Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Notes

A Holiday Memorial

As we light these 4 candles in honor of you, we light one for our grief, one for our courage, one for our memories and one for our love.

This candle represents our grief. The pain of losing you is intense. It reminds us of the depth of our love for you.

This candle represents our courage - to confront our sorrow, to comfort each other, to change our lives.

This candle is in your memory - the times we laughed, the times we cried, the times we were angry with each other, the silly things you did, the caring and joy you gave us.

This candle is the light of love. As we enter this holiday season, day by day we cherish the special place in our hearts that will always be reserved for you. We thank you for the gift your living brought to each of us. We love you.

My Grief Share facilitator and friend gave each of us these candles and the little saying, (adapted from The First Christmas After a Death by Susan Dunn) and it sits on my fireplace until Epiphany, with the other Christmas stuff. I do have to choke those words out as I say them, so I've only lit the candles a few times, but it's a sweet reminder of so many things.

The "short" story is that Christmas went better than I'd anticipated. I had my little meltdown and my blog spew beforehand (that post is coming on another's not a happy post so I don't want it here yet) and then everything was ok. Not great, but truly ok is a good thing. Someone asked me, the other night, how I was and in that moment I was actually of the only (if not THE only) times that's been a reality since May 18th and I didn't even realize it, until later that night. I truly know that prayer is sustaining us. Living without Brandon doesn't get easier as time goes on, at least not yet, and especially during the holidays, but two ok times within a few days is pretty remarkable.

There's a picture of the girl with her new jersey. Christmas didn't have to feel forced for any of us, I don't think. We did allow the girl to wake us up at 8am, which was most unpleasant for me since I hadn't slept at all or only slept for a couple of hours...I forget now which, but it wasn't much sleep, regardless. I figured I'd go right back to bed, as soon as we opened presents, but that didn't happen, so some things got rearranged a bit, which was also ok.

I have a new Christmas tradition: decorating a random tree (nothing fancy, just a few things that are gonna get blown away or whatever) with balloons and Christmas decorations. I plan on refining it a bit and having better decorations, maybe some battery powered lights and maybe Brandon's initials somewhere. I think this is a tradition that he would've thought was cool. The family thought I was nuts, but really who is gonna say no to the mom under these circumstances? No one in their right mind. I was unable, however, to convince them to drive me to the snow and real Christmas trees. Oh well. As an aside, I'm looking rather albino-ish for some reason and I'm short, but not that short...the man and girl stand on a hill.

One of Brandon's best friend's came by the day after Christmas and that was sorta hard. He brought scads of goodies that he made, which made me immediately think of Brandon because his family doing that always really touched my boy's heart. His friend is a good kid and really misses my boy and it's just a little unnerving to have to be the calm presence in the room because the poor thing is crying and crying. My heart hurts in so many different ways because of the loss of that kid. I'm so grateful that Brandon had friends like that in his life, though, and I really hope he understood how loved he was by so many people.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Dear Brandon,

I wonder...what does God allow you to see? I know there are no worries there, but are you praying for me? Do you see me crying in your room, do you hear me asking why I couldn't have gone, too? Can you feel the pangs of my guilt when I look at all I have, but can think of nothing except what's missing? Brandon, I don't know who I am, I'm so lost. You thought I was the glue, but I'm not, I don't think I can keep even one thing together without you.

On the surface, it looks ok. Do you see past the surface? I hope not. We are all cracks and facades and emotions teetering on the brink of destruction. We are faces in public, but faceless, without an identity, in private because half of our identity is gone. We are an ever so slight breeze away from being blown over the edge for good. I am scared.

Have you been by your room? Probably not, I guess. I keep the heat on in our bathroom and your door open, so it takes the chill off. I cannot bear to have your room cold, I come undone. Your dad is going to freak at the power bill, I think, but I don't care...your room will not be like a morgue. I said that because I know you'll get the irony in it. You'll see the humor. Such a wise, funny soul. I sure miss your laugh. I want to call you in from your room to look at a funny commercial. Come ask me to watch something on You Tube, I promise to not hate You Tube, anymore.

Were you there when I lit the candle for you, on the 8th? Did you hear the putz say MY name instead of yours? I'm not sure if you would've laughed or been ticked off. I would've been mad, then you'd have been really mad, then I'd have said, "It's ok, Brandon, be gracious, he has also lost a child." I did tell them that it wasn't nice because it really wasn't, but I was gracious about it. It's further proof that I don't belong with those people. You know, the people who've lost a child. This is not the way it's supposed to be. Dreading Christmas, worrying about the burden on Ariana, as the only child left, wondering if we ever knew who we were or if we'll ever be ANYTHING, again. How can I be one of those people? Can I join you. Please?

The tree is up. She is full of icicles, just like you would want. The angel is on top, also to your liking. We are thinking of trying to find a new angel, one that lights up. That would be ok, right? I don't think I can get rid of this one, though, because you grew up with her. I'm going to give the light-up star to Freecycle, though, because you never were fond of it. Both of you kids love the angel and I want what you want. I truly don't know how I will manage on Christmas. I'm trying not to think too much about it or I'll run away from it and that wouldn't be fair to your sister. I thought about having Max and Tyler over for tortilla soup (Max has asked a couple of times), but I don't think I can yet. If one of them sits in your chair, I'll have to excuse myself and that wouldn't be very polite. So, what will we do? I don't know. You won't be here to give me any presents and the only present I want is you. Could you put in a word with God tonight, tell him your mom really needs some help or she may not make it? I'd appreciate it. I love you and miss you so very much, Brando! I hope to see you in my dreams soon.

Love, Mom-O

p.s. better put in a word for your stubborn grandpa, too...although I bet you already have, you're a good kid! Oh and say hi to Paul Walker for me, would ya :))

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

200 Days

Two hundred days of:

-Racing heartbeat
-A heart that barely beats
-Fears about my daughter
-Face in my hands
-Giving up
-Dreams about Brandon
-Late night sobbing into the pillow

Those are just 25 of the things that I have felt/experienced in the last 200 days. Most of those things weave in and out in the same day, along with many other feelings that, at times, seem impossible to corral. I miss Brandon so much, it's hard to believe that there will one day be a world that is ok or seems out of reach, most days.

Thanksgiving was ignored, but Christmas must be dealt with. Right behind Christmas will be 2014. How can we be living in 2014 and how can the calendar have the nerve to flip to a whole other year...a different year than the one my boy died in? I don't want another year. I want the others back. How can I just go back? I want it, more than anything right now.

Christmas will be here, before we know it. The passage of time is like a clock spinning wildly out of control, the arms crossing each other, every few seconds, while we watch, bewildered. So, I got my decorations out, before time got even more out of control. I actually got all the fall stuff put away and a few of the Christmas decorations up. My goal was just to get anything up by yesterday. I managed that. Mostly through tears. We are not a family of three, we are a family of four, what in the hell will we do without Brandon here, how will we make it? How could we even want to make it? But we do, we will, in spite of ourselves. Our hearts long for some joy, some freedom from all the pain, a memory to bring even a faint smile, instead of a flood of tears for all the memories we will never get to make. We will do whatever it takes to cushion the blow for my daughter, who is now an only child. I pray that by trying to soften the blow for her, my husband and I will also be able to consider the miracle in the date we're observing and remember that there are many other miracles to come in this life.

