Monthly Archives

August 2018

Mother to My Lovelies

Do you watch Game of Thrones?  John and I have loved this show since it began.  The characters are fantastic, and although I have had to close my eyes on too many occasions, lol, we have stuck with it season after season.  Game of Thrones came out the year Luke passed away and I immediately loved Daenyrus, Mother of Dragons.  What I especially connected with was that she was the Mother to so many – in spirit and in duty – and in my mind I coined myself, Mother of my Wachusett Lovelies because I felt like I had become the same thing – Mother to so many.  All these young adults that had loved Luke, and now loved and protected our family fiercely, became my focus of caring.  I wanted to help them through this traumatic event that had brought us together.  I even started a Twitter account, it was relevant back then, lol, so I could post words to inspire them and make them laugh.  Because we all needed that.  A little lightness amongst all our pain.  In losing Luke, I gained more kids than one woman needs. lol.

And what an extended family these kiddos became for me.  They sent me pictures of their last days of school:  Senior Skip Day (no evidence, my lovelies!) and the class barbeque.  I was invited to the LeMays for Prom pictures which was glorious until it was gut-wrenching when they all hopped into their cars and headed out.  To see those young faces – so full of joy and promise was a beautiful thing.  I tried not to focus on the fact that mine was not there.

All that summer the kids were around.  They would come over and just hang out and I would love when they would ask to visit – usually at an ungodly hour like 9 pm lol (TONI!) when I would want to be in bed – but the idea that they imagined me worthy of their time and conversation always won out.  I could sit in the screened-in porch for hours listening to them discuss whatever was on their minds – relationships, food, what they were going to do when they left my house.  I am not sure any of them realize how important this was in my healing process.  Having those kids in my world made it feel a little like Luke was still in the house, even if only in spirit.  Think about how incredible it is, friends, that these teenagers – 17 and 18 year olds – got out of their own self-absorbed heads, put aside their own hurting hearts, and came over to hang out with the family of their friend who had passed away.  It blows my mind every time I think about it and I try to tell them that one day, when they are parents themselves and think about what it must have felt like for us to lose a child, maybe then they will truly understand how much these relationships and that summer meant to me.

Time goes on, of course, and three years later I don’t see them or hear from them like I used to (no, lads, this is not to make you feel guilty lol) and I am okay with this.  You’re supposed to go to college, find great jobs, and someone to love.  Truthfully, I miss them every day and I struggle sometimes not to text them, but I don’t want to interrupt the important work of moving forward that they are doing.  They got me through that first summer and for that, ALWAYS, they will have my heart.

So here’s what I need you to know:  If today is your Day One, don’t be afraid to maintain relationships with friends that your child had.  Seeing them happy, helps to remind you that your child was happy, too, and those are wonderful memories to hold on to.  If you are the friend of someone who has passed away and you are reading this, don’t be afraid to reach out to the family.  Stop by, send a card, share a story -just don’t let that relationship end.  It might be hard for you, but it is EVERYTHING to that family.

Lastly, if you are reading this and you are one of my lovelies, thank you.  I would like to put something deep and meaningful here, but I can feel the eyerolls lol so it will have to wait for one of those famous conversations on my front steps.  Much love. Xxx

The FIrst Days, Things that help

And Then There Was One

Summer 2015.  I am sitting in a doctor’s office patiently waiting to be seen.  It is a routine visit so I am not worried.  I have a magazine in my hands and my brain is distracted and these are both good things in my world at this time.  When after a few minutes the door suddenly opens, a cheery nurse dressed in pink scrubs calls my name and invites me to follow her to a small doctor’s room down the corridor.  She begins with the usual protocol – she asks my date of birth, takes down my weight, and does my blood pressure.  We finish and as I sit down she begins another series of questions.  “How many children do you have?” she asks me, not looking up from her clipboard.  I don’t answer because I don’t know what to say.  I am flustered and embarrassed and as I try to find the words a sob escapes from deep in my heart.  “I had two,” I tell her, ” but my oldest just passed away.”  The nurse is mortified and as I weep she comes over to deliver a hug and words of apology.  It is a moment neither of us was expecting and probably etched itself in both our memories forever.

