I Hear Your Voice

Every day, I hear him. I heard the last words he said to me and feel I am one of the few who was lucky enough to do so. ‘I love you, mom.’ Yes, those words I hear often. Mostly when I feel pretty down and sad, I hear Tim say those words exactly as he said them the night before he died. For a long time, I felt it was just me bringing those words up. Now I think he sends them to comfort me when I hurt too much for words in this world. So if you think you hear them, know this, you do. Pull the comfort they are offering you for they are for you and you alone. Feel their love, for they do send it continuously. This is what I have come to believe.

As I go through the Chemo, I feel Tim near by, rooting me on to continue this fight. I hear him telling me that everything is okay, that I have much to do yet before it is my time. I believe him, he should know, right? He has become one of the chosen, sent to carry me through in a way he could not have done here on earth. It does not make his loss any easier, yet still gives me the will to move forward. I miss him more than I will ever be able to express, but that is my burden to carry. Love never dies when your child has moved on, it only goes deeper, becomes painful for a long time, but still full of love.

This new crises in my life won’t overshadow the loss of my son, I don’t really see anything able to that except the loss of my living child and grandbabies and they would be right up there with him. I hope to not ever experience that. I finally have hope, joy, anticipation in my life again. It lives alongside the sorrow and maybe that is how it is suppose to happen. I have my down days, oh yeah, who doesn’t? That’s okay, he still will say ‘I love you, mom.’ It makes me cry and pulls me out of myself to look outward instead of staying inward.

I am half way through my chemo now and yes, it can be hard at times. Too many pills, too many bills, but I try not worry. I have a whole system of people who pick me up every day, sent me love prayers and blessing. I have prayer groups all over the U.S. and Canada and overseas. So many loving and caring people, how could I stay down for long, all I have to do is reach out and they are there. Thank you all, it’s be a rock road but you all try to remove the rocks that I may trip on. Thank you can never be enough, I love you. ‘Forever Mom.’


Grief’s Gifts

When we first loose someone we love, confusion comes to live in our lives. The deeper we loved them the stronger the confusion is and longer lasting. I have been through Two years four months and thirty days of confusion. Time makes a difference for as it goes along, the overwhelming senses of hurt, loss and pain change. One still feels the confusion, but it has softened a little. It’s little things like when you know you did something but you go back and find out it is not done. Times like those we start to wonder if we are also losing our minds. I think that loss in death changes the pathways our thoughts travel and closes off other paths. Some are for our own protection, others are for our lessons in life, yet still others are teaching us new ways to live without those we love. Such a hard, unending, process. The wheels of healing in any form are slow and agonizing.

Some of us are healing without realizing we are because we still feel, and probably will forever, the pain of loss. I don’t expect that to go away. I still cry for the son who loved me. Who wouldn’t? But I also laugh when others give me memories of some of the crazy stuff he would do that I didn’t know about. The kindnesses he showed to so many. The times he took the blame for others bad choices and actions because to him, that was being a true friend. So there are many things left to remind me of how wonderful, ornery, bratty and sweet he was. I cried the other day because he was not here to hold my hand as I go through this cancer. I realized that was selfish. My daughter holds my hand any time I need her and I need her a lot, she just doesn’t know it. I hear her voice and feel better.

The gifts that loss has brought me is a closer, deeper understanding of my family and friends. It gifted me with many people that love me for who I am and would help me on a moments notice. It gave me a greater appreciation of those around me, a deeper love. In the beginning, I did not want love. Love hurts, so does loneliness and living only in your head and your memories. I find I can love now with complete honesty. I speak the truth no matter how hard it is for others to hear it. My interests have changed and that is good. I paint differently now, Keith says the whole style is different. I sing Karaoke, never never have I done something like that and I love it. I am going back to writing, but I know that has changed too, which, after someone reads my books they are probably glad for that. 🙂

I do smile more, laugh more and enjoy others company where once that seemed impossible. It is not a betrayal of the one you love, for they are right there with you, smiling, laughing and enjoying what you are doing. I take my grief out once a day and look at where I’ve been and wonder where I am going. There will always be times, at odd moments when I cry for my son, but at the same time he left me the gift of his son. I have the gift of my daughter and husband and so many others, friends and relatives alike. So I think what I am trying to say is: accept the gifts that grief brings you. They will not make up for your loss, but they will help you along your new pathways. Share your love. “Forever Mom.”

