Year 4 is coming to a close

Well… it’s August again.

I didn’t start dreading it until July 27th. That’s pretty good.

I seem to be functioning “okay” today… but it’s only August 1st so I won’t get my hopes up that the next few weeks will be easy.

I don’t have much scheduled this week and I leave town Sunday – no contact with anyone again till Wednesday. I dread it and I look forward to it. Maybe I’m finally learning to walk in these big clumsy grief shoes? I don’t fall so often now. And I know a little better about when to get down on my hands and knees and crawl instead of attempting to walk every day.

I do still hate when I mess up things that used to be so simple. Being organized was like breathing before 8.8.12 but even now – 4 years later – I still get so confused over the simplest of things. But what’s cool about this grief brain is that as I’m typing and looking outside I see our grass needs mowed and the entire yard needs weeded; but the word “needs” is no longer accurate because the yard just isn’t important. I think my husband likes that grief brain also means laid back brain when it comes to many things.

I used to ask God, “Is this as healed as I’ll get?” I don’t ask that question so much anymore. The realization that I’d always carry this pain sunk in sometime during year 2. And I discovered joy more frequently during year 3. And during year 4 I stopped searching aimlessly for permission to laugh and just began to laugh. And most recently I’ve slowly been learning to let tears flow whenever they need to without apologizing to anyone.

It is possible to miss my baby terribly, to sit with another survivor and cry with her, to laugh hysterically at Angie Tribeca, to read a volunteer report about a scene LOSS attended, to pray for those left behind and to smile at the thought of seeing my baby again in heaven all in the same day. How bout that?

Angie Tribeca Trailer – Flippin Hilarious show 🙂


23 years ago

23 years ago I was walking in my neighborhood. 

23 years ago I was digging at the poison ivy on my leg. 

23 years ago we were making phone calls. 

23 years ago I was taking one last look at the room you’d soon call your own. 

23 years ago I was packing up a bag. 

23 years ago I was deciding which onesie you’d wear home.

23 years ago I was clueless. 

Would I do it all again? Yes. Again and again and again. Being your mom is a blessing, a joy, a privilege.

I miss you baby. I miss you so very much. ❤️

Christmas #4

An entry that never got posted…

This is my 4th Christmas without Drey. That is so hard to believe. Time has gone by very quickly.

Last year after Christmas, Robbie announced that “next year we will have a tree and decorate.” I thought I might send cards too. Well, we made progress this year… We still didn’t go downstairs to get the tree, ornaments and decorations because all those memories are just sitting there waiting to jab at my heart. It’s still just too much. But we did buy a little pre-lit table top tree and have had it out since Thanksgiving. We even have one ornament on it. The rest of the ornaments are laying on the table around the tree. They didn’t quite make it onto the tree. The ornaments are from the past 3 years. A few were gifts, some have been handmade by us in remembrance of my baby, and the rest are from vacations. We are making new memories.  Happy memories.

I also thought I might send cards this year. Well… I sent business-related cards but not personal ones. Progress.

For the most part it just takes too much emotional energy to fully engage in the holidays the way we used to. It’s still too much to even think about Christmas’s past. David has grown up in a home where we celebrated each year with Christmas decorations in every room – even the bathroom. Where we celebrated Easter and I hid eggs even as the kids were older. Where we went to Disney every year. And on and on. Then Drey died and it all stopped. I couldn’t engage in any of it. Hell, I didn’t even see David that first Christmas after Drey died because I packed up and stayed at my parents. I won’t be winning any stepparent of the year awards anytime soon. I did the best I could, truly. And I spent enough time beating myself up for letting everyone down. No point in rehashing that misery.

I am blessed beyond words to have Robbie, David, my parents and my dear friends who have stood by me. I was reminded of that this morning as I had coffee with another bereaved Mom and she shared some of her family dynamics after her son’s death. Grief is unique, intimate and exhausting. I used to think “loss is loss” and “pain is pain” – it’s all the same. Wrong. Never have I experienced such excruciating sorrow as losing my baby to suicide.

“I love you”

I heard those words this weekend from one of drey’s closest friends… “I love you.” It meant more than words can express. 

This morning I went through the last 30ish days of text messages between Drey and I. I saw “I love you’s” exchanged a few times. And those were the last words he communicated to me. It’s torture thinking of him in those last moments. Pure torture.  Sobs of protest come out of my innermost being just as if it were 8.8.12 all over again. There’s no fixing this. There’s no getting used to this even after almost 4 years. Scream it out in His arms.

I was relieved to see our text exchanges… the frequency. We went 4 days one time in July without texting but that was they exception. I was relieved to read what I said too. I was a doting mom even in texting. He initiated meeting me for lunch the week before he died. It was hard that he wasn’t living with us anymore. Robbie told me after drey’s grad party that, “you’re acting like you just came from his funeral rather than his graduation party.” I couldn’t adjust to not seeing him every day. I moped daily for the 8 months we weren’t “home base” for him. Then it was over. 

