October 20, 2019. This was the last time I took time to write and I’ve missed having the time ever since. Ten days later, on October 30, my beloved husband suffered a catastrophic stroke and he’s been hospitalized since. As I sit and compose this entry, I am saddened by the turn of events in our lives, but ever grateful that the man I have loved all my life is alive. He’s very different, but he’s alive.
My husband left our home on October 5th to drive to New England to visit one of his brothers that had been in the hospital and I stayed behind in South Carolina. I was working and encouraged him to go without me. His mom is still alive, though elderly, and I thought he may see her as well. He had no restrictions as to returning to SC, so being in New England was all about what he needed, and wanted, to do. The last day I blogged was the same day he called me to tell me he had an excruciating headache for no apparent reason. I begged him to go to an emergency room, and I mean no offense by this, but being that he’s a man, he just blew it off. And again the next day, and the next… you get the picture. He left New England around noon on the 28th of October, drove 1000 miles south, and made it home on the 29th around 10am after getting lost in NYC. That’s a post for another time…
As I read back over what I had started 10 days ago, I know that there is a story to tell. I have since closed up our home in South Carolina, moved to Richmond,Virginia and started over. Again. Seems these past two years have been all about starting over. I’m currently sitting on an Amtrak train heading to Washington, DC to spend time with family, and my beloved husband is back in Richmond at the Polytrauma Center of the Ricmond VA Hospital. He will know I am gone, but he won’t be able to discern for how long. I miss him and I desperately miss the man he was. I feel cheated in many ways, robbed of a future that included us being grandparents together in the most simple of ways. We had planned to be the type of grandparents that took our babies to a zoo, to the beach, to the movies. Now I am a MiMi on my own in all the ways that matter. Two of our four grandchildren are very young, they won’t remember their Poppy later on down the road as he was, just as he is now. He’s unable to walk, his personality is altered and he has no filter when it comes to speaking. He can turn mean in the blink of an eye, rage without cause and is prone to aggression. So much has changed…
I have been told over and over and over again to take care of myself, and I try, but I am consumed by guilt, grief and anger. Guilt because I have the ability to keep living a joy filled life, and I feel terrible for leaving him in a hospital bed. Grief, because the man I love is not the same, and anger… Anger over many things. Why didn’t he go to the doctor when the headaches started? Why didn’t he quit smoking? Why was he so freaking stubborn? Why? Why? Why? So many unanswered questions. I am learning to move forward, though the steps I take can’t even be considered baby. I cry, a lot. I pray constantly and I write. Finally, I write again. Though my original intent was to make this blog positive in nature after surviving the loss of our daughter, I don’t feel very positive right now. I know it’s important to look for the silver lining, I am… I just haven’t found it yet.
I hope those of you reading this will know that I appreciate you and taking the time to read. I am hoping to write regularly again as I am settling in to my new life, the writing and sharing is such a release for me. I hope to not only inspire others, but to encourage others through the pains and trials of life, and share the joys and triumphs along my way.
In closing, please accept my most sincere wishes for a happy and safe start to 2020! May you and yours be blessed and all your dreams come true…
Happy Sunday Morning! I’m supposed to be getting ready for church, and I will, but I just wanted to say a quick hello. I have a busy day planned, and I am so excited to be meeting with my best friend from NC and seeing a movie together. I miss the everydayness of our friendship, and thoroughly appreciate the willingness he shows to meet in the middle and work on keeping our friendship alive. Relationships take work, and care, and patience. When you stop tending them, they’ll die. It’s easier to nurture the relationships that matter to you, even if you feel like the thorns of discontent are poking into your heart at every turn.
It really is easier to be kind. I am a firm believer in kindness, and I try hard to practice it every day. Of course I fail, we all do, but I keep getting up and trying to be kind. I don’t like the way I feel when I am treated as less than, why would I want anyone else to feel that way? Sometimes kindness can take on a mantle that looks and sounds like cruelness from the outside, so if you are prone to jumping to conclusions, or judging, I hope you take some time to understand the situation and persons whom you judge. There is concern shown when somone restrains themselves from lashing out in anger, and that concern is kindness displayed.
It really is easier to be quiet. Just because someone is quiet doesn’t mean they don’t care. Perhaps they feel wounded and need to heal. Perhaps they have something difficult to say and they’re trying to work out how to say the very thing they need to without hurting someone else. Maybe, just maybe, the quiet ones know that what they will say IS going to hurt someone else and they are trying to find a way to minimize pain. Being quiet is not being mean, no matter how others perceive your silence. Staying silent can hurt both yourself and others, but silence is necessary at times.
