I am just past the 10 month mark, 10 months of this emotional roller coaster. Of horrific days, days that aren’t so bad, and days that I never knew I had this many tears in me to cry. Yet there are days I have laughed, laughed at the memories that he left behind. His silliness and the fact he had no sense of direction, he could get lost in a wet paper bag. I have been amazed at the caring, kind and romantic young man that it became evident that I raised. He had a long and productive life left in front of him, to show the world how it was done. I will never know or understand why that time was cut short, because there is no good reason for it.

I have formed stronger bonds with some of his friends parents. Letting me in on a part of his world that he kept hidden from his mom. Learning that he was a strong, committed and driven young man. He didn’t suffer fools well, he worked hard and expected those around him to as well. We held him to a high standard, and as a result he held his friends, teachers and co-workers to a high standard.

Do it right the first time, don’t mess around, and don’t take advantage of a situation to get ahead. He flourished in a stressful atmosphere and a time crunch. Much like me, he learned well on “the fly” and didn’t need much of a learning curve to figure things out. He and I can both thank my Dad for that, no learning curve in The Whalen household, you learned to do it right the first time!!

What I have learned in these last 10 months is this…

1. Hold the ones you love tight, and make sure they know how much you love them.

2. Apologize often and sincerely. Forgive yourself the most, there was nothing you could have done to prevent this awful loss.

3. Don’t hold a grudge, there is nothing in this life worth a grudge

4. There is nothing worse than the loss of a child, it will break your heart in ways that you didn’t know possible.

5. Yet you will learn to embrace the new normal. Not that you want to, but you will be forced to.

6. This doesn’t mean you are moving on, or by any means forgetting your child. It just means you are trying to live.

7. You will never forget, time will never heal this wound. You will just learn to play the hand you were dealt.

8. Let your friends and your family in, don’t lock everyone out. You are not an island, and locking yourself away won’t help anyone or anything.

9. Do what works for you, visit the cemetery or not. Find a place to talk to them that works for you. For me it is the Little League Baseball Field where he grew up playing the game that he loved.

10. Take each day as it comes, I was always a planner. I still plan, but not to the extent I used to.

But most of all breathe. In and out, one at a time. Someday it will be ok, I don’t know when that day is, I know it isn’t today, but someday it will be.

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