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December 2019

The Legend of Two Dollars

This blog is for YOU. You know who you are, but I do not, and actually, I prefer it that way. You are the person who for the past few years has surprised me time and time again when I visit the cemetery with your gifts. Tucked neatly under a grey rock are 2 one dollar bills folded in thirds. They show up when I least expect it and never fail to put a smile on my face.

That very first time I saw the money, I giggled. What in tarnation is the meaning of this? I spent a few minutes generating ideas of why the money had been left there. I thought to myself that perhaps it was over a bet – two bucks says I can make this next basket – for example and it was your connection or best memory of Luke. Or maybe, I speculated, it was money owed – Do you have two bucks, Luke? I need a snack from the caf. Or maybe Luke had done the borrowing – Pass me two bucks, I need my Dunks. All plausible/possible situations. I even unfolded the money wondering if perhaps you had written some words that might lend a clue to your identity. Nothing. So, after a few more moments of contemplation, I let it go and sat in the comfort of knowing that someone had visited where Luke rests easy.

I don’t know how long after that the next set of two dollars showed up. They were folded with the same level of care and placed perfectly on top of the first pair. My curiosity was peaked. I mentally tried to calculate if the deposit of money corresponded with college breaks and was being left there by someone home to see family. I was tempted to put something on Facebook or Twitter, but I decided that whatever the money was about was between Luke and you. I heard Luke in my head saying Mind your own business, Momma! lol

By the time Winter hit, there was a good collection of money. I didn’t want it to get wrecked from the weather, so I took the cash and a number of other trinkets people had left, and brought them home to the chest of memories we have for Luke in our basement. These mementoes, now to include the dollar bills, all have a special place in my heart. They each mark an important part of our healing process and this invisible connection between myself and the money and you was one I had enjoyed that year. As I closed the lid on the chest, I imagined closing a chapter and with it, anything to do with the money. I don’t think I could have been more shocked when fairly soon after the first thaw of Spring, two new dollars showed up to resume stewardship of Luke’s spot. What?! WHO ARE YOU DOLLAR DROPPER?!!! My heart swelled. The Legend of the Two Dollars was to continue…

Over the years the money has had quite the adventure. I have buried it before bad weather, it has blown away in a windstorm and been retrieved in the woods, and once, we believe kids stole a good chunk. 🙂 When a five dollar bill showed up on the empty marble mantel one day I thought someone was trying to copy the Two Dollar Dropper. lol. John and I were worried this would annoy you and we discussed removing the five bucks. But we don’t always carry cash and so I decided you were short on small bills the day of your visit and left the smallest you could. I breathed a sigh of relief when a mountain of single bills started to pile on top of that five. It was still YOU!

So here’s what I need you to know: I take a guess, every time the money shows up, as to who the Dollar Dropper might be. I guess, but I honestly don’t know. What I do know is that when you lose someone you love, your child, your greatest fear is that they will be forgotten – that a time will come when no one says his or her name. There is a quote that goes something like this:

“They say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.” Banksy

And I don’t want that for my Luke, for my boy the Legend, for the King. I can’t bear to think of the day when the words- “Remember that kid who died from suicide Senior Year? What was his name?” – becomes a real thing. And so YOU have given me the most amazing gift of hope and of faith: That someone besides Luke’s momma, that YOU continue to hold him in your heart, and will maybe say his name for a long time yet to come. Sometimes, two dollars are worth a million. I love YOU, Dollar Dropper. Forever Grateful. Xxx

Things that help

So This Is Christmas…

I read early on that when you lose someone you love that it takes in and around three years to start to feel some semblance of yourself again. That number bumps to five years when you have lost a child. John and I both set our eyes on that year, that number as a goal to get to. “If we can only make it to that year we will be okay again,” we told ourselves. Five years sounds so far away when you are first in the throws of grief. Every day is damn agony – the purest form of torture; of hell on Earth. How to survive one let alone one thousand, eight hundred, and thirty- two?

But by some miracle, you do. You get up every morning. You miss your child. You do your day. You cry. You go to bed. Repeat. And at some point, I am not exactly sure when, small moments of happiness sneak in. They are tiny pinpoints of light or laughter, fleeting, but still, a welcome reprieve from the pain. And next thing you know the waves of grief don’t drown you. It is more like the gentle lapping of the water on the shore. Constant, but softer, wearing down the edges of your sadness.

And so here I am. Just shy of my fifth year and it is true, I am feeling more like my old self. Christmas has always been a time of joy for me and these past few years it has been difficult to look at any part of it without thinking of Luke and missing him. But this year I feel a bit more at peace with where I am in this journey; of how I hold Luke in my heart. Grief is not like running a marathon where you get to the end and you look back and think, “Wow! Look what I endured! Look what I accomplished!”. Grief is more of a “Phew! Made it through that day; that anniversary; that Christmas.” If this is your first Christmas missing part of your heart, I am sorry. I wish I could tell you it gets easier. I do know we get stronger. I do know we get better at carrying our love and our missing. I almost never look back now – I just look forward, to the day when I will see my sweet boy again. And I remember the love.

