Today is a “good” day. It’s hard to say that – what kind of Mom has a “good” day when her son is gone? But for now the definition of “good” is different from what it used to be. In the beginning I had horrible minutes and barely survivable minutes. Then that changed to hours – then it changed to “okay” hours and now it’s days – even “good” days. A good day means I am able to smile, to find joy and peace in running, reading, or hanging with friends. It means I’m able to eat. It also means I thought of you all day, Drey. That’s still the common denominator in every day… good and bad. When I hear songs we used to enjoy together and when I hear new music. When I look downtown and wonder if you would’ve worked here in Columbus. When I see girls your age, guys your age, and nice cars. When I see little blonde boys with glasses. When I eat raspberries. You’re always here in my mind. I’m learning to have “good” days even though the pain is here, too.
I remember the first time I went for a few minutes without thinking about you… It was several months after you died. I woke up one morning and went to the bathroom. While I was in the bathroom I realized I hadn’t thought of you yet. Wow did I ever feel guilty. I’d been awake for all of 3 – maybe 4 minutes – and hadn’t thought of you. It’s a lot of responsibility being a parent to a child who’s gone, kiddo. Thanks for that! I don’t know who told me it was my responsibility to keep your memory alive, to make sure your legacy continues. But it’s something ingrained in my thinking. I wonder if it’s like that for every grieving parent? I don’t want anyone to forget you. I don’t want people to stop saying your name. I’m slowly finding ways to honor you and your life, baby. And as I find those things it takes a little bit of pressure off of me. It’s like a beach ball… trying to swim the length of a pool while keeping it completely immersed when it’s fully inflated is exhausting. But little by little when I let some air out, it’s not as exhausting to do laps with it. It’s still with me, I still hold on to it tightly and I always will. A bench at the zoo, a walk to raise money and awareness for suicide prevention, even a zombie 5k with your friends. All these things let a little air out of the ball. Do you see how many laps I can swim now, baby? In the beginning I couldn’t even pick up the beach ball let alone get in the pool with it.
I love you.
“Surely Your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”
I don’t know how to reconcile Drey’s death with this bible passage, God. Sometimes I am at peace with You. I trust You and I FEEL Your peace. But sometimes I don’t. I have my head knowledge about You and Your goodness. But it’s one thing to KNOW a thing. It’s a whole ‘nother thing to experience it, to FEEL it. And I ain’t feelin it.
I don’t understand. I don’t understand how I got here. I don’t understand how life keeps going. I look at Facebook and see what my friends are up to. So many family pictures and joy. Why me, God? Why can’t I still have my boy?
I’m enjoying quite the pity party this morning. I imagine people reading this (assuming I even post it) and thinking it’s been nearly a year… she should be further along in her healing. I can hear the well-intentioned comments that come across as shallow platitudes when I’m in a mood like this one… “you should be grateful for the 19 years you had him. He always did belong to God.” When I’m in a Spirit-filled frame of mind I know I am blessed. And the peacefulness of knowing I’m blessed by an amazing God can co-exist with the pain. But sometimes I just ain’t feelin it.
Today I throw a big temper tantrum and proclaim my life sucks. I want Drey back. I want to see his face, touch his ears, see those muscular soccer legs, see that smile, hear him say, “Hey, Mom?” which is how so many of his sentences started. I want him back.
What a great weekend – Jazz & Rib Fest and Picnic with the Pops. We listened to the music of Queen at the Pops – loved it! Then they did Bohemian Rhapsody. Robbie had commented that was the song he was most excited to hear. It’s such a fun song – can’t help but think of Wayne’s World when I hear it. But then it began…
It’s typical really. I’ve said it hundreds of times and I’ll say it hundreds more… things are different now. And once again I wasn’t prepared. Robbie & I had completely forgotten what the lyrics were.
If I want to self-protect I’ll need to stop interacting with people, stop listening to music, stop living. Because that’s the only answer if I want to stay away from any reminders of this horrible tragedy. But that’s not what I want AT ALL. I want to live in a BIG way! So I’m back to the topic of guarding my heart.
For quite a while after Drey died I would put on my spiritual armor every morning. I would visualize every single piece of armor being put in place. Funny how I’ve gotten “strong” so haven’t taken the time to do that in a while.
Ephesians 6: 14-17.
14: Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.
15: For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.
16: In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.
17: Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
In February I began praying that God would keep me weak. I wanted to stay as dependent on Him as I was in those first 6 months. There was one time I literally laid on the kitchen floor and couldn’t stand without praying. I was that dependent. That are no words to express the depth of grief. And there are no words to express the depths of God’s love I experienced. But then I lived through Christmas – and somehow that was a milestone for me. I realized I was going to have to continue living and that I could live through even horrible days where memories flooded my every thought. This was a good milestone and I am grateful for it. But it was at this point that I began trotting down my autonomy path. It was so subtle – just a few hours here and there and then a few days here and there the, “I got this from here, God” attitude crept in. When I realized that was happening I began praying that God would keep me weak.
So when Bohemian Rhapsody started I was singing… then I stopped singing and held Robbie’s arm nice and tight. And then I was okay. It’s like a huge wave coming at me – sometimes I’m underwater too long – other times I pop back up quickly. This night I popped back up quickly. It was a sweet reminder for me to pray without ceasing because I don’t “got this.” I need God. I need His Spirit to lead me, to prepare me, and to teach me how to love and live more deeply. And I pray to God to help me remember to put on my armor each morning. God knows exactly what I’ll face each day. Nothing takes Him by surprise.
