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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This Village is STRONG!!

For everyone suffering the loss of Connor Powers and now the loss of Autumn Walsh. I wish I had words of wisdom to heal all of our broken hearts, to magically make the pain go away. But alas I am neither Mary Poppins nor Harry Potter with his magic wand. All I do know is that these losses will change us, in ways that we never imagined, both good and bad. They will make us stronger, and weaker, more resiliant and yet more vulnerable. With a stronger outside, but mored tender and soft on the inside, maybe just call us all turtles. Call us what you want, but we will survive this because we are fighters.

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Autumn

 

This path that we walk now sure isnt pretty, but we can walk it all together, leaning on one another when necessary, picking up the ones that stumble along the way, and carrying the ones that just can’t walk any more. We are a strong village, stronger than we ever knew, stronger than we ever thought we would have to be. The young ones among us, the friends and aquaintances of Connor and Autumn are feeling this grief in ways that I never imagined people that age would have to.

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They have been stunned and heartbroken in their late teens and early 20’s, by losing someone in their own age group. That type of loss didn’t hit me until I was well into my 40’s. This generation has grown up much faster, handling grief, addiction, gun violence and the perils of this grown up society that we have handed them at a much earlier age than most of us adults handled when we were that age.

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I have mo magic panacea to fix the perils of the society that we live in, guns, drugs, hate and other things that teens love.  What I do have is the idea that this community we live in, Franklin County , Massachusetts,  is pretty amazing.  We may the the county forgotten by the lawmakers and anyone east of Gardner, but we make up for it with an abundance of love, compassion, broad shoulders and the ability to make casseroles for grieving families and big listening ears. That may be why we are the forgotten county, we know that help and love comes in old fashioned ways, and for that I am proud of my village.

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My Field of Dreams

Today is 8 months, 8 months since my sweet, baseball loving, prank playing, hardworking and ambitious young man left this earth. This morning my Facebook memories was full of statuses about Tournament Baseball, and the Youth Clinic he attended on the Cape with my Uncle John Lamb. Oh how I hated to get up at the crack of dawn when he had early morning Tournament Games. But I did it all for him, because he loved the game of baseball and I loved him, more than words could sum up. Now I miss him more than words can express, and more than my heart can fathom, it is a pain that tears at my soul, a physical pain that burns like no other.

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I would give anything to be back at that field in Turners watching Connor play again, heck to be at any field watching him play. My boys never could understand why I have always loved the movie “Field of Dreams”, I feel like I am in my own Field of Dreams. Wondering if like Ray Kinsella if I tear up my side lawn to build a baseball field, will he come back and play for me? Will I be able to see him play the game he loved, watch him, even from afair again, listen to him talk, just be near him. I know it is a fantasty, but it is a pretty good one.

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Connor and my Uncle John Lamb

These memories flood back on a daily basis, some of them fill my heart and my head with happy memories, some of them open the wound in my heart so the scab is ripped open again. Either way they are the memories are what I have, to keep Connor alive in my heart and soul. The memories to fill the gaping hole in my heart. It will never be completely whole, but eventually it won’t be a gaping wound.

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Statue of a Bereaved Parent

With memories like these to keep it full of the love, laughter and joy that he brought to me and to the world. I have hope that I can get through this. One day, moment, heart beat, and even tear drop at a time.

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Overflowing

My original plan was to go back and get my CPA once Connor had graduated from Tech. That changed a year or so ago, I don’t want to be locked in a room, just tallying numbers, I am happy with what I am doing now, that may change. It seems everything else in my life has. I never planned to have an empty nest so soon, to only have to cook for Mark and I, do laundry for 2, it all seems so foreign.

 

We were a couple for such a short period of time when we first got married before Kyle was born, just 10 months before we became a family and no longer a couple. This is all so new to me, new in ways that I don’t really like, or have come to terms with yet. New in a way that I never expected, in a way that my heart can’t understand, or really deal with yet, or I think ever.