It really is easier to be forgiving. I love that I have a forgiving nature and can forgive even the most heinous of actions against me and those I love. Forgiving doesn’t mean you forget, it means you realize that someone else has done, said or been something else that you have been hurt by and you choose to be free of the burdens cast upon you by them. Forgiveness is freedom, and freedom is necessary for you to be able to move forward through your life. I forgive the people that have hurt me because holding on to pain, resentment and cruel actions just hurts me, not them. I forgive myself for hurting my beloved family, for hurting strangers with a cross word and for not always making the best decisions. Forgiveness is not a religious moral, it’s a human one, and human beings deserve to be forgiven.
It really is easier to be accountable for yourself. Living authentically is hard enough, and blaming someone else for your unhappiness is the coward’s way out. I am not always happy, but I am responsible for myself and work at seeking joy. I made a rather costly mistake at work this week and didn’t want to own up to it, but I did, and I am. I am also determined to learn from it. Accountability is hard, but as time moves on, it becomes second nature to me. I admit that I have a lot to learn about life still, and I am looking forward to learning more about what makes me, me. I have been defined by events cast upon me by another’s actions, changed to my very core, but I am responsible for how and what I learn from such events. I choose, not someone else, to be who I am and who I become.
It really is easier to build someone up instead of tearing them down. I am very guilty of tearing and shredding my husband’s heart apart, and I am responsible for the rebuilding of the same. Just as he is with me. We are partners in this life by choice, and by decision. Simple, yet beyond complicated. In a world where committment means pretty much nothing anymore, we commit to one another every single day. I cannot imagine my life being spent with a different person, my husband is my person. He is a solid, loyal and fiercely protective man, but he is also giving, patient and loving. I can’t fathom someone else being the Poppy to our grands, it just wouldn’t work. People still choose love, they choose committment, and they choose to work things out. I am ever thankful that the man I have been married to for 37+ years is still my person.
Since I have to go and get ready for the rest of the day, I’ll end here and wish you all the very best of Sunday’s. Live authentically, love yourself and others, and above be kind. Your kindness just may change someone’s life in ways you can’t begin to imagine…
Good morning! It’s a crisp, autumn morning here in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and I am so thankful to take my dog out and not be instantly wrapped in humidity. What a wonderful change! It brings to mind the words that have been rattling around in my head these pat few days and it’s time to get them on the page…
Why would I want to say thank you to someone who has hurt me to the point that the pain blinds me and tears me apart? I would tell this someone thank you for showing me that I am not who or what you seem to think I am. I am grateful you hurt me and gave me the opportunity to learn and grow from the decisions about MY life you made. I am a constant work of progress, strong, broken, and far away from that which you cast upon me with no regard to the long term affects your actions would cause. You taught me that I am not alone, even when I am physically alone. You gave me back the desire to forge a deep and lasting relationship with the God of forgiveness. The God of love. The God of patience. I believe again because of what you did to me, so thank you!
Why would I want to say thank you to someone who feels the only way to “win” is to deny me a relationship with them? I would say thank you because I have finally come to realize that whatever this person thinks of me, it’s not really any of my business. I learned that chasing people isn’t what I want or need to do, it’s not healthy. I mourn the loss of your presence in my life, I finally accept that it is YOUR decision to shut me out. It hurts to know that you are too busy for making time for me, it hurts to wait and wait and wait for a promised response, and it hurts to accept that the response will never come. With that acceptance comes healing, and healing is paramount in the desire to live joyfully.
Why would I want to say thank you to someone who has been so cruel, not only to me, but to others I love? I would say thank you to this person because I see traits in them that I work hard to erase in myself. The cruelty cast upon me isn’t exclusive to me, it has a rippling affect on those whom I love with all my heart. So, thank you for being cruel and showing me that kindness matters so much more than cruelty ever could. Thank you for helping me recognize that cruelty breeds bitterness and that bitterness breeds destruction. I will not allow bitterness to destroy the compassionate heart that beats within my chest.
Why would I want to say thank you to someone who has essentially left me in the dark? I would say thank you because I have learned that the darkness, no matter how dark it gets, or how long it lasts, is only temporary. There is a light at the end of every single dark tunnel, and the sun does rise again after the most tumultous of storms. The darkness you tried to leave me in led me to the most beautiful of lives. Even though I left pieces of myself back there in that dark tunnel, those pieces were left willingly. I left behind the pices of a pride that was much too heavy to carry. I left pieces of the most profound sadness I have ever know. I left pieces of hatred, rage and selfishness as I walked toward the light with the smallest of baby steps. Baby steps eventually led to larger steps, and larger steps to a comfortable stride. Because you tried to leave me in the dark, I walk with confidence. So, thank you!
Why would I want to say thank you to someone who thinks I don’t deserve love? I would say thank you because what you tried to accomplish actually failed. I have found love that is pure, unfettered and given without expectation. Expectations unmet kill love like a wildfire can consume the hills of southern California, and the loving relationships born out of your actions are the firefighters of my heart. I am grateful to you, beyond measure, that you helped me find people that will stand beside me, hold me up when I fall, and celebrate with me when I am filled with joy overflowing!
