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……..

 

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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”.

Unfinished Life…

There are so many things that suck about losing a child. You have so many regrets and wishes and dreams that won’t be fulfilled.

Each time they handed me my brand new babies for the first time I snuggled them close and smelled their wonderful new smell. I also whispered all my hopes and dreams for them. I hoped that they are happy and healthy. I hoped that they experience love. I hoped that they are kind and generous. And I hoped that they truly know how much I love them.

If you are an unlucky one like me you get to hold your child’s hand for the last time and you have no idea what to whisper. You whisper you don’t know how you can go on without them. You whisper how you hope they knew how much you loved them. You whisper that you will make sure people remember them.

Just like when you hold that new baby and you see the life before them and you with such promise and hope. When you lose your child and hold them for The very last time the unfinished life flashes before your eyes. You see all the things that won’t happen because they are now gone. He will never find his true love. I will never see his blue eyes staring from a child of his own. I will never see him find his purpose in life. I will never see that he found joy in the simple things.

This unfinished life shows you that you may have to go on longer than they were in your life. It shows you that you can have joy and deep sadness all at the same time. This unfinished life feels like a gnawing on your soul. It feels like you have forgotten something with such magnitude and may never remember again. It makes you realize that is now your biggest fear. You fear you will forget the little things as time passes.

This unfinished life takes you back over and over to moments that break your heart even more. The first time they smiled. The first time they said I love you. It takes you back to all this love for them that you now have floating.

There are so many horrible things about losing a child but the unfinished life is the worst.

Doubt and more doubt…..

think of you

There are so many times on this journey I second guess what I think I should be doing. Whether I should even go on with Smiles. Whether this is the path I am supposed to be taking or its just the path I want to force myself on. Is Smiles From Drew really helping anyone but me and is it really helping me?

It’s no joke when they say running a non-profit isn’t easy. All the fundraising and planning. There is just so much to do. It practically has to be a full time job. Then you throw in the process of grief and man, oh man is it hard.

The past few months have been particularly trying. My doubt is in full force. There are so many horrible things happening in the world and here I am asking people to buy coffee to help kids play sports. I get it. I get that there are so many more pressing matters happening that needs everyone’s attention right now. I get that to some kids playing sports isn’t something they feel is important.

That is the problem when you work with a cause that is so close to your heart. Smiles From Drew is so close to my heart. You can almost say it is part of my heart. I put all my pent up love for Drew in it. And boy do I have some love for that boy. Two years have passed but it feels like its been an eternity and then it feels like its just been a moment. My love for him did not just disappear like he did. My arms ache, my heart is shattered, and I don’t know what else to do. hurts arms

I’m not sure that I’m doing the right thing but there are more times than not that I feel like this is what I am supposed to do. And I guess the only time that is getting wasted is mine.

14 Days of Joy 2017

Sometimes the worst part about an anniversary or date coming up is the days before the actual event. Last year I was dreading August 5. It was going to be 1 year since Drew died. I got the idea that if I took the 2 weeks before the actual date and do random acts of kindness and spread joy, it would help me fight off that feeling of despair with his death date.

The girls and I  along with a friend or two did a great job. We took flowers to nursing home, gave water to people waiting out in the hot sun, passed out colorful balloons for no other reason but balloons are fun! I think in some way it did help make that One Year Mark a little easier.

I thought to myself that I should make this a yearly event. Use the 14 days before the anniversary to spread joy, kindness and love. I make “inspiring” graphics for each day and then I plan what act of joy I am going to perform. My hope is and was for people to follow suit and post their moments of joy, their random acts of kindness in memory of Drew. That part hasn’t exactly gone they way I was hoping but as they say there is always next year. Even though my plans in my head have not gone the way I wanted I have faith that what I am doing is letting more people know about Drew.

There are so many ways to bring joy to people. Drew knew that best way to do it was a simple smile and “how are you today?”. You would be surprised about how much that can touch someone’s life. They may be having a really crappy day, week, year, or even at the moment feel like a lifetime of bad days. Having someone taking the time to interact is priceless.