I love you. I miss you.

I exchanged messages today with a fellow survivor. She’s inspired me to take the time to write this evening. She’s a newly bereaved spouse. I ache for her.

I hate suicide.

I’ve been pleading with God lately. Asking Him for another chance as a Mom. “I know… If I just did ____, Drey would still be alive! God please please let me have another chance. I promise I’ll get it right this time.” What’s at the root of these thoughts is that God is punishing me  / has punished me by taking Drey. When I take the time to share my thoughts out loud it exposes them for what they are… Lies lies lies. But left pinging around in my mind they’re dangerous “truths” that I ruminate on.

I got unexpectedly triggered this week. I’ve been shadowing Children’s Hospital the past 3 days as they do a suicide prevention training for 5th and 6th graders. I’ve done suicide prevention presentations in several high schools. I assumed younger kids would be easier – since it had been so long since Drey was that age. But I saw Drey in every little boy. Constant flashbacks of Valentine’s Day and Halloween parties. That young age when Drey would light up when Mommy came to his class. First day of school pics. The time Rudy followed him into the school. The playground. So many memories. God thank You for those memories. Thank You for not letting work consume all my time during those years.

So God what happened? When did the depression start? When did suicide become an option for him? He was a happy little kid. Was it middle school? High school?  Answers won’t help so why do I even entertain these questions?

Being at an elementary school and remembering sweet times makes me wonder if I may be able to look through pictures soon. But not tonight.

I wish I could hug you, dude. I just want another chance.




Ever hopeful. 

My husband’s birthday was Monday. He sent me a text midday that said “dad just called.”

My heart leaped even if only for a second! If Robbie heard from his dad maybe I’m going to hear from Drey?! And then I realized he was referring to my dad that had called him. Not his dad. 

Robbie’s dad died over 10 years ago. And somehow for just a brief moment I really thought he’d heard from his dad in heaven. OMG – Drey will be calling me! 

Okay… So this is silly and ridiculous. What was I thinking?

I am…

Ever hopeful. 

Ever anticipating. 

Ever longing. 

Within seconds reality sunk in of course. And that knot returned to my stomach. That knot of sorrow, pain and even dread. That knot that says, “this really happened. Drey’s dead.”That knot that was there 24/7 in 2012 and 2013.

Even on a good day Drey’s life and death are just beneath the surface of my thoughts. Maybe that will always be the case. Maybe this is as “healed” as I’ll get this side of heaven. 

But in spite of the reappearance of the dread knot, for just a few seconds I got to experience the anticipation of talking to Drey soon. It was a sweet reminder of what’s to come. 💚💜 

I am…

Ever hopeful. 

Ever anticipating. 

Ever longing. 

Revelation 2:17

When I’m alone with my thoughts, I’m aware of my sadness. Contrary to what society tells us sometimes being sad is not something to avoid. My feelings are the dashboard lights to my mind. Just like the “oil change” light means it’s time to get the car’s oil changed, my “sad” light means, well, I’m sad. There’s nothing wrong with my car. There’s nothing “wrong” with me. It’s just regular ‘ol maintenance. 

I could choose to ignore the light. But then my car’s performance is effected. And important car parts – like the engine – suffer. When I ignore my “sad” light my so called performance is effected… my relationships are strained, my energy level is low, my decision making isn’t so sharp.

 I could try to fix the oil change light… Maybe it’s a faulty fuse that’s making the light come on? Or I could put a piece of duct tape over the light? I could try to stay busy. I could drink a margarita – or four. Or I could address what needs attention… that’s the purpose of warning lights after all. 

Some shit went down the past few weeks. As my dear friend put it, “It seems to me that God is wanting to deal with how you feel about your past in an “in your face” way.”

I made some poor decisions that directly impacted Drey when he was just a kid. I was trying to get my needs met apart from God. Kinda like trying to fix the warning light on the dashboard instead of doing the real work of addressing the root issue. We all do this but some of us do it in a more outwardly, visible way – for all to see. So in addition to dealing with the natural consequences of my man-made “fix,” I get the added benefit of perceived public shame. I assume the worst is said about me…. Thoughts like, “It’s no wonder her son killed himself,” bounce around in my mind. 

I don’t have these thoughts about my friends. I have these thoughts about people I respect who don’t know how I’ve let God change me. I have these thoughts about people from my past who only know the “old me.” I want to prove myself to them. Wtf? 

I’ve thought a lot about J these past few weeks. J is someone who tried to get his needs met apart from God. And others know of his choices. Does he ever feel a need to prove he’s a changed man now? If he does, he sure doesn’t show it. If anything he’d probably say he’s just as incapable of any good thing as ever. It’s only because he consciously chooses to live out of his new identity in Christ that he’s been freed from many of his “old ways.” He doesn’t seem to let others potential opinion of him keep him self-focused or shameful. Just the opposite… He’s humbly thrilled to present himself as a broken man desperately in need of Christ. It’s very inspiring. Very freeing. Yes, the freedom of self-forgetfulness.