The Other Side of GoodBye

It is hard, sometimes, to tell people what is going on in your life. When we lose someone we love, it becomes impossible to express ourselves in terms that would be understood because at the time of their death, our language changed, our thoughts, our lives, changed. We also know that along with the ones who are standing strong with us, there are the ones who are hoping we fail to survive, who applaud everything bad that happens to us. So when more bad happens, we tell very few people if we tell anyone at all.

Last year, when Tim had been gone 1 year and 9 months, I came to the end of trying to fight to live. I stepped to the other side of goodbye. I did not even know that was where I was at. I just woke one morning and I was done. I didn’t know I was in the middle of a complete break down. My husband, daughter and doctor saw what I couldn’t. Their quick action turned it all around. I call where I went a ‘two week’ vacation. It was there that I was diagnosed with severe clinical depression, PTSD, and suicidal idealization. At a time when nothing mattered anymore, I learned to walk again, to live again, to care again. No one else knew about this because no one came around and really, I am glad for that. When I look back and see myself, it scares me to see who that person was.

It was still a fight to want to live, but now I had the tools to help me fight for it. By December I was doing, mentally, better than I had for two years. This is when they found that my gall bladder was in big trouble and had to come out. Okay, not a big deal, no problem. It did not send me into a tail spin or make me take steps backward. But it did make me pay closer attention to my health. I knew something else was going on inside, just not what it was. The doctors found I had hypothyroidism, okay, not a big deal, it’s treatable. Still, something did not feel right. By February, we found out that, yup, something was not right after all.

I had the doctor tell me over the phone. I’m glad i did. When she said, ‘Barbara, you have cancer,’ I stopped listening. I did not take a few steps backward, mentally, I went all the way back to the other side of goodbye. Two options, surgery or no surgery. This runs through my mind a lot. I haven’t asked the doctor yet about the odds. Will I live longer without it? I’ve known so many who had surgery for cancer and died within months. We lost my sister-in-law to it. I am not scared, but I worry about those around me. I know it is hard on them and I cannot take away their fear. A new fight has entered my life to go along with the fight already there. How much can one person take? I’ll let you know. To those who say that I deserve everything that happens to me, know this, I don’t deserve it any more than you do, those who love me do not deserve what they are going through.

I am suppose to have surgery soon. They say it may take more than three hours. I sit here and wonder if I want this. You can’t help but think about the ‘what if’s,’ I think about being with my family here and seeing my son again. As much as I love him, I love my daughter and grandsons just as much. So I will take this one step at a time an try to fight hard to stay with them. All of it is almost too much to think about, too much going on in my brain. Good thing I have my family and friends to lean on, they are my heart, they are worth fighting for. ‘Forever Mom’


The Wall

Grief, when it comes, is not gradual. It hits like a tsunami, unexpected and violent. Suddenly, we are in the deepest, darkest pit with no way out. What we may not realize is that we are on a slide, falling to the bottom. When that bottom comes, it is as sudden as the grief for there is a solid wall waiting at the end. Some of us have hit that wall. We cannot go any deeper and there is no ladder leading back up … loss of hope, joy, purpose.

A while back, I slammed into that wall. If not for the perception of family and friends, I would not be writing this right now, or ever. That last day is etched into my mind as permanent as granite. I won’t go into detail as to what happened but I will say this: We learn to hide our pain and in doing so, we also hide deeper troubles. It’s not a deliberate thing for we don’t see, from an outside view, just what is happening to us. We do not know when grief trips over into sever depression. To us, we are still grieving.

