The Healing Of a phone Call

I had a very long and pleasant conversation with my mom this morning.  We were laughing and and making plans to get together. I’ve actually talked to her just about every other day for the past couple days!  You might be asking yourself, “What does this have to do with grieving?”  Well, it means everything.  You see, I actually finally feel like I am living again.

There were days when I wanted to get in my car and keep driving.  Just drive away, no destination in mind, just drive away…actually run away.  I planned my escape.  I would take nothing with me but some cash for gas.  When I ran out of money, that was where I would stay.   The only thing that  allowed me to make that u-turn and come home was the thought of my two other children and my beautiful grand babies.  My common sense would kick in and I would remember that I couldn’t run away from my grief.  It will be a passenger sitting next to me for the remainder of my life.

I just stopped caring one day.  I don’t know when exactly.  It could be the day Joey died, or maybe the day of the funeral. I JUST STOPPED CARING. I didn’t care if the sun came up or if I pissed my husband off so badly, that he would leave me.  If my home went to shit, oh well.  It wouldn’t bother me if my angry remarks  pissed anyone off.   If my job suffered and I was the “talk” of the office, I didn’t give a crap.  At the end of the work day, all I wanted to do is get the hell out of my office, come home, take sleeping medicine and forget about everything.   The next day, my nightmare started over.

Oh, I tried to put on a good front.  I smiled at people, laughed at some jokes, pretended to listen attentively to some conversation.  What no one knew is that all long, my heart was beating out of my chest, and my brain was in some place called grief valley.  Dark thoughts would consume me.  I couldn’t concentrate, no matter how hard I tried.  Words were blah, blah, blah, blah. I chose not to participate in a lot of events even though I gave the impression that they did.  Get-together’s didn’t matter to me anymore.  Besides, it would give others a chance to talk about me and describe me as “poor, poor Cynthia!  How brave she is. I don’t know how she does it? If it was me, I couldn’t go on”  Oh people, if you only knew!  I am not brave…I am on survivor mode.  I was doing the least possible just to try to make it to another day.

My relationships suffered.  I pushed the people that love me the most away, but I don’t know why.  Honestly, I din’t care.   Pleasantries eluded me.  Maybe I just didn’t have the energy anymore.  I was barely getting by myself. Back to my mom.  Being the only daughter, we have always been closed.  I talked to her every other day.  Sometimes  a mere 5 minutes.  Other times, we gossiped about family for hours at a time!  She relished those moments.  Her Mija Chula (beautiful daughter) had made her day brighter.  Then, she lost her first born grandson.  The light of her life.  Her beautiful nietecito that she adored more than life was gone.  At the hospital, she cried and screamed in agony, ” NO, NO, NO!!!Please God take me!!!  Take me God!  I have lived my life!  Give my little Joey back to his mom!!”  What my mom or I didn’t know at the time, was that she was about to lose me, too.

I stopped calling my mom.  When I would see her name on caller ID, I would ignore the call.  She would leave me messages, I would delete them.   I can’t explain why?  I adore my mom. The times I felt guilt creep in, I would make a call to her, but horribly, it was out of obligation.  She would try to stay strong.  She rarely cried during the few conversations we did have.  When  my voice started cracking, she would quickly and kindly end the conversation.  She wanted to shield me from more pain.  I KNOW that as soon as the line went dead, she would collapse on her chair and cry out to God for help.  My beautiful mother was grieving for her grandson and for her daughter.