I would love to be able to do all that I have in my mind to do for Drew. Unfortunately,  my time and wallet don’t agree. So I will keep spreading joy they way I can. I will still tell people about my Drew and try not to worry whether anyone else is doing it too. I will hope and pray someday more people will know about 14 Days of Joy and more people will know about Drew.

23 Months….

I have started this blog probably a dozen times since the 5th of the month. Every time I start it I get upset and have to stop. I don’t quite know if anyone actually reads these blog posts but I do know it helps to get it out of my head. Writing these posts help with the constant swirl of thoughts that go through my head at all times.

23 months is 699.584 days 99.9406 weeks. I searched and searched and found no other ways to describe 23 months. Since it has taken me so long to finish this blog we are 2 weeks away from the 2 year mark.

I always knew my job as a mother was limited to a certain amount of time. As a mother you know that you raise them the best you can and hope you gave them the love and skills to make it on their own and they fly to their own lives. When Drew was about 14 I realized how quickly these moments with them really go by.

He was also 14 when he decided he wanted to live with his dad. My heart was broken. I truly thought at the time that was the worst thing that could have ever happened to me in my life. I cried all the time…I called him all the time…I sent care packages. I wanted him to know how much I loved him and even when he was not right there with me, he was always on my mind.

Oh how I wish that was the worst pain I had ever had to go through. I guess I wasn’t thankful enough…I wan’t enough… Almost 2 years ago I realized how naive I have been and how much time I wasted on the stupid things. I had ideas of things that needed to be done. Working, housework, homework. He would come and cuddle and I would get upset because I didn’t want to “wallowed” on. I was selfish. And I wasted moments. I failed as a mother, I failed and have to live with that knowledge.

I can’t believe it’s been 23 months…2 years…

2nd Annual….

It’s hard to believe that I am in the process of doing the 2nd raffle for Smiles From Drew. Every time I write 2nd Annual it takes me a minute to get my breath back. It means it has almost been 2 years since Drew died. 2 years…..that still blows my mind.

There are days where it feels like it’s been forever since I have heard his voice. Then the there are days where it just seems like yesterday and he will walk in the door at any moment. Those are the days that are the worst. Every loud bass cars driving by my ears prick up waiting to see if they pull into the driveway. They don’t….

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Fighting Squirrels 2017

This year Smiles From Drew sponsored a T-Ball team. They were all under 5 and they were too cute. The team name was The Fighting Squirrels. I think Drew would have loved that. We spent many seasons at Ragle Park during the spring for baseball so I thought it was a good progression for Smiles. It was pretty bittersweet for me. I loved being able to see the kids play and have a great time and I wished Drew was here to see it. But then again if he was here there wouldn’t be Smiles and I wouldn’t have sponsored a team.

Now it’s time to get ready for football season. Which is a busy time for Smiles. We need to raise enough money so we can help more kids. This is how we have our 2nd Annual Smiles From Drew raffle. I’m working on going around town and getting donations for the prizes. These are the times I realize how much work it is to run a nonprofit. It takes quite a bit of time to do all that searching. Thankfully Santa Fe is a very giving town and we get some great donations.

I would love for Smiles to get to the point that we have tons of volunteers and we don’t have to hustle for gifts as much but until then I will do it to keep Drew’s memory going. It is so important that Smiles succeeds. Not just for me but for the community of Santa Fe. Every child deserves to play sports and participate in activities without worrying about costs.

If you would like to donate or know of someone that would email me at smilesfromdrew@gmail.com

How did we get HERE?

