Monthly Archives

June 2018

They Say It’s Your Birthday

You might be surprised to know that the hardest day of the year for me is not the anniversary of Luke’s death.  It’s his birthday.  This might feel counterintuitive as birthdays are about the beginning of life, but that, in fact, is what makes it so incredibly difficult.  When a child is born you are filled with hope and possibility.  You spend all that time deliberating over a name and dreaming about what he or she might become.  Whose nose will they have?  Will they love music or horseback riding or football?  Entwined with all those possibilities is every parent’s need to reimagine their life through their child’s.  Every mistake, every regret, every wrong choice recalibrated in this new life that will be bigger and better than the one the parent has lived.  All of you living vicariously through your children, please raise your hand!  lol  Yep, that’s everybody.

When your child passes away, those hopes and dreams and that future comes to a grinding halt.  You end up with one hell of a case of “what might have been”.  What would Luke have been like at 24 and 32 and 45?  Would he be married? What would he be doing for a living? What kind of father would he be?  On every birthday I would say to my boys, “Today we celebrate the day you were born!” and I would go through the story of their births (grueling and torturous, of course lol) and we would talk about how far they had come in the past 365 days and how proud we were of them.  At the Inwood house the rule is you do exactly want you want to do on your birthday, which some years translates to doing nothing at all.  But it’s YOUR special day.  Birthdays to me are like New Year’s,  your New Year and a chance to reflect on how important it is for you to be on the planet Earth at exactly this time.

Luke has had four birthdays since April 2015.  Each one has been difficult in its own way.  The first, what would have been his eighteenth birthday, was difficult because all Luke ever wanted was to be an adult, his own man, and he never got there.  Luke was the youngest of his group and it was driving him crazy that every one of his friends was turning 18 and headed to hookah bars. lol.  His death was still so new and it was heartbreaking to watch his friends moving on, graduating, and starting to fulfill some of those dreams. Oh, to be full of promise.

This past Tuesday would have been Luke’s 21st birthday.  I feel like this one is a big deal.  You’re finally legal, you’re headed into your third or fourth year of college (if you went), but overall, you are just getting the sense that your life is headed somewhere.  You’re starting to live with purpose.  I see it in the children’s eyes when they visit.  They are settled, confident, more comfortable in their own skin.  It’s a tremendous thing to watch a young person grow and develop over the years.  It’s also tremendously awful when you don’t.

And so every year I anticipate Luke’s birthday with a whole lot of angst.  Usually the King of the Courts tourney comes first (Best Day of the Year) and I inevitably crash into the 19th.  I try and tell myself that each year will be better, but it’s not.  There is nothing I can do or try to tell myself to make me feel better.  My heart just aches with his missing and my fists are clenched all day with the overwhelming need to hold him just one more time.  On the day that gave him life, I miss his life with every fiber of my being.  I want to bake his favorite cake and wrap presents that he will roll his eyes at when he opens them. I want to hear his relief that he can finally go out legally with his friends and then worry about how they are all going to get home.  I want to watch my child grow up, but instead I cry that he is Forever Young.  

So here’s what I need you to know:  When you are missing part of your heart, some days are harder than others and for me, birthdays are hardest of all.  Today we want to celebrate the day you were born, but it is entwined with the mourning of all the possibilities now lost.  So take the day to be sad.  Try and find a little peace whether it’s making that cake or cooking a favorite meal or toasting your now legal son.   It will feel like the worst kind of hell until you climb into bed that night and close your eyes.  But you will get through it.  We get through it.  We make Tomorrow a better day as a last great gift to our children.

Happy Birthday, Lukester.  Xxx

Milestones

My Favorite Day of the Year

Next weekend is our King of the Courts basketball tournament. It is currently my favorite day of the year – yes, even beating out Christmas lol.  The tourney is street style basketball with teams of three versing one another till a winner is declared.  What makes it my favorite day, you ask?  Well, for starters there are 96 young people there and that’s just the players.  I get more hugs in five short hours than you can believe and you KNOW how happy that makes me. lol

Some of the teams aren’t there to play competitively and for that I am incredibly grateful.  As my girl Toni says, she looks forward to this opportunity to humiliate herself. lol  Love you, Tonz!  She doesn’t, of course, but she, and others like her, come to support our family and Luke’s memory.  To see all these kiddos on this day brings back so many memories about Luke and his friends.  Luke lived for his boys and the whole crew and when they come out, my connection to Luke seems to be recharged in the most amazing way.

Most of the teams that sign up are darn fine ballers.  We have had some outstanding match-ups these past two years and the battles can get a little heated.  No one wants to upset Miss Patty, of course, (it’s just for fun, guys!) so they try to be on their best behavior.  The final matches are ridiculously good and I am not exaggerating here.  I have always loved the game of basketball so watching the lads compete is exciting. Logan, Matty, and Steve are crowd favorites, and even won the first year, which makes my heart just so proud.

