Just when I think I have this grief well in hand (yes I should know better, it always bites me.) Something sneaks up and grabs me out of nowhere. Today was one of those days, if it wasn’t songs on the radio. Damn Hardy and their tear provoking songs, followed by Chris Young and Drowning.
As I was driving down Main Street in Greenfield, there was a man getting ready to cross the crosswalk by where Wilson’s used to be. That man could have been Steve’s twin. Navy blue t-shirt, khaki shorts, and eyes glued to his iPhone. My eyes said..That’s Steve!!!, my heart said..OMG!! He is right there..but my brain said NO, that isn’t him..you know it isn’t!!
Then as I pulled into Stop & Shop today my heart nearly stopped. There in the parking lot in front of me was a young man that could have been Connor’s twin. Blue t-shirt, faded jeans, half-tied Chippewa Boots and a Black Fox Hat.
I parked my car, and followed him into the grocery store. Once I stopped to pick up a head of cauliflower, and then looked back up he was gone. Like he was a figment of my imagination to begin with. But I know he wasn’t, I know he existed, I saw him, as plain as day, heard his boots make that unmistakable sound as they clunked on the linoleum floor.
My eyes said..That’s Connor, my heart said..OMG!! He is right there..but my brain said NO, that isn’t him..you know it isn’t!!
I knew that this “phantom” young man wasn’t “my Connor”. Just someone that looked eerily like him, enough so that I thought there was a ghost in Stop & Shop with me.
Some days there are just no explanations for what we see or feel. Just that it hurts, I am not naive enough to think that the pain will ever stop. I just live for the days that I can keep it far enough at bay that I don’t end up bawling in my car in the Stop & Shop Parking Lot. Today was not one of those days, but maybe tomorrow will be.
PTSD is a funny creature, just when you think that you have it under control. Something comes out of the blue to shake your world up and dispel you of that notion completely. We are never really in control, we may think we are, but it is an illusion, a fantasy if you will. We cling to that fantasy like a life raft, when in all reality we need to let it go, and understand that we are just along for the ride.
Last Wednesday I was running errands, minding my own business, checking things off my to-do list one by one. My monthly waxing appointment in Florence, pick up prescriptions at Walgreens, get Cat Litter for the picky babies, get my car inspected in Buckland then go back to Greenfield and have Sheila the Nail Goddess fix my nails.
As the phrase goes “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I accomplished everything but the car inspection and getting my nails done. I was driving up Route 2, minding my own business, headed to Mohawk Repair so that Keith Alletson could inspect my car.
As I approached the intersection of State Street (on my left). I began to turn, and that is when all hell broke loose.
I was rear ended by a car traveling at a high rate of speed. My car began to roll, I remember the first roll, but that’s it. The brain blocks out things that it doesn’t want us to remember. When I came to, my car was back on its wheels, there was a man in a yellow safety vest knocking on the windshield, all of the side curtain airbags had deployed, and there was glass everywhere.
I unlocked the door as he requested, and they scooted me out under the airbag, telling me that EMS was on their way. They carried me to the grass, and I asked them to call my husband. He came blowing up to the scene in less than 2 minutes.
If any of you know me personally, you know I don’t drive a vehicle or even ride in one without my sunglasses on. The force of this accident shot my sunglasses off my face, and my flip flops off my feet!
EMS arrived, collared me, put me on a gurney and transported me to the hospital. Mark’s arm was all torn up from getting all my personal effects out of the car, and the kitty litter that I put in the back hatch, ended up in the backseat on the floor.
At Baystate Franklin I was Ultrasounded, and CAT Scanned from head to hip. I sustained a concussion, bruising and soft tissue injuries, scattered like an accident road map, up and down my body.
But worse than any of the physical injuries, I feel like emotionally I am back where I was when Connor died. All the hard work I have done to get to where I was on 7/28/2020 has been stripped away. In one swipe, by a careless driver, who wasn’t paying attention.
The questions keep running through my head, questions that I don’t have any answers to, but they are on a repeat loop, nonetheless.
