Catching the Wind

We aren’t quite halfway through 2019 and so far it has been a year of tremendous highs and crazy lows.

1. ⬆️ Mark and I went on a spectacular vacation to Jamaica. We met some amazing people, and plan to go back next year, at the same time to reconnect with many of them.

2. ⬇️ At the end of 2018 Mark’s dad died, although it was expected it is never easy. And in just after a year after the loss of Connor it was all to close.

3. ⬆️ We put Grampa’s house on the market and it sold much quicker than we expected.

4. ⬇️ That means that we are now in the process of cleaning out the house, that contains 20 years of memories. Of both my in laws as well as my boys.

5. ⬆️ Jordan chose to go to prom this year after sitting last years out. We spent months dress shopping. Okay only all of February but it felt like longer, to find her the perfect dress.

6. ⬇️ Jordan had an accident on the way home from school and totaled her car. She is ok, just bruised and a tiny bit broken, but she will be ok. She scared the daylights out of me, but that’s what children do to parents.

7. ↕️ This is both, tonight Jordan went to prom, looking absolutely gorgeous. All that was missing was Connor. But no amount of wishing, and hoping will change that. She and Riley looked lovely together, and I am so proud of the strong and brave young woman she is.

The first 4 months of this year has been a rollercoaster of emotions. Ups and downs, twists and turns. But I am proud of us, we have weathered this craziness and come out of it not a lot worse for the wear. We may be a little tattered and frayed around the edges, but maybe that gives us extra character. Or maybe I am just trying to rationalize how we survived this. What I do know is we have learn how to turn the sails to catch the wind and keep going.

Down the Rabbit Hole

It’s been a while since I sat down to write, and in that time quite a bit has happened. Mark and I spent a week in Jamaica, one of those days was Connor’s Birthday and that was on purpose.

It is just to hard for me to be here on March 15th, when he is not. There are days in this horrible life changing mess that I am sure will stay with me forever. The first is the day of the accident 11/6/17, then the fateful day we turned off the machines 11/17/17, and finally Connor’s Birthday 3/15/2000.

I have hope that someday in the distant future the 6th and the 17th of November won’t send me hiding for my covers, a bottle of wine and the biggest box of Kleenex that they make. But I am pretty confident that those days are a long time coming.

Tuesday Jordan totaled her car, she scared the daylights out of all of us. She just has a broken wrist and some pretty bad bruises but she will be fine. But there is no worse feeling than having your heart in your throat and the thought that you are going down that awful rabbit hole of grief all over again.

I am so proud of the young lady that she has grown into. She is so strong and brave, yet with poise and grace. I am proud to claim her as the daughter that he sent me.

When she goes to prom next Friday night, and she gets all dressed up, looking like a princess. It will take a lot to hold back my tears. Yet the ones that do fall will be mixed with both joy and sadness, and I know that Connor will be right beside me whispering “she looks gorgeous mom, give her a kiss for me.”💋💋

Promised…

It’s not real, it really isn’t. I was driving in the car today, on the way home from getting my nails done and it hit me. Connor would be 19 tomorrow. 19 years ago I was walking the halls of Cooley Dickinson trying like hell to have him. Pacing back and forth, with that damn IV pole, just trying to get him to move along, to bring him into this world. To move time along and get on with meeting him, raising him and loving him.

Now what I wouldn’t do to turn the clock backwards, to make it run in reverse.. for just a little bit. Just to spend a little more time with him. Oh who am I kidding? I want years and years of more time with him. To get all the things that I was promised, his wedding, the grandchildren that he promised me and maybe if I was to live long enough even great grandchildren.

That is what I am most bitter about, the future that I was promised, being denied. I have learned that tomorrow is never promised, so please cherish your loved ones. All of them, even if you are mad at them at this moment. Because someday you may be in my shoes wishing and hoping that you have the time you were promised.

