Are You Really Gone??

I was just slapped on the face by life.  Now I sit here, in dire disbelief, feeling the sting of it.  Not the sting of the slap, but the sting of life…the unbearable sting of death.  You see, a few minutes ago, it dawned on me again…you’re gone.

My life is a go, go, go.  Well, actually due to recent events, it’s at a standstill. It is my mind that keeps going, going, going.    These are crazy times we are living in and all that is happening in our world, the never-ending doom and gloom headlines, the daily life stressors, friends, family, etc., I sometimes  feel as if I carrying the world on my shoulders.  Everything seems to want to take priority and little things consume my thoughts.  And then there are times like today when out of nowhere, my world comes crashing to a halt and hits me like a cold bucket of water.  You’re gone.

Your sister and baby Hayden just moved into their own place.  As we were going through this box of “Why did you pack this, Alix?” “I don’t know, but I may need it later” I ran across a memory stick.  I was going to trash it, along with the 50 some pens she had hoarded, thinking it may be some unwelcomed memories of a time she would rather forget.  Instead, I stuck it in my pocket.    Once I got home, I threw on the kitchen counter not really giving it a second thought.  My muscles were aching from moving boxes and all I wanted to do was take a shower and climb into bed.  That key was the last thing on my mind.

The following morning, I went to grab it and was just about to  throw it in our junk drawer, ( the one where unwanted items go to die but you can’t trash them just in case you may need that one single Las Vegas dice or that little mermaid pen that’s out of ink ).  For some reason, I had second thoughts.  I left it right where it had landed the day before.  For the next couple days, that memory stick was gently pushed from one end of the counter to the other.  It just didn’t seem right to throw it in the drawer of doom. Ehh, I would get to it eventually.  Finally, as I was getting ready to turn off the lights tonight and go to bed, I caught a glimpse of its bright blue color that reminded me of a beautiful piece of intricate glass.   I felt as if I was drawn to it, so I picked it up and went straight to my office.  As I was inserting it into the port, I got this butterflyee (it that a word?) nauseated, sick to my stomach feeling.  It was  the same exact feeling I had been struggling with for a couple days. I keep trying to push it away, thinking it was nerves because your  sister was going on her own with the baby.   I told Scott that I hated when I felt like this.  It is the same dreadful feeling I had on the day you left me.

I watched nervously as the files were downloaded and then there it was.   There YOU were.  Your entire life from the days when you were just born to the months before you passed.  They were all in front of me on this giant screen.  I scrolled through every picture, devouring your smiles, your face, and your beautiful eyes.  It’s the closest I’ve been to you in years. Even the picture we used for your obituary was there, along with the one with the wings painted on that we used for the program.  I clicked on a couple that were short video clips. I heard your voice.  I heard your laugh.  I heard you sing to Sarini as she playfully laughed and made fun of you.  My stomach went into somersaults.  I wanted to click the screen off, but I couldn’t.  Each picture drew me closer and closer to you.  I reached out and touched the screen yearning to feel you one more time.

Scott came in to see what I was doing.  I think I heard his heart drop.  I never turned to see him.  All I said was “I forgot, honey,  he is really gone.”  All the emotions came flooding back.  Th antsy, ugly, nervous  feeling I had that entire morning.  Your dad’s phone call.  Scott’s words to me. My silent scream. The walk into the hospital. How everything was in slow motion.  The walk into the ‘viewing room’. Your beautiful body laying on that stupid metal bed with a stupid pink waffle blanket on top of you. I remember laying my head on you and feeling your cold body.  I buried my face into your chest and cried for you to come back to me.  I wasn’t finished loving you yet.

I went through each and  every picture and each picture brought the memories flooding back to me.  The way you played Pretty, Pretty Princess with your baby sister.  How you and your brother would sit on the couch on Saturday mornings watching the Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles.  You would wear your ninja turtle underwear and P.J.s pretending you were each one of the characters.  How handsome you looked in your uniforms. How you KNEW how handsome you were! HA! The many looks and fashion eras of Joey!    We teased you how if the house ever caught on fire, and you had to run out, there better not be any mirrors along the way!  You could not walk past a mirror without first stopping to check yourself out.  Man, you loved yourself!  God, How I love you and how I MISS YOU. 