1. Why did I walk away from my accident and Connor didn’t walk away from his
2. Why didn’t we buy him a safer/newer car? One that had all the newest airbags and safety technology.
3. Was he riding with me (I always think he is) and did he save me and decide that it wasn’t time for me to come visit him yet?
4. I wish I had answers to these questions, but I also know that some questions just don’t get answers. Asking them is fruitless and painful.
What I do know is that physically my 2018 Nissan Rogue saved my life. My poor baby took the impact of the accident and crumpled like she was supposed to. Unfortunately there is no way for my brain to easily un-crumple after thatt accident. It will take time, hard work and therapy to put Humpty Dumpty’s pieces emotional pieces back together again.
31 months and 1 day, and it doesn’t get any easier. There are days that hurt like hell. Days where it feels like my heart is breaking into a thousand tiny shards. Like someone broke a Pyrex dish and there is no way to put me back together again. There are other days that the hurt is just a dull ache, but it is always there in one way shape or form.
The day that Jordan graduated was terribly hard, it was a day that I had dreaded since Connor “graduated” in 2018. I knew what his plan was for her graduation. To meet her at the bottom of the stage, in that silly yellow rain suit, ring in hand and ask her the most important question of a lifetime.
That would never happen, no rain suit, no ring, no question of a lifetime. For the members of FCTS Class of 2020 they were frustrated that they couldn’t have a “normal” non Covid Graduation. I on the other hand, was relieved, there was no place for my mind to hide him. Although I knew he would of found a way, because it was Jordan, and he would do anything for her. His love was strong, deep and everlasting.
Unfortunately his life was not, here I sit just over 31 months later trying to figure out how to put all the pieces back together. In some semblance of order. But no matter how hard I try they just won’t line up, and no amount of super glue will keep them together. So I just do the best that I can to go one day at a time, and know that tears are good, love is eternal and grief is the price that you pay for love.
2020 has been a nightmare to say the least. On January 15th we lost Steve in what can only be termed as the most freak accident that has ever been relayed. Then by early March COVID-19 had made its presence known on US shores. It was ravaging us, like nothing we had ever seen before. One camp proclaiming it was deadly and dangerous, the other saying it was no worse than the flu.
By late March I was laying my guys off, the Stay at Home orders were being issued in one state after another. I had one guy “sick”, but we still don’t know with what. Most of my customers were very understanding, but there are always those few…
Then came the final blow, that made me hate everything. Our Spring Caribbean Vacation was put on hold. The resort was closed due to it, as well as their was no airline travel between here and Jamaica.
With my vacation on indefinite suspension we focused on what we could, getting our camper set up. We moved it to its permanent home in the campground. Put up a shed, that Mother Nature took down. We built a deck, and some snazzy steps. Hopefully the part to repair the shed will be here this week. So we can put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
What I have learned so far this year
1. Take absolutely nothing for granted.
2. COVID-19 is not just the flu.
3. Most jobs can be done from home, in our PJ’s.
4. I am truly hi-maintenance. I need my hair, nails, toes and waxing done on schedule!!
5. I do not social distance well.
6. Change can be good, no one flourishes in stagnant water.
I want my old life back, the one that I had planned. The one full of happy moments. The one full of celebrated birthdays without tears, and holidays without the missing chairs. The one without the “STUGS” that catch me at the worst moments. Like sitting in the doctors waiting room this morning, and the CNA calls out the name “Connor”, my heart drops and my eyes get watery all of a sudden.
I want the life with Connor working hard and buying that damn noisy truck. With him and Jordan going on long drives to nowhere that I could track with his Ez-Pass. With him getting lost (because he had a terrible sense of direction) and having to wake her up to figure out where they were.
I want the life with him clunking in the house with his noisy half tied chips, and big voice. Always giving me shit about something, but always being my baby no matter how old he was.
Not the life where to see Connor means I have to go visit a big slab of black granite at Calvary Cemetery. That slab of granite can’t talk to me, can’t interact with me. It doesn’t make the half tied chips noise. And it sure doesn’t scold me when I cry, and I certainly do cry when I’m there.