No Cake!!🎂🎂💔

Having children is nothing short of allowing your heart to walk around outside of your body unchecked. Be prepared for the anguish that it brings. It comes hand in hand with the overwhelming love of parenthood. But no one tells you about all the skinned knees that you will kiss, and then the broken bones, that can be casted, and the broken hearts that you can’t do anything about. You can listen to them cry, when someone breaks their heart, offer the usual platitudes “that they are young, that there are more fish in the sea, that the person doesn’t know what they are giving up, etc, etc.” But short of keeping them in a bubble there isn’t much you can do, they need to learn, have the life experiences and figure it out on their own.

There is nothing more painful than losing a child, regardless of how or when. Whether your child is “born sleeping”, and you never really got to know them, or they died as a teenager. Those are vastly different scenarios, but the pain and the grief isn’t any different. You grieve what you don’t have, what you didn’t experience, what you are missing in all it’s connotations.

I am trying my damndest to not let my grief consume me this month. That is easier said than done. March is the month of Connor’s Birthday. March 15th to be exact. But his original due date was March 1st, so Friday was a day that I just couldn’t do much. I just kept thinking, this was the date you were originally supposed to be here. But you were so stubborn that you came in your own time, being induced, because I wasn’t sure you would ever come.

All the memories and knowledge just keep flooding my mind. He would be 19 this year. I would have a 22 year old and a 19 year old. 2 boys that would hold my heart for eternity.

He would be reminding me that

  1. Sloppy Joes are his favorite birthday meal
  2. But maybe this year he would want Tacos
  3. With the Guacamole that only he can make (I have been unable to recreate it)
  4. He would complain that his Limeade was just plain, no Tequila to make it a Margarita, because he is still to young.
  5. He would insist that Jordan be there. And of course I would never exclude her.
  6. He would remind me at least 10 times NO CAKE!
  7. He despised cake. In all forms. No cake, cupcakes. Nothing
  8. He loved Ice Cream. A half gallon of Friendly’s Black Raspberry Ice Cream and he was happy.
  9. He would want some kind of electronics for his birthday.
  10. He would be reminding me that he was grown up, even though he is still my baby.
    . Most of all he would be the center of attention and loving every minute of it.❤️❤️

Learning

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I have always been a learner, prided myself on being a lifelong learner. If money were no object, I would be halfway to a PhD by now, but alas the financial constraints, coupled with the reality of what does one do with a PhD except teach, and teaching has never been high on the list of things I want to do. What I have learned in the past 15 months is that learning comes in all forms, it doesn’t always require books, chalkboards, or professors. Just as much can be learned from the “School of Hard Knocks”, which has taught me some serious lessons in these last months.

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  1. There is no timetable on grief, it will come and go when you least expect it.
  2. Grief doesn’t follow any specific rules. Somedays you will be a faucet, and other days you will be able to hold it together, like a normal functioning human being.
  3. Do not compare your journey and your grief to anyone elses. It is different in all its forms.
  4. If someone offers to help, let them. Whether it is an offer to pick up dinner, take you to lunch, or pick up the Death Certificate.
  5. You can’t and shouldn’t be expected to shoulder this tragedy on your own.
  6. Some days you will be immensely sad, others you will be angry, and others you will giggle for no apparent reason. Just go with it. 
  7. Be kind to yourself, if that means sleeping late, spending the day in your PJs’ or getting a pedicure. Do it!!! 
  8. Understand that grief can manifest as crazy physical symptoms, pain that you can’t understand, the need for way more sleep than you ever expected, or way less sleep. Just realize that these things are most likely temporary and fleeting.
  9. Surround yourself with people who understand, understand your grief, your need to tell your story and the idea that this pain won’t vanish within a prescribed period of time.
  10. Get help!!! There is absolutely nothing wrong with Therapy. Having someone to talk to that doesn’t take sides, that won’t tell you that you are crazy or overreacting (or will tell you when you are wallowing) is a valuable tool.
  11. Acknowledge that the pain of losing a child is singularly the WORST thing that you will go through in your life, but at the same time realize you are still standing, and put that part to good use.
  12. Figure out a way to honor your child’s life. Whether it is by starting a scholarship, or doing something so their death wasn’t in vain. As Nike says, JUST DO IT!!
  13. Do NOT self medicate, burying your pain in alcohol or drugs won’t fix the problem, and once you are no longer drunk or high. The grief and sadness will still be there. 
  14. Don’t engage in the what if’s. Cremation over Burial, Organ Donation vs Not, Too much time spent on life support. Those were your decisions, your reality, your choices. No one elses to make.
  15. If you believe in God, and that gets you through, then so be it. What little faith I had was shaken to the core when Connor passed. No amount of faith or belief in a “God” is going to heal my heart. After the loss of a child you never completely heal. My family, and friends will get me through this, but not a “God” that I can neither see, or feel or touch, but that is just me.
  16. Most of all understand and accept that having a child is nothing short of letting your heart walk around outside your body, and having minimal control over it. Cherish the memories and the pictures, cry when they make you, laugh when they are silly, and just know that you are doing the best you can in that moment.