“How did I get here?” is a question I quite often ask myself, already knowing the answer.  I got here because life is unfair, because we all have a purpose in this life and God has a purpose for our lives.  Some of us take 100 years and may not ever figure out what our purpose and then others, like my Rory, get it done in 3.
This is what God intended.  As devastating as it is I know that this was always his Plan.  Oh, you don’t know?
Rory was my fourth and youngest child.  Born July 16, 2013 he came a little early but was still 6 lbs 9 oz.  As soon as he was born a song came to me to sing to him… it was a strange one but I was lead to sing it to him.  The song was “Unusual Prince” from Sleeping Beauty, a movie I had not seen in over a decade.  It was the only song that soothed him. He was a beautiful child, happy, adventurous, mischievous and always ALWAYS on the go.  That little guy was walking at 9 months but even at 3 had no interest, really, in potty training and only had a limited vocabulary.  Not to say he wasn’t intelligent only that he had a dotting older sister, Lorelei, who talked for him.  In spite of this he had an obsession for firetrucks and Trucks/Tractors with trailers and could name every part on them.  He was the only child that even came close to being a “Momma’s boy”, I was always his first choice and I took pride in that. (All the others quite obviously favored Daddy)
In June of 2016 we decided that we would go on vacation with my best friend and her family, along with 2 other families and their children.  We rented a home in Concan (Texas), a home with a name “The Outlaw View” and it was Beautiful.  When we arrived on August 17, 2016 we unpacked and I saw the pool to which I said “That will be a nightmare” meaning that I was going to be extra anxious keeping him in sight.  As most do in Concan, on Thursday the 18th we all headed out and floated the Frio River.  Rory being the youngest and by far the most active, he got his own yellow dingy instead of a tube.  After 4 hours it looked as if Rory was going to fall asleep because he was so calm (unusual for him) and seemed to be just soaking up the view.
When we got back to the house everyone went swimming in the beautiful pool at the Rental home.  Rory swam (with his life jacket) with the kids until it was time to eat and go to bed.
On Friday we all headed back to the Frio but this time just to play in the water, that float was TOO long!  Rory and the kids had a blast and we enjoyed watching the kids carry Rory around like a prince in his little boat.  When it was time to go home to the rental all the kids piled up in my friend’s car, along with Rory, and my husband and I picked up the tubes etc.  It was my turn to cook so when we got back to the house, I changed and headed upstairs to start dinner, and of course ask “Where is Rory”…..
Only no one knew.
I headed straight to the balcony and looked down into the pool outside….. that is where my nightmare DID happen.
My sweet baby in his blue swimsuit with the little fishies on it was floating in that “beautiful” pool.
We started CPR, a Volunteer Fire fighter showed up first to assist, then the ambulance.
30 minutes later we arrived at Uvalde Hospital where we first got a heartbeat…. and we were life flighted to San Antonio where we stayed until August 23rd when he was pronounced brain-dead.  We agreed to donated his little organs and Rory went on to save other people’s lives.
He was a Miracle, but just not OUR miracle.
THAT is where my new purpose began.  As a Christian I know that I will see him again and that I probably shouldn’t facilitate that meeting, even though every breath I take is my body betraying me. A Mother isn’t supposed to out live her children, that is what we all say, but millions of us do.  So, from that moment on I decided that if I had to be on this earth without my Sweet boy I was going to make a difference. But HOW?
I started a nonprofit Corporation called Rory the Warrior, Inc.  As a Mother this means that my child’s name will go on being spoken and that is the #1 thing that we care about.  But I started it because I felt led by God and by Rory. <
Our Mission at Rory the Warrior, Inc.  is to purchase gear &amp; equipment for smaller Volunteer Fire Departments and EMS.  Smaller communities don’t always have the money for gear that their volunteers need….how dare we allow the men and women that put their lives on the line for us go without protection.
Everyday I mourn my Rory, every morning a reminder that I am not whole….but as long as I am alive I must EARN every breathe I take.
~Sherry-Dawn Sheffield
http://www.rorythewarrior.org

More Blogging for Wordpress class.

 

Today we were supposed to schedule our blog to post at a later time then when we wrote them. So that is what I am doing. I sitting here at my computer at midnight trying to get all these things done. I just don’t seem to have enough time.

I still have tons of homework and a full day of work tomorrow. I can see already that I am going to need to load up on caffeine. I hope everyone has a wonderful day and don’t worry this class is almost over and I will go back to my regular (irregular) blogging. Wish me luck!!!

You’re not alone….

I got word late last night that a sweet boy lost his battle to cancer. He was only a year younger than Drew. I used to cut his hair and we would always see him and his Mom around town at the school events. It is a a sad day when you realize there is now another mother that knows what you are going through.

My hope is that not one more mother has to bury their child. Have to to live with the what ifs…but we are not alone and we should reach out to others that are going through the same thing. There are times when we are not strong alone but we are together. I hope his mother can reach out and know she is not alone and my heart is with her. Much love to the family. I hope Drew welcomed him with open arms.