I haven’t said that for a long time….because I forgot you were gone.

I Can See Chirstmas Through Your Eyes

I saw Joey last night.  I touched his hair. It was beautiful.

Before you think I am starting to lose it…again, let me stop you.  This wasn’t a moment of hallucination or a dream.  It wasn’t some drunken stupor or a figment of my imagination.  I saw him as clearly as you are seeing the words on this page.  Humor me, while I explain.

I stopped at my local grocery store last night.  It was crazy busy!  Dinner time, Holidays, last minute milk runs.  I was able to snag an empty stall right in front of the store.  Fresh christmas trees were lined up all long the front of the store.  I saw this little boy of about 6 or 7 years old running ahead of his parents.  Something made me take a second look.  He ran back towards them as glanced at the LED light from my car.  The excitment was written all over his face.  His eyes were dancing in delight! He was so cute and excited, that I chuckled out loud. His dark brown wavy hair and large brown eyes reminded me of Joey.  I watched as he grabbed his moms hand and pulled her towards this 10 foot tree that would require atleast 3 people to load it on a car rooftop.  The mom looked over her shoulder in an attempt to locate the man with them.  He had stopped to stand up a tree that was no taller than he was.  The mom gently pulled the young boy towards the man and the average sized tree before him.  I could see the little boy resisting.  As far as he was concerned, he had found ‘the tree’! For some reason, I just sat and watched in anticipation of what was to follow.

I didn’t understand why I was so fixated by the events unfolding before my eyes.  Maybe it took me back to when I would take my own childrent to pick out our christmas tree.  This was before the day that artificial would become a norm in my house.  I could leave it up longer, it was less messy, and it can handle the heavier ornaments. Memories of walking through the tree farms and the smell of christmas evergreen came floooding back to me.  I remember trying to find the perfect one, all while  I tried to keep an eye on my two toddlers running from tree to tree.  It never failed, Joey would always find THE tree.  Sometimes it would be crooked or missing branches, but he would always say          “Momma, dis it duh twee Santa will wook foe”. His pronounciation got better as he got older.  Still, no matter how much I tried to discourage him as I showed him a real magestic looking tree, he wouldn’t budge.  His eyes of disappointment would always win me over.  And there is where  saw Joey.

I saw Joey in the face of that little boy.  The determination that he had found THE tree that Santa would look for.  I saw his shoulders hang when his dad shook his head.  His mom started brushing ther hair off of his face, bending over to tell him something.  The little boy shook his head then nodded.  I could feel the joy escaping him.   His mom walked over the the man and said something to him. I wanted to yell out, ‘GET HIM THE TREE!  DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND LIFE ISNT PROMISED, GET THE DAMN TREE!”

I sat in my car trying so hard to will the man to just buy the tree. I think I was just as disappointed as that little boy.  Out of the corner of my eye, the presence of the sales person shook me out of my trance.  I didnt know how long I was sitting there, but I knew I needed to get home.  I got out of the car and I started to  walk past them.  I could see the little boy, fidgeting with the branches of his tree as his dad talked to the salesperson.  I  stopped and said to him, “Ooohhh it’s that your new tree?”  “No”, he said, “daddy said we needed a smaller one.”  “Aw man, that’s ok, though, because Santa know where ALL the trees are at!”  He said, “Yea, but he could see a real big one from far, far away!  Do you have a big, big tree?”  “Yup”, I said.  But mine is real, real big because my little boy is in heaven right now and I want him to see it.”   At that moment, this little boy looked at me, straight into my eyes and said “That’s better than Santa Claus finding you.”  My throat closed up.  The parents were standing beside him. I could feel the tears building up.  I asked if I could hug him, the mom, with tears welling up in her eyes nodded yes.  I pulled him tight,  thanked him and as I brushed the hair off his forehead I wished him a Merry Christmas. “Merry Christmas” he replied, “I  hope your little boy see’s your tree.  If not, you can ask Santa to tell him”….‘tears’