This unplanned life really sucks, it is not what I had in mind. The grief that overwhelms me just when I think I have it under control. The intense pain in my chest, for no apparent reason other than my heart is broken. Broken in a way that people who haven’t lost a child don’t understand. I miss you, there is no way to explain it, your laugh, your smart ass comments, your alarm clock that you could sleep through, and that went off even when you slept at Jordan’s. I miss every part of you, until the day that I die. #3Connorstrongforever⚾️❤️💙🦅⚾️💙
It has never been a secret that my boss is a super important person in my life. I have worked for S Keyes Electric, Inc. for 9 years. I have been with Steve through good, bad and ugly. Through his disappearance in the Florida Keys, through he and Tracy’s multiple separations and finally their divorce. Through his head injury caused when the guy from G&S sucker punched him in front of Holiday Pizza, stole his food, and rendered him unconscious. Through a couple of brushes with the law, and one pretty serious car accident. Where he thought the Silverado has wings, or at the very least was the winter version of The Dukes of Hazard.
Through the coolest and craziest concert I have attended. When 15 of us went to see Tom Petty at Xfinity Theatre in Hartford, CT. In a rented 15 person van, with 5 coolers and 3 blankets. 10 minutes into the Xfinity parking lot. Steve tried to jump a Jersey barrier. He missed, ripped his knees all up, by the time he found us he looked like the walking wounded!!
In 9 years my office has been in 5 different locations. That isn’t counting the little tiny temporary space between his garage and kitchen. It has no heat, and was the size of a Shaquille shoe box.
In every location but 5 State Road a Baby Grand Piano has been part of my office furniture. Now at 13 State Road it is at least in the upper space.
In Miller’s I used it as huge file space, or often a spot to organize piles of paperwork. Steve would routinely lecture me about not damaging his piano. In the Old Gay’s Package Store location the piano became a place for him to layout Rockridge Plans, and scatter all his random file folders all over it.
In all the times that piano has been moved, it has been tuned with each move. By one of our Solar Customers. Don’t ask me who, because I can’t remember. I only ever remember it being played twice, but it is beautifully tuned.
This infamous piano was bought by Pat Lynch when he and Steve went to an auction. Pat soon realized that he had no space for it. So Steve bought it off of him, then Tracy told him that there was no way it was coming home, because it would take up the entire living room. So it took up residence in Miller’s, and followed me from then on.
When I go to work tomorrow it will be 21 days, I still expect Steve to come blowing in the driveway in that white Pro Master Van, and charging in the door with his mouth going a mile a minute. But that won’t happen, what will happen is that James and I will do our best to carry on the best we know how. S Keyes Electric, Inc. will move forward in Steve’s memory. But it will never be the same, it just can’t be.
I still can’t believe you have been gone 775 days. So much has happened since you left, so much has changed, and yet so much remains the same. I still wake up on a daily basis wishing this whole thing was a bad dream, wishing you would walk through the door and complain about what I’m making for dinner. Tell me that Shelly’s cooking is better than mine no matter what I make.
I want to hear the bump bump bump of your music, as your car pulls in the driveway. Although by now I’m sure it would be some diesel truck. Just as loud as the one Kyle has (that supposedly his neighbors in Millers complain about).
I want to give you shit when you flop on the couch. Could you just sit like a normal human being please? I want to grouch at you about all the dishes and silverware that you have in your room, that you are the reason I only have 2 spoons in the silverware drawer!!
I want to snap at you about leaving towels on the floor in the bathroom, and in your room. And while we are talking about the bathroom, that hall bathroom is yours, you need to clean it. It can’t look like a boys locker room when Jordan comes over!
I want to have the continuous fight that no you and Jordan can’t sleep together under my roof!! You are too young, when she sleeps over, you are relegated to the living room futon. So stop arguing with me!!
