Guest Blog by Grant’s Mom

August 7, 2014 – on a bright, sunny summer afternoon…my world shifted into the unknown. An unimaginable task was given to me. My handsome, kind, intelligent, quick-witted, determined, adventurous, devoted & loving son was unexpectedly & without warning called Home. Grant had been found unresponsive, by his older brother. He was rushed to the emergency room by ambulance. I was at work & rushed to get to him as all I had been told was, “Grant’s not breathing!” As I sat in the ER Family Waiting Room my head was spinning, my mind chaotic & my heart pounding so hard I thought it would beat out of my chest. As the doctor walked in & sat down I watched every move he made. I was aware of Grant’s father, the oldest of my 3 sons & my partner…the 4 of us transfixed on the Doctor. Time slowed…frozen…then he said, “We did everything we could. We tried everything we could think of. I’m so sorry, your son is gone!” All I could say is, “No!” I must have said it 100 times…they (the ER doctors & nurses) had no explanation – there was no reason – they were all so upset because Grant was the epitome of health. Strong, vibrant, healthy & fit. 7 months later we finally received an answer, Multifocal Lymphocytic Myocarditis. His heart could not handle an infection that had gotten into his system & it just stopped. In fear for my other 2 sons, we had them tested just to be safe. The cardiologist who tested Adam & Jake, told me that it happened  quickly & Grant did not suffer (that was a relief to my aching heart). His father & I spoke many times over those 7 months, as we waited for the autopsy results. We racked our minds trying to remember anything he might have said or done that would explain how this could have happened. While there were a couple of comments he made, there was nothing that we didn’t attribute to his workout regimen or his busy lifestyle. All I knew was (is) my beautiful 21 year old son, was dead & I was a stranger to myself. How would I survive this? How could I endure this heartbreak? Tears…OMG…I’ve cried countless tears…I’ve discovered in almost 4 years that there is a sacredness in tears…they speak for our hearts because no words will ever be able to articulate the sorrow! 

I have walked a path no parent  should ever know. The weight of this task has been the most overwhelming of my life. I changed irrevocably in a single moment. I strive everyday to live with my grief. I still ask, “Why?” Why my son, why this amazing young man with so much promise, who means so much too so many? And the only answer that ever comforts me…his life serves as an example of truly living each day to the fullest. GRANT IS OUR EXAMPLE OF LIFE. I have been amazed at how many lives he touched. The beauty of his soul affected so many people. 

Through his loss, I have discovered that I am stronger than I ever imagined I could be…I’ve also learned that despite this unimaginable loss…life continues. I was on a very different path before this happened. I was not the person I needed to be…or wanted to be. I have become a very different person. I have learned a great deal about life these past 4 years. It’s so much simpler than I’ve made it out to be. In looking back, I can honestly see that I’ve made it difficult, over the course of my life, because I chose to be angry or offended or annoyed rather than choosing joy or understanding or acceptance. I now see, with so much clarity, it’s a daily choice whether I grow and become better than the day before or I focus on the negative aspects of each day. Negativity is easy. Not much effort is required to always see the hopelessness and sadness and heaviness in life. Yet, when I choose the positive, a peace fills my heart and a calm feeling resides within me! In the quiet, contemplative moments…I’ve discovered that if I choose to live inside of a deep gratitude, for my own undeserved grace and limitless mercy – past hurts & mistakes I’ve made have very little power to cause me pain in any lasting way. They are not worth the time or energy I used to expend on them. They are merely lessons and tests in the great school and journey of my life. And in discerning my own right to seek forgiveness & to be shown mercy – I understand that I then must excuse offenses & exhibit tenderness. It’s tricky & on the bad days…nothing helps…I just have to work through the indescribable heartache of Grant’s death, which evokes a gamete of difficult emotions, unfathomable regret & overwhelming sorrow. Thankfully, the calm surrendering of my heartache takes me to a place of solace within my soul and my refusal to let my past mistakes become my identity is where the healing begins and the understanding is indescribable. An abiding gratefulness and a gentle grace encompass me. Words cannot explain the tender feelings within me. And the more time I spend in gratitude, the more strength I have to battle the “bad days”! I’ve come to know, deep within my soul, if I do not find a way to transform my pain, I will without a doubt transmit it to others. And that is not who I want to be or how I want to be remembered. I’ve discovered not to treat my grief, my mistakes & my regret like an enemy, rather embrace them as part of me so I have the potential to be better, wiser, happier, filled with grace, to know more joy & radiate peace. In honoring myself, I have the opportunity to make a difference and I hope, leave a legacy of love – just as my precious son did!! I know that for the rest of my life I am going to miss him and hurt deep inside – I also know that he would want me and all those he loves to find joy and happiness and peace.  To live as he did – laughing, learning and loving…taking nothing for GRANTed… I see this human experience from a newly formed perspective. If I could, I would give all that I am and willingly take his place, to give him back to so many who mourn him and grieve the loss of him. For the rest of my life, I will carry his heart…I will carry it in my heart! I know that he is smiling on all of us and watching over us too. Loving you & missing you my beautiful boy…}I{