Why would I want to say thank you to someone who remains stuck in their own life at the precise moment they tried to destroy mine? I would say thank you for teaching me how NOT to be. I have lived a bitter, angry and rage filled life just like everyone else does from time to time, and those negative aspects of being human still rear their ugly heads. When those times visit, I have learned that I do not want to be like you, so thank you for that. I pray for you, I pray that you find peace, and that you let go of the darkness. You will always be on my mind and in my heart, and therefore I will pray that someday you will see the light that shines for you. It’s hard to change course and let go of your pride, I know this to be true. I also know that you can do it if you want it bad enough and are willing to keep moving forward…
Good Morning! It is my sincere hope that today’s writing makes even just a small difference for someone out there struggling with issues, stress and whatever else people struggle with. Know that you are not alone in any struggle, no matter how lonely you may feel. There are millions of people that have been where you are, and I am one of those millions…
One day, almost 18 months ago, our lives were thrown into a cyclone of pain and disbelief. The reasons why are clearly stated in previous entries, so if you desire more context, please feel free to go back into my blog entries and read. I am reluctant to keep focusing on the past, I don’t need to keep giving up my heart’s healing by looking backwards. What has happened has happened and it’s time for me to let go and let God. I try to not bring my beliefs of God into my blog too often, but suffice it to say that what happened was what needed to happen to bring me back to the knowledge that I am never alone, no matter how lonely I feel. God, as I understand the presence to be, is my source of an inner strength that I can’t begin to explain.
One day, someday, we all fall. We all hurt, get hurt, hurt someone else and we eventually heal if we so desire. I am in a place of healing from wounds so deep, no amount of stitching, of cleaning, of care could come close to healing in a short period of time. This healing I seek, and need, has become a lifelong pursuit of seeking and accepting. I seek joy, I seek peace and I seek love. I accept the loss, the pain and the misplaced feelings of resentment. Acceptance brings the things I seek. Acceptance brings joy, acceptance brings healing and most of all, acceptance brings me the ability to love freely again. I will always hurt, but I will always seek healing for that hurt. No one has the right to steal anything from you; not your joy, not your peace and certainly not your love. When someone tries to steal these things from us, we become bitter, angry and close-minded. I am not going to live that kind of life…
One day, someday, I want to stand on a stage somewhere and share my story. All of it. From the sexual abuse experienced in my childhood, to the loss of our daughter, and all of the in between. I’m not famous, I don’t claim to be an expert of anything, I am actually just a woman who loves her husband, loves her remaining child, and loves humanity. I love the people in my life and I feel great empathy for those who suffer needlessly at the hands of others. I have hurt others and I apologize to them for that. I am kind, I am brave and I am loved. I’ve always been told that I am a bad influence, that I belong at the end of the line, and to this I call BS!!! Heck, just two days ago, someone told one of my coworkers that I “look” mean. Really? Is that because I have short hair? Tattoos? Glasses? Talk about judging a book by its’ cover! I am not mean, but I don’t have anything to prove to someone who instantaneously judges me based on looks. I could speak up and confront this person, but I choose to take the high road and show them that I am not who they judge me to be.
One day, someday, I too will be gone from this life and the legacy I leave behind will cease to matter. I don’t want to be remembered because of the painful times, I would like to be remembered for my willingness to forgive, for the heart that sought to love and for the ability to accept myself and others for who we are. Who we truly are. Authenticity is not easy to portray, achieve or share, but it is possible. Being strong doesn’t mean being hard, great strength is born out the most debilitating weaknesses, and I grow stronger every single day. I still fade from time to time, but I am never not going to seek strength throughout the remainder of this life I have been given…
I’ve spent the last few days really focused on how much time the concept of time takes up so much time when we allow ourselves to focus on it… Let me explain. Remember, this is my own concept of time, but it feels like I am supposed to share what’s been rolling around in my head lately.
I woke up at 4:22am yesterday, October 1st, and was sitting up in my bed reaching out for our oldest daughter. Arms wide open, tears flowing and longing showing on my face from my broken heart. I wouldn’t even consider trying to go back to sleep as I thought I might go right back into the same dream. My shattered heart has been through enough, don’t you think? The look on her face was one of scorn, like she was mocking me because I couldn’t reach her. I didn’t want to try. It made me so sad to know that even in my sleep she can still affect me so. I got up and tried to shake the uncomfortable feeling that no matter how much time passes, she will always have some type of control in my life. And, as much as I hate to admit it, I don’t know how to make that stop. Time? Not yet. I know it’s only been 16+ months since she left us, but isn’t time supposed to be the great healer?