I believe that true hell is what we suffer here on earth. Maybe we will be one of the ones who come through that place and are able to look back from the other side. Some of us won’t. I can look back now and see what happened, see from many angles the path that was took. My feet were not set on that path with conscious thought, but still, it is where my sorrow lead me.

When one is tempered by the fires of grief, they come out different. They see the world and it’s people different. There is no going back though we will try to for a while. Part of our fight is against ourselves for we do not want to let go of who were were. Problem is, who we were is gone. We have to learn to accept who we are becoming. I will always be Tim’s mom, but now, I am his mom without him. That hurts and the anger I feel because of it is what I have to let go of. It will not change the fact that he is gone.

When I look back over the last 22 months, it is painful. I see so much more now then when I was living it. I thought I was handling it well, only to realize that I was not handling it at all. I went though each day wrapped in a cocoon of grief that was not easing but becoming a shroud. We think that we will do this alone, that we don’t need any help. I know I thought that. Turns out that, for me, this is not true. We are hard-wired to seek out others like ourselves, yet we fight it every step of the way.

One of the truest things about life is death. There is no natural order to it, no parent before child, it has no preferences. Of all the things we will deal with, death is the hardest. It leaves us helpless, hopeless and joyless. We can do nothing to change it, make it different or fix it. It stuns the mind, freezes the heart. It will destroy us if we let it. It is a time in your life when you are beyond exhaustion, unable to think about anything else, unable to function. All you can do for a while is cling to that buoy until you find the will to swim.

I am one of the lucky ones. Strange to think that way when I have lost my son, but it is true. I am lucky that there are those who care enough to see what was happening and act on it. I am lucky that I am loved beyond measure. I am lucky to have the family and friends that I do, for they were there when it mattered the most. I am lucky that I have come out to the other side of this. That does not mean I love my son any less or miss him less. It means that there was a ladder in that pit after all and I have started to climb. It means that I can tear down the wall that I hit so abruptly.

I guess that what I am trying to say is … don’t go it alone. You do not have to be alone. Seek out grief groups where you can actually see the people you are talking to and they can see you. Find a place where people will look you in the eyes with understanding because they have been where you are in some form or another. No one will ever know your pain, but they will know your grief. Step outside of your comfort zone before it becomes your prison cell without a key. Not all of us will hit that wall, but many of us will. It is scary and can be fatal. “Forever Mom.”




Blog Stealer

I am writing this for all you who blog, which is a lot of people. There are people out there who will steal your blog and repost it as their own. Until today, I did not think about it. One very nice lady let me know that after she found my blog she also found my writings on a mans wall with some of the words changed to fit his loss of his wife and posted as his writings. Now, I don’t know if he actually lost his wife. The reason I say this is because why would someone take your words and make them their own unless it was for less than honest reasons. I wrote, often about the loss of my son and found on his wordpress many of those same writings changed to be about a female instead of male, but my writing just the same. I thought on that all morning and decided I could not allow him to do that. To me it was wrong.

I did not rile at this man nor was I mean. I simply stated that I was not writing that to slap him but more as a question. More or less why he would take my writings, change a few little things, sometimes the title, and call it his own. I told him that maybe he did not realize that it was bad form to take others writing that way and in the future would he please post my name as the writer. I though maybe he didn’t know that what he was doing was wrong and my bringing it to his attention might stop him from doing that to other bloggers. But I also wanted to know why he was doing it. So I waited most of the day for a reply or acknowledgement of some kind. Huh? All I can say is maybe he knew perfectly well what he was doing after all.

As I said, I waited for a reply. The reply? was no reply. Instead he either blocked me from his blog or he removed himself from wordpress. I am inclined to think I was blocked. I know that some people generate this kind of lie to gather attention. So, without his ability to say to me he was sorry and wouldn’t do it again, I can only conclude he is one of those people who either suffered no loss at all or are using their loss for low level reasons. A sincere ‘sorry’ would have been fine. Using others words as his own is not fine. It did upset me on a level that I was not aware of until I had thought the whole thing through. These are honest writings of my life without my son so how dare he use them for his own ends. I find it disgusting and unethical.