A couple Saturdays ago, while I was having my morning coffee, I picked up the phone and called her.  She was pleasantly surprised.  We talked for almost and hour.  We talked about everything and about nothing.  The I heard something that I realized i had been missing…I heard ourselves laughing!  No cracking voices, no tears, just laughter!  I missed my mom but most importantly, I realized how much she missed me.  A couple days later I called her again.  I have to laughingly say that this time she was shocked! We only talked for a few minutes on my way to work, but to my mom, it might as well have been hours!  As our calls have continued, I can hear her tone lighter, happier.  When she answers the phone ;“ALO ,mi  hija mas chula de todo el miundo (Hello my most beautiful daughter in the whole world), I cheerfully  answer her back “ Hello my most beautiful mother in the entire universe!”  We both laugh at our silliness. I can hear her laugh now as I type.  It makes me happy.  I now understand that I have needed her as much as she has needed me.  I am cognizant that I will have moments when grief will try to pull me back into a dark and destitute world, but I am bringing back those that will help me in my battle. I have lost my son forever and sadly, I can never bring him back, but a couple weeks ago, I gave my mom a gift….I gave her her daughter back.  Her hija mas chula…

I was taught to be a mom by the greatest teacher ever….my mother

Do You Know What Real Heartbreak Is?

As I decided to write this piece, I thought about starting with an apology.  I know I have grieving parents that follow me but along side those are the people who love me and are trying to understand this pain. They are curious and want to get a better insight as to my state of mind maybe in order to help me cope.  Being the loving and caring  friend I feel I am, I  would never intentionally hurt anyone’s feelings but being the grieving mother, sometimes, I really don’t care if I do but only for these reasons. 1. I want to be transparent. 2.  I want to be truthful. 3. I really want to teach you.

I started this blog as a way of expressing my raw emotions and more importantly, hoping that if I taught ONE person what the life of a grieving parent is, then the pain of reliving some moments would be well worth it .  SO, with that being said, IF you are NOT a grieving parent, you may chose to stop at this point.  If you ARE a grieving parent….I hope I represent you well.

Here I go….I am sick and tired but mostly offended by the fact that so many “normal people” associate their child’s next step in life as something painful. Or that a pet (yes I know they become like family) has had to go to animal heaven and you are beside yourself.   I want to give you some examples.  Again, I must remind you that if you might be offended by my words, please  STOP reading now. I cherish our friendship.

I saw a video somewhere about a dad who was crying, clutching his heart and expressing his heartbreak because he had just dropped off his baby girl at her new college…3 hours away.  His words left me stunned as his words cracked as he said “Please God, give me the strength to be able to bear not seeing her beautiful face every morning as she leaves the house.  I don’t know if I can do this. I  feel as if I am losing my baby!” Then there was this…” We are getting ready to board the plane to go back home after seeing our son begin his next adventure with his wife and our brand new grandson.  Our hearts are breaking into pieces (pans out the camera phone to see shots of siblings sniffling and dad wiping away tears)  that our Sunday family dinners will never be the same. We are sad that we won’t be able to share in little ‘Johnnies’ firsts in person”  Then I came across this beaut…“Our darling Mr. Winkles had to be put down today.  We are utterly devastated.  How can we go on.  He has been our loving companion for 15 years.  My husband won’t even come out of the room.  My daughter is crying uncontrollably on the couch. I might need to take a sleep aid tonight to avoid nightmares of watching  him take his last breath.”  To this,  All I can say is.. WHAT THE F@$&% ?????????????

I know we all have our own greatest form of pain but really people?!  DO YOU REALLY WANT TO KNOW PAIN?????  Look inside my world! I will NEVER have a grandchild from my son to hold.  I will NEVER have dinner with him again!!  There will never be Christmases, birthdays,  or any type of celebrations with him!!!   OH and your pet??!! I won’t even touch that one!   I once posted that my heart was in pieces and I was really having a hard time as I thought of me son.  Five  people commented, 12 give me a sad smile.  Another person then posted  that their pet was run over and didn’t  make it. They had 118 comments and 80 some sad faces!!!  ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!????  Even as I write this, my blood starts to boil!  For those non grievers, if you were brave enough to have read this far and intend to continue, I want to thank you and If you are one that may fit one of the categories above, I want to explain.   Let me describe true pain.

