And then the coroner reached out to me to let me know that his findings confirmed the cause of death as suicide : the autopsy had actually been performed that day. At that point, I told him that I didn’t want to know how Sam took his life. In fact it was days before I finally asked. But all that I wanted to know from the coroner, was that Sam didn’t suffer and he assured me that he would not have been aware of his surroundings for very long.

He told me of Sam’s note, and how he had never seen one quite like it. It read more like a literary piece. It was four pages. The coroner then asked if I wanted him to take a picture of the note and text it to me so I could read it: the original would be taken by the police as evidence. At first I declined, but then I accepted because other members of the family might want to see it. I vowed not to read it until I had the original in my hand. I wanted to read the words, the actual letter that Sam painstakingly sat at a table and wrote. I didn’t want to read a ” copy”. I still don’t have that note, almost 4 months later. Eventually, I read the ” copy”.

To say, when one takes their life, they pass the pain on to those who they loved, and who love them is accurate. Sam left a void so deep; so cavernous and so filled with pain. Often, I feel like my chest is going to explode. Or implode. Or just disintegrate. Often, I hope that it does. But I am still here.

I’m supposed to find something in Sam’s death…a purpose in it to learn from and to make a difference in this world : to find a way to help others, through his loss. And I try. But, nothing helps my own pain. My life changed that day. I changed that day. And I don’t think that who I was before Aug 19, 2021, will ever return.

Survive

I’m struggling. I don’t feel like I’m coping. Coming into the holidays is worse than I thought it would be. I still cant begin to imagine being in this world without my son Sam. Yet, here I am…living in a world that I can not imagine. It’s been almost four months. I thought it would start to get better with a bit of time. But it is not. The thought of 2022 is too much : I feel like I’m leaving him behind in 2021. I don’t want to leave 2021. I’m stuck there anyway : Aug 19 2021. I can’t move from that spot. The panic has started to set in. The depression is setting in. I’m trying to live literally moment by moment. How am I supposed to survive this? I don’t want to survive this. 😦

I can’t

Have you ever had that feeling ” I can’t do this”?

When I was 17 I joined the military. There was many times over the 12 weeks of basic training where I thought ” I can’t do this ” but I put my mind to whatever task was at hand; swallowed my fear or disgust or whatever, and just did it. I felt exhilarated the day I graduated.

Earlier that year I decided that I wanted to jump out of airplanes. After a weekend course, I went up in a Cessna, hooked up my static line, climbed out onto the wheel of the aircraft and as we approached the jump zone, I sucked back the thought ” I can’t do this” and I pushed off and jumped. Again….exhilaration.

My stint in the military only lasted a year. I left at 18 and went back to school.

Two years later, as I labored with my first child : a posterior malpresentation without any anesthetic relief, I remember those words again crossing my mind: ” I can’t do this”. But obviously I couldn’t back out and after much pain and exhaustion, I held my first born. What a feeling. The pain was quickly forgotten as I was filled with the most incredible joy.

At 42, I rejoined the military. Most of my platoon mates at Basic training were 20 something year old men. I remember the day I arrived and thought ” Am I stupid? How the F.ck am I supposed to get through this with men half my age?” There were more than enough days of trying to keep up on the runs, or the obstacle course, or the rucksack marches. The thought ” I can’t do this” crossed my mind so many times. Of course I couldn’t quit because I wouldn’t be able to face anyone if I did. And in fact, I shared the final highest score at the end of 13 weeks with just one other recruit. Again….I marched off that parade square after our graduation parade, high on adrenalin.

Until now, getting through those ” I can’t do this” moments has always led to some kind of personal reward. But not this time. 😦

I felt myself starting to panic last night. I didn’t even question it : I took Ativan without a second thought. ( I hadn’t touched so much as a pill in weeks). Tonight, I heard those old familiar words flash across my mind : ” I can’t do this”. And I seriously, feel that I can’t.

There will be nothing good waiting at the end of this. In fact, there is no end to this.

There will be no personal growth from this.

There will be no reward from this.

All there is, is a void so empty, and a darkness so black. This is what I see when I try to face down the fear, and the sadness, and the emptiness that Sam left behind for me.

