All My Regrets

Sometimes, right out of the blue, a devastating glimpse crosses my mind.  Immediately following, I get that nauseated feeling in my throat.  I begin to feel a darkness creep over me. I try to erase it by shaking my head in the same manner you would an image on an etch-a sketch.  By then it’s too late.

I see the image of my son laying on a steel bed.  His head is turned to te right. His body is covered with a pink blanket and a large plastic tube sticks out of his mouth.  I wanted it out but his dad said we weren’t allowed to remove it.  That would be for the coroner to do.  My gut instinct told me to yank it out but I didn’t.  To this day, I regret not pulling it out.  Unfortunately, it is but one of my regrets.

I regret not staying in the room longer with him.  For some bizarre reason I felt bad for the nurse that was “keeping watch over us”.  It was past his quitting time.  I appoligized to him.

I regret not calling my best friend first.  We have gone through hell and high water together these past 40 years.  Why did I pick the person I picked?  I don’t know.  Yes, she is a good friend, but no where close to my bestest friend ever.

I regret getting mad at my mom for calling her sisters to tell them her precious Joey had passed.  I was upset that people were gathering around us and taking precious viewing time away from us.  I was suffocating.  I hated so much sadness surrounding me.

I regret being the “strong one”  The one that comforted those who came…friends, family, co-workers…and not allowing them to comfort me.  As ther cried  and hollered around me, I was the one telling them it would be ok.  I wanted to be weak.

I regret giving out orders and not letting someone take the reins.  ‘Get the name of the Donor Network lady.’ ‘Order food for visitors.’ Have my brothers go by his place and get Leo (his dog baby).’  ‘ Call my work.’  Call your work.’ Why do I always need to be in control?

I regret not being there to comfort my other children from the beginning of the nightmare and having them suffer without me.

I regret not thanking his girlfriend at the service for loving him through thick and thin.  For loving him more that  he loved himself at times. For telling me he was laughing at the end and assuring me that he was happy.  And if I couldn’t be with him when he took his last breath, then then I am at peace that the woman that loved him almost as much as I did was.

I regret not reminding her of that more often.

I regret not being there when he took his last breath.

I regret being the first one to leave him.  I regret being the last one there.

I could go on and on about things I regret or wish I could change.  Everyday I seem to come up with something new.  I assume that all who suffer loss go through the same cycle…wishing hoping then ending up with the same outcome.  There is nothing we can do to change the past.  If there was, I wouldn’t be here writing this blog.

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Two Mothers Lives in Parallel

Today, I watched the service of a young lady who passed away a few days go.  She was a mere 26 years old and her life was stolen by an evil disease.  Cancer robbed her and her family of a beautiful future.

I somberly watched as her life was celebrated.  I saw her short 26 years played out on our church’s video screen.  The songs that were played, the pastors’ words, the cries in the background took me back to 2 years go when our family celebrated Joey’s life in the same spot, with some of the same people, with the same pastor.

As I heard the family speak, I caught glimpses of the parents, siblings and grandparents.  My heart broke for them, but it shattered for her mom.  Though the pain and loss is felt all around, there is no greater pain, or love for that matter, than that of a mother.  Unfortunately,  I also know what the next few days will bring.  The days when all the sounds would stop.  When the calls stopped coming and the door bell ceased to ring.  The days when I became so engulfed in the quiet that my mind would vividly relive every sound and pictures of that horrific day. The nights when I desperately needed to sleep but the nightmares kept me awake.  I can still recall how the cold tile floor in our bedroom felt against my shaking body.  I spent so many nights on it.  Sometimes I pounded it so fiercely, I would have bruises on my hands. Other times I  just laid there, staring into darkness. My body limp from grief and reeling in pain.  My husband would frantically try to pick me up, but I was dead weight…dead, period.  My whole being was being swept away in a sea of agony. I wonder if a grieving parent came up with the quote “A quiet storm” because those are the perfect words to describe it. A deafening quiet filled with anger, sadness and disbelief that grows into such a monstrosity you feel as if you are drowning.  You gasp for air and with each breath you think that it will be your last.  At times, I wished it would be.

I saw myself in this mother.  I could see the pain behind the week smile. I could tell how strong she was being, not for herself, but for her family, her friends and for her church. As people hugged her and gave their condolences, she held back tears.  When a long-lost friend appeared, she would break down and hold them a little longer and a bit tighter.  Some people might have remarked to her that her daughter “was in a better place and would no longer suffer the evils of this world” because she was in the “glory of God’.  She agreed, nodded and smiled back.   She probably even laughed a bit here and there.   After all, God is good, right? He has a plan…right? Right??

Dishearteningly , when our children die, so does our faith.  I don’t care how strong of a believer you are.  You can say that you are different and you know that you will never question the work of our God.  You will.  You will question MANY things when your child passes.  Whether you are on one side of the pulpit or another, you will lose your beliefs.   For some it may be a few angry moments screaming at God.  For others it will be a lifetime of declaring how they could have wasted their time believing in the goodness of God.  You can say that you are different and you know that you will never question the work of our God.  I know I always declared that when things just didn’t go right in my life.   But then, Joey died.

For quite a while, I was scared. I wasn’t sure where I would end up.  Many times I was worried that it would be a lifetime of regrets.  Not because I felt I wasted time, but because if I really never believed again, would I ever see my Joey again?  It’s like that 10 year old kid that declares they know there really isn’t a Santa Claus but just in case, secretly believes there is.

Today, as I watch our pastor getting choked up, and listening to him speak of this young lady, I knew which group I fell into. I realized that I truly DO still believe.   I  know that I am one of the fortunate ones that spent a few angry moments being angry at God and as I listened to pastor, I knew God understood my pain and it was OK.

 

GOD KNOWS MY PAIN….HE LOST HIS SON, TOO.