Thank you for sharing in my story & letting me share my grief & healing journey with you! Grant’s Mom 🙂

 

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14 Days of Joy 2018

14 Days of Joy 2018
14 Days of Joy 2018 – How will you bring joy?

14 Days of Joy came about like everything else I have thought of since Drew died, in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. It was about a month before his 1st anniversary (which is a really bad word for that day) and I felt like I was drowning. I was drowning in my pain, my what if’s, and what should be’s . I felt this frantic feeling in my chest and had no idea if I was going to survive the tolling of the calendar. I feel like I may know what someone on Death Row may feel like.

When you lose a child the passing of everyday is like one more step farther away from your child. You have all those moments that have happened between on August to the other. My mind was racing, my heart was not in my control and I knew that if I didn’t do something it was not going to end well with me. I looked back on the things we had done the past year in Drew’s memory and all the people I was able to tell about my sweet boy and I smiled. Then it came to me….if I purposefully got out of my own head for awhile I may just may be able to handle that dreaded 1 year mark. As with anything (at least for me) the leading up to a day is much worse than the actual day. That’s when I came up with the idea to spread joy to at least 1 person. It was a goal…it was something my brain could fixate on instead of not having Drew. That was the start of 14 Days of Joy.

Here it is that time again and we are doing our 3rd 14 Days of Joy. This project is so much more personal for me than Smiles and Smiles is pretty darn personal. 14 Days of Joy is my lifeline, it helps me give myself to others so that I am not so broken inside. It really doesn’t take much to do this project with me. You would be surprised as to how the joys come about without you even realizing. Helping someone with putting their groceries in the car, holding a door open for someone, letting someone go in front of you at the store. Do these things purposefully, with joy in your heart and you will feel a lifting in your own spirit.

Everyone could use some joy in their lives, we never know what people are facing alone. Let them know at least for a moment they are not alone. My hope is one day that more and more people know about 14 Days of Joy. They know that it was started because of my beautiful blue eyed son and when they see the momentum they smile. They smile because nothing would make my heart so happy as to see others do this with me and they smile because they brought joy to someone else and the circle is unbroken.

So I ask you from July 21- August 4, 2018 go out and do something to bring joy to others. It’s ok if you get strange looks, it’s ok if others don’t understand your why. Do something for someone else. When you do use the hashtag #14daysofjoy2018 and #smilesfromdrew https://www.facebook.com/smilesfromdrew Follow the hashtag and see how others are bringing joy. So my question to you is…….

How will you spread joy? 

Youngest, Middle, Oldest….

Madison when she was 2 months old.
Madi when she was about 2 months old.

I have been trying to write this post for several months. I wanted to write about my wonderful Madison.  I try not to write too much about Madi and Molly because I’m not sure how much they want out there. Molly is too young to really tell me and Madi is pretty private. We have had a year of some many milestones and it makes me realize how much Madi’s life has changed in the last 5 1/2 years.

Madi had always been the youngest child. I am pretty sure it wasn’t easy being a little sister to the rough brother love of Drew. When he was younger his idea of affection towards her was wrestling or putting her in a headlock till she gave in. Drew also heard quite often “don’t make your sister cry”. I’m pretty sure she milked that factor a time or 2 to see if she could just get him in trouble. Madi was 4 years younger than Drew so he had been in sports practically her whole life. We would have to bundle her up and take her to one ball field or another. She usually didn’t mind because most practices and games there was a park near by. She was happiest when she could run free and play like the wind. And if you weren’t careful she would wander off and the cops would have to be called. Madi was my Houdini. It’s always a balance with being a mother to more than one child. You have to make sure each child gets the attention and love they need. Drew was the one who was always busy doing something whether that was sports, friends, or fishing but Madi was the baby. She was my curly haired princess and she basked in that space.

Drew holding Madi the day she was born.
Drew holding Madi the day she was born.