I often hear ” Sam would want you to be happy”, like it is some kind of a choice that I have the power to make: like it is my decision.

But the truth is: I don’t feel like I CAN do this. I don’t “want”, to do this.

I talk weekly to my psychologist. But it isn’t helping. I talk openly to the people who I am so lucky to have in my life, who encourage me to talk… but it doesn’t help.

I am sitting in the dark on the edge. I don’t know how to turn on the light. I can’t reach the light. The thought of Christmas is eating me alive. And after that: my birthday. And shortly after, is Sam’s birthday. How am I supposed to get through this? My thoughts linger on my own death constantly. I can’t lie: suicidal ideation is setting in. I feel like I am in the most impossible moment of my life. I don’t know what to do. All I know, is right now that I feel like I can’t do this. I can’t, do this.

Another

I just read the obituary of another soldier. He died by suicide. The obituary doesn’t state that anywhere, but I recognize the language. And sadly, I was also already in the” know”. He died a few days ago.

How many more does there have to be before something is done to stop this?

Christmas is coming and the holiday season is hard on so many. PTSD, OSI’s, loneliness, depression. Our military bleeds soldiers now, and throughout the year. The suicide rate just climbs. Did you know the the suicide number of soldiers who returned with OSI’s and PTSD from Afghanistan surpassed the number of soldiers who were killed in that barren, dead place a few years ago? And the numbers continue to rise.

My heart always hurt when I would hear of the news of another one of my brothers dying by their own hand. But with Sam, my heart was irreparably shattered and I don’t think it even knows how to feel anymore.

Randy and I took the dogs out to walk in the snow earlier. It ( snow) is a rarity where we live. It actually put me in a festive mood, and I planned on coming home to put up the tree and bake some shortbread. But it hit me a few minutes ago that I always have a hard time hooking up the lights on this pre-lit tree. Sam used to help me with that and he always figured it out. I just don’t know if I can put it up now.

The holiday season is taking its toll. I can’t help but to wonder ” who next”? Some days, I wonder if even I will make it through.

Do We Choose Our Life Paths?

My sister visited from Toronto this week. It was nice to have a distraction from what my life has become in the weeks gone by since that morning that the phone rang with the news about Sam. .

My childhood was rife with accidents- the mauling by our family dog at the age of three; the accidental overdose that same year when I ate a full bottle of baby aspirin. I fell down the basement stairs in a walker when I was one, and impaled a plastic rod in the back of my throat when I was jumping up and down on a bed with it in my mouth. My sister, Randy and I sat up late into the night having a few drinks and talking about those old days.

And how great it felt to laugh and reminisce on years past.. a time long before marriage, and children, and bills and mortgages. A time before growing up: sadly, from a childhood that made us grow up too fast. A time where my greatest worry in life should have been the repercussions of a bad report card. Instead, our childhood was one of fear, and terror. Yet, those years weren’t as bad the morning that my son died. That didn’t effect me as deeply as losing my son does.

I was the middle child in a family of three girls. We were never a very close family. Ours was a tumultuous and dysfunctional upbringing in a home all but destroyed by alcoholism. My father was an angry drunk : and an even angrier recovering alcoholic during the AA years. He eventually returned to the drink. My mom enabled him all those years. I was angry at her for most of my adolescent and early adult life for not taking us away from his rage. She was scared I suppose. 😦 She grew old and bitter before the dementia set in and even now, the anger still finds her some days in the nursing home yelling at some long past memory. My dad, continues to be dysfunctional, living alone and lonely in their house. He drinks himself to sleep every night. I don’t know how he is alive. I’ve long forgiven my parents for the lack of parenting, and for the lack of love that was our childhood. I suppose they did the best they could under shitty circumstances. I have no doubt that they loved us… in their own fucked up way. Alcoholism destroys families. It’s that simple.