I wandered  into the store and grabbed my groceries.  I kept hearing that little boy’s sweet voice.   As I walked out to my car with my packages, I saw the little boy and his mom again.  He was holding her hand and was jumping up and down.  He was singing his own version of  ‘Santa Clause is coming to town’.   His mom kept trying to have him control his excitement.  I looked over to find his dad. There he was… his dad and 2 clerks.  They were  helping him tie down this 10 foot tree to the top of their suv.

Merry Christmas, Joey

TEARS ARE THE WORDS THE HEART CAN’T EXPRESS

I can’t remember when I cried last.  Not just my eyes tearing up,  or a few tears rolling down my cheek, but a heart wrenching type of cry.  The type of cry that startles those around you leaving them in a state of shock.  How do they try to console a person that sounds like a wild animal waiting to be put out of their misery?   Crying out to God and begging for a day when we are no longer in this agonizing pain.

We long for the days of our idyllic days.  The days that when we did cry, they were for joyous reason.   We call them ‘Happy tears’.  Tears that sweetly rolled down our faces were because we were tickled.  Those silly faces from their kindergarten school pictures, homemade mother’s day cards…first proms.  Learning to take their first steps and passing their driving test!  Learning they got in to college of their dreams.  I so yearn to have those tears again.

Even through the difficult teen years I cried.  Missing curfews,  speeding tickets, being grounded, having bedroom doors slammed.  I had to restrain myself from wanting to strangle my child.  I couldn’t understand how such a young thing could push so many buttons! How could this beautiful child, that I  once referred to as angelic would turn into such a…not angelic child.  What I wouldn’t give now to have my chld, in any form, back to me.  To have him call me out of the blue as I answered the phone “what’s wrong?”  I could hear him laugh and tell his best friend “HAHAHAHA, See I told you! Mom nothing is wrong!”

He was my first real love.  He was my little Joey…the light of my life…the one that made me whole.  He taught me to love unconditional, no matter how much he pushed my buttons, I loved him with no regrets.  I once stayed awake one night and slept on his toddler bed with him.  He was really sick and had a high fever.  I put cold cloths on his head all night long.  I rocked all 40 pounds of him when he cried  cause his head hurt. I wanted to take his pain away. One time we sat on the couch as I held his hand and rubbed his back while he cried uncontrollably.  A girl broke his heart, on Valentines day.  I watched as the delicate tears ran down his face to the floor.  He told me that it was true…a heart does break.  As I held him, I told him, “yea, I know”.  I knew it was true because my heart was breaking, too.

One cloudy day, as the neighborhood kids played  outside, a scream made me stop in my tracks.  The idyllic day filled with the laughter of kids playing, suddenly turned to terror.  Kids were screaming and running.  As I ran to the street, there he laid screaming.  A neighbors dog had viciously attacked Joey and tried to drag him off. A neighbor managed to scare the dog away.  My heart stopped. I did the only thing I could think of.  I scooped him up, ran with him in my arms and put him in car.  I screamed for my neighbor to watch my other 2 kids.  I sped down the street, scared out of my mind, honking at the cars to get out of my way. I  kept pressure on his bleeding wounds, and I prayed! ” Please God, don’t take my Joey.   Don’t you dare take him!”   I turned to look at Joey as he was crying in pain. Then,  with fear in his eyes, hi sbig beautiful brown eyes looked at me as he quietly asked “Mom, am I going to die?  Please don’t let me die.”  “YOU ARE NOT GOING TO DIE, JOEY!  You are going to be ok!  I promise!  You will not die!  God is watching over you!  God will NOT take you from me!!  Your hear me! Don’t close your eyes, Joey!  We’re almost to the hospital, ok?  You stay with me!! I’m supposed to die before you but not for a long, long time form now! Ok Baby!!!??””  

