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April 2018

Rivers and Roads

It is the first day I am making my way down to the cemetery.  The sun is shining, there is a light breeze in the air (Hey, it’s Rutland.  There is always a light breeze in the air), and I have Shakey Graves cued up as my Pandora station.  As I start my walk, the Universe throws me a curveball and starts playing all these songs that feel like Luke is sending me a message: songs about fires, and mistakes, and I’m sorrys.  Songs about funerals, and sad mommas, and Heaven.  Hard-wired, The Mess is Mine, Almost Home are all songs I had never heard before, but each one struck such a chord with me that I came home and recorded the name of all twelve so I would remember the  moment forever.  Oh, that tricky bugger, I thought to myself and I cried or laughed depending on the lyric.

The most important song I heard that day was Rivers and Roads by The Head and The Heart.  I was on my way back up the hill.  Now this is no small hill, friends, and one of the things nobody talks about is how exhausting grief is.  Exhausting!  So I am starting my way back up the hill and I am bent over, as I imagine it, like a tree branch heavy with a covering of ice and snow.  I feel like my feet are stuck in cement and I am never going to get myself home.  But then this song comes on with its powerful constant strumming and I begin to match my steps to this beat.  It’s slow and steady, and as I take the lyrics in, I imagine myself taking step after step between this world and the next to meet my boy and hold him again.  And I vow to do just that.  Day after day; Step by step; breath by breath.

“Rivers and Roads,

Rivers and Roads,

Rivers till I reach you.”

This song became my anthem.  I played it every day as I made my way down to where Luke rests easy.  Sad story, or for those there that night, probably more verging on pathetic, although that’s a strong word and people will forgive a grieving momma most anything. Here goes: For almost a month of Fridays after Luke passed away, our besties and some of Luke’s closest friends, would come over and keep us company.  They would check in, share a story or two about the week or Luke, and maybe have a beverage or three.  On one of these Fridays I was incredibly sad.  It had been a long week of missing and the red wine was helping me numb my heart.  Late in the night and out of nowhere, as I looked around at the group, the words from the chorus just poured out of me.  “Rivers and roads, rivers and roads, rivers till I reach you.”  It was raw and emotional and I can feel the sorrow in me still as I think about how those words just needed to come out and so I sang.  The room went silent, Eric hugged me, and as I started to cry and apologize, the girls came over to comfort me and the moment passed. But the thought that each day is one day closer to my sweet boy stayed.

So here’s what I need you to know:  If today is your Day One without your child, you might be wondering how you will possibly spend a lifetime without them.  When you are grieving, a single day can feel like a challenge – A lifetime can seem like an unbridgeable chasm.  When you are ready, try thinking about it in very. small. increments. Not as time spent apart, but as time spent moving toward something.  Toward that moment when you and your lovey meet up again.  I like to imagine that after my lifetime of walking and walking and walking I will take my last breath on the planet Earth, and as the fog clears on the other side, my boy will be standing there and he will hold out his hand and look at me and say, “What took you so long?”  And I will say, “A few rivers and roads, son.  A few rivers and roads.” Xxx

 

The FIrst Days

The Long Island Medium Saves the Day

Content Alert: If the idea of spirituality and being able to communicate with loved ones and mediums freaks you out, stop reading now. 🙂  You have been warned.lol

So, April vacation followed the week after Luke passed away.  I am a teacher so this was a good opportunity to take some time after the funeral, and after our family all returned to Canada, to be alone and just be sad in the missing.  The days were very quiet.  I would get up, walk down to the cemetery, do some chores, and then sit outside and read.  Reading has always been my go-to way to slow my brain down and distract it from my own thoughts.  I think there is nothing more therapeutic than getting lost in a story and its characters.  I had been given two books from friends to help with grief so I decided this would be a good  time to check them out.  I have to be honest – I was hoping there would be answers:  Answers as to why Luke was gone; answers as to why this was so painful; answers as to how this was affecting Logan; answers as to what we could do to make it hurt a little less; answers as to how the heck I was going to live without my boy for the rest of my life.  Just answers.