Time. I measure so much of my life by certain dates, just like the rest of the human race, and I wish I could stop. April 16, the day my Daddy died (2000.) That same date is my brother-in-love and sister-in-love’s anniversary (1983.) It’s also my nephew’s birthday. It was the day after my in-laws married (1950.) The day after tax day here in the U.S. Not a day goes by where there isn’t some memory invoked by the thought of time passing. Or a date. Or the time of year. So much thought of time.There’s so much time I wish I could get back, and/or change, but the thing about time is once it’s gone, it’s gone for good. As I age I know that the majority of my life is now behind me and I can’t go back and get a do over. I wish I could… I would marry the same man, we would still have children, but would we have parented the same way? I think probably yes. Time has shown me some things I wouldn’t try to change, and being a mom is one of those things. I was and am a good mom, I am not the evil incarnate time had created in our daughter’s mind. I have never been the monster she made me out to be, it would have taken too much time to become so. I loved her, so much. Time hasn’t changed that fact, it never will.
Time… I watch it fly by as I watch my youngest two grandchildren grow like time is standing still. I wish it would sometimes. There is so much time wasted in the in between moments of life, and then when you glance over the proverbial shoulder, you see where you could have snatched precious moments and made a memory or two. Our family mantra has become “Some is better than none,” and it’s so true. I’ll take 45 minutes sharing a meal with dear friends we haven’t seen in over a year than no time at all. I’d make the 7 hour round trip drive in a day to spend two hours with my precious grandchildren in NC, even if I only had a day’s notice. I’d give almost anything to have another day with my dad.. Time… By far the most precious gift the universe grants us and by far the least appreciated gift of all.
In closing, I hope this blog entry gives you reason to appreciate the gift of time, even if the time given has been a struggle in survival. The struggle brings a greater understanding of the need for appreciation in the first place. Be well, dear hearts and find some time to enjoy just for yourself, you are worthy of it!
The title of tonight’s blog is a partial quote by Marcus Aurelius, and I saw it at the end of a movie my husband was watching when I got home from work this evening. It gave me something to think about and kind of tied my thoughts together in a weird sort of way. Let me explain…
I have fought so hard these past 17 months against the loss of not only our daughter, but against the loss of our son-in-love, grandson and granddaughter. I realized this morning sitting in my car in the parking lot at my job that I was and am fighting against that over which I have no control. I am done. Done. Done giving away parts of myself in the most minute of ways to where no one else can see what it costs me to keep hurting. I am done giving away any part of my heart to anyone other than those to whom I choose to give it to. I will always love the little girl I gave birth to and mourn the woman we lost almost 35 years later, though as far giving away any more contol… Done. I have to be. It’s time to accept the things to which fate has bound me, and the loss of our daughter is one of those things.
Fate has also bound me to accepting pain. Crushing pain. I’m okay with this as I know the pain I experience has been, can be and will be able to help another parent somewhere come to grips with the cruelty of being thrown away. Or of being accused, however falsely, of terrible acts against their own child. All I can say to another hurting parent is to remember that the burden of proof lies with the child doing the throwing away. It sounds simple. In essence it is simple. In reality, it’s anything but simple. Anything but easy. It’s a tough pill to swallow. A bitter tonic to drink. No matter the metaphor used, being thrown away by a child that you created and nurtured is cruel, mean, and very often without grounding. My husband and I were not perfect parents, but we were and are damned good ones. I cannot change that which fate has bound us to, but I can rise above it all and hold my head high knowing that I tried my best to be a good and loving mommy to both my little girls.
Fate has shown me that love isn’t enough for some people, but that it is enough for me. I have wonderful friends and the most amazing family that any plain and ordinary person could hope for. My husband of almost 38 years loves me. Me. The unlovable monster that has been accused of heinous things. I am not a monster. I am not evil. I am not unkind. What am I? I am broken. I am shattered. I am loved. I love. I have friends that know the darkness that I find myself in at times, and they shine a light into that darkenss so I can find my way out. Fate would try and have me accept the things of which I have been accused, and this is where I mock fate. I know better. Sorry fate…
I accept that fate has been a powerful and exacting teacher in my life, though I struggle with such an admission. Why would fate choose such a life for any mother? Father? Sister? My place is not to question why, but to figure out how to keep moving on. I am only responsible for what I do. How I act. What I say. I’ve learned that no matter how hard I try to turn the other cheek, it takes more strength than I myself possess. I don’t try to stand alone anymore, I’m not strong enough to do so. I lean on my husband, my friends, my faith and my family. I am but one, and it takes a village…
So, in closing, remember that Marcus Aurelius was a very wise man. We have to accept that to which fate binds us. We can push back against it, we can fight it with everything inside of us and we can turn and run… It won’t matter. Fate is what it is and we learn from it or let it take from us. I have nothing left to give Fate, I accept this.
Yesterday I found a box of photos in our laundry room that hadn’t been opened since we moved into this current home. For 362 days, this box sat on a shelf and contained within its cardboard walls were pictures of the little girl that once loved us. The little girl that was a big sister and loved her little sister. Where did she go? Why did she go? I was tempted to throw some of the photos in the burn barrel, but then realized that the memories invoked by these pictures were actually good. We did have good years with our oldest daughter, and those memories haven’t been tarnished by the hatred and cruelty we have experienced because of her. I am not throwing those away, or burning them, they are a part of a life that was, and I want to remember that.