I did do something good for myself. Rather than stay on the path of self destruction I was on, I've changed a few of them is that I quit smoking, again. Last year, I managed to not start smoking through Brandon almost dying in front of me, but losing him sent me right back there. I gave myself six months. I went beyond that a little bit, to November 30th, but that was my last day. It's not easy this time around because I'd been smoking way more than I ever have and just not caring about the fallout, but I'm praying that my stubbornness serves me well. I have some other things I need to address, like getting in shape, and I'll get there in my own time. I don't want this life to drag by miserably. I want it flying by with lots of fun times. I want to be with my son, but I don't want to go dragging a burdened, miserable body to the gates of heaven, just glad I got there and missing life in the process. Brandon would want us all living. In fact, I'm sure our victories are his, as well, so I'm on the lookout for even the smallest of victories to share with him.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Day 18 - Thanks for the Memories

On Facebook, for the month of November, I post 30 days of thanks as my status. I knew this November was going to be a real challenge, but I committed myself to really digging deep and reminding myself that, yes, I do have much to be thankful for.

Today, November 18th, 2013, is six months without the greatest boy ever. Six months and one day ago I'd have never believed that, were this to happen, I'd still be alive six months later. If you've ever lost a child, or even someone you love, you will understand when I say, you are certain that the earth will swallow you whole from the pain. I was certain of that before Brandon died and I maintained that certainty after he died. Maybe I just hoped really hard that I wouldn't make it, I'm not sure. I do know that I fully understand not being able to think even one day ahead of where you're at. It will crush you.

Today, I am choosing to be thankful for the memories that I have. It's a very difficult thanks, believe it or not. Having your mind intact is a mixed bag; with the memories come the tears, the anguish, the hole in your life that you're aware of. I have cried every day for the last six months. The tears, blessedly, do not fall with the same frequency or volume, but they are always right there, just under the surface. I still recoil at the memory of the phone call that changed my life and the wailing that followed for weeks after. Those memories are absolute torture, for lack of a better, stronger word for the pain they cause. I wonder, sometimes, how much easier it might be if my memory just stopped working. However, I know that having 19 years of memories around my boy is a huge blessing. No one else had *our* memories, no one else spent as many days on this earth with that boy as I did and thank God that I am aware of what I had all those years. I can look at pictures and, although that usually brings the tears, I can remember the day or that time of our lives and all the feelings that go with it. The memories are there and I can get lost in them for however long I choose. Someday, those memories will bring smiles and happiness, instead of having to mop away the tears.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Avoiding the 18th and the Turkey

I have, as usual, been terribly undisciplined with my writing. It dredges up so many tears that it's just easier to stay away. I still have several posts waiting to be published and tons of voice recordings I have yet to transfer to the typed word. So, I figured that since I felt like it would be ok to type a few words, I'd take advantage of it. The added benefit is that it means I probably will not blog on the 18th, which is OK with me because the 18th continues to be a profoundly sad day every month. The 17th is usually just as hard, if not harder, as my body and mind prepare for the date in the background, without me even being aware.

I had a really bad week, the week before last. I can't remember if I blogged, but I was struggling terribly, every single day, and felt like I was just getting sucked deeper and deeper into the griefsand (quicksand for the griever). I know you aren't supposed to struggle in quicksand, even though it's against your natural instincts, and I couldn't figure out if that was the problem with the griefsand. I was starting to get really scared about the future because of how sad I felt every second and how many tears I cried. I still fall into a state of total disbelief and I'll tell ya, the understanding that it is real settling into your bones can suck the life right out of you and yet that fight or flight instinct kicks in and you realize you're flailing your arms to try and catch your footing. The voices in my head were thoroughly confused about which side of the tape to play. Side A(lright), "You are ok. O....K." and the other side is, "You are a horrible mom who didn't do enough, why didn't you do things differently," and all the conversations that go along with side B(ad side). Thank God and I REALLY mean thank God that I have a side A, but when they're flipping over several times within a five minute period it can be a little unsettling.

To make matters worse, I wasn't sleeping. For about two weeks, I was sleeping for no more than five hours, waking up as early as 5:30 am on some days, just wandering around the house. My sleeping pills weren't working and my normal morning pills that make me drowsy enough to need a nap were acting like placebos. I think I got some things done that needed to be done, at least for the first ten days, but then the energy just went and the emotions got stronger. The last three days I have slept an embarrassing number of hours. Seriously. If I told you how many hours, I'd end up getting phone calls from doctors offering to see me pro bono, I'm sure of it. No, I wasn't manic and this isn't a depressive cycle (well, no more depressed than I ought to be), I have just always had crazy sleep habits and to say they've gotten worse the last few years, understandably the last six months, would be a huge understatement.

I came to the conclusion that I just cannot do Thanksgiving. It was just going to be me and my daughter and I cannot go there. She got invited to Leavenworth, which she loves, and I invited myself to Reno, where I have friends that I love, but I will have plenty of time just to myself, too, as tons of people still overwhelm me a bit. I will be where Thanksgiving won't be an issue, I can just pretend it away this year. November is not a happy month for me, anyway, so I'm just trying to get through in one piece. However that has to happen is a-ok.

The other thing I'm going to do is start writing a book. Not because I think I can write a book, because I know nothing about doing such a thing, but an author friend and I talked about it and the short story is that it's an act of faith in what God will write the ending to be. My testimony has a big, ugly, unfinished ending and so I'll just start at the beginning and trust God to put the bow on it. One thing I'm sure of is that it's going to be THE most extravagant bow ever...mark my words.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

For My Friends

I read a post this morning, something I think Rabbi Kushner had written, that spoke about how (during your darkest hours) you lose some friends because they care so much about you and it hurts them to see you hurt and you lose some others because your loss reminds them of their vulnerability. I totally understand that. Maybe I've even been that person.

One thing I somehow hadn't foreseen happening was that I might end up costing myself friendships because what they have hurts me. I know that's just a nice way of saying I'm jealous and maybe even resentful, and those things are not pretty or nice, but then losing a part of yourself is never pretty or nice. I withdrew from most people, as it was, and the few I let back in have been mostly on my terms. I don't know, maybe subconsciously I felt like it was something I could actually control, in a world that has spun crazy out of control.

That post really made me face what I've been doing: keeping my friends who have kids (especially sons) at arm's length..or further. I don't have many friends who've lost kids, at least not close friends, but of those who have, few have lost their teenage son. Of course, even if they have, they didn't lose their son named Brandon, their only son. No matter what, I can make what is already horrifically isolating even more isolating. While I am so thankful that most of my friends haven't walked this road, it feels so unfair that I am in excruciating, agonizing pain every day, while their lives get to just go happily by. It is so hard. Of course, I don't begrudge my friends their happiness and I am happy for them that they are in the season of life they are in, but time stopped for me five months ago and I just don't know how to participate in lives where the clock hasn't stopped. Brandon was so much like me that it is, literally, as though part of me died with him, so I have no idea when the clock will start ticking, again.

Early on, a stranger wrote to me through facebook how she'd lost her son, Brandon K., at almost the exact age my BK died...19 years and two months. That person I could relate to. I felt a special bond to a complete stranger, while fighting the impulse to cut out every close friend I'd already had. It's an odd thing, this continuous pain. I want the hurting to stop. I need my friends and their words of comfort, sometimes their silent comfort, but it is an immense struggle. So, please don't take it personally, it's not meant that way. I adore my friends, but I just don't know what to do with you all right now, when reaching out to you makes me recoil in pain. Thank you for not expecting more than I have to give. I promise you that I am trying to reconcile these feelings and remain your friend, but it is a slow, slow process. I still pray for you all, I read your posts and look at your pictures, even when they make me cry. I know it is not something you are doing intentionally and I will work harder at being intentional with my friendships, if you can give me some time to figure it all out. Right now I just do not know who I am. I know who I am not, I am not the same person I was before May 18th. I hope that means that, someday, I'll be a better person, a better friend, I just do not know when that will be, as there are no maps for this sort of thing.