Rivers and roads, my son. Merry Christmas. Xxx

I need you to know, Things that help

Today We Celebrate the Day You Were Born

Today we celebrate the day you were born!  This is how I have launched every birthday for my boys.  I love to tell the story of how they arrived on the planet as both of them caused a little drama.  Exactly how their momma would do it! Lol

Today is my baby’s birthday.  He is no longer a baby, of course, but a whopping 20 years old. It astonishes me that he is entering the second decade of his life.  I remember my 20’s as being the decade I grew up and finally took ownership of my life: I moved in with John, started a career, got married.  HUGE steps in a young person’s life and I think happily of all of this happening for my Lolo. He deserves it, gosh darn it.

But back to my story.. lol. I love to tell Logan my dorky obstetrician let me go two weeks late and by the time I showed up for my last doctor’s appointment, he was cooked! Lol  Everyone panicked because he was low on amniotic fluid so they started the induction process and away things went. Logan’s birth was much more relaxed that my first.  The *not knowing* of that first delivery adds so much angst! So Natalie Merchant was on repeat and things proceeded well. Unfortunately, that Logan was always a big boy (can you say nine and a half pounds?!) and they had to break his clavicle to get him out.  Yes, it is as horrible as it sounds. Lol My poor brave baby!

Logan was always Mummy’s boy.  Sigh, he was a snugglebug and I can still feel him wrapped around me when I would pick him up.  His torso was practically the length of mine and he would wrap those long legs around me and hold on like the monkey he was. I loved the time we had together when Luke started school and it was just the two of us through the day.  We spent a lot of time outside checking out nature and playing in the cul-de-sac. This time of year reminds me of our gingerbread escapades together. My boy loved to bake! He would concentrate so hard and his tongue would stick out and he would be COVERED in flour and icing and it was the cutest dang thing you ever did see.  Logan still enjoys time in the kitchen (he makes awesome cinnamon buns!) and it was through Logie that our friend group was introduced to sous vide. You haven’t had meat until you have tried it this way!

So here’s what I need you to know:  Logan is one heck of a young man.  John and I are proud of everything that makes Logan special: His brains, his courtesy, his thoughtfulness, his heart.  WE LOVE YOU, SON! May the next decade be filled with new adventures, memories made with great friends, time with your family (call your mother, lol), and of course, love.  Happy Birthday, Lolo. Xxx


… And Sometimes You Don’t

It’s amazing how forgiving the human brain can be. Take childbirth. Arguably one of the most painful things a body can endure, but give it ten years and one is hard pressed to conjure up the feelings of agony. You know it hurt, but the brain has softened the experience and all you have is a general complaint. Grief is another example of the brain stepping in to preserve the heart. The feelings of loss can be devastating, but a mere four years later and all I remember of that first year is a blur. It is no different with childrearing. Remember the horrors of being sleep deprived those first four months? Just sort of? lol Me, too! I know it was rough, but sleeping through the night and potty training seem a little less traumatic with a few years between us.

And so it is with John and I and some of the events we experienced with Luke. I think some things that happened were so traumatic that our brains stepped in and will only allow us to recall in general terms. Hence, this next story has no origin. I can only put you in the middle of the action because parts of the night I have somehow blacked out. Thank you, brain.

John was out on this given evening playing basketball in his Old Man League. I don’t remember what preceded Luke storming out of the house, but the gist of it was, if he didn’t like living here maybe he should live somewhere else. And FINE…he was gone. I don’t know if he grabbed anything or if he simply took his coat and took off. It was winter and definitely a New England weather kind of winter’s eve. No sooner was he out the door than I started to panic. Where was he going to go? It was dark and it was cold. Was he going to come back? I mean REALLY?!!! Was he going to come back??? Every minute he was out there was another minute I was more convinced that I had f$cked things up and I was never going to see him again.

I called John first and we decided to give him some time to clear his head before we took more serious action. But the seconds were agony. AGONY. Every parent knows how quickly your thoughts go sideways when something is up with your child. Every booboo is a lifethreatening injury, every slight from another child a life of loneliness for your baby. We go to extreme scenarios in record time. I pictured Luke continuing my Dean family trend of sons leaving home at 16, our relationship forever changed. I saw him living on the streets trying to charm his way into breakfast or shelter. And I saw worse. And once those thoughts started, there wasn’t anything, ANYTHING, I wouldn’t do to undo the nights events and get Luke home safe and sound.