Then she started school and was in the same school as he was in. She was kindergarten and he was a “big” kid in the 4th grade. Before school started she loved the idea of being in the same school as Drew. She really did idolize her big brother. As school went on she was always categorized as “Drew’s sister”. She would tell people “you know I have a name and it’s not Drew’s sister”. Drew and Madi are and were completely different people. If you have more than 1 child you understand how different each child could be. It’s one of the great things about having more than 1 child is how each of their personalities is exactly what your family needs. Madi wasn’t a fan of participating in sports. She didn’t care for being surrounded by lots of people but she did love pestering her brother just so he would pay more attention to her. And she loved getting him in trouble because he was “mean” to her. I would tell him to quit picking on her and ever once in awhile I would catch her little smirk.

For 14 years Madi was the youngest of our family. All that changed when we were surprised with Molly coming. Poor thing, not only did she lose her place as “baby” she View More: http://photos.pass.us/thekirkpatrickfamilychristmasjammiesminisession2016was starting middle school too. Oh Madi was so good with Molly. When Molly was super little and she would cry Madi would sing to her the song Soft Kitty and Molly would just look up to her big sister with wonder and quiet down. Even though Madi was no longer the baby in the family I think she was happy to be a big sister. We saw a softer side of Madi and I think in some ways she surprised herself. That is the point Madi became a “middle” child. She had her big brother who was trying to find his way in the world and had a new sister that she had to be patient with.

On August 5, 2015, her life had another major change. We found out her brother had had died and everything that we knew was different. The family was grieving and she was thrust into the role of being the “oldest” child. She helped with Molly and tried her best not to “make it harder” on me. Sibling loss is something all on its own. Drew was the only other person who knew her since the day she was born. The only other person who

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Madi giving Drew some love when she 3.

would know what it was like in your childhood. She lost that connection when he died. Sibling loss is usually an overshadowed grief. People wanting to show their support to the family in a time of loss usually focus that attention on the parent that lost the child and not the sibling that lost a best friend and worst enemy all in one. I think in some ways Madi felt like it was her job not to be sad so I wouldn’t be more sad. She still doesn’t really like talking about her feelings of losing Drew but I hope one day she will feel comfortable to talk to someone about it. My hope for Madi is that one day she will be able to come to terms with her feeling of losing Drew and how it has impacted her life. I hope one day she can look back and remember that he loved her dearly, even if at time it didn’t seem like it. I hope one day she can reminiscence and smile with all her memories.

 

Get that camera…

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Drew in his Toy Story pajamas playing Men in Black with the sunglasses.

There is no better time than now to get that good camera. There will be a time when you want to look back at those pictures of your children, whether you are lucky enough to look back at them when they are grown or whether you look back at them because that is all you have left of your child.

 

You don’t want those pictures to be blurry, dark, and just bad quality. That is my problem now that I go back through pictures of Drew and Madison when they were little.

I didn’t realize the importance of it. When they were little we didn’t have digital cameras so you had to buy the camera, buy the film, and try to remember to develop it. You didn’t get to look at the pictures before you just rolled the dice and hoped your kids didn’t take too many pictures of the ceiling or up their nose. I have lots of pictures of Madison’s nose.

I don’t have many pictures of me with the kids. Either we were in places that we couldn’t get anyone to take our picture or they kept me too busy to even bother. It’s quite sad really when you think about it, I have 20 years with Drew and maybe a handful of pictures of him and I together.

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Drew, Madison and I at Six Flaggs in Dallas.

Today, almost all of us have a camera on our phone. It makes it so much easier to get those moments that you wouldn’t have been able to get before. Those look at me Mom moments of them hanging upside down or doing something for the first time. The problem with having all these pictures on the phone is that we don’t do anything with them. I have hundreds of pictures just sitting in “the cloud”. My goal for this year is to make some photo-books with some of the pictures. Take all those pictures I’ve been taking and put them somewhere where we can look back at them in 10, 20, or even 30 years from now.

So buy that camera. It’s worth the money. Don’t worry that you take too many pictures. It’s OK. Get that selfie stick, ask someone to take pictures of you with the kids. You will miss it when you realize that you don’t have any pictures of you with them. As moms we are always doing for others but do these few things and it keeps the memories alive. Print them out. Savor them. Enjoy them so you can remember when.

40 Years Was Not Long Enough……….

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People would think, a 40-year-old child………It doesn’t hurt as much as losing a young child or infant, but it does. It is decidedly so because the day your baby is born, that mark, that heartbeat in the mother changes. It never changes after that, because you are a mother. A baby is given to you from God, who entrusts you with this soul to care and nourish for the rest of their life and yours. The aches, pains and disappointments NEVER sway your love, and you love them for the long haul, even if you know their secrets, good or bad.

