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.

 

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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……..

 

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.

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…

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.

Birthday weekend….

 

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Once again this time of year came around. Tomorrow would/is Drew’s 22nd birthday. This year it fell on Monday which means had he been here we would have been partying all weekend. It also means life will go on tomorrow whether I want it to or not. I have work to go to, baseball games to play, and school for Madi.  He loved his birthdays and I loved celebrating one of my greatest joys. I loved looking at him year after year in awe and wonder with the fact I was chosen to be this wonderful person’s mother.

Now I am sitting at home crying till I can’t breathe wondering what on earth did I do to deserve this pain. How did my life get so far off track that I am having to go through this. All week I kept telling myself I should be lucky that I had him for 20 whole years. There are parent’s out there that didn’t get that much time. I kept telling myself I need to remember how much I love him and how much he loved me. I tried…..but I am just not there yet.

I feel cheated. I should have had more time with him. I feel like the life I envisioned and the life he deserved was cruelly taken away. I feel shattered. I see his friends getting married and having kids and I know he will never get to experience that. I feel anger because he KNEW better and the people around should have too. I feel lonely because he gave the best hugs and truly loved to hear how I was doing. I feel ashamed because I should have stopped it. I feel tired for having to be strong all the time if not for me for the girls so they can have “normal’ childhood. I feel all this love for him that has no where to go.

I know this sounds like a pity post and I’m sorry but right now at this moment I am having a hard time seeing my silver lining. I am just a mother that is missing her son and all that he was to me, to his sisters, his family and friends.

If I knew how this story would end and I was giving the choice to still be his mother I would. I would love him more. I guess that is one of the reasons we don’t know when our loves will leave. But I would choose to be his mother because in his 20 years he taught me more than I ever could have without him. I just hope that he would choose me.

Life Preservers….

15540748_10208040465950933_8350754653586304594_oYou find that when you have lost a child you grab all the life preservers you can. Whether at that time a life preserver is just going into you daughters’ rooms at night to stare at them to make sure they aren’t going anywhere. It doesn’t matter how old my children get I love to watch them sleep and see that peaceful look on their faces. You look at them and you realize why you are working so hard to stay afloat.

 

 

books  You grab a book for a moment as a life preserver so you can get lost in the story and try not to relive the story that keeps replaying in your head. I have always loved to read but there are times now that I have to read so that I can get the visions of my last moments with Drew out of the repeat cycle.

You keep yourself really busy…..you find more projects, more work, more things to keep your hands and mind off where it really wants to go. I work full time. I go to school for media arts. I run a non-profit and I sell LipSense to help fund it. There are some days I am not even sure what day of the week it is.    i-keep-myself-busy-with-things-to-do-but-everytime-i-pause-i-still-think-of-you-quote-1

These are my life preservers for the moment. It may not be forever. Eventually I will have to look at all this head on but for the moment I am going to stay afloat with my life preservers.

Life is strange….

The few things you learn in child loss is there is no normal path. Everyone grieves different and each situation makes you feel different. I never know how something it going to affect me until it affects me.

Yesterday was just one of those days that I should have just stayed in bed. I ended up being 15 minutes late to work. You can’t be late with my boss. There are no excuses she feels is valid. I knew when I walked in she was going to be upset so I was hoping to just duck and cover. Nope that wasn’t going to happen. She was already upset that I was late and then she started looking for other reasons to be mad at me all day. Every time I would leave my desk I would find these passive aggressive notes on my desk, “where was your head when you were typing this” “do we need to teach you the alphabet again so you can get the files in the right place”, it just went on and on. Most of the mistakes she found were things that she was working on and not me but at that point there was no way I was going to point that out.

Finally the end of the day came I had decided I was going to drown my frustration in a cup of coffee and a donut. I walked into Dunkin Donuts and the just the smell was already making me feel better. I got my coffee and just 1 chocolate frosted donut (with sprinkles) and found me a seat near the window so I could just sit for a bit and people watch. That was my first mistake.

I’m sitting there and 3 teenagers walk in. Two boys and a girl, they look like they are about 16 or 17 and are enjoying that they have the freedom to go to Dunkin at 5 in the evening without a parent. You could just feel the excitement flowing off of them. There were a few people ahead of them so they were bantering back and forth, the boys being more vocal than the girl. One of the boys starting telling his friends that he wanted 2 of everything, then he said no he wants 6 of everything and started laughing. The girl told him that it wouldn’t surprise her if he ate that much cause he was a bottomless pit. They finally get to the counter to order and they sit down at the table next to me. I look over and the girl had 1 single donut and a frozen coffee drink. The boys sit down with this box and a couple of carton of milk. I turn my head to look at them when I notice the “bottomless pit boy” is super excited that he is practically drooling. I look and the boys have the biggest donut I have ever seen in my life. they are laughing and trying to figure out how to eat it. That is when all of sudden this wave of sadness overcame me and I realized I was crying. Not just a few tiny tears but big fat crocodile tears.