Friday, October 25, 2013

It Wasn't Long Enough

I was dreaming about Brandon this morning. It was a weird dream, like most dreams are, so this will probably be a weird post, but I'm gonna write it, anyway, because I don't want to forget it.

In my dream, I'd fallen asleep and then, after a few hours, I'd been awakened by something. As I crossed the room, out of the window, I could see Brandon, his best friend, Steve, Ariana and one of her friends, casually lying on top of the pool (we don't have a pool), just laughing and enjoying themselves. I got dressed and went downstairs and told Brandon that he couldn't just have people over without letting me know they were there. The house was a complete mess and I told the kids they needed to come in and get things cleaned up. As they came in, I looked out the back door and saw that the pool had been filled with tons of crayons, under the water, and I remember wondering what that was all about. I was also worried about Ariana because I was worried about what everyone else had been influencing her to do. It was at that point that she told me she couldn't go to school because her hair was too short. She'd let her friend cut it really short and the reasoning was that it was a trendy style on Sex and the City. I've never watched that show (not even sure that's the right title)so I have no idea where that came from, but I was really ticked off that all of her hair was chopped off. I was pretty sure that the girl in the dream was there because Brandon was there, not for my girl, and that's what made me mad, that she'd let her influence her haircut. Then, I just decided, who cares, it's only hair, it'll grow back and, well, at least she's here, who cares about hair. While Brandon was doing the dishes, I looked at his hair and realized he'd cut his, as well, and left this God-awful tail. We have very curly hair and um, curly hair doesn't do tails, so he basically had this ball of hair at the nape of his neck and I said to him, "This IS going to be cut off immediately." It doesn't sound funny, but it was a funny mom moment.

I was trying to keep things as normal as possible, be the mom, even though in the subconscious part of my dream state, I knew Brandon wasn't actually supposed to be there and wouldn't be staying and I remember worrying about how his hair would look, when he went back. Silly, I know. I wanted to ask him where he'd been, even though I knew where he'd been, but I knew he couldn't come back to visit, so I wondered if maybe he'd actually been alive all this time, but I was too afraid to actually voice all those things. I remember thinking, "How will I explain to everyone that Brandon is here?"

At some point, Brandon went upstairs to do some things and I sat down to relax. He then came downstairs and his eyes were very droopy, like he was very, very tired. I realized right then that it meant he had to go. He said he was tired and was gonna go up to bed and he held my hand and said goodnight, I love you, and I remember thinking that I needed to tell him to change his shirt because it wasn't appropriate for where he was going, but there was no time. He turned his back to go up to bed and I jumped up and said hold on, I'll come up with you and I followed him up the stairs and he was just gone. I woke up to my own voice, saying, "It wasn't long enough, it just wasn't long enough."

Having a dream where it seemed like normal, everyday stuff, where I just talked to Brandon, and I didn't wake up crying was a really big thing. It almost felt like I was actually spending time with him, not completely focused on the fact that he had died. I was aware, I am always aware, but this was different. I wanted to go back to sleep to see him, but I knew he was gone, again, and it wouldn't happen. And, it sunk in was not long enough. I want him back, I need more time. Then, I started crying and could not stop and that's ok. It hurts that death has separated us for a while. Death is the sharpest instrument there is and it has pierced me in the most painful spots I have, over and over, so some uncontrollable crying is to be expected, I guess. I'm not sure I'll ever get used to the depth of this pain. You don't cry normal tears. They rise up from a place in you that you don't ever want to know about and once you know about it, there's no going back, you're left forever breathless from the impact.

It's really hard to wake up and realize you that you will not be touching your child today. How desperately I want to feel his skin on mine. But I had a dream that didn't wake me up sobbing, so I'll take it as a sign that I can handle that now, even if I end up crying for the next hour after the dream. It's ok, right? I think that's ok. I know our separation isn't permanent, but I hate it nonetheless. Things are not right in the world and I don't think they'll ever be right, but I think it will get more least it seems to be the natural progression of things. Still, I cannot wait for the day when death will be no more. I don't have the present with my Brando, but one day, sooner than I can imagine, I will have an eternity to talk to him. A whole eternity! Can you imagine such a thing?! Until then, I pray that God continues to bring him to me in my dreams. I need to see him, even if it's not long enough.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Thanks For The Little While


I have five posts waiting to get posted and here I am starting another one. Forever the procrastinator, I guess, something that death hasn't helped. Oh well.

Tonight I went to a support group, sponsored by The Compassionate Friends, geared towards getting the bereaved parent through the holidays. My normal grief night (as my daughter calls it) is put on by a different organization, Grief Share, and it's a smaller group, held at my church, with people I know. In other words, it feels much safer, and it's also closer to home.

As I was driving there, I was really struck by what I was doing and how I couldn't have ever imagined that I'd have to be doing it, just a few months ago. Last year at this time, I was thinking about the holidays in relation to when (if) my husband would be able to come home, what I needed to buy to prepare and when I'd start decorating. Last year I was like some of the people out there now...I had no idea I'd need these people. Now, I'm going to strange churches, walking up the steps with other people who are just like me: they've all had a child (or children, which I cannot fathom) die. We are out there. Everywhere. You probably interact with many of us each day and may never know. I pray that you never have to know. As the guest speaker said, "I'm sorry I have to know you, but I'm really glad you came." I still can't get over the vast amount of literature out there on grief, especially in regard to losing a child, or that there are all these "secret" groups in cities all over the world. God, I wish I'd been chosen for membership in a different club. I think almost any other club would've been ok. Things are just so different and never, ever can I go back.

How I hate the truths of death: you will never get over it, you can never go back, you will now have a new normal and my least favorite at this moment...the second year is the hardest. Oh my God, NO! I'm not even sure I'll make it through the first one yet and you're telling me it's going to get worse? I know why and it's why I was prepared for this first year to get really difficult, not easier...because the gift of shock wears off. As the speaker said, we defrost. I know we have to defrost to grow, to be able to move through it and not get stuck on frozen, but the thought of more pain is...crushing, I guess. I really try not to borrow trouble, which is why I was a little leery about going to a group that was going to "prepare" me for something so hard. I hate surprises and yet, I'd rather stay in a place where I can pretend that it's not going to be different, even though I know it's going to hurt, instead of dreading the pain ahead of time. When I get shots or give blood, I always tell them not to warn me, don't try to help me prepare myself because I'll prepare all right.. by moving the hell out of the range of target practice. If only I had that option now.

And, so, I dragged myself to a new group, a new room full of bereaved parents, because someone in this household has to be prepared, someone in this household is supposed to be doing this support group thing, right? I looked around the room and, as I thought might be the case, saw that I was the youngest mom there. No matter how similar our stories might be, no other mom lost my forever teenage boy. I wondered if the other people were taking similar notes, wondering what my story was, wondering how long it had been since death had forever changed me. I looked at the few couples there and wondered how their marriages were faring...are they able to comfort each other or are they too broken to grieve together, is the pain ripping their marriage apart? A woman sitting near me looked how I felt...eyes swollen, her shoulders heaving up and down with her sobs, hands full of Kleenex, her broken heart on the ground, right at her feet, right near my own heart. Death snatched her son 13 days before mine, just after he'd turned 21, and she said she just misses her son. I know. I really, really know.