While you kissed you child goodbye and  hugged them tightly , I touched my son’s cold hard body and begged him to wake up.  While you held you new grandchild and laid them gently into their crib, I clung to my son lifeless body laying in a coffin.  As you look forward to having all you children over for Sunday dinner, I cry when I realize I put one too many plates on the table because for one instant I forgot he was gone.  As you wait anxiously for a text reply or a phone call describing the first day of college or a first date, I BEG God to let me see my child in my dreams.  And as some of you put away chew toys and dog bowls, I grasp on tightly to my child’s shirt so that I might catch a small whiff of him again.

Maybe it’s not anger that I feel, maybe it’s envy.  I am envious that your greatest pain is seeing your child live out their lives as human nature intended them to.  Maybe I seem unsympathetic that you have to wait until the holidays to hug your child again or maybe I am just bitter that I can never pick up the phone just to say ‘hi…I miss you’ and hear them say back ‘I miss you too’ and to end the call hearing him say ‘I love you momma.’  Perhaps I am just resentful that I was once where you are.   Please remember that moments that seem unbearable to you are moments that us, the grieving parents, would give up years of our own lives to just have a small taste of.

To my friends that got this far, may you NEVER have to endure this pain but if ,heaven forbid, you do only then will you understand and I promise I will be there to carry you.  I LOVE YOU

Step into my shoes, if only for a second….only then will you understand a true broken heart…

 

My Strength…My Hero’s…My Children

One woulmy babiesd imagine that my sadness level has been maxed out. I discovered the other night that I was wrong.  I saw something that that left me breathless and  distressed. I discovered my children’s grief Let me explain.

Since my phone was dead, (ugly word) I  was bored and was glancing through my husbands Facebook.  Somehow, I managed to navigate myself to Instagram.  I am not an Instagram person, and I don’t know how it works.  Heck, I am even having trouble spelling it!   Yet, here I was being nosy when I came across  Instagram messages from my daughter.  I started reading through them and looking at the pictures she had  posted.  What I saw, shattered what was left of my heart broken heart.   Every 16th of a month, diligently and without fail, my beautiful daughter has “messaged” her brother Joey and attached a photo of days gone by.  I never knew.  Since I am a foreigner to this social media bit, I am sure my daughter felt brave enough to express her raw and battered emotions and at the same time kept me ‘safe’ from any more sadness.

Her words captivated me.   They resonated of a grief sicken sister , trying to maintain a connection with her big brother.   “I can’t believe it’s been 4 months, I feel you around…The 4th of July will never be the same…I miss you so much, Bro…”  SO on and so forth they continued.  Every month, without fail, with more posts in between, she remembered her brother.  I went through all of them and felt the tears roll down  my cheeks as I became melancholy  reliving the moments in the photographs.  They ranged from when they were little children playing on the living room floor to the happier days right before he passed.  With each picture she wrote him something: “You will always be my hero”… “The worse day of my life is approaching the one year mark” …”Tomorrow your baby sis will be married, how I wish you were here. “   In one posting, she even described that when she got engaged, she had a gut feeling that her wedding should take place sooner than later.   She felt guilty for shaking off that feeling and not listening to it.  Shock, sadness and anger began to overtake me.  I forgot about my children’s own grief.

I was so overcome and consumed with my own emotions that I never really thought anyone else was continuing to  hurt and grieve just as much as I was…am.  I assumed that my pain would always prevail over all others.  Don’t misinterpret me… I KNOW my kids are sad and hurting.  How can they not be? They lost part of their own identity…they lost their big brother.  They were the one that received the original call and made the long hurried ride to the hospital. They were the ones present when they heard the news.  I was hundreds of miles away!  They sat for what may have seemed as an eternity waiting to hear Joey would be OK, but instead, They heard the worse. They are the ones that tried to make  sense of what the doctors were saying to them. They needed to deal with a nightmare come true.  I walked in to what was left.  The initial impact had subsided, if only a tiny bit.  Once they had  a small grip on what had happened,  they saw me in the distance walking or maybe running to them. I don’t recall, only that once I reached them, my son fell onto the floor with me, holding me, desperately seeking comfort…only, he had desperately needed it 5 hours earlier….when I was hours away from him. When they needed me the most, when they needed their mom, I wasn’t there.  Maybe, I still haven’t been there.  I have maintained an aloof image so THEIR pain could start to subside.  I chose to grieve alone and in my own darkness.  They, in order to not weigh me down, have done the same.  When we should be grieving together, we have grieved alone for fear of hurting the other. As their mother, how selfish I have been not to have seen that.