He didn’t die.  God gave me the gift of having him another 26 years.  I wanted 60 more.  I always wonder that if I had been with him when he died 3 1/2 years ago, I could have kept him from dying.  I would have held him and sternly tell him “YOU ARE NOT GOING TO DIE, JOEY!  You are going to be ok!  I promise!  You will not die!  God is watching over you!  God will NOT take you from me!!  Your hear me! Don’t close your eyes, Joey!  We’re almost to the hospital, ok?  You stay with me!! OK, baby??!!  Stay with me…I’m supposed to die first, Joey! Did you forget that!  I was supposed to die first!  I WAS SUPPOSED TO DIE FIRST!

Now, if you’ll please excuse me. I feel the cries of agony suffocating me as they try to escape my lungs.

 

 

The Anger That Never Left

I’ve talked about the stages of grief and how the “stages” do not come in stages at all. They come in every which way and direction and at any time they want to. Just when you think you’ve surpassed stage 5, stage 2 creeps in unexpectedly and stays for as long as it wants. Eventually, you move on and think “phew, I’m almost to the end!” HA, back to step 1.

Today, I was given quite an eye opener that made me take a realllyyy close look at myself. I grappled with the notion all the way home and as I dragged my tired ass through the door, I finally admitted to myself. I have never left the Anger stage…I have become a mean irritable soul.

It’s been 3 and a half years since I lost Joey. Though I’ve learned to laugh a lot more and try to find joy in small things, there is still an anger that rages inside of me. I try to push it aside or push it deep down into my core. I know I isolate myself so that no one is the wiser. Truth be told, being alone is my preference these days. I desire the quietness of nothing surrounding me. I thought I was doing a good job of controlling it. So, to say that I was taken aback today when I was described as an intimidating, menacing person who makes others walk on eggshells, is acomplete understatement.

I sat in disbelief (and shame) and tried to covey a valid excuse or even a reasonable explanation for my dreadful moods. I would have liked to say it’s the Holiday season, or the stress of everyday life. Maybe that a car cut me off or tailgated me so closely that I had to restrain myself from slamming on the brakes. I could even blame the representative in customer service that didn’t give a rip that my mom’s cell phone service was abruptly disconnected while she traveled abroad or the 5 times I was disconnected. As much as I tried, I couldn’t pinpoint my anger and disdain for everyday life. Is my current life so full of despicable and pitiful struggles that I can’t see beyond the storm?

I’ll admit that at times my anger feels like a tsunami. It slowly and quietly begins to build a furor from the deepest part of me. Nothing I try to do can stop it. It comes violently crashing out, practically destroying those around me. Apparently, I don’t even need the words to prove my animosity. It’s practically written all over my face. Do all those I interact with see me as this unapproachable, mean person? Am I that mean unapproachable person?

I walked way from that conversation in shame. What had a become? Whom had I become? Most importantly, how could I fix it?  I have more than my true self deserves. I have a husband that adores me, even when adorable is the furthest from the truth. I have grandchildren whom I would walk on glass in a pit of fire for, and their parents whom were my first genuine and true loves. I work with a group of people that bring joy to my life and whom never let me forget my value. I crave for nothing materialistic but sadly, a tangible thing is not what is lacking. To say that I struggle with each breaking dawn to bring bliss into my life, is an understatement.

Have I truly forgotten how to be happy again?

There will never be anything that can replace the joy of my Joey. No one could ever fill that void. There can be no words, no mementos no good deeds that can make the darkness his loss left bright again. When I wrap my brain around that, it angers me to the deepest part of my soul! I am angry that I was robbed of a son. That my other children were robbed of their brother and their children robbed of an uncle. Grandchildren, a new home, a mother son wedding dance, and so much more was ripped away from me. I was never given a choice. I am pissed that there aren’t any empty spots at my friends Thanksgiving table, and that my neighbor is planning a wedding for her son. I hate that my co-worker just got engaged and that another coworker just had his 2nd baby. I loathe that I have one less person to shop for this Christmas and that our first family picture in almost 4 years is an incomplete family. I detest that my life has been touched by tragedy and that hate has a grip on me. Mostly I hate HATE.