After the guest speaker was done, we broke up into smaller groups and then, after we were done there, we came back into the main hall to close. At the end, we formed a big circle to hold hands (and I hoped no animal sacrificing or seances would be held-hey, I was new) and say the name of our child/ren, and one of the main facilitators spoke, though I couldn't tell you one word of what he said. There were books to check out, some great poems that I'll share later and lots of pictures of kids that have died, and there I was thinking OMG this is like an AA meeting. We have our little sticky name tags, we're reminded that everything said is confidential, you can spot the newbies to the meeting right away because the pain, the struggle, is hanging off of them like cheap clothes. There are people who are 35 years in and people like me who are a few months in and the long-timers welcome you and handle you very carefully, but you see in their eyes the knowledge of what is to come for you and you look away and try really hard to keep it together, to not turn and just run to your car and never come back. I stayed. The entire time. I even showed up before anyone else because I had the time wrong and that alone almost had me back at the door, but with God's grace I made it.

The main thing I took away was the title of this post. The speaker, a local psychologist and published author, lost her little boy at a young age. That first Thanksgiving her daughter, who had been the eldest child until the son's death, was told she had to give a blessing, something that was the responsibility of the youngest child, a status that was now hers. Her daughter was young and initially balked at having to give thanks when she didn't feel thankful for anything. She was told to go into her room and think of something and, before the dessert was eaten, she decided she was ready and her simple, yet profound, prayer was, "Thanks for the little while."

That's right...while we're counting what we've lost and how different things are, when the tears won't stop coming and I am angry that I wasn't allowed more children (even though no other child could come close to the boy) and wishing we had another 60 years with Brandon, we have to say, Thank you God, thank you sweet boy, for the little while. For however much more of the little while that will be in my life, I promise to whisper that message as often as possible and use it to keep your memory alive in this world and contribute something wonderful to this a thanks for the little while. Love and miss you so very much, my precious little while.

Monday, September 30, 2013

And So It Was With Grey's

Years ago, I stopped watching Grey's Anatomy because I just felt too convicted watching something that was so damn smutty and immoral. Says the girl with the sailor's mouth and more sins than there are stones to throw. Living, breathing dichotomy here. There's a spin-off from that show, Private Practice, that I also wouldn't watch, for the same reason. Somehow, during the final season, I caught an episode that reeled me in. I figured it was a good thing that it ended, so I could have one less guilty pleasure in my life. Then, Brando died in May and I started recording reruns because it was such a stray from my usual fare, that it totally kept my mind off my reality.

In July, I was in Vegas with family, while my girl was in New Orleans with her Auntie and Grandpa. While I was there, I'd watch Private Practice on my iPad, while I was falling asleep each night. It didn't take long before I realized that I was falling asleep crying every night because people kept getting sick and dying. Every episode. I decided to take a little break from the heartache. Enter the Fall TV season. I see a preview for the Grey's Anatomy season premiere and decide to record it, thinking their craziness would distract me from my own.

And, this is how I ended up in bed last Friday night, saying to the television, in between sobs, why is everyone effin dying, only with much more colorful language. That is where my daughter found me when she got home, in bed crying uncontrollably because people were dying...on a tv show. She's going for the remote to quickly put it on anything that doesn't involve people dying and all I can do is keep my head under the covers and try not to cry out loud. Because in their expertly acted reality, my reality will not go the **** away. In the death of one of their own, I cannot escape the death of my own. They don't actually feel anything and all I can feel is pain so real, so piercing, I think that if I just don't look it in the eye, it won't take my life, too. It's just that scary. Not scary for me, but scary because there are other people I love, there are people who love and need me. Today, and maybe for the rest of my life, I think that, just maybe, allowing yourself to think about the worst possible thing, somehow opens the door. So, how do I stop thinking so that the bad things won't see the door cracked open? I don't know. I try...I try hard...and there it is, out of the a song, a stray thought, a tv show where I didn't expect it.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


Today was a hard day. There's so much going on and I'm having a hard time finding the will to not feel defeated. I dragged myself to church because I had to serve today and I knew we'd be at least one body short already, so I decided to go, in spite of myself. It's a hard season in my life to be at a church that is going through a season of lots of newborns and tiny children. I love babies, but right now all I see in them is Brandon as a newborn and all of my hopes and dreams for him just gone-forever. When Brandon was a newborn, he made these cute little sounds that we likened to starting his engine. One baby in church today was making similar noises and it was just ripping my heart out, one sound at a time.

I filled out the prayer request form and decided to try and stay to listen to at least a portion of the message, even though it wasn't my pastor doing the sermon. The book of Jeremiah is where we landed. Almost immediately, I was struck at how closely the message resembled my prayer request. Jeremiah had become disillusioned, which is EXACTLY what I have described. No circumstances could turn my faith to unbelief in the Father, but exactly nothing is how I'd envisioned it being in my life... it's much worse. Jeremiah also simultaneously laments misery and lack of hope, while clinging to the hope that the Father gives us, just as I do.

I am no prophet with a book in the Bible, but I am human as was Jeremiah, with human hurts. God heard Jeremiah and I know He has heard me. He, in fact, addressed my very heart, not fifteen minutes after I laid it out. It doesn't make it all better..I ache with the pains of a woman in labor for years, missing my son, but I am not alone. I feel more lonely than you could imagine, because this particular pain is mine and mine alone, but I am never, ever alone.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Firsts and Lasts

That's a picture of my first tattoo... it might be my last.  It hurt. BAD.  What I'd give to be able to go back in time and have gotten that for the boy while he was alive.  He'd have been so honored, so proud to see his wimpy mom with a tattoo bearing his name.  Maybe then he'd have understood just how special he was, how much he was needed on this earth.   The lettering below his name reads, in Farsi, half of my heart.  There was a time in my life that I swore I'd never have a tattoo, but I can't think of anything more beautiful to have permanently imprinted on my body!

Today I made a nice dinner for my daughter, something that is still really hard for me to do for just the two of us.  Sitting at the dinner table continues to be a real challenge for me because I can't get past Brandon's empty chair.  When we have guests, it helps that his chair isn't empty,  but then I struggle with someone, even if it's me, sitting where my son should be.  How I wish I'd known, the last time he sat there, that it'd be his last so I could've recorded every second, committed every second to memory or something that really awesome moms do, the moms who have every moment of their children's lives preserved somewhere.  It wouldn't make his empty chair hurt less, but at least I'd have it permanently recorded, so I could never forget.
This was the girl's first day of school... her last first day of high school, so my last first day, as well.  I'm not a big fan of lasts, especially when I'm not prepared.  Maybe it's a control thing, who knows, but I'm not a big fan of things ending, even when it's on my terms.  Change just hasn't been much of a friend to me, I guess.  Before I know it, we'll be in her last day of college, of being single, living with mom, last birthday in the teens, etc.

 We just celebrated her last birthday in high school. The first birthday celebration without my boy there.  I wanted to look forward to her day and just relish every single second, but the closer we got, the more I thought I wouldn't be able to cope with the day at all.  My husband had to remind me that it was her day, all about her, but all I could think about was how I didn't get to have my son there and how he'd never celebrate a birthday past his teen years.  Celebrating anything seemed like pure torture. We got through it,  though, and we got through it with some smiles and laughter, amazingly.

I never imagined there'd be a last day of being Brando's mom.  Well, that's not entirely true, I feared it would happen, but I didn't want to believe it would happen, could happen. I needed our last day together on this earth to be as I was going home, never him going ahead of me.  May 16th was, unknowingly, my last normal day on this earth, the last day I was the Lisa I used to know.  Now, I'm stuck in a world of firsts that are a living nightmare, every one of them.  New normal continues to suck, with its lack of reference points, no navigation AND no way out, even if I tried to turn around, other than just trudging through it, hoping I don't get my daughter lost, while I'm feeling around in the dark.

