Yesterday I received a beautiful message. It’s intent was to make me smile. But it caused me to ugly cry instead. This message came from the mother of one of Connor’s best friends. It was part of a paper he had written, talking about Connor, and how they became friends. How baseball brought them together, but then their friendship evolved beyond that. How Connor’s dream (before it was to be an electrician) was to play 2nd base for The Boston Red Sox. How “Sweet Caroline”, was one of his favorite summer songs.
How Connor’s death rocked Adam’s world and made him realize how short and fragile life really is. That he didn’t get to see him play his Senior Baseball Game, or even just say goodbye.
I often think that I am floating on this grief island all alone. That just because he was my son, no one can miss him as much as me. That no one can be as devastated and hurt as I am. When I read things like what was sent to me I remember that isn’t true.
Connor touched so many lives, not just the over 400 people that filed through his wake, and the equally as many that came to the Funeral Service. He touches lives with every blog post I write, with every ball that was thrown at North River Park, and every time those lights are flipped on at the FCTS Football Field. Every time Brad and Jarred pull horses Connor’s memory is there, hitching evener, last time I watched them pull I swore I saw him out of the corner of my eye.
He may have been my son, but he didn’t live or die in a vacuum. He was loved, cherished and missed by all that he encountered.
A simple Facebook interaction between Grieving Moms has brought me to this realization. We are all “Beautifully Broken”. We are all learning how to navigate this new world that we live in.
Some of us use therapy to navigate, some of us cry until it feels like our eyelashes will fall out, there may be screaming, drinking and even some smoking involved. Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds (Valium, Xanax, etc) are often on board for when it feels like “the walls are caving in”.
But when it comes right down to it, we rely on ourselves, our family and the group of friends that we surround ourselves with. Our tribe, the people we know we can run to when times are tough, they don’t care if our mascara runs when we cry, we talk about our lost child endlessly, or just wanna talk about mundane things so maybe we don’t cry this time.
We are the Beautifully Broken Souls of Franklin County, and most specifically the Hill Towns. We have found each other with this common loss, living in an area so small it may feel like we live in each others pockets. At times that can be a bit claustrophobic, but in times like this, that closeness forges a bond that can’t be found anywhere else. A bond forged by the loss we never wanted, or expected, but it turned us into The Beautifully Broken Sisters of Franklin County💔💔❤️💙
Tuesday I gave out the #3ConnorStrong Memorial Strong Scholarship at FCTS Awards Night for the second time. This year wasn’t as hard, that doesn’t mean it was easy, just not as hard. I rehearsed my speech at least 25 times to keep the tears in check. Wore a black dress with my favorite flip flops so I wouldn’t break my neck in case I had to walk down lots of bleachers to get to the podium. The last thing I wanted to do was slip and fall with a pair of 3″ heels and make a spectacle of myself.
This speech actually had a little bit of body to it, I spoke about Connor, his accident, subsequent death and love of the trade. How this scholarship is paying that love forward. Nate Smith, the young man that got this years scholarship is attending Bunker Hill Community College. In the Eversource Lineman Apprentice Program. I couldn’t think of anyone more deserving to get this years award.
Paying it forward is what makes this whole thing a little easier at this time of year. Making sure Connor’s legacy lives on, I know in my heart those of us who loved him with all of our hearts and souls won’t forget him. I just need to make sure that the rest of the world doesn’t either.
It’s Mother’s Day and it’s raining (or actually snowing at my house in Western Mass). It is actually fitting for how I feel about Mother’s Day now. Mother’s Day used to be a day that I looked forward to, the boys (with help from Mark) would make me breakfast in bed.
Then they would go off and do whatever they wanted and let me do whatever I wanted to do. Whether it was relaxing and reading, one year we took a hike up the Ledges, one year it was nice enough to sit in the sun on the back deck. Regardless it was a day for me to just do what I wanted surrounded by my boys.
To say that things have drastically changed would be an understatement. With Connor gone there is a huge piece of my heart missing, Kyle has done a great job stepping up, last year it was lunch out, this year he made a surprise visit to join me in CT. He brought with him a Fuchsia plant for my mom and a GC for my to go sit in a Hot Tub at East Heaven❤️😊!
Wanting what you can’t have was a foreign concept to me before Connor died. If I wanted it, I worked hard, and attained it, now no matter how hard I work, wish and think. What I want I can’t have. What I want is Connor back, that headstone in Calvary Cemetery to not exist, the events of November 6, 2017 to not have happened. But I can’t have any of those things, instead I will cherish what I have.
A son that loves me, his girlfriend that makes him happy and that makes me happy. A husband that loves me, and I love him. Together we are weathering this grief storm as a strong couple, I have great friends that are there when I need them, whether it is a quick text, or a night out for munchies and drinks. My circle is full, tight and loving.
No matter how many other Grieving Moms you talk to, and how many books you read. Nothing prepares you for the days of deep despair and depression that grips you. The days that I miss Connor so much that everything makes me sad, everything reminds me of him, and the tragedy that changed our lives forever. When the accident happened this sorrow, despair and sadness was an everyday occurrence. I carried a box of Kleenex with me every where I went. I tried to just go to work, and then home. I was honestly afraid that if someone asked me how I was I would fall apart.
I soon learned that I couldn’t control my emotions like I used to. I used to be able to put on the happy face and run into Big Y and grab a head of lettuce. Make small talk with the people in the checkout and be on my way. Those days are long gone, now it is a production, can I put sunglasses on, are there cars in the parking lot I recognize, do I really need the butter, or can I just substitute the olive oil I have at home, why doesn’t Big Y have a damn drive thru?
I wish I could say that I was as strong as I looked, but recently I had to admit that the control I thought I had was as fragile as a spider web. Depression and the treatment for it isn’t dirty words, despite what Tom Cruise or his precious Scientology may believe. Depression is a byproduct of the sadness and grief that results from the loss of our children. It will take time, work and medication to get through this.
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.
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.”💋💋