My daughter died at 40 years of age. My heart cracked and broke, and will never be the same. We had our ups and downs, goods and bad because of her addiction. I fought her addiction, but that put a wedge between us. Why? Because, she had become the addiction. I loved my daughter, but hated the addiction she had become. Constantly, I would look at her when she would say something hateful and it hurt so bad because I was looking at my daughters face, but hearing the addiction talk. I had to separate the two and in my mind and know this was not my baby girl talking, it was the horrible, hateful, devious addiction.

There were nights my daughter would leave to go out on a date, but the addiction would be the one coming home with cuss words and hate seething from her mouth. It was hard and it hurt with every uncalled for string of horrible words that flew out of her mouth, but you could see in her pained eyes that she was hurting in what she was saying but couldn’t help herself or stop.

This girl had so much hurt in her and the thought of love was soooo out of context for her. When she was sober, she was so funny and silly. She was just afraid of when the pain would return, and the addiction would rear its ugly head and make her run away to drink and do drugs.

Many times she had been in rehab. Many times, the addiction made her walk out of rehab.

My mind was lost many times wondering where my sweet, funny, intelligent and loving girl had gone. It encompassed my daily breathing. I fought and searched to try to help her. I bent rules and and fought everything and everyone who fought trying to get her the help she needed. She slipped through the cracks, so to speak. She was arrested many times, but let go many times. The police would just let her go at 3 in the morning being caught trespassing and drunk or high. The officer would call and ask me to come get her. I would ask why if she was trespassing, and more than publicly intoxicated, why they didn’t arrest her. They would tell me that since she claimed her brother or father were officers, They were letting her go on the brotherly kindness. When I said it is not true that her brother or father were officers of any sort and not even close to the good side of the law, they would just say: Can you come pick her up please. When I would say no, then they would call her aunt who was not at all happy being woke at 3am. So, The addiction knew the tricks to back me into a corner. On the other hand, I was furious with the police because they were not doing their sworn duty when she would break the law. Me, hoping they would arrest her and lock her up to see where this addiction was taking her. She would have been terrified and maybe she would fight her addiction more seriously.

All those waited years of trying to get her help, down the drain. One time she was so drunk, she wanted to commit suicide with Xanax. I took her pills, she said she was calling the police. Of course I begged her to call and she did. The dispatcher heard our conversation of her intent and that she was going to kill me too. The police and an ambulance came. The deputy talked to me outside the house so she wouldn’t hear us and he said follow the ambulance to the hospital. Write an affidavit of what she is doing and they should keep her 72 hours because even he said she needs psychiatric help. I did just as he suggested. The hospital let her go 3 hours later and this was after she was hitting and cussing the security guard who was about 7 ft tall and very subdued. He didn’t let her phase him. I was in total shock that they released her. She called a friend who picked her up and I found out they never gave the doctor the affidavit.

It is not easy being the mother of such a troubled soul who turned into the addiction.

On January 27th 2016, I received a call from the local hospital saying my daughter wanted the nurse to call me so I would know she was there. She was in I.C.C.U. Intensive Critical Care Unit.  Being this was the 20th time there about of getting these kinds of calls, I figured well, she is in the hospital again, cause they wouldn’t tell me why, they weren’t allowed to because of HIPPA rules. (I only found out about ICCU when I got there). I told them I would get there when I could. 9 of the previous times she was in the hospital, she had clinically died and they brought her back to life. Couple times it was Xanax or alcohol related and a few because of being put into psychiatric. This was the first time I didn’t go rushing to the hospital to see what was wrong with my baby girl.

This was the last time. I got to the hospital a couple of hours later with my daughter’s Godmother. When they told me at the desk where she was, I couldn’t believe it. She had been in ICU a few times, the ER a few times, but never I.C.C.U.

We had talked a few days before and she told me her back hurt so bad that she couldn’t walk and I told her the 4 days before to call an ambulance. I couldn’t get to where she was cause I didn’t have a car, plus. she wouldn’t tell me where she was staying. I begged and pleaded with her, but she said she would wait to see if it was better the next day. I called and called but she didn’t answer and her phone didn’t work half the time anyway, so I figured she must be up and about and she would call when she could. I none the less was worried.

She did call the ambulance on the 27th, they said she was soooo horribly drunk. She had called to ask if they could send an ambulance to have someone get her food from the refrigerator, because she thought she had slept for a few days, and she was hungry.