Monday, August 26, 2013

100 Days

August 15th...Obviously, a date before the 100 day mark.  I could've just left it at 'here's my 100 day blog post, all this came to me right on this day', but I want to be authentic here, even about something as silly as a date.  I can pretend everywhere else, but here I want every word to be real.  So, all of this post is just me coming to the computer here and there, throwing my thoughts on here, up to August 26th.

It has already been 100 days since time stopped for me, when Brando left this earth.  Those hundred days have done little for my disbelief that this is the life I have to live.  I will pull into my driveway and be overcome with emotion at the thought of Brandon never being in this house, again.  I still cannot believe it's possible.

A hundred days that I've lived with half of my heart gone.  Something I never imagined would be possible.  I look back at some of my blog posts and wonder, especially on the ones where I seem sane and normal, if there's not something really wrong with me.  Am I still in deep shock, am I going to look back at this time and wonder who that person was?  I wonder this because I do not understand, even knowing God and understanding grace, how I haven't just collapsed in a heap...and stayed there...sobbing my eyes out, every single second of the last 8, 640, 000 seconds (yes, that many).  You just keep living, like it or not, but it doesn't seem rational to allow life to make you keep living when your child is gone.  I should be fighting it every step of the way.  That's what my heart says.  My mind understands that it cannot be that way.  I imagine someday, mind and heart will be on the same page, although it's a day that will surprise me, since it's yet to happen in my life.  Ever.

The other night, the girl and I were sitting at a restaurant talking about eye color, when Brandon's was mentioned.  He had the most unique eye color and the most beautiful, long, curly eyelashes.  Sitting there, I realized that I'd never get to see those eyes, up close and personal, until I meet him in Heaven, and instantly tears welled up in my eyes.  What I would give to see those eyes, even with anger in them or sadness or his pupils dilated for some Godforsaken reason or any sort of way, just to be able to look into them, to touch him, to hug him, to talk to him one more time.  God, I miss him so, so much.  I still physically ache for him.

One hundred days of tears, with no end on the horizon.  My friend who lost her husband said she cried every day for eight months, though, so I guess it doesn't seem crazy to be at the 100 day mark.  Most of the time, I try hard to keep it together because I'm afraid if I start crying, I won't stop and it's just not practical to walk around this earth crying constantly.  I'm actually able to wear makeup now, something I couldn't do for the longest time because I knew I'd have it cried all over my face and clothes within an hour.  I still have to be mom and attempt to give my girl some semblance of normalcy, although I honestly have no idea what normal means.  I doubt I'll ever understand normal the way most people mean normal.  It's not even possible to have what I thought was normal and I still don't want a new normal, I want my old one back, with my boy.  I keep saying, "I hate new normal," and I do.  I can't get it to go away.

A hundred days of going back and forth with the inner voices that battle constantly.  "You didn't do enough.  You're a horrible mother.  God gave you this beautiful gift that you cared for poorly.  If only you'd done something else, something different, he'd still be here.  You should've made him go to church more often."  The gracious voice rarely wins the argument, but it tries.  "You loved him with all you have, he knew that.  You tried the best you could, the best you knew how.  Brandon had free will.  He's in heaven, it's good that you raised him in the church."  This dialogue, or some form of it, goes through my head on a daily basis, if not more frequently.  I can't understand how to reconcile the fact that Brandon dying was preventable, yet it wasn't, or how I cannot be responsible for him being gone, when I was the one responsible for him. 

Praying is still a similar conflict.  I prayed for Brandon constantly and I had others pray for him, lots and lots of others.  Still, he is gone.  So, do my prayers matter or is everything already decided and I'm merely talking to talk?  In the same breath, I ask God why this has to be my lot in life and apologize for not being a better mom, for allowing Brandon to die.  Sometimes, I'm afraid to pray, afraid that when I ask for something, I'll be given the opposite or God will take the other half of my heart.  Still, I practice believing God for his goodness and reminding myself that it rains on the just and unjust and that, while I may feel picked on and abandoned, it's a huge blessing that Brandon sits with the Father and that I will get to see him, again, regardless of what has happened on this earth.  I won't lie, it's hard.  Trusting in His sovereignty and knowing that it'll all be ok because God has already been there is so very hard, when you know that He was with your son in his final moments and didn't let him stay.

**The paragraph directly above this was one of those moments, written before the third paragraph from the top, when I had a moment of talking to myself about trusting the truth I know.  That third paragraph, where I question the sanity of such a thought, was written five days later.  It's bad when the dialogue in your head starts arguing with itself in a public forum.   Good grief....and what kind of a thing is that to say.  No, just grief, bad grief...all by itself.  Raw, exposed, ripping the cushions out of the foam in my head, crushing grief.  I want Brandon back.  God, please?  I'll do anything.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Another 18th

I was having a bit of a struggle this morning and then I realized that it's the 18th.  My  boy has been gone three months.  The three saddest, numbest, most painful months of my life.  I hadn't planned on doing a blog post today, but I had one already typed up from yesterday, so I guess I'll go ahead and post.  I keep wondering when I'll run out of tears and questions and just accept that things are how they are and move on to the next stage of my life. 

I think it's safe to say that for most of the last three months, I've been lost.  I'm getting more lost by the day, it seems.  I'm getting better at putting on a facade, something I have long despised in other people, but now totally understand.  Every time I get two minutes with my thoughts alone, I cannot stand what goes through my head, so I try not to let that happen.  If I knew what kind of help to ask for, I'd ask for it, truly, but I'm at a loss.  It's hard to even describe what I feel, other than just done....or, maybe like I'm drowning, but not every life preserver can save me and I don't know the kind I need someone to throw in to me. 

Defeat can have me because I just do not give a shit right now.  This is such an isolating experience and darn it I've gone it alone for so much of my life, I'm just so over figuring it all out alone.  Evidently, that is not the case because here I sit.  Alone.  I could pick up the phone and have people by my side.  I could drive down the road and have people all around me.  Guess what I'd be....yep, all alone. 

I subscribed to a daily email (for a year, I think) from Grief Share.  One of the first things they tell you about grief is that it is the cost of loving someone.  At first, that made sense, but the more I think about it, it doesn't seem fair or right.  Does everyone we love cause us grief?  Well, I guess so.  I know that's not the grief they're referring to per se, but gees it's depressing.  I think I'm just feeling really negative, maybe I shouldn't be putting this into words because I'm sure I'm not helping a soul, but maybe someone will have their own negativity validated someday because of mine.  At the very least, everyone who reads this will be assured of their own sanity, so that's something, I suppose. 

The end of my first day's email had a scripture that crops up often in church, in 'religious' emails, in testimonies, etc, it's:  “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).  My problem is that I have hoped, I have hoped like no one has hoped, seriously.  I don't believe in false hope, I think hope is often the only thing we feel like we can live for, so I have clung to it with my last breath.  I have waited so long for renewed strength and something other than a weary feeling and yet I have walked through a desert so dry it makes the Sahara look like the Pacific Ocean.  I am not soaring and man am I faint.  Off the top of my head, I can't think of the entire passage, to put it in its proper context, and I'm too lazy to reach over the six inches to look in my Bible, but maybe that's in the eternal sense.  I know it is claimed often in the here and now, so people walk's even on my fridge to give me hope...but I am slowly losing hope that there is even a remote possibility of this verse being for me because I am so weary.  I want to turn around.  I've held on, thinking the desert will turn green if I just wait a little longer or trust a little more and, instead, I'm nothing but parched. And lost.....sad....and exhausted from crying an ocean of tears. 