Playing basketball on the courts uptown was Luke’s favorite way to pass the time once he was old enough to get up there.  I have so many mind movies:  Luke with his big ole jug of water from Saveway making his way across the grass in his mandles; Luke’s phone always dying because he was up there ALL DAY;  getting the call to go pick him up and sitting in the parking lot watching the boys laughing, always laughing, and taking a few shots till Luke would notice I was there;  Luke standing up from the bench and giving Cody or Camden or whomever a hand slap or whatever it is the young kids do lol and him strolling on over to meet me.  That boy sure could stroll. If you knew him, you know EXACTLY what I mean. I miss it. I miss him. <3

I don’t know for how many more years the tournament will continue and it really doesn’t matter.  For now, I take one Favorite Day of the Year days at a time and savor every single minute, every single play, every single hug.  I have been known to say there is nothing my boy loved more than a ball in his hands and his boys by his side.  The King of the Courts tourney, and everyone who shows up that day, allows me to feel this  and feel connected to my boy in a way nothing else can.  Can’t wait for Saturday. Xxx

 

 

Things that help

Thank You, Universe

Every morning, as I first start to stir and realize that I am waking up to face the day, I like to lay there and think about the things I am grateful for.  I aim to find five things that I can say, “Thank you, Universe, for ____”.  Some days it is easy – I slept well and the day before had moments that I can recognize as full of grace.  Other days it is hard.  I have spent the whole night tossing and turning and thinking about work or how much I miss my boy.  Maybe I am caught in a pattern of sadness.  But I still lay there and come up with something.  Thank you, Universe, for my pillow; for the sun in the sky; for the coffee I am going to have when I go down the stairs.  They aren’t life changing things, but I feel this activity helps to start my day on a positive note.  And being positive is everything for me.

After Luke passed away it was not easy to be good-spirited.  My thoughts were consumed with the missing of my child, and the circumstances around losing Lukester, and my fears about death and where the heck Luke was.  I would get up every day and head into work and I would cry hysterically the whole way in.  As I pulled into the parking lot, I would gather myself up and do my best to give the children a “happy” Mrs. Inwood to learn from.  I faked it.  But as the old expression “Fake it till you make it” implies, the act of trying to be happy actually leads to being a little more happy.  And if you do this enough days in a row, suddenly you find yourself on the other side of a bad patch.

Now, my husband likes to teasingly tell me that no one is born as positive as I “pretend” to be and that I have somehow brainwashed myself into this state. lol.  And as much as I actually believe I was born wearing rose-colored glasses, 🙂  he’s not wrong.  I choose.  Every day.  And so do you.  How are your spirits today?  Because every feeling, every interaction, every reaction is a choice.  And I choose to move forward, to see the good in every single person, to be the best darn cheerleader you ever did meet.

It’s important to recognize this control and this choice to be positive after the death of a child.  It is so easy to curl up in a corner and feel sorry for yourself. AND YOU’RE ALLOWED, gosh darn it!  What has happened is horrible, no denying it.  But it is exhausting to spend day after day after day after day in this state.  It can actually be a bit of a relief when you realize you can choose to try and change your mindset and move out of the funk.

My husband really struggled after Luke died.  He is an analytical person by nature and couldn’t stop thinking about the causes leading up to Luke’s death and how he might have contributed or what he might have done differently to prevent it.  He also battles depression and these two factors came together and made him a wreck.  He was defeated and didn’t want to go on and nothing I said or did made any difference.  Seeing someone you love in such a state of despair and being helpless to change it, is not a place I hope you’ll ever have to be.  Thankfully, John worked with his doctor and then with a woman who is a life coach, but she turned out to be a literal life saver for John.  I thank the Universe every day for Karen Myers.  She taught John that every time he started to have sad thoughts he could hit the “delete” button in his brain and get rid of them.  Driving to work and you want to rehash the accident scene and the bend of the metal frame of the Altima? The burn marks up the tree?  Just hit Delete.  It worked wonders for JB and it is still his best strategy if he finds himself going down the rabbit hole of “what if”.  So I tease him back now because to me, his delete button is just a form of brainwashing.  The important thing is, it works.

So here’s what I need you to know:  If today is your Day One or your Day One Hundred and One after the loss of your child, the truth of it is every single day is hard.  And you can choose to be in that.  And that is okay.  You have to go through this grief the way you feel you need to.  But you also need to know that you can choose to lift your head up and see the sun and the lightness of a good day.  You can choose that.  One day at a time, one day just a bit more positive than the next… that’s how we get through till we see them again.   Xxx

I need you to know