The first book was titled, ” I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye” by Brooke Noel and Dr. Pamela Blair.  This book was almost like a manual of how to get through the first year of grief.  The authors had experienced loss and were able to capture with their words how I was feeling, and it made me feel understood and not crazy.  It really spoke to the experience of losing someone suddenly and how that can be a different process.  There was also an excellent section on what another child in the family might be feeling: both the loss itself and the loss of their family as they know it.   This section was a tremendous help and validated for  me the importance of being present for Logan.  The author discussed how when parents are overcome with grief, surviving children can get lost in the chaos, and some kiddos report that it’s almost like they lost a sibling AND their parents.  Creating/continuing a safe, loving environment for Logan became our primary goal and knock on wood, I think we have been successful. I cannot stress enough how much I recommend this book and its incredible list of resources for a newly bereaved parent.

The second book I was given was “There’s More to Life Than This” by Theresa Caputo.  I had always believed in God and Heaven, but until this moment I had not given a lot of thought into the logistics of what exactly it is all about.  Was Luke in Heaven?  Was he suddenly Buddha Luke and had all the answers?  Was I really going to still be able to communicate with him?  For those of you rolling your eyes at this moment, and I know some of you are… you need to understand that when you lose a child you just want them back.  Period.  And if this means as a spirit or guardian angel, you don’t care.  You just want to believe with all your heart, that dead is not dead.  And so I read.  Now this is no Pulitzer Prize winner, but it was an interesting look into Theresa’s life with medium abilities, both as a child and as an adult.  There were plenty of funny anecdotes about what it is to grow up and be able to see dead people.  Most importantly, there was lots of information about what “the other side” is all about and what might be happening to Luke.  No, he isn’t suddenly a Buddha, yes, he is still a jackass. lol.  It talked about what you can expect when you go to see a medium and how you shouldn’t go before three months because your loved one is “getting settled”, for lack of a better way to put it.  Theresa, with her big hair and her high heels, made me feel like there was a chance, a chance, that my boy wasn’t lost to me entirely, and my goodness, ten days later that was EVERYTHING.  I love Theresa for that. I also booked an appointment that very day with a recommended medium.  More about that later.

So here’s what I need you to know:  If today is your Day One or you’re early into missing your child, you might want to do some information seeking.  Learning more about what the grief process looks like, helps you to better understand what you are going through.  It really does.  Investigating the afterlife gave me hope in an otherwise very bleak time and isn’t that worth something?  In this age of digital resources and audio books it is easier than ever to find a voice that speaks to you and/or shares your same kind of loss. It’s one of the reasons I started to blog – so someone in the throws of loss might feel less alone.  Hope can live in words.  Xxx

 

 

 

Things that help

Cool Hand Luke

There is only one thing you can write about the week before the anniversary of your son’s death… your boy.  And because I’m OCD, let’s just go back to the very beginning.  A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away….

John and I knew we wanted a family.  I had always imagined four kids because I like even numbers. lol  I don’t think John ever imagined more than one.  We didn’t get pregnant quite as quickly as I thought we would, but as always, the Universe conspired to help us out.  So here’s the story:  Besides me, my immediate family was very into Amway at one time.  On the occasion of a big event in the United States, my sister asked if I would babysit her two sons.  I was quick to say yes as her two littles were adorable.  So there John and I were one weekend, eating McDonald’s, howling like wolves, getting No More Tears shampoo trapped in Jacob’s eyes, and getting more and more exhausted (cue the roll of the eyes and the smirk from all you experienced parents).  Every time Nicholas would cry or fuss I would feed him a bottle, and after a day of this, you can only imagine how uncomfortable the poor guy was!  So then Nicholas would cry and I would cry and then Nicholas would cry… it was a disaster.  Thankfully, John was my hero.  He was good with babies, great with toddlers, and even better with hysterical females.  That night (plug your ears, Eric) brought us closer together and I am pretty confident that is where Luke’s story began. 🙂