I desperately want my boy boy who also hated being alone....I miss our long talks.  As your kids grow, you look back and think, where did all the time go?  To have that and to have his adulthood snatched away, knowing you'll never get to reminisce with him about the early days or help him learn something or just share's beyond surreal.  I am just broken.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Uninvited Houseguest

August 12, 2013

That's how Grief Share refers to grief and, like an uninvited guest, it just lingers and lingers.  It's terribly rude, too.  I can be totally minding my own business and what do ya know, grief has interrupted me and stolen the moment, pushing itself into every tiny crevice of my existence.  It is why I spend most nights with my eyes swollen like the picture.  To be honest, it's seriously starting to piss me off, the way it won't leave and the way it demands my attention.  Grief is not quiet, constantly reminding you of what you've lost, in as loud of a voice as possible.  And, it brings friends.  Friends that remind you that some of the nastiest, most horrible people that have ever existed in this world, have not experienced this devastating loss.  What does that say about me?  What does it say about God, that He knew this was going to happen before I ever got pregnant with Brandon, He knew where our lives would already be, He knew the devastation it would leave and yet He allowed it?  I suppose it says more about the grace God gives (part of why I keep rehashing this same question, over and over-because grace allows it), than the punishment and abandonment I feel I've gotten, but most days that's a really hard fought battle, to keep the grief quiet enough to have just a little perspective. 

Grief is stubborn, even as I try to ignore it or sleep it away.  I see something with Brandon's DOB and date of death, almost daily.  It's a cruel reminder that I have a boy who never got to live this life past his teens.  And, grief is a jealous wench, she wants my focus solely on her.  It has made me pull away from so many things.  If I can't do something mindless that takes my mind off the constant pain, then I'd rather be asleep, so I don't return phone calls, I don't reach out to anyone at all.  I am being forced to exist in a place I don't want to exist.  I do not want to be here and no one invited this wretched pain (that makes me want to claw off my face to keep the tears away) into my life.  Just GO.AWAY. 

Grief is threatening to make the barely-beating, half of a heart I have left the only thing I understand, the only thing I recognize. Painfully, I also recognize that I cannot just kick grief out.  It was allowed here, for whatever reason, not by my own choosing, to be sure, and will serve a purpose if I will allow it.  The tears that come every single day are necessary.  Maybe grief does this to ensure that I can still feel, that I do not turn numb and settle into a false existence.  I don't know. 

I wish I had known before that almost nothing is worth crying over.  Who cares about anything, what is there to care about, when you've lost your child?  The deepest, most sacred part of you has been ripped out...literally, torn from your screaming hands.  What is worse....what was so bad, what hurt so much before that?  It seems like an insult to have cried over something else.  An insult to my son, to God, to somebody.  And, now, all I do is exist.  Day by day another number is added to the days I've been without Brandon, the number of days I feel like I'm being punished, the number of days that the clock keeps ticking for everyone else, but has stopped for me. 

Grief sits patiently while I scream out questions that have no answers.  She is there when I shake my head in disbelief that our little dog won't ever see Brandon.  He knew where Brandon's room was and, anytime I called him, Samuel ran right over to Brandon's stairs and looked up at his room, waiting for Brandon to come out.  Some days, it takes all I have to not call out Brandon's name, so I can watch Samuel look towards his room, thinking that just maybe, Brandon will come down.  Grief is there with me.  Not wanting to become my identity, but wanting me to come to understand my true identity, the permanent one, not the one on paper that says, Hello, my name is Lisamyteenagesonjustpassedaway....all together like that.  Oh, how I pray that grief will move out, someday, and give the room to redemption.  Today, I can't see it, but it just has to happen.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Bad Phone Calls

I think we can all agree that there are certain phone calls we don't like, e.g., telemarketers, police, the IRS, bill collectors.  It goes without saying that no one ever wants the phone call from the medical examiner that my husband and I both received nor do you want to look at the phone and see that the funeral home is calling.....AGAIN....two and a half months after your son passed away. 

UGH, I've come to despise the phone, which really sorta makes me angry because I used to love to talk on the phone.  My friend, who also lost a son, totally gets it....ringing phones can bring bad news, therefore, a ringing phone is a bad, bad thing.  Seeing the missed call alert doesn't make me feel any better, though, so turning the volume off on the phone hasn't solved my problem with the phone.  It is so hard for me to talk on the phone, I avoid it as often as I can.  To return one phone call takes just about all the energy I have for one day.  Texting is easier, but it drives me nuts that I have to keep a lot of conversations in my phone so I don't accidentally see that there's a thread at the bottom of the screen that was once a conversation between me and my son, a conversation that is over, but will always end with my urging, "You need to call me," a desperate mother's plea for a response from her son who had already gone home...oblivious to what was leading up the worst, most horrific phone call of my entire life.

So, I put off most phone calls and texts, if I can, for as long as I can.  As for the funeral home, none of their phone calls have been out of place, they've been necessary, and the people I've dealt with have been nothing less than wonderful.....but, don't want the phone call that the memory book (what I call the reverse baby book) is in and it made the nice lady cry and oh, she'll be bringing the certified copy of the official death certificate with her, along with the extra bookmarks you asked for, the ones the that have your teenage son's picture and obituary on them.  The stupid phone keeps reminding me that I am not actually asleep, but awake, and the reality that every parent fears, is now my reality.  How can that be?  Whose life is this really, because surely I accidentally fell into a life that belongs to someone else?  I think every year a teenager you know or your kids know loses his life too soon....never could I have imagined that this year it'd be my phone call.

If you call me and I don't answer or it takes me a bit to return your texts, please don't take it personally....I'm still trying to figure out which life I really belong in and avoiding all the others.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Scratch the Denial

August 5, 2013

I've found avoidance.  I'm not sure what the big difference is between the two, except I understand avoidance to mean avoiding the pain and denial to mean acting as if nothing has happened to cause the pain.  I've probably confused the two on more than one occasion, but I've come to the conclusion that right now avoidance is more practical than denial, though neither will work in the long run and will probably cause more pain down the road. 

I had this big idea that for the next eight days or so, while my daughter is out of town, I could totally hole up and avoid reality.  I could sleep the time away and if that failed, watch one of the gazillion things that has accumulated on my DVR.  Of course, I have to come out of my room to let the dog out and feed him, but he's perfectly content to hide away with me, so the plan sounded swell.  I'm perfectly happy with pretending.  I was an only child who had an imaginary friend, probably long past the "normal" time.  Pretending, denial and avoidance get along swimmingly with each other, which is great, given my current state of mind. 

Life, however, refuses to cooperate with me or any of my three closest friends.  Such a nosy, intrusive thing, this life of mine.  While I want to turn the phone off, turn off all the lights, make myself scarce and avoid one thought or image that makes me sad, life insists on reminding me, forcing me away from what I think is a safe place. 