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I knew eventually Kyle would move out, of course he was my oldest, he would spread his wings and see what the world was all about. What I wasn’t prepared for was in the blink of an eye was to be an Angel Mom, to only have one child needing to spread their wings. To have Connor gain wings of another kind has broken and crushed my heart in ways that is inexplicable.

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I know I am melancholy and maudlin in a way that is unusual in this blog. I try to be upbeat and as happy as possible, put a sweet spin on things, dust it with sugar and Mary Poppins glitter and send it out into the world. I am struggling this week, Mother’s Day is approaching like a fast moving train, and graduation isn’t far behind. If this is a test of how I am supposed to react, I am failing miserably.

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I know there is no right or wrong in this situation, no handbook for this crap. It is just one day at a time and what feels right at the time. What I feel right now is sadness, and grief ,anger and fear.  Anger that the world for taking my beautiful, handsome 17 year old Connor away.  Fear that I didn’t prepare Kyle enough to be an adult in this world, and fear that something will happen to him to, yet I can’t hold on tight to him. I have to let him be an adult. I am full of emotions, like a boiling pasta pot, letting it overflow just causes a mess, but holding it all in causes a mess of another kind.

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Planning

Thursday is March 15th, the day that Corporate Taxes are due to the IRS as well as MA DOR. It is also the day that 18 years ago Connor came into this world at Cooley Dickenson Hospital. He was a stubborn little one, put me on bed rest for 3 months from December to February, and then had to be induced to finally make his entrance. It was snowing he day was born, which might account for all the snow Western Massachusetts has had this year (sorry everyone my baby loved snow). He was not an easy birth, and had he been the first birth, he might have been an only child.

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I am going to mark his birthday by being busy, so I don’t spend my day sitting and crying, ruining my eyeliner and mascara, and looking like a huge puffy hot mess. I am going to have a massage (use the GC that Scott & Lyndsay gave me for Christmas), spend some time at the Mall and then Jordan and I are going for Ice Cream. Full Blown Sundaes with Black Raspberry Ice cream and lots of toppings. I can’t promise you that she and I won’t shed tears in Friendly’s, but we will be together, honoring the young man that we loved the most.  Then depending on our moods and needs we may go to Calvary cemetery and wish him Happy Birthday. So if you drive by and see 2 crazy women singing Happy Birthday with tears running down their faces, that’s us.

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I am sure we will sit and talk to him, like I always do, tell him everything that is going on, that baseball is gearing up at the Tech School, how things are going at   S. Keyes Electric, that Rachel can’t wait to have her baby, and that we both miss him terribly (but that is a given). The tears will flow, but we will have each other to lean on for comfort. I am so thankful that we have Jordan and all of her family in our lives through this.

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She and I lean on each other, draw strength from each other, and cry to each other when necessary. She is an amazing young lady, wise beyond her years, and stronger than any 15-year-old should have to be. She has handles it with grace that I know I would not have had at her age. I credit her parents for that, they raised an amazing young lady, and that is why my son fell head over heels in love for her.

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After Jordan and I have, what I am sure will be an epic cry fest, I will drop her with her mom at work, and I have one more stop. Cocktails and dessert with Rachel (Low Carb diet be damned today). I don’t know where we are going, I just know that I miss her since she left S. Keyes Electric, it will be great to see her. She was my rock at work to tell me that it was OK to cry when the day just sucked, she understood that my grief came in waves, and some days were good and others just sucked pond water or nasty donkey balls. There will be laughs but I’m sure more tears will ensue.

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I have always been a person that has to have things planned, I don’t do spontaneity well. March 15th will be no exception, I must have things to keep me busy, I have to find the happy parts so I don’t wallow in the grief of missing my baby. I will always miss him, but the firsts royally suck. Without all my friends and family I could never have gotten through this. You are the reason that the Hole in My Heart is not always a gaping sucking wound, you make me realize that there is life on the other side. For that I love all of you, and THANK YOU!!

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