They assumed I was the last one she spoke to before passing out for 3 days. She slept through having to go to the bathroom too. So, they took her to the hospital emergency room and found out her body was shutting down. Another victory for the addiction! They said they didn’t think she would make it being wheeled up to I.C.C.U. She was so close to death. They cleaned her up from all the bodily fluids she was covered in. Addiction really took advantage of her and used her up. When she woke up and saw me there, the only words out of her mouth were: Mom- hand me my beer, where is it? I told her flat out no, that is enough of that talk, no beer sweetie. Her stats were so out of whack, everything in her charts where either way to high up or way below where they should be. She was not talking and making sense. She was highly agitated or sleeping.

The doctors said her liver and kidneys were shutting down and 90% she wouldn’t make it, BUT there were always miracles.

For years I told her what could happen with drugs and alcohol, but addiction made her deaf to her loving mother’s words. I couldn’t lock her up or chain her up to save her. I loved my daughter so desperately that I even started petitioning the courts ( without her even knowing about it ), to have her committed for her own safety. We were going to go on the 5th of Feb. and hopefully her life would change for the better.

Then, the day came that her doctor had shifted all decisions to me because my daughter was in serious shape. It was touch and go. I begged to have them do a liver transplant where I would donate part of my liver I begged that they would let me donate a kidney. His answer was, no. They were afraid it was a moot point because they said she would not survive surgery at this point and her next few days were questionable. Their question to me was: Do you want her to stay on the Potassium, magnesium and Xanax? The tests showed that these three items were all that was keeping her alive. She slept 23 hours of 24. she couldn’t move and was in severe pain. Everything was shut down or shutting down.

I wished that she could understand and make sense so I could talk to her and let her know what was going on and find out if she wanted to remain in pain and fight, but that wouldn’t happen.

The horrible thought of having to decide to let this soul that God presented you with 40 years and so many days before to care for and raise and nourish and love, was the hardest decision I had ever made in my life. I felt on one hand, I can’t play GOD with her life. One the other hand, my heart was in so much turmoil watching her suffer. I asked in so many different ways what her chances were, what about the miracle that could happen? WHERE IS GOD’S GRACE IN ALL THIS!?

The next morning I asked the nurse to get the doctor for me, I made my decision.

I tried several times to verbally express my decision but my throat closed up every time I tried, but then, I looked at him and asked: Are you sure there is no hope, no chance for a turn around? He said no, we are past the miracle stage. God himself would have to come down and lay hands on her, she will die-it is just a matter of when. If you leave her one the meds, she may get a couple of months, but, there will be quite a bit of pain and she will eventually go into a coma and die. On the other hand, IF you take her off the meds, she will still receive pain meds to keep that under control, but we can remove the monitors in her room and her body will continue to shut down and she will succumb to a silent and painless heart attack.

After the doctor telling me these things, I looked at him, swallowed and said let her go in peace. Take off the meds. I love her too much to see her suffer and if it will be a painless, silent heart attack, She deserves that more than agony, thrashing pain.

On February 8th, at 7:38pm, my daughter opened her eyes and looked at me sitting in a chair at the bottom of her hospital bed, and I jumped up and ran to be next to her. I held her hand as she locked eyes with me. I began telling her how much I love her and it was okay for her to let go. She started turning her head up, towards the corner of the room in back of her. I asked if she saw her husband? God? Jesus? her son Jesse? Grandma and/or grandpa? I was trying not to cry, but to be confident and strong for her. We would lock eyes again as I told her how much I loved her and if she wanted to go and let go of the pain, I was ok with it because I knew she was going to heaven. She again looked up into that corner. I asked if she saw Bingo-a beloved dog she was so close to. Then she looked back into my eyes with a peaceful expression, closed her eyes and then she was gone and at that second, I felt a rush of air from her whole body. It wasn’t her last breath, but as a couple of priests and ministers and a chaplain said, it was her soul leaving her body. It traveled up my torso, stopped at my chin and paused as if to kiss me goodbye and then flew. It made my hair fly back and my chin moved upwards and I gasped for breath at this strange happening of amazement. It was as if love had washed over me. I have never felt anything before such as this or after. It was a beautiful passing and I still wonder who came for her that was up in that corner. Someday I will know……………………………

 

Tick Tock…..

It’s 8 days till Drew’s 23rd birthday. I won’t get to sing happy birthday, I won’t be able to make a cake, I won’t be able to hear him making fun of me for having a “kid” that is so old. Oh and how would he have made fun of me. He would have been 23….wow. That is full on adult-hood.