My dreams are still the primary way this is happening.  I have had so many dreams about Brandon, it's crazy-sometimes, two in one night.  I don't know of anyone else who has lost a child that has had one vivid dream after another about her child that is gone.  And, in every single one of them, I've known he was either not alive or not going to be alive.  My mind still refuses to play along with my heart, which just wants to not ache so desperately.  I woke up today from what felt like a very long, involved dream.  In reality, I'm sure it was only a few minutes.  I should've written down every detail or at least recorded it, but it was so vivid, I was sure I wouldn't forget.  Incidentally, I've never learned things the easy way, in case you haven't yet picked up on that little detail.  What I do remember is that I was trying to help Brandon.  I kept saying to him and to whomever else was in the room, "When you are dead...." or "when Brandon dies," and it was not a well received comment.  I think it was my daughter who was telling me not to say that, repeating something I often say, to not speak that over his life.  I couldn't get anyone, including Brandon, to understand that he was absolutely going to die, it wasn't just me being morose or dramatic, it was a fact.  I was trying so hard to do ANYTHING to stop the path his life was on.  I didn't wake up upset at all, something I understood when I woke up, but have since forgotten.  Maybe the fact that I can dream about the boy without being awakened to the sound of my own crying is a good sign.  God knows I cannot think about him during my waking hours without crying...unless I'm around other people, in which case I just keep talking like a maniac, so the dam won't burst open.

Last night I was thinking how unbelievable it is that I won't ever get to touch Brandon, again, I won't ever get to see those whiskers on his face or those crazy long and curly eyelashes.  It's like everything good has just ended.  I mean, there is still good here, but anything that might bring me joy is a bland taste of joy.  It's so hard to explain, but it feels like there won't ever be a full-flavored life, again.  Sure, I have to go on and I'll live my life, but losing half of your heart is probably like losing a couple of can live, but never as fully, never the same, never without noticing that something is missing. 

And, those thoughts are why avoidance is just so much easier.  It's a good thing that booze is never going to be a vice of mine (one of the few) because it would just be too easy right now to fall into a bottle.  I get why people get lost in booze or any addictive substance, I suppose, because numbing the pain, pushing the painful memories away, even for a little bit, is a little bit longer that you don't have to face a reality that feels like it will kill you.  I keep hoping that avoiding the ache will be a salve that will work just until it starts to heal underneath.  I think that if it can start to heal a little, just because of the mere passage of time, I'll be able to come back to it later and deal with it, without feeling like I want to die.  I would probably tell someone in my shoes that all this is doing is prolonging the pain and my head knows that, but the pull to avoid the pain, just for now, is too strong.  Even the remotest possibility of an ache-free day is far too tempting to walk away from, so I'm gonna hang around with avoidance a bit longer.

Today (8/6), I opened the FB app on my phone to this, from Rick Warren:  Trying to forget doesn't work.  But you CAN let God give new meaning to bad things that have happened to you.  Romans 8:28.  LOL, I can't even get away with a little avoidance without getting called out.  I'm probably not ready to stop trying, but thanks, God, for the reminder.

Monday, July 29, 2013


July 26, 2013

I'm beginning to feel like my blog titles are an advertisement for the DSM 5....the 'bible' for diagnosing mental illness.  A curious thing, since most of the titles are pretty accurate descriptions of the content contained therein.  Then again, at this point in my life, maybe it'd be more concerning if my blog were a self-help book on happy joy joy. 

 Lately, when people see me and tell me they're sorry to hear about Brandon dying, I feel almost odd saying thank you, like I'm not even in that moment  because they couldn't possibly be talking to me, right?  Just when I thought it'd started dying down, it's like everywhere I turn, someone is asking me how I'm (really) doing.  I see tears in at least 50 percent of those eyes.  It's empathy, I know, as I walk out every parent's worst nightmare, but I swear it makes me instantly disconnect.  This just cannot be my life.

In the beginning, I knew they were talking to me and hugging me for a reason... what other woman was standing in the room crying?  What other woman was staring into space in total disbelief, mentally daring God to take her, too?  There was no one else.  I was in the midst of life's worst and greatest storm and people were trying to help steady the boat.  Now, I hold my head up and try to act like I've always acted, like nothing is different, so others follow my lead.  Storm raging around me?  Where?  Nuh-uh, if I don't admit it's there, it must not be there.  I stay busy or hiding, absolutely nothing else in between.

When I think of Brandon, as I'm wandering around the house alone, I find myself saying aloud, " No,"  and shaking my head, like it will clear the reality of death out of my mind and life.  When I start crying, which is a strange experience in and of itself, lately, where I start sobbing for five minutes and then it's as if a switch is flipped and here I am, again, and everything is ok, the first thing out of my mouth is, " Damnit!"  I don't want this stupid reality,  it's horrible and it deserves something more than a damnit that I'd give a stubbed toe.  But, I don't want to pay it too much attention.  It could be real then.  When I'd discovered that I'd fallen asleep one night without checking on his room and it was ok, I decided that maybe if I just stay away from the reality, it won't be so hard to take.  We have not touched his room.  In fact, his room is just as he left it, so maybe he'll come back to it.  If I stay away just enough, if I keep saying my kids (plural) and speaking of him in present tense, maybe it won't hurt quite so much? 

My brain will not cooperate.  I keep calling the dog by Brandon's name, something that might've been funny once, like calling one kid by the other kid's name, but now seems cruel.  My every conversation is peppered with Brandon.  I'm not sure if my conversations were so filled with talk of my kids, before Brandon died, but now it's all that I have to say, it's taken on a life of its own, while I try so hard to push it back down.  Last night, I woke up crying.  I don't remember the dream,  but I knew it was about Brandon when I woke up.  The tv keeps playing songs/ artists that he both loved and hated... essentially,  EVERY single thing, dead or alive and every word in existence, is a haunting memory of some sorts and I want out of the nightmare.  I don't even know how to get and comfortably stay in's too real.  I just hope I'm not as crazy as I feel....although...sanity may be terribly over-rated right now.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Abandonment Issues

July 20, 2013

People with abandonment issues usually end up with the very people that will leave them.  Subconsciously, they are drawn to the same type of relationships, time and again, in a desperate attempt to change the cycle which, inevitably, perpetuates that cycle.  I think that's probably true for most dysfunctional relationships, actually, but that's a whole other blog for someone else to write.

The relationship between a parent and a child is unique.  Children love their parents, even with all their faults and missteps, like no one else.  It is their parents whom they first love.  When that relationship is severed, it wounds so deeply and, sometimes, can be hidden so well that all seems fine.  But it is not.  You can be sure the hurt is there and it runs deep.  Some of those kids grow up and have kids because they think that, FINALLY, someone will love them unconditionally and never leave them.  They'll love their kids, their kids will love them, it will all be fixed.  I know of teens who have felt those precise feelings because they felt so rejected in all other areas of their lives.  It's probably a lot more common than we realize. 

While I was not one of those teens, I'd never really thought much about this issue until yesterday.  I was sitting in my living room, surrounded by pictures of Brandon and I said to God, "You took one of only two people on this earth that love me unconditionally, no matter how bad I've screwed up, no matter how badly I've hurt them or how much of a hot mess I've been.  Why would you do that?  To someone who has been abandoned more than once in her life already...why?" 

And, this is not about a pity party.  I have tons of friends.  I have family.  God graciously gave me a kinda mama who has, without a doubt, been THE rock of my life.  She has never judged one thing I've done, she loves me no matter the cost, as if I were one of her own, even though I wasn't in her life until I was almost 18 years old.  I mean no disrespect to my own birth family...things happen...we make choices that we wish we could take back...I haven't walked in my own parents' shoes and I know their choices were hard.  Life is hard.  Knowing that, doesn't just erase the pain.  As for my husband, the relationship between a husband and wife is one where there is a lot of stepping on toes, hurt feelings, distance and then, well, that love is just get the idea.  It is the not same love as a child has for you. 