One celebrations days, such as birthdays, Mothers day, etc., my son Anthony has always included something uniquely special in memory of his brother.  He keeps him alive for me during the most difficult days. As he cautiously watches me open it, and read words his brother would have said to me,  his tears overcome him before they do me.  How strong he has been to go through the process of picking something out or putting words to paper knowing whatever it was had to be extra special.  My Anthony, my baby boy has taken on the job of keeping Joey a part of the hardest days for all of us.  My son…my hero

Then there is his baby sister.  There are days when I think, ‘Oh dear God, today it’s the 20th, I missed the 16th!”  The other night I realized my daughter never forgets.  On Instagram, every 16th, there is a post. There are days when I can’t glance at pictures of him... yet, those pictures are her life line to him.  Where it hurts me to remember his laugh, his voice, she has conversations with him all the time.  The shirt with his picture that was made for all of us for his service, sits unused, neatly tucked in a drawer (the pain is too extreme).  Hers is fading from use.  She tells me she talks to him just about everyday on her way to work.  I put the volume up on the radio to drown out my thoughts.  Events held to honor him are too hard for me.  I choose to hide away…she is right there, front and center, with her brother, proudly representing their brother. Why didn’t I know….or maybe I just couldn’t handle knowing.  I didn’t want to admit how weak I really am to my children.  I have tried to be a force of strength, a buffer from the pain, yet, all along they have been buffering me…protecting me….shielding me from their own pain.   My baby girl and boy,  have been holding all their pain and fear inside, trying to steer me away from the agony.  They are the strong ones…They didn’t just lose their brother, they lost who their mother once was.  It is time to bring her back

I shall shield you from the mighty winds, and shelter you from the storm……..

 

 

 

A Forgotten Soul..

I knew the time would come.  I didn’t think it would be this soon. Maybe I’ve just lost track of time but I  thought it would take longer.  I assumed that the inevitable wouldn’t come to pass.  I prayed it didn’t.  Maybe it’s because my payers don’t seem to matter much lately.  Oh, how I never wanted to see this day.  Yet, today,  it came to fruition…this is the day I realized the world has forgotten my son.

I really didn’t expect him to continue to be in the forefront of everyone’s thoughts.  How could he be?  He was merely a very small part of everyone’s ‘dash’.  You know…that dash that separates the day we were born and the day we passed from this world? That’s what really matters..the dash.  It’s not the dates, but the people and events that occupy that little dash on our headstone that define our lives.   Joey was here one day, made his impact on the world, then abruptly made his exit.  Where he was a mere dot of ink on their dash, he was…IS … one of the biggest parts of my dash.  Without him in it, this dash would be incomplete…kind of like my life is now.

When ‘it’ happened, those that knew him and knew us, were in shock.  Not Joey?! How? Why? There were the social media posts, the text messages, the phone calls, the whispers.  Our phone never stopped ringing, the door bell rang constantly, the tags on posts came over with a vengeance.  Sometimes, so much so, that I just wanted to run, hide and scream for the world to leave me the f*%#*@ alone!!  I really didn’t mean it, though.  I just wanted this to go away.

I heard that when something like this happens, people are there in the beginning then they start disappearing into their own lives, slowly, quietly.  Maybe they believe that if they do it at a slow pace, you won’t notice their absence.  We do.