It’s the 3rd birthday without Drew. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long without him. I am sure I have mentioned this before but when Drew moved in with his other parent his freshman year, I thought my life was ending. I thought the few months without seeing him would break my heart. At the time it did break my heart. I felt like he was choosing the other parent over me. I got to talk to him all the time and he would call me, as he would say “just to hear my voice and say I love ya Mama”. I would send him care packages and make my list of things I would cook for him when he came home.  He stayed with that parent for a year but it didn’t go well and my heart was happy once again. I had my baby back.

I will admit I was one of those moms that cried and lamented on Facebook when Drew was going to college. How was I going to last when I would only see him on holidays and breaks. I was so proud that he was taking this huge step and going out-of-town for school and I was also nervous for the change.  I knew that once he left for school my boy would leave the nest and life as we knew it would be different. Life did change but I got to talk to him once a week. I would talk to him more when he wanted money or for me to send him his Amazon supplies. I still missed him terribly but it was bearable and I even got used to not having him around all the time. My heart was happy because I knew he was happy, healthy, and doing what he needed to do grow up and become his own person. I had that sense of peace in my mind because I knew deep down that everything would be OK.

Then one day it wasn’t OK and life changed completely. Drew was really gone and I couldn’t just pick up the phone to text him (he never answered his phone). I couldn’t just swing by and check on him. I was blindsided by the pain that I once thought I knew. I didn’t. I didn’t have a clue and unless the unimaginable has happened you won’t know. We worry about our children but there is always that part in the back of your brain that tells you all will be well. It was my safe place. Now I know that losing a child can happen and it is real and it is painful.

These are the thoughts that go through my mind as the calendar inches closer to his birthday. The thought that I can’t just pick up the phone and call him just breaks my heart all over again. I can’t listen to his stories of his day and all the adventures that went with that. People change so much in 3 years and I start to wonder what he would be doing now. I look at the kids (young adults) that are around his age now and see all the wonderful things that are happening. They are graduating from college, getting married, starting a family, and finding their way in this world. All their parents hopes and dreams helping them navigate this world. Unfortunately, for Drew all I have is the ticktock of the clock as time keeps going on without him.

 

How long ago…..

August 5, 2015 was……

2 years 6 months

916 days
131 weeks
30 months
21,984 hours
1,319,040 minutes
79,142,400 seconds

Ago.

For me it feels like that Alan Jackson song “Where were you when the world stopped turning”. This is the date my world stopped turning. The date is etched deeply on my soul. I remember exactly what I was doing when my Mom’s neighbor called me. I knew from the tone of his voice something was wrong. I never once thought it would be Drew.

I think back to the few days before he died often. They go over and over in my head. I have people tell me “it’s not your fault. How could you have known?” Well I was his mother, I should have known. I carried him in my womb for 9 months and parented him for 20 years. I should have known. I should have known I only had a few more I love yous. I should have known we only had a limited supply of his hugs. I should have known that the last time was the last time. I would have slowed down. I would have really looked. I would have memorized the look in his eye. I would have held on and not let him go. Did I say good things to him before or did I do the nagging mother thing? Did I tell him how much he meant to me? Or did I just assume he knew.

Life takes hold of you and there are days that the only thing you can do is get through it. I hope I am better at doing those things more now with Madison and Molly. I hope they know how much they mean to me because I have told them and showed them. I stare at them trying to memorize their face in case anything happens to them.

I just can’t believe it’s been 2 1/2 years since I saw Drew for the last time. I miss him so badly that there are times I cannot breath. I feel as if one of my limbs has been removed and I don’t know why. The path of child loss is a hard one. It is unpredictable, it is painful, and it is lonely. Working with Smiles From Drew helps but there are days that not much helps it just is…..2 years 6 months ago.

One more year…..

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I sit down at the computer to write and my mind wanders. It wanders to all corners that are buffered. I hide from the edges, the edges hurt. The edges of my thoughts cut right to my core. We started another year, which to a parent that has lost a child it is one more year that your child is not a part of. It’s more family moments they aren’t a part of. I dread the start of the year.

There are so many milestones happening this year. Madison will graduate high school. She has fought hard to get to that point. Not only with the loss of her brother but with her learning disabilities. Drew would have been in those stands cheering as loud as he could for her. He would have surprised her with something sweet like flowers or a Manga book. Even though they fought like brother and sister they sure did love each other.

I imagine he would want to give her advice on what not to do in college. Lord knows he learned those lessons the hard way. He would tell her to pick classes in the afternoon so she didn’t have to get up early for classes. I imagine all the other life lessons he would tell her, and I am pretty sure it wouldn’t be the advice I would give her. Madi would listen and laugh, knowing the stories of Drew in college. She would look up to her big brother and give him a big hug. She would know that when the going got tough she would be able to call him. These are the moments that won’t happen. They just happen in my mind.