It was the first time someone had asked me this question since Luke had died.  The first time someone not in my circle, someone who genuinely had no idea, asked me a question requiring me to proclaim publicly that I had a child that had passed away.  And friends, I was not ready.  I didn’t realize I had buried my emotions quite so successfully when I was out attempting to function in the real world.  In my defense, it was only about four months into the hell that is child loss.  I had gone to work and the grocery store, but that was it, and in those places people knew me and they either knew what had happened and treaded lightly or they knew what had happened and they were too afraid to talk to the mother of the dead kid so they stayed clear.  Either way, the question of ‘how many children did I have’ surprised and terrified me all at the same time.

I am stronger now or at least better prepared.  Initially I felt that to not include Luke in my number was disloyal.  I would tell people my youngest was in whatever grade he was in at the time and that my oldest had passed away.  But you know that was awkward and the human in me simply wanted to spare them that.  Selfishly, I didn’t want to have to go there every time I met someone new.  It’s exhausting to have to steady yourself to give the explanation and then brace yourself for whatever comes next – the questions, the comments, the pity.

So here’s what I need you to know:  If today is your Day One you need to decide how you are going to answer this question.  Really think through the words you want to use so you can try and control your reaction.  Prepare yourself like you would back in the day when you were going to fib to your parents about why you were out all night.  It is definitely easier when it’s more of a canned response.  Maybe talk to your spouse and discuss what strategy works for both of you for the stage of grief you are in.  It was John who told me it was okay to just talk about Logan and his support helped me be better with that decision.  And friends, It does get a little easier, but just a little.  The truth is I don’t want to say I only have one son.  I want to scream from the rooftops that LUKE WAS HERE.  That my two is now ONE and my heart is forever altered.  Maybe someday I will.  Xxx

 

The FIrst Days

Are you there, Luke? It’s me, Merm.

Warning: The following post refers to what some would consider spiritual mumbo jumbo. 🙂 If you are not one to entertain these ideas, discontinue reading.

So, I wrote previously about reading a book by the Long Island Medium in the first days after Luke passed away.  It had a lot of good information in it around loss and suicide.  Obviously Teresa spoke to the help and comfort a medium can bring when you are missing a loved one, but she did recommend not going to a medium till at least three months had passed.  With this as my guideline I had booked an appointment with Heather Lee at BeAwakened  on the exact day Luke would have been gone three months and eagerly counted down the days.  I was expecting a new Luke, Buddha Luke I called him, to show up and tell me how much he loved us, how sorry he was, and to impart some words of wisdom from his new surroundings.  Cue the game show sound effect for losing – wah wah – because that is not at all what happened.

BeAwakened had been recommended to me by a co-worker who had found a lot of peace seeing Heather after a loss in her life.  I will forever owe a debt of gratitude to Gail for putting this woman in my world.  Thank you, Gail!  John and I went together.  Now this isn’t typically a John Inwood kind of thing, but when you lose a child it makes you desperate for connection and for answers so there he was holding my hand waiting for Heather to finish up with a client.  We could hear them laughing upstairs which definitely wasn’t something we predicted would happen at a visit to a dead loved one.  The group came down, someone from Rutland, of course, and we exchanged pleasantries.  Heather, herself, was not what I expected.  Say *medium* and I imagine something gypsy-like with the appropriate jewelry and long skirts.  Heather was, well, she was normal. lol  She looked like any mom you might meet.  And she is a mom.  I had two of her children as the school librarian and being from Rutland, well, she already knew some of my story.  And that is where we started.

Heather talked a little about what to expect and then we got into it.  We didn’t have to tell her what happened – she knew.  Interestingly, at first Luke didn’t want to communicate and then he sort of fibbed about the car accident. Yep, you read that right!  He tried to sugarcoat how he passed away for Heather lol which is mind-blowing to me.  So much for imparting wisdom.  We talked with Heather about the circumstances around Luke’s passing and she was able to channel some of what Luke had been feeling.  She swore.  A lot. lol  He was angry and carrying some resentment and agitated that we thought we had anything to do with his decision.  Darn parents. Turns out who you are on the Planet Earth is who you really are – that personality stays with you.  So it was no Buddha Luke.  It was the same seventeen year old who had spent every day arguing with me for the past few years.  It was almost like we were in a therapy session and he was sitting on the couch with his arms crossed in defiance.  Oh, it was definitely Luke.

