Not okay…..

I’ve been trying to write this blog for weeks now. My head has been in a bad place for a little while, to say that I am struggling is an understatement. I have not felt like myself since Drew’s birthday. Then it seemed right after that it was the anniversary of his death.  This year feels so different. So final. I’m not sure why it feels so different. I feel more scattered, more lost, more broken, and oh so alone. To add to the self doubt in my head I was fired from my job a few weeks after Drew’s anniversary. When your heart is in so many pieces it’s hard not to take these things to “heart”.

My normal coping skills have just not been cutting it. Usually when I start feeling that dark veil creep in on me I get busier with Smiles or some other project. I just have no motivation to do any of that right now. I am so tired. I am tired of my heart hurting. I am tired of pretending I am okay. I am tired of not seeing my son. Yea, it’s a bit of a pity train I’m on but I’m not quite sure how to make the thoughts quit swirling in my head.

Drew has now been gone from Molly’s life as long as he was in it. She was so young when he died it just seems like that is my measuring point. The other day we were doing a project for her kindergarten class and it was all about “her”. We were supposed to write things about her so her classmates could get to know her better. I’m going through the list of her many likes: science, bugs, worms, unicorns. Then I say ” You have 1 older brother and 1 older sister”, she looks at me and says “no, I only have a sister, my brother died and that doesn’t count”. It was like my heart was breaking all over again. In her mind does he not count? Does she really remember him? If she doesn’t remember him and just the pictures on the wall I can see why she would think that he doesn’t count. Who does Drew count to anymore? Is he now just a past memory that people say “Oh yea I think I knew him”? These are the thoughts that get stuck in my head.

My house is covered in my kids pictures. To me there is no better art than to see my kids smiles over the years. Awkward school pictures with missing teeth, baby pictures when they were just too cute and squishy and moments we have had together that have always made me smile. The first few weeks following Drew’s death I would wake up several times a night with this overwhelming thought that I needed to take his pictures off the wall. His beautiful blue eyes and radiant smile was everywhere. I would get up when I got these thoughts and go out to the living room and look at the pictures. Some nights I would take his pictures off the wall and then immediately put them back up. I would have that panic filled thought of “what did you just do”. The past few months I would look at Drew’s pictures and I wouldn’t get that flood of comfort from them. I would see a look of blame, disapproval, and disappointment. I took his pictures down and I  boxed his ashes up.

I don’t think I will leave them down forever but that is how I realized I’m not okay. I called my primary doctor and of course they can’t get me in for months. I ended up calling nine (9) doctors in town and the soonest appointment I could get was the middle of November.  I know I called more therapists offices than that and was not able to secure one appointment. We tell people to reach out…there’s always help available. But there isn’t. If I was in a much darker place I would worry. I will do what I need to for my girls. I will keep getting up day after day.

So if you’ve been wondering why I’ve been so quite lately that’s why. I’m not okay……

 

 

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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……………………………

 

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

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…..

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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.

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

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.