When I was around 14, my father was hospitalized for a few weeks. My mom was a psychiatric nurse, and she told us he had a disease called alcoholism. It was sometime after that, that I found a suicide note written by him blaming his ” fucking wife” and his ” fucking kids” for everything wrong in his life. I don’t think we were told anything about that hospitalization, aside from that he was an alcoholic and that it was a disease. I remember the one and only family therapy session where the therapist asked if we had ever seen the dog having sex. ( WTF) And afterwards how my mother said we needed to start acting like a family. I asked for Barbies.. thinking everything was my fault because I didn’t act like a child by liking the kind of toys that little girls were supposed to like, and that contributed somehow to why we didn’t act like a normal family.

It was in that same house that my father was led away in handcuffs early one morning after a particularly violent fight with my mom where he destroyed every piece of livingroom and dining room furniture and every dish in the house. I remember my mom screaming into the phone ” he is going to kill me” to my dad’s friend as my sisters and I huddled together at the top of the stairs terrified and crying. He had gone to the basement to retrieve his rifle at that point. The kitchen cupboards and the walls had stab marks in them where he had gone after her with a kitchen knife that we discovered when we were returned to the home.

When I was 18, my uncle ; a prominant psychologist who was the head of the psychology department at Carleton University in Ottawa, put a shotgun in his mouth- leaving my grandparents grieving the same way I am now, except at least they were in their nineties and didn’t have decades left to face ahead of them. We found out in the months that followed my uncle’s death, that he had bought two boxes of shells the day he bought his shotgun in the days leading up to his suicide, with the intent of murdering his parents, his ex wife, my parents, my sisters and me. I’m not sure what changed his mind from a murder/ suicide, to just a suicide. But by whatever grace, he spared us.

So somehow, I am still here. I grew up. And I forgave. I married young to get away from all of that. I had four beautiful babies, and those four children, are that which I am most proud of in my life. They were good children. They grew up to be good and compassionate adults. I tried to pass on only the best qualities that I could since I didn’t really learn too many from my parents. I did everything I could to leave the kind of life I had growing up, behind. I was determined that the hell that was my childhood, would never touch my children.

I feel that I should be angry at the Universe, or God, or who or what ever is responsible for our existence. I would be warranted in being so full of hatred and anger right now and no one could blame me right? But I’m not angry. And I don’t hate any one. I’m just sad. I’m just, so damned sad. Sometimes I feel like life was just never supposed to be happy for me.

All the terror and fear that dominated my early life, has nothing on what I’m going through now though. They say we choose our life path long before we are born into the lives we live. All I can say, is that I must have been out of my mind.

Lucidity

My mom has dementia. She has been in a nursing home for 3 years now. She has been in a steady decline and having a conversation with her now, is like having a conversation with someone using predictive text: It makes very little sense. I have been grieving the loss of my mom for more than 3 years, yet, she is still alive.

But, every so often she will have moments of lucidity. As the disease erodes her brain, those moments become less often, but we rejoice in them when they do happen.

I’ve come to realize, that my grief in losing Sam, often is like dementia. Well, the lucid moments anyway – not the memory loss. Sometimes I wish I could just forget everything: it would hurt a lot less. But then, that would mean I would forget Sam and I never want to forget Sam or the life that we lived with him while he was here. It’s the lucidity side of dementia I’m talking about.

This morning, I had a few brief moments where I felt giddy. And fun. I was more like the carefree and loving spirited Judi that I was before we lost Sam. Randy commented ” I’m glad to see you’re happy this morning”.

We actually had a brief conversation that felt like the old days. But then he said something that brought me back to my reality. And back to the dark. I don’t even remember what it was and it wasn’t anything that remotely even mentioned Sam. But it was a word apparently, that triggered the grief response in me.

Maybe Grief just hadn’t awoken yet; or maybe she was letting me out for a little air. 🤔 whatever the case, it was a simple little word, in conversation, completely unrelated to anything I’m going through that sent me back to the dark. I’m beginning to think that my grief is losing the fight against depression. I’m barely treading the water that sits above the thicker, darker quick sand that lays beneath it. And what would scare me if I was afraid of death, is how I don’t even care to fight it. But I’m not afraid of death. I’d almost welcome it, but for the guilt Id feel for my living children and Randy and my pets if I were to go.

