I was with a survivor at Panera this morning. It was the first time we had met. She greeted me by saying, “I don’t want to be here meeting you.” I remember that feeling and I ache for her.
I remember the day. I remember the last hug, the last text, the last laugh, the last meal, the last I love you. It’s all seared in my mind just below the surface. Sometimes it pops out sideways and a reaction I have to a situation is disproportionate to the circumstances. Other times I sit in it… I may listen to The Fray to make myself cry because it helps me stay healthy or maybe sometimes just to torture myself. Sometimes it’s not even clear to me why I make the choices I do.
Telling someone safe about the “lasts” or about the signs I had or about the day he died is still helpful – even after nearly 5 years. Sharing was a big part of my processing in the first few years. It’s a smaller part now but it’s still important. I’m blessed to have dear friends who want to listen.
I shared a precious video with a few folks a few weeks ago. I had one friend I shared it with at lunch. She knew Drey and texted me later that night because she had been re-watching it. “He was so alive.” “This isn’t how it was supposed to be.” I had a hard time making sense of her text messages because there were so many typo’s… it was clear she’d been crying. Praise God for my dear friend who’s journeying with me.
I need my friends – my old ones who knew my boy and my new ones who are suicide loss survivors too.
Wow… this is the 3rd Halloween without you baby. That just doesn’t seem possible.
I have dozens of Halloween memories…
Last year was nice – Robbie & I sitting out on the front porch passing out candy. I was more prepared than I had been the previous year…
2012 Robbie came home from work and found me on the kitchen floor holding a large bowl of candy. I was crying. The doorbell was ringing. I wanted to die. How silly of me to think less than 3 months after your death I could look at cute little trick or treaters.
I don’t remember which Halloween was what. But I remember you smashed pumpkins and when I found out I made you go back, clean it up and apologize to the home owners. Do you remember the woman with the arm in a sling? After you apologized we got back in the car and I asked how you were. You said you felt bad because you didn’t know she’d be “elderly.” It was very sweet. I remember you being the grim reaper, the Scream dude, a ninja – 2 years, right? A kangaroo (okay – you were just 2 then), an Indian (aka Native American), a knight, a firefighter, what else was there baby? Surely you were a Mario brother at some point weren’t you? Or Pikachu? I hate that I can’t remember. It makes me feel like a shitty Mom. Some memories are supposed to be locked in… and since you died I HAVE to lock them all in. They have to be safe and secure and immediately available when needed because there won’t be anymore. I have to replay the same ones over and over. Just 19 years worth. I’ll be 80 and you’ll still be 19. I’ll still just have the same stupid memories. I want new ones but you’re gone. I want new ones but I’m not ready to look at pictures and remember.
Does Jesus tell you I love you? I miss you? Sometimes I ask Him to tell you that. Sometimes it’s peaceful knowing you and I can both talk to Him. We still have that. We always will. But sometimes even that doesn’t help the pain. So I cry it out until I get that sickening headache to match the heartache while I ask all the “why” questions over and over. I replay our last lunch, our last conversation, the last back rub I gave you, the last pair of shoes you talked me into helping you pay for. What didn’t I see? What didn’t I say? How could you have been in so much pain and I didn’t know? What the hell Drey? I put you ahead of everything – Robbie and even God. How could you not have known that? I flippin delighted in you. Maybe you did know that but it didn’t matter. There are no answers. But sometimes I still have to ask all the questions till I exhaust myself and fall asleep.
Lord I pray for all my grieving friends tonight. Lord help us rest in You.
Vaca was wonderful last week. A sweet time to enjoy good food, the ocean and a super slow pace. I knew I was coming home to a busy week. Busy from a time commitment perspective but also emotionally busy. I’ve taken steps to prepare. I’ve gotten up early to talk and listen to God in spite of the required hour for rising. I used to get up at 5:30 regularly. That seems like a very long time ago. Most mornings are harder now. We all wear our grief differently. Maybe if my son hadn’t taken his life in the morning they wouldn’t be as hard? Who knows. It doesn’t really matter now.
Yesterday was national suicide prevention day. I did nothing to recognize it in spite of its importance. And that’s ok. It doesn’t mean I’ve “moved on” or don’t do other things to honor Drey (she says silently reassuring herself). One person can only do so much in a week.
Over the last 3 days I’ve met amazing people. People who are dedicated to serving others. And unlike last years LOSS conference I couldn’t easily divide the attendees into 2 general groups. The first being the clinicians and the second being survivors of a suicide loss. The lines were more blurry for me. But someone made a comment towards the end of the conference mentioning they could see 2 separate audiences – so the makeup of the group wasn’t different this year. I just wasn’t as aware – I wasn’t as sensitive to it. This is God at work In a miraculous way! For me to not take notice of the clinicians unique language, questions, or approach is a miracle. I’m not the prickly survivor I was last year. The survivor that was irritated by their textbook knowledge but lack of personal traumatic experience. My quills are smooth and controlled along my body now.
All signs point to the Franklin County LOSS team launching very soon. I am guilty of continually looking forward at what we haven’t yet done instead of celebrating how far we’ve come. We started this work just one year ago – and now we’re about ready to launch. Wow. I never could’ve imagined it as I walked into last years conference not knowing a single person. God has opened so many doors and has given me the strength and wisdom to be obedient and walk through them.
So this September I once again won’t collect that big, fat bonus I used to get as a result of all the hard work through the year at marketing, leading and serving customers. Instead this September I’ve collected a team of amazing, sacrificial people who have raised their hand and said, “Yes. I want to help people who are facing a tragic loss to suicide. I can sit with them in silence. I can give them resources to leverage when they’re ready. I can even cry with them. I want them to know they are not alone.” I am grateful to this team of volunteers. Survivors, clinicians, hotline volunteers. We are all so different but share the same passion. It will be amazing to see what unfolds over the next year. And maybe maybe maybe some day soon there will be no need for a LOSS team.
I hear my breathing. That heavy breath that’s a borderline sigh. It’s the pain speaking. The stomach knots and the flood of painful thoughts aren’t visible. But anyone can tell when the intense rough times are coming by the breathing.
The shaking may come next – need to watch my caffeine.
Continually rubbing my leg with my hand is the scary place to be… The meltdown is close at hand. No that’s not where I am. No that’s not what I want to happen. But I want to be dependent on God as I move forward so if the outward physical response to this trauma I’m still learning to live with is what it takes well… Okay then.
It’s good I can see the outward signs before a meltdown. It’s taken almost two years to proactively notice them.
Do I hibernate? No. Not this time.
I go slow.
I allow myself to say no to plans. Even seemingly simple plans.
I talk to my inner circle. Those select few who sacrificially walk in the pain with me. They know I don’t need rescued. They pray and watch closely.
I pray. And if seconds after beginning to talk to God my mind is drifting somewhere else I bring it back again and then again. I listen. I try to be still so I can hear Him. I love Him in spite of this pain.
I am not weak.
It’s not explainable. Learning to move forward in pain. Choosing to move forward in pain. Addressing it as I go. Crumbling when I need to. Believing a glimpse of joy may be close at hand… But even better standing in His strength regardless of how I feel. I know Him more deeply because of the pain.
This is what it looks like for pain and joy to coexist.
2 Cor 12:9… My grace is sufficient for you Denise. My power is made perfect in weakness.