But most of all I want to rewind time 787 days, to before the accident. Tell you on that Sunday night at Pioneer Valley Indoor Karting that you just needed to come home, instead of going to Jordan’s. Then you would have had your clothes for the Career Fair and none of this would have happened. But I can’t rewind time and undo this tragedy. I just have play the cards that were dealt to me, whether they are a winning or losing hand.
Love you to the Moon and Back, Miss You Forever and Always.
I made it through another Thanksgiving, the 3rd one since Connor died. Each one has been different, the first one I was numb, in a fog, not really accepting he was gone. Just having gone through the Wake, Funeral and Burial, something that no Mom should ever have to do.
The first year we spent Thanksgiving with Mark’s boss John Lamoureux. Just a quiet day with he and his kids, Prime Rib and all the fixings. A Thanksgiving unlike any we had ever had, which after the emotional trauma we had been through, was just what we needed.
Last year we had Thanksgiving at my parents, which was our normal M.O., but again things were different. My father in law had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, so he and my sister in law didn’t make the trip to CT with us.
This year she made the trip to CT with us, but the table was missing 2 chairs, Connor’s and my father in law’s. As time goes by things change, more chairs will become empty around holiday tables.
This is not a fact that I am looking forward to, the inevitable change that comes as we age and everyone grows up. But it is a change that I won’t have any control over when it comes. What I will be able to do is savor each and every memory as they come along. Enjoy each laugh, relish in each story told, and every meal shared together. Because time is fleeting, so enjoy each and every second that you have together.
If I was to tell you that this week had been easy, that would be a bold faced lie. In fact it was horrendous. Wednesday was November 6th. The 2 year anniversary of the tragic accident that started the domino effect.
I remember everything about that day. From the fact I stayed home with a migraine, to the fact that Mark’s boss John pretended he was Connor’s Uncle to “grease ” the wheels at Baystate before we got there. I know what I had on, because I wore the same thing for 3 days, until Kyle & Holly brought me some new clothes from home. Eventually we made a Kohl’s run for leggings and a sweater.
I remember his room being kept so cold, because he had a brain injury. So we had extra blankets on us that night to stay warm. I remember watching that ICP # like a hawk. Fixated on it, because it wasn’t supposed to go over 20.
At one point in time, a trauma doctor came in to check him. His ICP# was 2. I was internally so happy because it was low. He said to the nurse, “I’m concerned it is too low, the brain stem is herniated.” Those words went in one ear and out the other, I didn’t want to hear, or absorb them. All I wanted was for Connor to recover.
But it wasn’t meant to be. More CAT scans, the ICP removal, a surgery to remove a section of his skull, and finally an MRI, confirmed those words that doctor uttered that first night.
My world crumbled, like a delicate sugar cookie. All of a sudden the worst case scenario was here. A parents worst nightmare, and to have to make the decision to turn off the machines. All those beeps, and the whooshing of the ventilator that had breathed for him for 11 days. My brain knows it was the right decision, but convincing my heart of that..I’m not sure that will ever happen.
This weekend I met some ladies in person that I have only ever talked to on Facebook. I have been on-line friends with these ladies for almost 3 years. 2 of them drove 1,400 miles, just to road trip and see Salem, MA, in that respect they are crazier or braver than me. That amount of time and miles in a car would make me nuts.
We chat on-line all the time. They were there for me when Connor died. They have pulled me up my bra straps and made me face the world at times that I just wanted to hide in bed. Conversely they have also allowed me to cry and howl and whine about how unfair life is.
To actually meet, hug and laugh with these ladies was beyond magical. It felt like I had known them for years, although I was meeting them for the first time. There were no awkward lapses in conversation nothing that we couldn’t talk about.
Anything and everything was a topic of conversation, and nothing was off the table. From relationships, to jobs, to pets and everything in between. Not to mention the great food and drink that we had at Wahlburgers in Lynnfield.
I have had people tell me that “In-Real-Life Friends are much more important than On-Line ones. I tend to disagree, I know in the world we live in there is so much fraud out there. So many people “Catfishing” others, but I am happy to say that I was never concerned about that with this group of ladies. I am so glad they felt the need to come get scared in Salem. Love ya Mamas💜💜