I struggled to get ready for work yesterday. In saying that, I don’t mean I didn’t want to get dressed : It literally took three attempts to put my tee shirt on . First, I got my arms into it and it felt wrong, so I pulled it off and held it up in front of me, holding the little tear where I ripped the tag off many months ago to the back, and pulled it on over my head. And it was still back wards. I finally got it right on the third attempt. I’ve dressed myself for at least 53 years. I thought I had it figured out but yesterday proved otherwise. 😒 Maybe I’m not as far off from dementia as I thought I was.

Am I dying?

It sure feels like it. My every day feels like I’m facing a finality, like my time here is spiraling down. Is it real? Or is it just my mental state that’s crying out, telling me that the depression is starting to sink in.

Or maybe it’s wishful thinking.

When I was driving home from work tonight, I suddenly realized, that Sam is dead. And I screamed out that I don’t want him to be dead. But this realization hits me several times a week. At worst, it can sucker punch me in the gut several times in one day.

I keep thinking that somehow, this whole circumstance can be fixed. But sure as the rain that’s hitting my window right now…at 2 am ; it’s not fixable.

😦

I want my son back.

So, is this darkness: this bleak landscape that I see laid out in front of me now, the end? It sure feels like it.

I don’t seem to be getting any sleep tonight. FML .

Trolls and Negative People. It’s a cruel world.

Has the world always just been full of mean, rude people? Or has Covid isolation , or social media, just brought out the worst in us?

I’m having one of those days: where so many emotions are hitting me at once. If I said I was a basket case, it would be an exageration, yet if I said I was a mess , it would be an understatement. But I get angry at the appropriate things and I cry at the most inopportune ones ( like mentally breaking down in the car on the way home, on the highway doing 100 tonight). It’s just been like that today. But some of the things I’m seeing online, are just right off in left field and I can’t make any sense of it.

Everyone around me is sympathetic and compassionate: I’m fortunate in that way. It’s what I’m reading online, that’s making me really hurt for mankind ( or ” peoplekind” . If you’re Canadian you’ll get where I’m coming from with that attempt at humour). Anyway, it’s everywhere: the judgemental, mean, cruel, nasty remarks that spew off the keyboards and onto the social media pages, everywhere you look.

I started noticing this trend months ago. It started in the buy and sell groups I belonged to on Facebook. The concept of these pages is pretty simple: if you want to sell something, you advertise. If you want to buy something, you see the article for sale, and you message the seller to buy it or make an offer. If it’s something you’re not interested in, you skip over the ad altogether. Easy enough right? Not anymore apparently. The comments that people put, regarding price usually are so nasty. Sometimes, they even get downright personal and verbally attack the person who just wants to sell their stuff. Oftentimes, these people have no interest in what is even being sold. They just want to stir up shit. I’ve seen attacks on people for advertising rental units over the price. Or people being berated for their asking prices on vehicles, or art, or just about anything.

I’ve seen online arguments ensue in my neighborhood group, where people are expressing their frustration over having their cars, or garden sheds, or even their homes broken into and others telling them its their own fault for having things worth stealing. One woman in the neighborhood who decorates her home for Halloween and Christmas, went online to ask if anyone had seen some of her Halloween decorations which somehow walked away through the night back in October. She was verbally insulted by another woman accusing her of being materialistic and teaching children nothing but consumerism because of the cost of all these decorations on her front lawn.( that I might add, children and their parents came from all over town to see because it was a nice attraction. )

Then there are the animal groups. There are groups, specifically set up to help people re-home their pets here in the valley. While I don’t like to see animals passed off either, these groups are set up for the purpose of finding new homes. I’d rather see someone actively trying to find the best home, than dumping an animal to become a stray. And without fail: out come the keyboard warriors condemning those who are trying to find homes for their animals. It doesn’t matter why : I’ve seen people slandered because they have found themselves homeless, or due to illness, and even due to death. But they are attacked online by these justice champions who join a group, that’s sole intent is to re-home pets, just so they can call someone out. What is sad, is how many people are discouraged by these attacks and instead find less responsible ways to give up their pets. So whose suffering for this? The poor animal is.