When does the heartbreak end? As far as I can tell, it doesn’t, but it does dull. It also comes back with a vengeance when you least expect it. Today was such a day for me. I talked with a trusted friend that has much more knowledge of mental illness and she tried to help me understand that our daughter left us long before she actually did. Mental Illness doesn’t care about how much you love someone, or how much damage it does to the individual battling it, it ravages and steals and kills all kinds of connections. I used to believe that somwhere within our daughter’s heart and spirit there had to be something left that would make her seek to heal her wounds and forgive, but that’s not a possibility now. I have to accept this. I just have to.
How is it possible that one person could control so much without a single person giving up control? I believe the demons she fought within her mind are what caused the irreparable damage that our family now lives with. Broken relationships, secrets, lies and abuse are the leftovers of a life that seems damn near impossible to live, let alone understand. My husband and I have had to learn how to be erased grandparents because the child we gave birth to believed that using love as weapon was okay. #loveisnotaweapon is very much my motto these days, and I am very guarded now as to who I share my heart with. I have to be.
What does all this mean? Our lives are different after being thrown out like garbage by our child, but we are not garbage. I’m sure she believes that we are toxic, that we abused her as she had said, and she’s wrong. I find much comfort in knowing that the burden of proof of actions allegedly committed by me lie with the accuser. I also remember that you “can’t reason with the unreasonable.” These simple truths sustain me on my darker days, and thankfully those darker days are few and far between now. I experience sadness daily because of the losses of our daughter, son-in-love and grandkids, but sadness doesn’t define me. If it did, that would be giving away my power and I fight every day to seek joyful moments and smiles. She lost more than she gained, and while the same is true for us, we know that better days still lie ahead.
It’s getting late here in the SC Lowcountry and these old bones are tired. I’m grateful for the opportunity I have to write and share my heart, it’s comforting to know that my pain can and has made a difference to others. None of us are alone, and there are still people out here willing to help. Remember that…
It’s been a really long time since I’ve written, I’ve been working 6 days a week for the last few weeks and when I get home, I’ve been doing the dinner dance. You know that dance, right? The one where you get home at 7pm, try and figure out what to cook, if you’re going to cook and then hanging out with my husband until I crawl into bed just to get up and do it all over again. I need to plan our meals, and am fully aware of the benefits of such behavior, so I really have no excuse as to why I don’t. It’s been too long since I have done a lot of things and the time spent worrying about what I haven’t done is gone, so I look forward and resolve to try harder.
I’ve had a couple of setbacks in dealing with the loss of our daughter since I last wrote, one of those setbacks came yesterday morning when I heard the song she danced with her Daddy to at her last wedding. In the very beginning of the estrangement I couldn’t listen to it at all without falling apart, but as time when on and we accepted the permanence of the loss, I got to a place where it became just another song again. Yesterday it just made me melancholy that in just 3 years time, our daughter would think so little of us that she would throw us away. My heart hurt for my beloved husband yesterday, and though it hurts for him everyday in the face of such loss, yesterday the loss was just at the surface. I’m not okay with myself when I get like I was yesterday because it makes me feel like our daughter has too much control over the lives of her parents. She doesn’t deserve to be given any credit for anything but trying to destroy the very people that created her out of love, she didn’t try to control herself, so we work hard at not giving away any control over our lives to the grief and anguish she has caused so many people, not just her parents.
It’s been too long since I’ve let my heart just hurt and on Monday of this past week, I had a meltdown at work. Thankfully I have a fantastic boss who understands that when a person you loved so much decides to check out of being a part of your life, you lose yourself in the grief sometimes. You also lose yourself in the anger, the rage and the utter disbelief of it all. I struggle with the woman I become when I fall, and again, it all seems to stem from trying to NOT give away any of myself to the loss over which I had no control. I still find it incredibly hard to understand how one person in a world with 7 billion people can affect so many lives in such a negative way. One person? Our daughter hurt so many when she left us, and she hurt herself, though were she still a part of our lives she would never admit it. She would point the finger of blame at me, at my husband, at her sister. Her poisonous tongue would say things that are as ludacris as they sounded when they came out of her mouth. I’ve learned through the grief that I have the power to hurt or heal with my words, and while I don’t always say or do the the right thing, I firmly believe in taking the high road now more than ever. I am a good person, and I almost lost my goodness because of the actions of another. I lost so much, so now I fight to hold onto the goodness I have left.