Shortly after Drey died a friend mentioned something about finding my “green pastures.” I never forgot that. But I wasn’t ready to move forward with that thought until this summer. Psalm 23 vs 1 & 2: The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters.
The imagery is about a shepherd and his sheepy’s and lamby’s. It’s cool how God uses natural imagery to show us a supernatural point.
A shepherd cares for his flock. He protects it, he provides for it, he loves it. I’ve come to learn that sheep are really skiddish. They don’t lie down and rest unless 1) they feel safe from predators, 2) there is no conflict with other sheep, 3) they are free from continual insects, and 4) they have food. If any of these 4 things is missing they stand, they’re tense and on full alert, restless. It is ultimately the shepherd that provides these things. Fences are built to keep predators away. A shepherd even sleeps with his flock to protect it from predators and in-fighting. He makes sure they have been treated with various insect repellents. The sheep can’t do these things for themselves. They need their shepherd. Then there’s the need for a green pasture before they can rest… Food, dew, nourishment. It takes hard work on the shepherd’s part to care for the land and keep it flourishing.
So what’s my point?
I sometimes find myself wondering what is it I think I must have before I can lie down. Before I can rest.
Why is my son dead? Wasn’t I devoted to you, Lord? You didn’t cause this God but you did allow it? Why? Why would you?
I don’t have these answers and I don’t anticipate getting them on this side of heaven.
A tangible way to pay it forward? To redeem this horrible loss by savings a life? By ministering to someone who is in pain?
Well, that may happen but I don’t think staying in a state of unrest until/if that happens is healthy.
Instead I’m trying to change my question. Where are my green pastures? Where am I free? Where do I rest mentally, emotionally. Where do I release what’s inside? Where am I free of fear? The answer for me is coming in different forms… I’m collecting my green pastures on a Pinterest board: Green Pastures
Drey’s birthday weekend was exactly as it needed to be. I spent time alone. I left balloons by the soccer field. I cried over coffee with Fred. I got a tattoo. I saw Drey’s friends. I went out to Drey’s favorite restaurant with Robbie and David and we shared memories. I opened unexpected cards. One card read, “don’t let the devil steal your joy.” I liked that.
I ran just over 2 miles today… 12:07 mile. That’s too fast for just getting started. I need to pace myself since it’s the first time I’ve run in a year. But damn it felt good. I feel strong when I run – like a bad ass. I could’ve whooped anyone’s ass in Franklinton, I’m sure of it! 🙂
This grief journey is a long one. It won’t end… I will always grieve to some extent because he’ll always be my baby. And little by little I find my new footing.
Drey 1st pic with Mom
The emptiness is back. Who am I kidding… it never really left. It was more tolerable. But I knew July and August were coming. I knew it. And yet I didn’t know. And now I’m here and I know.
Can’t you distract yourself? Think of something else. Drink a little – or a lot. Go shopping. Dive into a project. Jump back into your career. Exercise and get your body uber-healthy.
These are all good things in the right dosage. But they don’t make a lasting dent in this grief.
Losing your child is gut wrenching.
Losing someone violently is hideous, surreal.
Losing someone because they chose to die is agonizing.
All three together in one day, in one instant, is simply not survivable apart from God.
July 10, 1993 I woke up in labor at 7:20 a.m. Mom’s remember these things. My pains weren’t too intense and were about an hour apart. But I knew. He wasn’t born until nearly 26 hours later. He always was a stubborn little shit. He got that from his Dad.
I love you. I remember you. I miss you.
I blogged on June 1 two ways grieving a suicide is different from grieving a non-suicide death. There is a third way it’s different – and I’ve been suffering from it since day 1 but was not able to name it until now. PTSD – Post traumatic stress disorder. I thought the only people that experienced this were actual victims of a crime and people who were present when someone died or went through trauma. So anytime I had a panic attack I… well… I said things to myself that in hindsight I can see weren’t helpful. “Come on, Denise, this isn’t rational. You’re fine. It was months ago. You should be able to drive your car faster than 70 mph now without freaking out” and so on. I remember my Mom sent me a video on FB of pranks where people were sleeping and startled into waking up. I freaked out watching this (it’s okay Mom – who knew??). It wasn’t rational to me and so my self talk was judgmental. But still – almost a year later – loud, sudden, unexpected moments send me into a freaked out mindset. If I drive too fast my breathing gets fast and shallow – that’s my warning sign that I’m about to melt down. I’ve had outbursts of anger that were disproportionate to the circumstances at hand. God who am I?
I read a little about PTSD… 3 buckets of symptoms exist:
Reliving the event.
I experience all three of these to varying degrees but most frequently I experience the 3rd one. Increased Arousal: These include excessive emotions; problems relating to others, including feeling or showing affection; difficulty falling or staying asleep; irritability; outbursts of anger; difficulty concentrating; and being “jumpy” or easily startled. The person may also suffer physical symptoms, such as increased blood pressure and heart rate, rapid breathing, muscle tension, nausea, and diarrhea.
All I can say is God bless my family and friends as they hang in there with me. I wish I could just “be better.” I truly do. It’s probably hard to know how to love me through this. I get so frustrated with myself. And then I get frustrated with Drey. And then I feel an overwhelming amount of love and loss for him. Sometimes I just have to sit in it. Sometimes I just have to let the pain swallow me. This is such a lonely grief.