I was crying because I could totally see Drew and his friends being this excited over a donut. I could see them betting each other who would eat the most before they got sick. I’m not entirely sure Drew would have wanted to share that donut with anyone but I could see he and his friends having their own and seeing who could eat it the fastest. That thought brought me to a memory of the time Drew decided to join a pie eating contest.

full pumpkin pie

It was around Halloween time and we had gone out to the Horse Park to their annual Harvest Festival and he decided he wanted to do the pumpkin pie eating contest. The lady that was doing the introduction said that the most pies ever eaten were 6 and if anyone beat that they would win a grand prize. That was all Drew needed to hear. Game was on. He just knew he could eat 6 pies no problem! He loved pumpkin pie. He sits at the table with the other pie eaters, Madison being one also, and starts in on his first one. He gobbles that pie up so fast, they give him another one. He starts devouring that one. I’m thinking to myself he better pace himself or he’s going to make himself sick. I do believe pie eating contests are a time slow and steady is the course to take. They put the third one in front of him and I see the color to start changing in his face. He looks like he is getting a little paler..his bites aren’t quite as voracious…his movements get a little slower. He finishes and they put number 4 in front of him. At this point there is only 2 people left in this contest an older gentlemen that looks like he has done this a time or two and Drew. By this time, Drew is starting to look green, I think the announcer started to see that too because I see that she had gone to go get the trashcan and bring it closer to Drew. He is probably not quite halfway into the fourth pie when it was almost like that scene in Stand by Me……thankfully the whole crowd didn’t start throwing up with him too.

After it was all over and he didn’t win the big prize I asked him if he would ever eat pumpkin pie again. He said of course it’s my favorite, you don’t get rid of your favorite just cause it made you sick once.

empty pie plate

This is why life is so strange that memory came as clear as day because I saw two teenage boys excited over a donut. Life is strange because I will never have another memory to add to this one. Life is strange because I will never be able to tell his children all his crazy stories.

Time…

The calendar has moved to another month. I hate every single time I have to change the calendar to another month. The very act of turning that page makes my stomach hurt, it makes me physically ill.  In the beginning I hated it because it was another month closer to that year mark. I dreaded and braced myself for that moment.  I thought I would feel better after the year mark. Nah, that is not the case. In some ways we are worse off than we were a year ago this time. Time is not my friend, it the enemy to my soul. It is the force that makes me realize my pain will never go away. death-changes

We have passed the one year anniversary of Drew’s death. I hate calling it an anniversary. There should be another word for dates of such horror that all you want to do is forget that particular day is even on the calendar.  Anniversary’s are something that deserves celebrating something that brings joy. The date you got married, the date you started your new job, the date that something wonderful happened to you. August 5 is not one of those dates. That is the day my life forever changed. That is the day that death came knocking on our families door. That is the day my girls lost their big brother, my mother lost her grandson, my grandmother lost another great-grandson. It is not a joyful date. I don’t want to celebrate that my son is no longer here with me. I don’t want to have a date I fear for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, I do have one date that can bring me to my knees.

They told me in the beginning that time will heal all wounds. Time will make it more bearable. It’s not true. We just learn to live with the pain. We find ways to keep us busy so we don’t have to think about it. We are now going into the holidays. Last year, it was the first of everything’s. The first Thanksgiving without Drew, the first Christmas, we have passed all the firsts. I think that is sadder. Molly now has had as many birthdays without her brother as she had with him. She won’t know how much joy he got from her. He won’t know how he loved to shop for her. Or how he loved to come home early in the morning so she would wake up and smile at him. We will tell her these things but we all know that is not the same thing as having your own memories of someone.

Madi has started another school year without her brother. She has to navigate the depths of high school without his advice and guidance. I worry so much for her cause unlike Molly, Madi has so many memories of Drew and not all of them are great. They liked to fight, they liked to argue. What she had he wanted and vice versa. I would hear all the time that I always took so and so’s side. It just depending on who was hollering the loudest at the time. She won’t get to see how her and her brother’s relationship would grow as they got older. She won’t be able to have him at her graduation like she was there for him. She won’t have him for any other life moments. We are just filled with the longing of things we can not have.

The longing for more time is the worst part about time going on. Time goes on and all the memories I have of Drew is all I have. There will be no new ones. I miss him, my girls miss him, my family misses him. He was such a big part of our lives and poof he is gonegrief-and-going-on and there is no more time.