It’s been too long since I have focused on the healing that writing this blog, and my book, brings me. I have been denying myself the time to sit and focus on myself, and without self love, life starts to become more and more of a struggle. Yes, I struggle with the loss and the volume of the noise that my own head can produce when I think about the why of it all. Why did she make false claims about us? Why didn’t she ever try to talk to us about the things she believed to be true? Why did she think she was less than? Why did she? Why did she…? Enough already!!! I am not controlled by her thoughts, but by my own, and I have to slam the door on the negativity that creeps in like a thief in the night. Just like setting the alarm on the house, I need to set the one in my brain to alert me to the invasion of negativity that comes out of nowhere. I have to allow myself the grace to accept that I am powerless over this loss. I am powerless to change the mind of anyone else. I am powerless in many ways when it comes to this loss. I am not powerless when it comes to changing the direction of my thoughts. I am not powerless in my desire to move forward and seek joy. I am not powerless in my ability to love through the pain. As pat as it sounds, time really is the only thing that helps in dealing with losing someone you loved so much. Time. It speeds by and it crawls. It gives us hope and takes it away. It never stops marching on, so sometimes you have to let it go and rest. Time spent wallowing in grief is not time wasted, it’s time soent healing, even if you can’t see or feel it.
It’s been too long since I’ve said to myself that I am confident, that I matter and that I am worthy of good things. I have a good life, it’s just different than the life I thought I would be a part of before losing our child. Loss changes you and when you finally reach the place where you no longer recognize yourself, it’s time to reevaluate and possibly head in a different direction. I’ve always had a more positive outlook on life, I’ve always believed that kindness matters and I’ve always believed in the power of selflessness. I lost a lot of these things as time went on after losing our daughter, and there are times I don’t like who I am becoming. I have fought back against being bitter, only to lose. I’ve fought back against the rage, only to have the rage consume me at times. I am now much more aware of how words can kill the strongest of spirits, and my spirit is not okay with this. I am better in many ways than I have ever been, but I find I am different. I’ve lost the desire to trust, to reconnect, to love with abandon. I’m working on these things every day, and while my circle of friends is smaller than ever, the circle that remains is stronger than any grief or evil deed. If I were to perish tomorrow, I would be leaving behind a life that needs more time to become whole again. And I will be whole again, I am more determined than ever to keep seeking good. Keep seeking joy. Keep seeking kindness.
In closing it is my hope that if you are hurting over something in your own life, you know that you are not alone. We need each other to lean on in a world that seems to promote discontent these days. Find a support group, go for a walk on the beach, hike in the woods, pray and/or do what brings you peace. If that peace only lasts a few minutes, embrace it. The struggle never ends, but the periods of peace become longer and longer until the day WILL arrive where you find a smile that lasted all day in your heart. Losing a loved one is not easy, it shatters even the strongest of hearts, but we can put the pieces back together as much as possible and learn to appreciate the jagged edges left behind in a new way. Be well, dear ones, I won’t wait so long to write again.
I’ve spent the last few weeks focusing on my job out in the world and have come to realize just how much blame people put on the younger generations for the woes of not only their own lives but the demise of our country and its’ values. It’s us, the boomers, that should be taking a good long look in the mirror. When is enough enough? Really people? Do you have to build that bigger house, drive the BMW or have a fat assed bank account to “be” somebody? I’m kind of sick of being labeled myself, so I’ve spent some time figuring out just what matters most to me. You want to know what I’ve discovered? Read on…
I’ve discovered that I love the quiet life that my husband and I sought out after the loss of our daughter. I love the simplicity of a small and older home. I love the absence of social media in my everyday life. I love the crickets and cicadas and insects that make a symphony in the heat of a hot summer night. I love stripping away all the noise and chaos and clatter to find the peace underneath it all. I love the idea of spending physical time with those I love. Life isn’t supposed to be lived behind the keyboard in the corner of a home office, so I’ve left that home office alone for a few weeks. I have made a conscious effort to be more engaged with face to face relations and it pays off in ways that having 500 plus friends on Facebook could ever do. I don’t know 500 people, and I have spent several weeks this summer thinning out my Facebook. I’ve decided that if there is no interaction between me and whomever, I just unfriend them. Does this mean I care less about them? Not at all! It means I care more about myself and taking away the wondering why factor is good for my mental health.
We are the ones that shake our heads as our younger generations put their private matters out there for the world to see, but do we set the example for them to not do that? Even the president throws temper tantrums online and the world at large encourages him to keep on doing so. WTF people? Here’s an office that has lost all its respect for the people it’s supposed to serve and we revel in that type of behavior? What happened to loving your neighbor? What happened to talking things out instead of blasting someone on social media for the whole world to see? Where has personal responsibility gone? I’m not a fan of most social media platforms, and as I grow older, I find that to be truer every day. I watch young couples fight via Instagram, FB, text, and Snapchat, but then ignore one another in person. Who taught them that this is okay? Or maybe the issue is we didn’t teach them anything… Is this possible? Did we hand them a screen while we were in the grocery store and teach them that looking down at it is acceptable? Did we, as adults, teach them that NOT engaging face to face is the “right” way? Do we continue to send messages of ignoring and neglecting them via screen time? I feel like the demise of so many relationships is not “their” fault, it’s ours. Of course, we could not have known that technology would become a substitute for parenting, but now that we do, are we doing anything to improve and change things?