I think we can all agree that one of the best parts of expecting is picking a name.  I loved my baby name book.  I spent countless hours going over all the different options – in alphabetical order ’cause I’m OCD, lol –  their origins, and what the names all meant.  I knew I wanted a hyphenated name because I am one (Patty-Anne, thank you very much ) and I just liked the way it sounded.  Add that to the fact that we had lived in Quebec twice as I was growing up and I thought hyphenated names – John-Paul, Jean-Marc, etc. – just sounded so romantic. lol   John liked the thoughts of a Johnny Jr.  so that was an easy sell.  The name John-Luke kept coming back.  Embarrassing fact – I may have loved Star Trek at the time and every time Jean-Luc Picard said “Make it so” I wanted to make it so. lol  JB loved the movie Cool Hand Luke making the Luke part a good fit for him as well.  And there it was – John-Luke Inwood was decided.  There are lots of articles around names and how they influence who you become, if you believe that sort of thing.  Our Luke couldn’t have turned out more like his namesake in the movie:  handsome, charming, cool, never wanted to back down from a fight, and just loved to sass authority.  “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

So this is what I need you to know:  Here are Two big memories, both before the birth of my boy.  Isn’t it true that we start loving our kids from the moment the doctor or a store-bought kit tells us we are expecting?  And that we love them with our whole heart before we ever hold them in our arms?  You need to know the same is true when we lose our child.  Just because I have a certificate of death from a doctor doesn’t mean my love has ended.  Just because my child isn’t here for me to hold, doesn’t mean I don’t still love him with my whole heart.  I know you worry you might forget what your child looks like or the sound of their voice or that time will dim your memories, but rest easy.  With every beat of your heart, with every breath of your body, you will continue to love your child.  Believe it.  Love goes on.  Xxx

 

 

 

 

 

Milestones

The Irish Funeral

“I want to drink till I can’t feel any of this.”

Yes…. those were my words as I walked through the door after the service at the cemetery the day we laid Luke to rest.  It was a gorgeous Spring day.  It had been unseasonably warm for a few weeks and this Sunday was no exception.  The service at the cemetery had been only for our family, but anyone who had loved Luke was invited to our house that afternoon.  It was the perfect collection of all our closest friends and Luke’s besties.

Now I know, you’re thinking “Really, Miss Patty!”  But don’t judge me.  It had been the longest five days of my life and for just a moment, I wanted to be able to block all the sadness from my thoughts.  So we all hung out in the sunshine in the backyard and the drinks flowed.  I will never forget the laughter and the smiles on so many faces that afternoon as we shared story after story of the legend that is Luke Inwood.  My goodness – that boy had done more and seen more in his short seventeen years than I had in my lifetime.  And as much as some of the stories shocked me, lol, I have to admit I was incredibly proud that Luke had lived his life full throttle.  He was himself in all that he did – whether you liked it or not – and Luke lived like he died – on his own terms.

I’m not going to lie – the day did me good.  For brief moments I was even okay.  I sang, hugged, and preached about the Power of Women (who runs the world? 🙂 ) till the wee hours of the night.  It was a beautiful final farewell for a boy who had loved his friends and a damn good party.  And I didn’t want to let it go.  I knew that as soon as this evening ended, the hard work of putting my child to rest was over, and the even harder work of living without him would begin.  So we partied on, and on, and on, until one of my wise friends finally called Alabama and we all made our way to a safe place to sleep.

So here’s what I need you to know:  If today is your Day One, try to take the moments of relief from the sadness as they come – whether it’s over a glass of wine with friends, or looking at a picture and remembering a family memory.  Initially, these moments are rare, but they will come more often.  You will smile every once and a while and the hardest part is to not feel guilty about it. I think, in the beginning, we feel like we have to be tortured and sad and miserable or we are not honoring our child and our loss.  It takes a while to recognize that we don’t miss our child any less in our happiness than we do in our sadness.  I also like to think our children wouldn’t want us to be overcome with grief or so heavy in our hearts that we never move forward.  We continue to love them, but I like to believe they also continue to love us.  For me, when I am having a moment, I always imagine Luke looking down at me, rolling his eyes and saying, “Seriously, Mum, knock it off.”  In the nicest of Luke Inwood ways, of course. lol.  It seems to work.

Wishing you a little peace. Xxx

 

The FIrst Days