Sometimes it’s good to consider past choices – specifically when they’re impacting your current “performance.” So this morning I consider them. And I pray. And I genuinely feel gratitude for ALL of Christ’s finished work. I laugh at myself and put the “shit choices” right back in the “shit pile.” I look forward to seeing God face to face, getting a new name specifically chosen just for me by Him, and watching that shit pile go up in flames!

Prom, Pain and Peace

I trace the outline of your face in your prom picture. There’s a pic I remember from that day… Of you and me. I’m looking at you with overflowing pride and joy. You in your tux and me in my Mickey Mouse tee shirt from our last vaca. I’d like to see that pic but it’s with so many other memories that I can’t unpack yet.

God what happened? What the hell happened? That was a happy day. How’d we go from that to such intense pain? One decision. One phone call. One instant and it was gone. Life as I knew it was over.

Jesus God give me the strength, hope, wisdom and courage to fight till the finish. To perservere. To experience joy with gratitude. To praise You continually. Thank You for all I’ve learned and continue to learn about You since Drey died. I have faith and hope like I’ve never experienced before. Even when – especially when – I have mornings like this. The peace that overcomes me as I write, read, cry and rest is unexplainable. I know I’m a walking miracle and I say that in awe of You. You are God. I’m just a person. David wrote, “…to know that You are mindful of man…” I get slivers of understanding the awe and overwhelming gratitude and humility David may have been feeling when he wrote these words. And You preserved those words for such a time as this. Holy shit! I can’t help myself! Even in my deepest sorrow I must also praise You! And I know this desire to praise You is coming from You – not me – and that makes me want to praise You all the more! God I bask in these moments when You turn my deepest wails into peaceful tears of gratitude! 


AZ with Drey

I’m back in Arizona for the week. Blessed and grateful to be able to take these classes. Nice to get away from Ohio… just unplug. Still surreal  – this direction life has taken. Never in a million years could I have imagined it.

Walking through the airport I see young men in their 20’s and think of you. I see a young lady I’m sure you would’ve noticed. I see an older woman with her adult son helping her walk. Thoughts of what should’ve been are flooding my mind. I’m breathing you again. I’ve come so far in learning how to live this new life… but you’re always here in my mind, in my heart. And some days I still just ache. I’ve held it in for a while without even realizing it. But now that I’m here and alone with my thoughts the tears flow freely.

Sitting on the shuttle bus I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the window. Who is that woman looking back at me? It can’t possibly be me, can it? You didn’t really do this, did you? How am I still alive?

God, I pray for rest. I pray for clarity of mind and a supernatural ability to take my thoughts captive to the obedience of your son. Those thoughts. Those horrible thoughts. I praise you for keeping me alive. And I yell at you for keeping me alive. Sometimes it changes from minute to minute. I take great comfort in knowing you’re grateful to be talking with me regardless of my mood. Protect my mind from nightmares. And while I’m on the topic… how about you give me a nice dream of Drey? You know, one that doesn’t make me want to vomit when I wake up? I’m afraid to ask for a good dream. I’m more afraid to ask for a sign that Drey is happy, safe and loved with you. Because when it doesn’t get answered I worry it’s because he’s not with you. Forgive my fearful attitude. Change my heart towards you when I’m full of doubt. God I’m asking now. Help me trust you regardless of the outcome. Thank you that I can sleep. I am so grateful for rest. Tell Drey I love him.

christmas 4

Another Christmas behind me. 4th one. It wasn’t as hard this year. I’m grateful I am able to carry on so to speak. I make plans, think ahead. I lived minute to minute for a very long time after Drey died. So being capable of planning and following through is another outward sign of God strengthening me.

But as the day is nearly over and I’m alone with my thoughts it once again hits me that I didn’t see Drey for yet another Christmas. He wasn’t here. He’ll never be here.  I remember the first Christmas and driving home from my parents saying, “The day is almost over and I haven’t seen Drey.” Three years later I still have that feeling at the end of Christmas Day. “Wait, this can’t be right. I didn’t see Drey. He’s really dead, isn’t he? He really did this, didn’t he? How am I still alive?”

I don’t even know how I feel about it anymore. The grief waves still roll in but I don’t let myself think about it for too long. I still get knots in my tummy. Maybe I’d feel better if I’d do something in Drey’s memory on Christmas. Light a candle for the day? Set aside time to share memories of him? Give a family in need gifts Christmas morning? I don’t know. I want to talk about him but worry no one wants to listen. I guess I’m still learning how Drey fits into our family now. I’m fearful no one feels a need to find the proper spot for him except for me. And that makes me feel very alone.