Something felt different about this one. Something felt ominous. I remember calling my Dad in hysterics. Remember that Dean history I referred to? My dad left home at 16. Yep, hated his father so much he went to live with his married sister. My own brother was kicked out at 16 and went to live in another town with his best friend’s family. It took years to get over that one. Now here I was with my own 15 year old son threatening to leave us all in his dust. My dad, as always, was able to bring me back to the love. He didn’t want what had happened with him and his father, and with him and Scott to happen to Luke and I. Forgive, forgive, forgive. Love, love, love. It was good advice.

So, in the moments between when Luke left and when he walked back through the door, probably three hours later, I had a mind shift. I did not want to lose my child. I wanted a relationship, whatever that relationship might look like. I decided IN THAT MOMENT that life was going to be its own hard knock school for a kid like Luke. He didn’t need that at home. He was going to screw up. He was going to fall. But in this house, IN THIS HOUSE he would feel nothing but love. Luke came home, I found a moment to hug him, and we made it so.

So here’s what I need you to know: I thank God that Luke took off that night and scared the bejeezus out of me because from that point forward our house became a home again. A family again. We became focused on Luke, our son, not Luke, the student and screw-up. We made memories and we laughed. It wasn’t a perfect couple of years, but it was better. So in that other moment, when we found out Luke had left this world, our relationship was not in a bad place. We hadn’t spent the last time we were with him screaming about graduating high school or doing his homework. We were sitting on the couch, eating nachos knee to knee, lol watching golf on TV with John. He was having the best weekend in a long time per social media. And that is all this grieving momma needs to rest just a little bit easier. Xxx

The Rise and Fall

Sometimes You Draw A Line In The Sand…

It was this same time of year and just about as cold. We had not been up to Canada for Christmas in a while and I really wanted to go up and see my family. The challenges around Luke were taking a toll and I was busy with getting my Masters and I was tired dangitall and I needed to see my mummy lol. I needed to be taken care of. There is also more than a little guilt when you live far away and you don’t get home very often – especially for the holidays. So the decision had been made to go up. Problem was… we didn’t consult Luke.

As soon as he found out we were going to Canada for the holiday he started complaining. LOUDLY. And OFTEN. Every minute of every day he was hollering about how he wasn’t going to go and that we couldn’t make him go and how much he hated us. I would walk through the door at the end of the work day and he would start as soon as he saw me.

“I’m not f#$%ing going. You can’t make me get in the car.” And he would throw this fowl look in my direction like he despised me for putting him in this position. I cried a lot. I didn’t know what to do. He was right. We couldn’t force him into the car. And we could stay, but I really wanted to do this for me and for my mum. I was incredibly torn. I felt like this was one of those lines I needed to draw. I felt like I was in the right. I was the adult and he was the child and he needed to do this. He could survive three freaking days away from Rutland, Massachusetts. For me. For his mother.

To say the tension in the house was beyond awful is an understatement. John felt horrible for me. Every time I thought about how relentless Luke was and how he wouldn’t do this ONE THING after everything I had done for him, I cried. I washed the dishes and I cried. I folded laundry and I cried. But Luke would not give up. I think he thought if he kept at me long enough I would cave in and say FINE. He wasn’t wrong.

I called my Dad hoping to gauge the feeling if, in fact, we decided not to go up for Christmas. He didn’t have much to say over the phone, but the next day he sent me the best email message. He basically told me to protect our relationship with Luke and to make the best decision for us as a family. “You as a parent can get over what you say and move on but to a teenager what your Dad or Mom say cuts deep and hard.” It was good advice.

However… sometimes as a parent you just decide enough is enough and you play the parent card. You know the one – I am the adult here and I am telling you what to do and when you are an adult and you live in your own house, well, then YOU can make the rules. It usually has to do with pets or parties, am I right? In this case, John Inwood had witnessed enough. The night before we were to leave John came home from work to find Luke in the basement. And he just told him. He was calm and he was firm. And the next day we all climbed in the car and we went.

So here’s what I need you to know: Christmas was fine. Just… fine. It is hard to find the joy when you know one of your children is miserable so I never quite got in the spirit. Sigh. The most striking development for me through all this was the realization that Luke really didn’t give a sh*t about his family. This may come off as harsh. You may think his reaction was a developmental thing. Maybe it was an ODD/mental health thing. Or maybe it was simply a Luke could be mean thing. I will tell you, you don’t soon forget when your child hurts your feelings like Luke had mine. It’s even harder to forgive. But I did. After all, I am his mother. There isn’t anything that would change the love I had for him, even when he was being, as I told my dad, a little knucklehead. lol. Even now. I STILL LOVE YOU, LUKE INWOOD!!! From here to the other side of the stars. Xxx

The Rise and Fall