We are the ones that can and should make the changes in society that we want to see. You know the phrase “be the change?” That’s where I am currently living. As I have been for over two years now. I am more aware of the need for change than I have ever been, and I am trying to make a change within myself. I am not suggesting that social media is to blame for all of the woes we experience, not by a long shot, but I do believe that it can exacerbate things. It’s easier to hide in front of a screen that it is to meet face to face. Why not make a small change in yourself that has the potential to lead to bigger and better things? Why not teach a 20 something that putting personal affairs on the internet can potentially harm them in ways that we didn’t understand back when we were 20 something? Why not be real and authentic in person instead of fake and phony sitting in a Starbucks somewhere? I know that by blogging this I am actually using the platforms that have become a crutch for some, but for me, in this arena, it’s a vessel to change. Self-change. Blogging helps me express myself and gives me things to think about, and I am very deliberate in what I share.
We are the ones that have lived to see the world keep evolving technologically, though some of those changes have hurt us rather than helped us. We are no longer a socially engaged nation in the aspect of being humans, we hide and lie and accept things that my own parents would have been appalled by. I’ve said before how grateful I am that my own Dad passed away before his granddaughter threw away her parents and kept their grandson from them. Her actions would have broken his heart for me, and I would never want my dad to hurt so. I would love to hug him and feel his strength again, but I just couldn’t bear his hurting any more than I could my own. My hurt now has become my strength, it’s crushing effect on my life has made me more determined than ever to give of myself and my heart to those that are experiencing the pain and anguish of losing a child to estrangement, to silence, to suicide. Loss is brutal, and in situations like mine, you have two choices. Fight back, or run. I’ve done both. Though the running stopped months ago, the fighting back never will. I just fight back FOR others, not against them. As a mom who has lost her first child, I am forever broken. As a woman who refuses to let that loss be the defining moment of her life, I say NO. Events can and will define who we were, are and will become, and it hurts like I imagine hell would, but I am still alive. I still look forward to my life. She didn’t take away my joy, though she sure did try. It’s not hers to take, but it is mine to give away and share with others.
We are the ones that should be helping to shape the youth of today for their future tomorrow. Step up, in person, and make a difference. In your neighborhood, city, town, and state. Speak up and out for the future that seems to be fading. Is this really who we are as people? Are we full of hatred for those who are less fortunate? Are we better than someone who has darker skin? Are we “right” and “they’re” wrong? Leaving a legacy of hatred and impatience and bigotry is a sure path to the demise of this nation that was once a haven for those seeking refuge. Now we are the ones that need refuge. We can be a loving and strong society again but have to work at it before it’s too late. No matter what you believe politically, you’re a person. I’m a person. Politics is are NOT who we are, it’s a choice we make. Kindness, love, and compassion exist in each of us to some degree, focus on those traits and give of yourself to help others. Leave the screens at home, shut the phones off, take a walk, go outside and play, do something that is attached to that electronic leash, and love your neighbor.
I don’t know when I’ll write again, and I don’t know when or if I’ll reopen my FB page, but I do know that I am enjoying the absence of it in my everyday life for now. Just as blogging has a place in my life, my life and living it with purpose has a place as well. Be well, friends!!!
Have you ever thought about what you miss when you have concert tickets that you misplace and they’ve expired before you find them? That feeling of disappointment? That feeling of utter disbelief? You think to yourself “how could I have lost these?” I had seats front and center to see my favorite artist and I blew it! This is the train of thought I have been riding on today, and I have to get this out of me. I used to love to go to concerts with my oldest daughter and we saw some fabulous shows over 20 or so years before her dad and I became the expired concert tickets that she threw away. I’ve kept ticket stubs and programs and pictures of a life that no longer exists and the memories of good times with her are held on to by choice. I try very hard to let go of the anger and disbelief of the loss we’ve experienced since being ripped up and tossed to the wind without care; I fail. There are still days when I think of a Kid Rock concert, seeing Garth Brooks, Papa Roach or whomever, and I scream my pain out in the car…
Life is not a concert, or a play, or a production for anyone to make light of, nor is it an invitation to sit in the front row and clap your hands when something happens to someone that causes pain. I am not a performer, nor is my husband. We are two people that created two lives together out of love and we are broken. Better to be broken together than to be acting for the sake of acting. We have been broken, crushed and rebuilt. Through strength, determination and sheer will we have picked up as many shredded pieces of torn concert tickets and taped them back together as best we can to try and live. What our oldest child stole from us 15 months ago was never real in the first place, but we didn’t know it until now. Our daughter never loved us, and we know that to be true now. Why did it take us losing her to realize that we never mattered to her? I can’t answer that except to say that we loved her so much that we denied seeing what was right in front of us. We. Loved. Her.