Today, as I was looking through my social media page, it hit me.  Except for his adorning baby sister and Sarini,  the love of his life, his beautiful girlfriend who will never forget, no one had mentioned him a very long time.  There were no memories recollected, no old photos popping up, no mention of him or the life he led.  The most painful cut, though, is that those that professed the greatest love and painful loss for him are the ones that have become the most silent and yet that  silence is the loudest thing I hear. The world has forgotten my son.

With a heavy heart, it feels as if I lost him again all over again, yet this time I grieve alone.  No one checks up on me.  No one asks how we’re holding up.  The most horrific day of my life had become a far memory for many.  This anger and sadness creeps up on me  and leaves me with a bitter taste.  I feel resentment, and outrage  that he has faded from people lives…from their thoughts.  My anguish and heartache, have once again left me gasping for air.  Have they forgotten that he once existed? That he once mattered in their lives?  More importantly, that they mattered in his?  We never wanted people around out of obligation…we wanted them here because he was valued…because he made a difference in their lives…because he loved them and he was loved in return.  This type of friendship, adoration and respect should last forever, right?  How quickly people forget.  What are we, those of us that have the daily pain and are left behind to mourn, supposed to think?  We might as well have died along with them.

How can anyone forget him??  His beautiful soul gave us so much to remember … 

 

 

Nothing Is Promised

I was not the only one that lost a child 426 days 12 hours ago.  My parents did too. They didn’t lose a child in a physical way…they lost one to despair.   A couple of brothers lost their sister to reclusiveness , husband lost his wife to grief, and close friends lost a bigger than life existence.  All these people have a common denominator….they all lost me. They lost me to this world of bereavement and I am stuck here with no way out.  I do NOT want to be here and I desperately look for some sort of window with the beautiful rays of sunshine beaming through a window . I envision the warm comforting rays carrying me away to a place surround with nothing peace and music

Nothing seems inviting anymore.  The family gatherings, the birthday parties, the dinners out.  I don’t feel as if those things matter.  The ironic ugliness of it all is that this is when those moments should matter the most.  I, as well as many of those who have unexpectedly lost a loved one, have undeniably learned a hard lesson.  There is not one thing that cannot be greedily  taken away.  Nothing is promised to us…NOTHING!  We go through our existence thinking that tomorrow undoubtedly will be there.  There will always be time for a phone call, a friendly visit, another candle on the cake.  What a fool I am.  What a fool to think that I…my family… was destructible.  I finally came to the understanding and  know better than ANYONE that every morning I get up, is a moment that I should NEVER waste and deject.  But, during the darkness of night, I make promises that tomorrow will be different.   Tomorrow, I will allow the old me to come to life ….then tomorrow, becomes today, the evening sets in…and it starts all over again.

Making those phone calls become a chore.  I have nothing to say that I feel would be worth sitting through.  I have no energy….it lacks.   My arms feel like lead., my legs like cement.  It’s hard to hold up my head…I walk slumped over…I stare straight ahead…make no eye contact so you don’t have to fake a pleasant conversation.  I deduce that it’s because I am trying SO hard to be strong when inside, I am my weakest.  I have good intentions, but at the end of the day, again, I think tomorrow is promised.

We are all going to die.  When that time is, no one knows.  Those that do know the end of their journey is near, have been given the greatest gift…they get to say goodbye. What a blessing to be able to incorporate so may thing you wanted so say but life got in the way.  You get to say your ‘I love you’s,’  I’ll miss you terribly, watch over me, when you get there, let me know you’re OK?”.  You have the privileged to ask for needed forgiveness, and simply just to forgive.    Absolutely, the pain of death is evident and certainly still there.  There is nothing to diminish that hurt, your sadness, your misery.  When the agonizing death of a child blindsides parents with this powerful punch to the gut, we are left empty and broken…repeating over and over, “Why?? If only I had another moment, JUST ONE MORE MOMENT, I’d hold on tightly to it and never let it go.

I need to never forget that tomorrow is never promised…