In moving forward, I will tell HATE that it’s time to move on. It’s time to let go of the “Why, me?” I will find a way to replace the anger with the joy that he brought to my life. The way he teased me about the way I answered his calls. The way he laughed from the bottom of his soul. The way he lit up when he sat at the table for dinner. I know I will still feel the sadness and the pain, and that because of it, I know I will never return to the carefree, untroubled me that existed before this horrible tragedy. The time has come to let my soul rest by refusing to live in anger every day. I will move on to step 8. I skip over 7th   aceptance ,because I can never accept the fact that my child had to die. Step 8 is forgiveness. To ask for forgiveness from those I hurt and to forgive myself for the pain I cause to others as I blindly travel thru this journey called GRIEF.

  • FORGIVE AN MAKE PEACE WITH YOUR BROKEN PIECES

Storing Memories

All of my son’s things are in a storage unit. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to go through it. For now, his dad and I pay the fee every month.  Once in a while, his brother will go and check on his things, maybe “borrow” some shoes or hats.  I said that eventually, , we will go through it…some day.  We will divide things up among his siblings, best friend, his girl friend, and the rest to charity.  I don’t know, though, when that time will be.  For now, I am just fine paying the hundreds of dollars per year to keep his possessions stored. Maybe one day, I’ll know when the time is right.  If that time ever comes.

Joey was always borrowing our carpet cleaner. He used it far more than we ever did since 95 percent of our home is tile and his house saw a lot of traffic with his baby dog, Leo.  When his items were placed in storage, our cleaner was among those things. I wasn’t a part of the “move” so I had no idea it had been placed in there.  I only remember needing to safely store all his memories, but I couldn’t bear to do it myself.  My brothers, his best friend and my son had the painful duty of doing that.  I wanted everything stored..EVERYTHING.  Do not get rid of anything…not even his toothbrush.

In the middle of our living room, there is a large throw rug. In the first few weeks after his passing, it saw a lot of traffic.  You could see that the once vibrant colors were now dingy and dirty.  I told my husband that it was time to clean it. I would ask my daughter-in-law if I could borrow hers or I would just rent one of the grocery store ones. My husband kept insisting that we just needed to get ours from the storage. I would change the subject.  Every time the it was brought up, I made excuses…too far, too inconvenient,  too tired.  Then one day, without my knowledge, my husband called Sarini.. my son’s girlfriend and they made arrangements to meet at the storage place to get it out of the unit.  When he called me later that day to give me the “good news”, I felt sick to my stomach.  I got angry! How dare he remove something from the sacred area!  It was like a knife in my heart. I felt betrayed.

I can’t explain why.  In  a way, I felt that by removing it from the storage, it meant we were taking it away from his memory,  we were taking it away from Joey.  It’s a stupid rug cleaner that was ours anyway, for crying our loud.  But somehow and for some insane reason,  it hurt me deeply.

I knew that when my husband brought it home  later that day, it was not going to be pretty. I would have to explain my pain and my disappointment.  I would  tell him that he broke a sacred bond by removing this inanimate  object.  Yes, I know it’s just a carpet cleaner and yes I know it was ours.  But, he had it last.  He would look at me strangely, shake his head and tell me he was only trying to help. I would have to explain that this machine was going to be a constant reminder of him.  As silly as I might have sounded, it was still painful and heart wrenching.

When he brought it in that evening, I cried.  He looked at me and without saying a word, took it right back out and stored it in our garage.  He came back inside and said “I’m sorry.  I didn’t think. We can by a new one.”  I smiley weakly at him.  No, I said…then I feel as if I am replacing him.  He smiled, shook his head and kissed me on the forehead.

One day….Some day…Maybe