This is what I have to say to you Joseph P. (only name he used on his blog). I am putting your name on wordpress out there so others will not be fooled by you if you are still on here. I will search (and I know how to do it) until I find out who you really are and I will put that out there too. You have no right and no morals to use others grief to satisfy whatever morbid thing you have going on. I can only hope that in the long run you have not hurt anyone with your dishonesty. Sincerely grieving people read and search for help, answers, like minded people to help them through the worse days of their life. How dare you exploit that. If you had answered me, I would have believed otherwise but you made your position known. It is hard enough for us who have lost so much to trust and people like you make that worse. In instances like this, your words cannot be counted on to be your own or you to be honest.

Honesty in a grief ridden world is more important than most anything else we have to deal with. When one comes along and pulls that rug out from under us, we lose even that saving grace. I hope there are not others, but I know there probably are and I hope they are found out sooner rather than later. By the way, he started ending his blog by calling himself “a forever husband’, yeah, the gall. “FOREVER MOM.”

All the Days of My Life

Why do we want to follow our loved one? We have those still here who love us, who we love, yet our deepest desire, beyond having them back, is to follow them. Each day is a battle to live and a question to ourselves as to why we still do. It is not our love for others that hold us here though eventually, that may become the reason. At first, I felt no love, no caring for anything. It was not just numbness. It was as though someone had thrown a switch and it was all gone. I would look at my family and know that I loved them, but the emptiness consumed everything. The loss became more important then what had not been lost. Every moment became filled with what once was, memories taking over for new ones that would never be made. Life was centered around death.

I know that I became afraid to love anyone. Did you? Fear of losing another. Some did lose more than one, more than two. If my son could be gone so quickly, in the blink of an eye really, then what about the others? The possibilities were mind boggling and the imagination filled to the brim of what could happen. The imagination becomes the enemy. So much can go wrong in this world. So much had already gone wrong. Easier to pull back and not leave ourselves open for more agony. The human mind does not work that way though. You can’t just decide not to love and it be a reality. We can fool ourselves into believing that we have lost the ability to care. We can tell ourselves that it is the mind numbing loss that leaves no room in our hearts for anything but the one we’ve lost. How hard we try to protect ourselves from hurting even more than we already do. Is it possible to hurt more than this? If we don’t allow ourselves to get close out of fear, then yes, I think we can hurt more than this.

It took months to get a little beyond this fear. Oh, I still have it, but I can’t let it rule my life. If I don’t let myself be near those I love, I could lose them anyway. If I wait until they are gone to acknowledge how much they mean to me, then the pain of opportunities lost will rest on my shoulders. I will look back and all I will see is how I denied them, how they paid for my pain. If I leave before them, do I want them to remember me as so changed that there was no room for them in my heart? No. I want them to be in no doubt that they were loved. I want to be remembered for more than my sorrow.

I don’t know why we dwell on being with our loved one. Maybe it is because, in life, we were there for them. If they needed us, all they had to do was call. Now, there is no cell to where they are. We don’t know where they are or if they need us. We are tortured from the not knowing. If we could know, without any doubt, that they were happy, they were doing good, would we still want to follow? Or would we be a little okay with waiting until our time comes? Our minds go over this same ground as though it were a hamster on a wheel, forever going around and around with the same questions without answers. Even those with deep faith can have the same thoughts. It is not a sin or wrong to think this way. It is not a loss of faith. It is human, only human.

It is not an easy nor quick thing to pull away from the sorrow. We never lose that. We learn to live with it. Not a happy thought, that it is something we have to learn to live with. I shuttered when I heard those words. Learning to live with grief. To me that mean’t that this horror would be with me always, for all the days of my life. To me it mean’t that I would be overwhelmed with this forever. I am not saying it won’t be with us forever. One cannot love intensely and then walk away from it. I do believe that the deepest horror will subside into the sorrow. Yes, the loss will be there everyday. The tears will flow. Some days will be too much to take. We will hide away, we will be different. We will mourn those we love for a lifetime. We can also allow ourselves to live. Each day is another step toward living. Maybe we will make those steps and never reach the summit, but still we are walking. I will live without my son, but it is not worth it if I don’t take that step to make something more of it then a life with only grief. I want more than anything to see my son. I also want to love my family.