One of the things Luke described was experiencing tenfold all the sadness and disappointment and anger that everyone was feeling toward him.  He talked about how painful it was and how sorry he was to make people feel this way and how he just wished everyone would move on.  Now the momma in me had two reactions upon hearing this.  The first one was the whole sentiment of “Well, I’m sorry you don’t want to feel this way son,  but you DID create this situation.”  As much as I had tried to remain positive the first three months I knew there were lots of people who were watching us and their own children suffer through this loss and the fact that Luke had taken his own life added to the anger for many folks.  This seemed a fitting consequence all things considered.  But then this other thought process popped up.  I didn’t want my boy to be sad on the other side.  What the heck kind of heaven is that?  I became heartbroken thinking of my boy trying to navigate this new place and suffering through this all alone.  So, I made it my mission to tell anyone I thought might believe in an afterworld to send positive, loving thoughts to Luke.  In my mind, it was the one last way I could be a mother to my boy.  It helped my heart to have his well-being to focus on once more.  You know what they say – the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Helping Luke was my happy place.

So here’s what I need you to know:  If today is your Day One, I want to say I think three months is too soon to see a medium.  Strictly my humble opinion.  Turns out a soul needs time to navigate and reacquaint itself with wherever they might be.  You also need to know that sometimes, if it is too soon, your loved one won’t communicate and that would be a painful experience to have.  And your loved one is still your loved one, pain in the ass or sweetheart, whatever they were.  No one magically becomes enlightened.  The most important thing I want you to know is it HELPED.  I didn’t feel the way I expected I would leaving Heather’s, but I did feel hopeful.  It made me believe the connection between my son and I still existed and continued across the stars even when I couldn’t see it or touch it.  And that my friends, you can’t put a price on.  Xxx

 

 

I need you to know, The FIrst Days

There’s No Place Like Home

I have just returned from a holiday back to Canada.  Yes, Canadians say holiday and not vacation. lol  It makes it seem ever so glamorous, doesn’t it? Logan had a wonderful time fishing and tossing bean bags and John loves an opportunity to reconnect with his family.  The weather was excellent and by all rights I should be raving about an incredible week.  And I could, but deep down you need to know that every day away from the house that built Luke Inwood is a tough day.

I’m not sure if this is just a “me” problem or if other bereaved parents share this woe.  Early on after losing Luke, friends and family were very kind and invited us to the Cape and to Canada and to Maine, all in the efforts, I know, to distract us and give us a weekend away to forget everything and just enjoy the days.  The problem is I couldn’t go.  The thought of leaving the house where in every corner there is a ghost and glimmer of Luke terrified me.  In this house I am flooded with thoughts of my boy and frankly, that is the way I need it.   I leave my bedroom in the morning and straight ahead are his room and the bed that hides his collection of football cards.  I walk down the stairs and stare out the front windows and see him running for the bus, coffee in one hand, holding up his jeans and his belt with the other.  I place my own coffee cup on the island where I made plate after plate after plate of nachos and listened to him chat on about his day.  I go outside to water the flowers and hear the laughter of all the neighborhood lads setting up their little green army men in the sand around the swing set.  Perched at the top of the stairs I will forever hear the sounds of adolescence – video games and beer pong.  I feel him with me when I pet the cats, when I play my music, when I win a question at Jeopardy.  He is everywhere.

I have a white cement heart that I leave where Luke rests easy when I go out of town.  It’s my way of telling Lukester that his momma is with him even when she isn’t.  It’s silly, I know, but this act brings me a wee bit of peace.  “My heart is with your heart, my sweet baby boy.”  And yes, as I mentioned earlier, I have been away.  A day.  Two days.  This week to Canada. Even ten days out to California.  But I can’t sleep.  And I am agitated and weepy the whole time.  I am tense with the effort it takes to push down the anxious feeling I have over being separated from one of my sons.  When we finally get in the car, regardless of how long we have been away, I finally start to breathe.  I anticipate the moment we will see that Rutland sign and can’t wait to get myself to the cemetery where, if Logan isn’t around, I practically jump out of the car and embrace that black granite headstone.  It’s not quite the same as holding the real deal, but the love is the same.

So here’s what I need you to know:  We all have special places and items that remind us of our children who have passed away and we all deal with it in different ways.  Some find refuge in traveling to take their mind off their loss.  Others have to move or empty their house of everything that might be associated with their child because it is too painful to look at all those reminders of memories.  No matter what you do, know that it is the right thing for you.  Be gentle on yourself and take your own time navigating what to do with the stuff and whether to move and how to separate from the four walls that raised your child.  As for me, turns out I am stuck in the 01543 forever.  Gladly.  Home is where your son’s heart is.  Xxx

 

I need you to know