Molly will start kindergarten this year. She was 2 when her brother died. He so would have loved to walk her to her class on the first day of school. I imagine he would hold her pink backpack with pride and bend down and whisper something in her ear so she isn’t scared. She would give him that shy smile of hers knowing her big brother has her back. I am sure he whispered that if anyone messed with her to tell them that she has the best big brother and they wouldn’t want to mess with him. I imagine that at her first performance he would be there and clap so loud after she finished singing. She would never doubt how much her big brother loved her.

But sadly, these moments are all made up in my mind. They are my “happy” place. They won’t happen and when the moment hits me and I realize they won’t, I cry.  I will be there for all those moments. So happy for all the achievements of my girls but in my mind I am thinking of how much Drew is missing. How much the girls are missing without him here. So you see, it’s not just a new year starting that makes it so hard for us with children that have gone ahead of us to the gates of Heaven, it’s all those moments we know they would have been there for that they aren’t. It’s all the memories that you hold on to for dear life because you don’t want to forget a single thing. One more year……..

http://www.smilesfromdrew.org

Finding Grace…..

24312931_309917599509125_6616587982098666412_nIt’s the way every memorable event happens in your life it was just regular normal Monday. You get the kids to school, yourself to work and pat yourself on the back because you did it without too many tears. That is how my Monday started. Then it all changed.

I work in a law office where it is just me and the attorney. For the most part our days are pretty boring and routine. Mondays are usually a little busier for me because I am making sure everything is caught up with from the weekend. Our office is in a cute little complex in downtown Santa Fe. In the complex it’s us, the publication Local Flavor, a couple of therapists, and a couple of other attorneys that share an office.

That Monday morning we had someone come into our office looking for one of the other attorneys. He said that he had an appointment with him and he didn’t show up. My boss offered for him to come into the conference room and wait for him but he declined because he had already been waiting half an hour. We got busy with our routine and didn’t think about it again.

Later that afternoon the other attorney in the office next door came and asked if we had seen Paul today. I told him I hadn’t noticed that he came in and my boss said she didn’t think so. He then mentioned that Paul had an appointment that afternoon but didn’t show up for it. That triggered the memory for my attorney about the gentleman coming in that morning for Paul. My attorney and the neighboring attorney call me into the office and ask if I would run out to Paul’s house and check to see if he was there. They write down his address so that I can find the directions and be able find it. The neighboring attorney mentions he is going to try calling the hospital and see if he is there.

I grab my purse, the paper with the address on it and trek off to Eldorado to see if Paul is at home. This is where the day took a turn for the worst.  I pull up into his driveway and see his car. I also noticed that the garage door was open. I thought this was odd but then again I had no idea if this was normal for Paul or not. At this point I started getting a bad feeling about this. I go in the garage and start knocking on the door and calling his name. When no one answered I decided to start going around the house to look to see if there is another door or I can look through the windows.

I go from window to window not seeing much. I saw his beautiful calico cat sitting in the living room but at this point I didn’t see anything else. I get to the front door and I start knocking with no answer. I turned the handle but the door was locked. I decided to keep going around the house to see if I there was anything else, I get to bathroom window and noticed on the corner of the tub is Paul’s phone, watch, and e-reader. I had known people had been trying to call him all day so I think at this point I knew this was not going to be going well. I walk to the next window which is his bedroom. And this is where I found Paul Grace. He was laying crosswise on the bed not moving. I could tell immediately that he was no longer with us. I grab my phone and call 911. I knew that there was nothing I could do to help him at this point besides letting people know he was there.

I have to say I was little upset when I was calling 911. I was envisioning when Drew was laying there and how now some other family is going to get a horrible call that they are not expecting nor wanting. Thankfully, the medics and sheriffs arrived fairly quickly. The sheriff went in first to make sure there were no dangers and the medics were right behind them. The medics came out and just shook their heads just giving me the confirmation that what I knew was true. As when any emergency happens you have to hurry up and wait. The sheriff called the coroner and all their real work started.

I made contact with my boss and let her know what had happened.  She and the other attorney tried to get into contact with Paul’s family. I had to wait there at his house to identify the body.  The sheriff had a bunch of questions for me, which many I couldn’t answer. I didn’t know Paul well. I said Hi to him the morning and said Bye to him in the evening. I first met Paul when Drew was young and we had just moved to town and we played baseball with the Little League. I also had talked to him here and there. He was running for District Court Judge and I was helping him gather signatures so he could be on the ballot. They always say hindsight is 20/20 because I sure did wish I had known him better.