 

A Labor of Love…

It has been argued, maybe, even scientifically proven, that there is no greater agony or excruciating pain than that of  a woman going through labor and giving birth.  If this perception hasn’t been substantiated  in any medical journal,  then I felt pity for that one person that would dare to argue that point with any woman.

In the last two years,  though, my opinion in the matter has drastically changed. I unwittingly discovered that there IS a greater agony than hours of labor as a child being born to you.  This pain supersedes ANY and all form of  distress or torture experienced from bringing a child into this world.  What’s even worse is that unlike labor and delivery, this pain doesn’t stop once you hold you beautiful son or daughter in your arms. This isn’t a pain that you completly forget about and bravely jump into another round of it by continuing to have chiildren  No, this pain grasps on to you like a viscous predator wanting  nothing more than to devour his prey. This pain is a jagged dagger to you heart while being hit in the gut by a train, dragged through thorny bushed on fire, kicked in the face with a wrought iron club, while having your lungs twisted into knots so you can no longer breathe, type of pain….maybe worse.  THIS pain doesn’t come from bringing a child into the world, this pain comes from witnessing  your child leave this world.

I remind myself how lucky I am to have been able to  give life not just once but three times!  Sadly, some will never see the “blue” line on a pee  stick or hearing the words from a doctor.  They won’t experience the feeling  as their unborn baby tickles their insides like a fluttering butterfly.  They will never laugh out loud  because as they are laying perfectly  still, they notice their tummy  move around like waves in an ocean.   Even now, as memories of being in a small hospital room, writhing in horrific pain, thinking that surely NO one had EVER experienced as much pain as I was having,  I can honestly say how lucky and blessed I am.

At the time, little did I know that the physical pain or mental exhaustion from giving birth would not even come close to the agony of losing my child.  No one tells you that compared to the misery of  working so hard to bring that child into this world, losing  your beautiful child is a whole new level of torment. One that can’t be put into words or explained by any brilliant scholar. I go from idyllic memories of holding that angel for the first time in my arms, to hugging his cold body for the last time.  From cooing ‘I love you’, ‘welcome to the world’, ‘thank you God’  what took you so long’? to crying in pain, “I LOVE YOU’. ‘COME BACK!’ ‘YOU WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO LEAVE!’ ‘WHY GOD, WHY!!??’

My thoughts go from recalling  him laying in his cradle as I gently rubbed his newborn face with one finger while feeling him hold tight to  another finger with his tiny hand,  to  caressing his  lifeless body in his casket and holding him so tightly that I was cautioned to  be careful.  When he was a baby, I remember not wanting to ever put him down.  I just wanted to hold him forever.  My mom would warn me that  if I continued to do that, he would always cry when I would try to walk away.  Ironically, as they  were ready to drive the hearst away with his body,  I recall crawling into the back of it,  and laying my body over his casket. I didn’t want to get out.  I didn’t want to leave him.  I didn’t want him to see me walk away.

All the joy and immense happiness I had felt some 31 years before as I welcomed Joey in to this world, I felt the complete opposite as I escorted him out of the church.  The bliss and euphoria  had been replaced with a piercing pain of anguish.  I would gladly re-do labor a thousand times over to have him back with me. I  pity the person that would argue that a greater pain than this even exists.

The circle of life.. it moves us all…through despair & hope…Through faith and love

IT HURTS TO KNOW SOME PEOPLE WON’T REMEMBER THE THINGS I CAN’T FORGET…

I just purposely finished re-opening a wound.  Sadistic? No.  I don’t enjoy or revel in the cold painful memories of the day my Joey died.  Have I finally gone off the deep end and decided to start self mutilating my own heart ? No, at least not yet. The reasoning behind my cruel madness is that today at 1:00 pm was the deadline to place a remembrance notice for the 2nd year of Joeys passing.

I’ve struggled with this for a few weeks.  I’ve asked myself what is the real motive behind revisiting that dreadful day?  Is it for me…for us?  To that I can truthfully answer no because we never forget. It is like a scar or maybe like one of those  floaters seared in your eye.  You know the ones, right? Eyes opened or eyes closed, you can’t get rid of it.  It’s always there! Could it be that I am doing it for those that I believe may have forgotten him? Maybe…. Maybe I want them to think of him, even if it is for the 5 or 10 seconds it will take them to read it.  Actually, the truth is, as crazy as this will sound, I’m doing it for Joey.  I just don’t want Joey to think I forgot.  I’m sure my words come off  sounding like those of a crazy mom. I’ve actually felt as if I WAS going crazy plenty of times but no, not this time.  I was pretty lucid as I felt each stab in my heart and each gut wrenching punch while trying to composed the right words.  As I scoured my files  for his picture, tried to remain calm as I struggled to stifle my cries.  I tried to be as level-headed as possible as I searched my brain, and the internet, for the right words.  And even as those painful memories came rushing back to me, I held my ground!  I was the strong mom I have fooled everyone into believing I am.   As I held my stance through this battle trying to gather just the right sentiment, I would ask myself “What would Joey think?” I didn’t want anything  to “done” or too sappy.  I wanted something strong and solid as him, yet sweet and kind.  But every time I felt I had it right, I would go back and fix it.  Even as I type this, I am thinking ‘SH*#$ I should have said this!” At this point it really doesn’t matter.  I am certain that I could never get it right because there will never be the ‘right’ words to use for your child’s obituary/remembrance.  How can there be??

 So, on July 16th, in the Fresno Bee obituary section, my son’s 31 years of life will be condensed into a 2 by 6 (or so) inch section.  Nothing fancy, nothing wordy.  Just a picture of him and his dash…the day he came into my world and the day he left it.  I love and miss you, lil’ Joey.

HAKUNA MATATA (shoot! I should have added that!)