Going to a concert is not like real life, but it is a place where you can lose yourself for a little bit of time and pretend that your life is better in a darkened arena than it ever is, or could be, at home. I think back to all the times I would get tickets for us and maybe whatever guy she was dating to go escape real life for a few hours. How I fooled myself into thinking she wanted to be with me, she just wanted to use me. The last Kid Rock concert we attended together was a disaster for me, and I will never forget the feelings of angst I experienced the day after when I left her behind and drove the 225 miles back home without her because she refused to get out of bed. I knew then that the “bonding” I thought we shared was bullshit, it wasn’t bonding at all. She actually bought those tickets and we had so much fun at the show. I hold on to that now, and leave the dark memories behind me. I don’t listen to KR any more, I prefer a different drummer so to speak.
I still love going to concerts, though I have less desire to attend a rock concert or a LOUD concert. I also choose to attend with a more appreciative partner. Not like I have much of a choice on that though. When you accept that you are nothing more than fluff, dirt or invisible to someone, I believe we have a tendency to do one of two things. We either become fluff, dirt or invisible, or we become someone who stands up and digs down deep to recover their self-worth. I have spent the better part of the past 15 months trying to dig down deep to be able to stand on my own again and be as whole as possible. I will never be whole as a mother again, how can I be when 50% of my heart stopped beating last year? I can, however, stand up and let the other 50% of my heart keep beating to a different kind of music. My younger daughter brings music and joy all her own to my life and I am ever grateful. Through all the loss, all the tears, all the self-recrimination, here stands a woman that holds new and up to date concert tickets for events yet to come. I don’t tell her near enough how much she means to me, but I think she knows. She too has suffered so much in losing her sister, and I am proud of how determined she is to make a happy, safe and fun life for her own children.
I feel like the music of life can at times be like a crazy Grateful Dead concert. Or quiet and stately like seeing Jim Brickman. When you see Jim Brickman, you leave his concerts feeling blessed, relaxed and appreciative of what music can do for your spirit. When we first lost our daughter, I could barely stand to hear Elton John’s “This Is Your Song.” My husband danced with our daughter to this song at her 3rd wedding and it was beautiful to watch him hold our creation in his arms. Now I can seek the song out and not cry. I can listen to The Zac Brown Band’s song “Colder Weather” and not ball my eyes out. I can seek the memory of a New Year’s Eve concert with ZBB in Atlanta a few years ago and let the joy of that night (what a friggin’ long drive home!) sustain me through my dark moments…
I miss the blonde-headed, blue-eyed girl that we so wanted to have with all of my heart. I am saddened by the tremendous sense of loss and injustice I feel. I am at times beyond frustrated that my beloved husband stares off into nothingness with the sheen of unshed tears in his eyes. I feel anger rise like bile when I think how easy it had to have been for her to just throw us away like those expired concert tickets she found in a drawer somewhere. I am forever and irrevocably changed by what has happened to us, but not so much that I want to hide anymore. I want to tell my story and let other parents know that they too can survive the loss of their own flesh and blood, they just have to walk through the pain. The anger. The disbelief. The confusion. It may seem like just noise in the first few months following the loss, but I promise you will hear a beautiful melody, a simple harmony, a verse that opens the door to a heart that is different, but healing. I have learned much about myself over these past months, and the lesson most valued to me? I matter. To myself, to my husband, our daughter, our grandchildren, my friends. The list goes on.
Does the music sound the same after such loss as we have experienced? No. Think about the significance music has played in your life… What does your soundtrack sound like? Mine is full of variation. From the Bee Gees in my youth to Jim Brickman in my later life, and all that’s in between, I keep turning up the volume and listening to the words. I seek comfort through music and when I hit rock bottom in my grief, I listen for the positive messages I can find by listening to Casting Crowns, Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, and many others. Our youngest daughter has introduced me to Andy Grammar, I love him! What about Bruno Mars, Charlie Puth, Lady Gaga? Find your inspiration to heal through any means you can, and let the music lift you up. I have tickets that will get us in to see Jim Brickman in December, and I am looking forward to enjoying myself. My husband will be seeing him for the first time, and I am excited to share my love of JB music with him in a live setting…
I know this has been a lengthy post, I’m in a writing mood tonight and I want to share hope with those of you that need to know it does exist. When an adult child decides that we aren’t good enough for them anymore, that is on them, not on us as parents. We lost our only daughter completely last year, and we can accept that now. We have found peace even though we don’t understand. We seek joy even when it seems impossible to find. We listen to the music of our lives and pray for others experiencing senseless loss. I pray that you all know that you are not alone, not ever, and there is someone somewhere that believes in you. You deserve to heal, you deserve to be happy, and you deserve a life filled with concerts that make you want to dance with abandon and freedom!!!