I waited there at his house while they conducted their investigation and so that Paul’s son Zach wouldn’t have to face this tragedy alone. Zach has 2 small girls and needed to find a babysitter so that he and his wife could get over to his fathers house. To be honest I was doing ok until this moment. That is when the coroner showed up. My breath was taken away, it was the same coroner that came for Drew. That is when I started seeing the day I found out about my boy all over again and again and again. I have the thoughts of Drew and the loneliness I feel without him and I have thoughts of Paul’s kids and the new life they are going to have to begin. It starts off as just a regular, normal day and then it all changes and you don’t know if you can even recognize your life anymore. This is what is going to happen for his boys.

I stayed there at the house for several hours being asked questions I didn’t have the answer. Zach and his wife come to the house and are hurrying up the driveway and I go out and give him a big hug. I have only seen Zach in passing when he would come to the office to visit his dad but at the moment we were connected. Our lives, the Grace children and me are forever entwined. I will always be the one who Found Grace. I wish I had found him sooner, I wish we didn’t have to find him because he was just at work like a normal Monday. However, I am glad it was not Zach or his beautiful granddaughters that found him. There was so much about this situation that brought back memories of the time with losing Drew. It was the same coroner, and the same funeral home people.

Paul Grace was wonderful man. He volunteered in so many activities in the community. He was the President of Little League, he was long time volunteer of Warehouse 21, and he volunteered his time to his church. Paul’s funeral was Thursday and all the people he impacted and moved by him just being him truly made me sad that I did not know this wonderful man better. He will be missed but always remembered. The whole service was beautiful but there was one portion of it that I could not stop thinking this is how I want my life to be remembered. I believe it’s a Jewish prayer (forgive me if I’m wrong). It stirred my heart.

On Kaddish

When I die, if you need to weep, cry for someone walking in the street beside you.

And when you need me, put your arms around others and give them what you need to give me.

I want to leave you something, something better than words or sounds.
Look for me in the people I’ve known or loved, and if you cannot give me away,
at least let me live in your eyes and not in your mind.

You can love me most by letting hands touch hands, and souls touch souls.

You can love me most by sharing your simchas and multiplying your mitzvot.

And when you say Kaddish for me remember what our Torah teaches, love doesn’t die, people do. So when all that’s left of me is love

Give me away……..

 

Aroma or scents…

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Recently I was told I need to meditate. That if I could clear my mind from all the clutter of my everyday stuff I would be able to connect with Drew more. I’m not a meditating kind of girl. I’ve tried before and I end up just think of several hundred more things that I should be doing. I don’t do well when I have to reflect too long. But….I do want to feel closer to Drew so I have been practicing.

I read an article that said that when you meditate you want to use the same scent every time or listen to the same music.  If you are trying to connect with someone, in particular, you will want to use a scent that reminds you of them or smells like them. That made me laugh trying to think of a scent that captures “Drew”.

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What smells remind me of Drew?

  • There is a time in a boys life when they turn from “toddler” to “boy” and they have this sweet sweaty smell. You cuddle close to them and you can smell that soon they will no longer be “little” but will get bigger and stinkier.
  • Fried Chicken. It wouldn’t matter where he was, he would either walk in the door or call me when I was making fried chicken. I haven’t been able to make fried chicken since he died. It’s just too hard. Even just the smell of fried chicken brings tears to my eyes.
  • Axe body spray. I don’t think you can have a pre-teen boy and not be exposed to the dreaded Axe body spray. I do believe they think it is a suitable substitute for a shower.
  • After football funk….I have no other way to describe it. He would get in the car after playing hard at a game or practice and it would just darn near knock you over. I would roll down the windows and wish for that phase to be over. I wouldn’t even mind smelling that now.
  • Juicy Fruit Gum. He loved Juicy Fruit gum. When he got his braces he was most disappointed that he couldn’t have his gum any longer. He would get recurring ear infections so chewing gum helped with the pressure in his ears.
  • Little tree car freshener. When he started driving he loved to have one of those little tree car fresheners in his car. Now I know it’s because he wanted to mask the smell of things he shouldn’t have been doing but I can’t see or smell one without thinking of him.

Every time I pass a candle display I smell the candles and close my eyes and see if I can capture the essence of Drew. It hasn’t happened yet. I haven’t smelled one that is quite right. I may end up having to make my own candle. Who wouldn’t want a candle that smells like “Fried Chicken Boy Funk”.