A couple of days ago, I posted a video of one of my dogs ” reverse sneezing ” in a pet group I belong to, clearly stating that I can’t get a vet appointment for almost two weeks because they have no availability, but I was worried and just asking if anyone knew if this was anything serious. And the responses were overwhelmingly compassionate and assuring that ” reverse sneezing” isn’t anything serious and that my dog was OK. And then….this one lady…. of course, laid into me that this page isn’t a veterinarian and basically, insinuated that I was a bad pet owner because I was asking for advice rather than seeing a veterinarian. Ug. Give me a break.

But this new trend of vile negativity, has hit even the most vulnerable of support groups this week : groups that are set up for bereaved parents. I saw it in the group for parents whose children have died. I saw it in the group for mothers who have lost their sons. And I saw it in the group for parents who have lost a child to suicide. It’s discouraging, that people who should be bonding by the very nature of why they joined, instead tear each other apart and somehow manage to create division and exclusion. Religion has been a point of argument alot. I’ve seen someone tell a mother that she will pray for her child’s soul because suicide is a sin and that child will not go to heaven. I’ve seen one mother lose it on anyone who mentions God at all. I’ve seen one mother get verbally ” jumped” all over because her anger at God for taking her child insulted others beliefs . I’m not religious at all myself. I am spiritual though. And it makes me sick to read some of the comments. I know that grief changes us, but the cruelty : using grief as the scapegoat, is just low. The other day, in the ” Mothers who have lost” group, one lady proclaimed that she thinks the group should exclude step mothers, and adoptive mothers, because they can’t possibly compare with the grief felt by a birth mother. 😦 I read a post by another woman, expressing rage at anyone who posts on FB the loss of their pet, because according to this woman, their grief doesn’t count as it doesn’t stack up against hers because she lost a child.

These changes in the bereavement groups are only very recent. Prior to a week ago : all of these groups offered unconditional support. It was the ” all of a sudden” change that makes me nervous, and sad for the downward spiral of our species. What has happened to us? Have we always been this broken or has the anonymity of cyberspace just allowed a free for all in expressing the bully and mean streaks of those who are prone to negativity? Some people in this world are just plain mean.

No wonder Sam was tired of it all. This world was too cruel for my sweet boy. And I get it. I understand what led him to make the decision that would take him from us that night. I wish he hadn’t. I wish I could have protected him. As much as it shattered my heart though, his beautiful soul is free from all of it now. I envy, in the very depths of my own grief, the peace that he found. And, I pray that it isn’t a lifetime, before I find it too.

This is Sam

This is my son Sam. He loved his dogs, he was kind and he was gentle. He was a soldier. He was the youngest of three boys in a family of 4 children ( the youngest is a girl). He was a brother to Kris Matt and Tessa. He was a gifted guitarist and he loved to sing. He was so handsome.

As a young boy, he had so much imagination. He learned to talk while his brothers were in speech therapy, so Sam learned to over articulate while he spoke very slowly and clearly. He had curly hair and the biggest smile.

When he was 5, he pulled his own two front teeth so that he could get money from the tooth fairy. ( they were barely loose). He wanted to grow up to be a Chippindale’s dancer. He loved Cher.

Sam loved pirate ships, and Pokémon cards. And Magic cards.

As he got older he followed his two big brothers into a love of music. And guitar – especially guitar. He once performed in a Battle of the Bands. He screamed and I couldn’t understand what he was singing, but the audience loved him.

He once wore tights in a school play called ” Men in Tights”. And he rocked those tights.

He built me a bird house one year in shop class. I accidently left it on the wooden fence in a house we lived in, but then sold. Id give anything to have that bird house back. 😦

When he was in highschool, he got into mischief one day with his buddies. They vandalized an old dilapidated shed. When the police were waiting for them at the end of the path, they all denied doing it. Except for Sam. He confessed and was going to help the owner rebuild his shed. Except the man was going to tear it down anyway.

Sam never felt like he fit in. Anywhere. Even with his own siblings: within his own family. I felt like I spent most of his life defending him. I loved him. He was my sweet boy….

This world was too much for such a beautiful soul. He died by suicide Aug 19 2021. He used to call me almost every day and I miss him more than Id miss my next breath if I couldn’t breathe.

I will speak his name for a long as I have breath in me. Sam

Samuel James Hills

February 17 1990 – August 19, 2021