The choice is ours alone. Not everyone can move sideways to this and not everyone can stay within it. As much as I love and miss him, I cannot follow Tim. As much as my life has changed, I have to learn to make more of it than it is now. Nothing is more painful than losing those we love, so building a new life, though painful in its own way, should be possible. I have to learn to stop thinking ‘I can’t do this.’ to knowing that even in the pain, there is a chance for life. I will still look to the stars.

Broken Bridges-Mending Hearts

Grief does not take a holiday to allow you time to breath. It does not wait for you to wake in the mornings or watch a calendar for a certain amount of time to lapse so it can go to the next person. It does not ask permission to take up residence in your heart for the rest of your life. Grief strips you down past the bare bones of who you thought you were. It changes you so drastically that you don’t recognize the face in the mirror. It follows no set rules, accepts no demands and wears a new face whenever it wants. Grief becomes you.

Most of us know that no two people grieve the same. There are so many different emotions connected to this sorrow that you may have similar emotions while having completely different ones at the same time. We expect the death of an elderly person and eventually the pain of loss may dull to that of sadness for some. For others it may stay a painful cut in their hearts. Expecting death does not mean you are ready for it. You think you are but the reality is so very different. You will never experience anything as devastating as death. The loss of a young adult, a teen, a baby carries even more hurt. They have so much living to do that you mourn that loss too. You torture yourself with thoughts of what might have been.

In the beginning, we can hardly hold our heads up, bowed as a sunflower in the morning sun. We do not mean to but if there are others around us, we come to depend on them to take care of everyday life. We liberality do not have the energy or the want to cope with the mundane. It is not selfishness or wanting attention. It is not self-pity or wallowing in our grief. Eventually though, and really very early on, most everybody leaves. You are left adrift, without a captain to steer you through the breaking waves. You are forced to stand up, to paddle the boat you now call home. It is painful and during this process, many abandon your boat. This is not their grief, to them they have more important business, their own lives. They are right. They do. Some will stay and hold you as the waves wash over the bow, but not many. Few can handle watching what you are going through. Fewer will understand it.

Many months may pass or very few when you first start hearing the mutterings of discontent. Now, not only are you in the deepest hurt of your life, but you are also in the center of another storm, a different storm. There are accusations leveled against you that leave you bewildered, more hurt and your heart is not mending. Sadly, these accusations will usually come from a family member or what you thought was a close friend. Sometimes, more than one. Bridges are being broken, some never to be repaired. With this added stress, your grief becomes bigger, your spirit tainted. Healing, or what little there is, comes to a stand-still. It is hard to heal even a little when family and friends become divided.

It is important that you know, it is not your fault. It is not the fault of your lost loved one. Sometimes, there is something so broken in others that death will bring it to the surface. I do not know why they blame the bereaved or the one who has passed for the direction their lives now take. I am not even sure they know why. But bridges will burn, words will be said that cannot be unsaid. There is not much we can do to put out the fire when someone is determine to light that match. No matter how hard we try, they will find fault with everything we do. We find that their problem is petty and wonder how they can be so non-compassionate. We try not to see it that way but the direction our lives have taken has changed us beyond the squabbles of others.

It is sad but true that a time will come when we will have to walk away. Those who have never walked this path will become scandalized at that. More family and friends will become divided as they argue over what a horrible person you are for the decisions they left you no choice but to make. They have not walked in your shoes. They do not know your heart. They don’t realize that even as you are walking away, you still love them, they won’t listen. You need to become selfish with yourself without guilt. If you want to mend even a little, you have to take your heart away from those that would keep you broken. Yes, it is painful, but not the hardest thing you will ever do in your life. You have already done that, you have buried a loved one.

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