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In My Ear

Mark and I went to the Camping and RV Show at The Big E Fairgrounds today. There was everything there, from pop-up campers to $250,000 Diesel Pusher Motorhomes and everything in between. We walked up and down the aisles, climbing in and out of ones that interested us. Or ones that were just exciting, and maybe a little different, a color scheme we hadn’t seen before or a different layout.

We quickly ruled out the pop-ups (I need a bathroom), as well as the triangle shaped hybrid travel trailer/pop-up campers. They are way too claustrophobic in my mind.

From the time I met Mark, camping (in a trailer) has been a part of our life. Our summer vacations were spent at the beach, that didn’t change when Kyle and Connor came along. They just became campers too, riding there bikes all over the campground, crabbing with Mark, boogie boarding in the waves, toasting marshmallows in the campfire and staying up way past their bedtimes.

While walking in and out of those trailers today, I swore I could hear him in my ear “Mom, this one isn’t big enough, it doesn’t have bunks. Where are Jordan and I going to sleep? We like the beach too you know!!” More than once I turned around, he wasn’t there, there was no one there, but yet I know what I heard. There will never be a time that I don’t think he is with me, a time that I won’t carry him with me.

Today is 15 months, 15 months since I made the decision that no Mom should ever make. The decision to let him go, because he would never be My Connor again. My silly, crazy, sarcastic, loving young man. It doesn’t mean that a day goes by that I don’t think about him, or miss him.

Rockin’ it Together

Off I went to the orthopedist yesterday and to run some errands. Just a typical day off Friday for me. As I was driving down Main Street in Greenfield, my music cranking away I glanced to my right and I felt like my heart stopped. There getting into a little gold car was Autumn. But no it couldn’t be Autumn, I blinked and when I looked again she was in the car. My brain kept saying that wasn’t Autumn, but my eyes were arguing yes it was, we know what we saw!!

The traffic started to move so I kept going and in the lane next to me was his car, that black Mazda 3i Sport, with a young man driving, a young man with a ball cap and sunglasses on. I see his car everywhere, usually with a young man driving and it always makes my heart stop. I always want to tell the driver to get out of Connor’s car.

But this time I just knew, knew that he sent me the sign. That wherever he is, he and Autumn are together. They are ok, they are rocking it up there. It sure doesn’t make it any easier, and by the time I got to the lights at Main and Federal Street the tears were streaming down like a river. Running faster than I could wipe them away, luckily it was a day without makeup. Because it would have all been gone anyway.

I wish I could say that after 15 months the pain was less, but I would be lying if I said so. It is just less acute and I can do a better job of keeping it under control. Then there are times like yesterday where all that goes out the window.

From Autumn’s Snapchat

Before I felt comfy publishing this post I reached out to Autumn’s Mom for permission. Permission that was granted, we chatted about our common loss, and about how Autumn really adored Connor and his death hit her hard. Things that I didn’t know, that he was kind and nice to her, when at times others weren’t. It made the tears run all over again, learning that he was the boy I raised. Makes me miss him so much. This pain is like a carnival ride, up and down, twists and turns and parts that take your breath away, coupled with the calm sections just before the drop offs that make your heart and stomach rise up into your chest.