From the day I met Brandon, on March 19, 1994, he has been mine, he has been for me.  He loved me, even though I am critical and overbearing and temperamental and selfish.  He knew I adored him and loved him with every ounce of my being.  Brandon and I were simpatico and to lose that relationship still has my head spinning.  One half of the people who had that almost indescribable love, forgiveness and acceptance of who I am is just gone.  In a flash.  No preparation, no goodbye, he's just gone from my life.  If I had ten other kids, if I live to be 100 and have 45 grandkids, I will never have Brandon or what he was in my life.  There is such a hole.

Until we meet again.  I wish I knew the hour.  I am ready now.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Two Long Months

This is mostly for my sweet teen followers, but it's applicable to everyone.

Brandon made a BIG difference in many, many lives in his short time on this earth. None of you forget that. Carry his legacy on for generations and don't let his death and his beautiful life be in vain. Live like today is your last, which means loving every person you can with all you have. If they don't have you tomorrow, they will have the memories of your love to sustain them.

Burying a child is the most horrific pain that can ever be experienced on this earth.  It is primal, a guttural wailing in the soul that begs for relief that can't be found.   You cannot hide from it, dull it or pretend it doesn't exist.  It will not be ignored.  It will ache and ache and ache some more and when the gift of shock wears off, it will hurt like hell all over again.  I think people would be ashamed of what I'd trade, without batting an eyelash, to have him back.  For one day.  One hour.

Before you take that risky step, before you take a ride from a drunk driver, before you think that doing something one time is no biggie, stop and picture your parents in a fetal position begging and pleading to God to give you back and, when the answer is no, they cannot have you back, picture them begging God to take them, too.  I've had to utter the words, "My son passed away," more times than I can count and each time my heart breaks all over, again. 

This season of your life is a hard one.  Gosh, you couldn't pay me enough money to be a teenager, again, but I promise you, it's a short one.  Things will get better.  Someday, you'll have kids at your feet calling you mommy or daddy.  Please, please do not make your parents sit at a funeral home sobbing over pictures of flowers and caskets.  Call me.  I will give you a ride.  I will give you a shoulder, I will just sit and stare at the wall with you, if that's what you need.  Remember my boy and remember that what Brandon wanted for all of you was to be ok, to be healthy and free.  And, if you name all of your kids Brandon, well, that would be awesome, too :))

One of the most ridiculous platitudes-if it can even be called that-has been one of the most reassuring....everybody dies, sometime.  It's not a pretty statement, but it is reality.  Sadly, we lost a beautiful soul too early, but we can all honor his life by helping just one person.  We will all die, someday, and I hope you will all be with us in that spectacular Paradise, but until then, be there for just one person that you wouldn't have otherwise been there for.  Brando would just love that.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Surprised By My Death

When I got on the plane to leave Las Vegas, it was just a few days after the Asiana crash.  I know that take-off and landing are the most dangerous parts of flying and, quite often, a time of serious nerves and jaw clenching for me.  This time was different.  I sat on that plane absolutely sure that that was the safest place to be.  I swear I wanted to make an announcement right then that no one needed to fear a thing because I was on that plane and it was not going down.

Sitting on the tarmac, my thoughts drifted to Brandon, again, the place where my mind is most often parked.  That usually causes my heart to drop into my stomach because I think about how losing Brandon does not preclude me from losing my daughter or my husband or both.  It sounds so morbid to think like that, but there's nothing like a death so close to home to make you brutally aware of how you have no control over anything bad happening to you.  It can always be worse.  Ask Job, he can confirm that. 

I would, however, be surprised to wake up in front of God.  In all of my musings on what can be lost, I am sure that my own life is about as safe as it gets right now.  I'm not sure enough to go stand in front of a bus and see if I become invisible, but I'm sure enough to want to go sky diving and feel like I could be in a 10000 take-offs and landings without one hair on my head being harmed.  I think it's because I wouldn't have minded the plane crashing and waking up in front of God and seeing my boy.  I know my life could not possibly be so beautiful and easy as to be whisked off to my son, less than two months after his death. 

As I sat down on my second plane, in Oakland, the lady next to me said, "Oh gosh, I hate flying at night, I really try not to."  I asked her why, just to entertain myself.  I knew the answer and I was prepared to tell her all about the reality.  She said, "Because if something happens, I want to be able to see what is going on."  Soooo, does daylight make plunging to your death, along with a couple hundred strangers, better...easier?  I almost told her exactly how I felt.  This plane is the safest place for you, because God is not going to let something happen to me.  There's no way He is letting me go to my son yet.  In fact, you should consider coming home with me because the car I'm riding in will be the safest one on the road.  Seat belts?  You don't need no stinkin' seat belts.  I know, it's sorta morose, cavalier and I sound like a victim.  Believe me, I feel like a victim right now.  At any rate, what I said was, "Oh, it'll be fine."  I told myself I'd leave it at that, unless she asked why.  She did not.  I don't know how long I'll feel this way because I'm not even sure of what "this way" means, I don't how to define what I'm feeling (invincible...unstable...who knows), but know that if I die anytime soon, I'm gonna be very surprised.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Googling Brandon's Name

I'm becoming the poster child for what no mom should ever have to do.  I thought that 'no mom should ever, ever have to do CPR on her own kid' was the hardest thing I'd ever have to do, it'd be the biggie to wrap up the manual of things a mom shouldn't have to do.  It wrecked me.  I relived it constantly, probably because I was afraid that what happened is what would happen....I wouldn't  be there in the moment he needed me to do it again.

I became obsessed about an extra comma in the FB image I created.  I had to go see if the picture from the memorial service had that extra comma.  Not being at home, I didn't have the obituary open in the browser.  So, I had to Google my son's name.  Do you know how very wrong it is to Google your child's name and see that the first result is an obituary?  It's so far deeper than heartbreaking and profoundly sad that I can't even describe it.  It's just wrong.  There's my son's name all over Google for all the wrong flippin reasons.  How did we get here?!  No mom should ever have to see her son's name and picture on Google like that. 

No mom should ever have to endure a phone call from the medical examiner, much less several conversations with a medical examiner.  No mom should have to play the what if game, wondering what she could've done differently to have her child on this earth with her.  No mom should ever have to discuss the cost of a funeral or any other death related costs with anyone.  No mom should ever have to write an obituary or eulogize her son at his memorial service.  No mom should ever have to pick out viewing clothes for her child and have to decide if they will do a burial or a cremation.  No mom should have to wonder why she can't die so she can see her child, again.  No mom should ever have to see her child's death certificate.  No mom should ever have to pick out an urn for her child and be left with only the ashes of her child and an empty room full of belongings that will never be used by her child.  No mom should have to avoid food, locations, tv shows/movies or activities that her child loved, in an attempt to keep the searing pain at bay just a few minutes longer.  No mom should have to be broken to pieces because she didn't videotape her child and is dying to hear his voice, again. 

I know this list could go on and on and on.  I feel like all I have right now are things I shouldn't ever have had to do.  Never ever.  It's not fair.  Death sucks, especially when it's out of order.  My life is all out of order and I don't even know how to begin to set things in a new order.  I don't have the desire to do that.  I want the old back.  We can't make a new way, somebody is missing.  He'll always be missing.  I wasn't going to have an only child.  No mom should have to see her baby end up an only child.  No mom should have to pause when people ask her if she has kids.  I still don't know the answer to that.  I'm not familiar with one word answers and just saying yes seems to cheat Brandon out of his story.  So many things I never wanted to do, never should've had to do and now do not want to do.

Second by second.  One day at a time is still way too overwhelming.  It's unimaginable that days are just ticking by, taking me with them, totally against my will. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Joy and Sadness

For those of you who don't play Words with Friends, it's a game, like Scrabble, where you have tiles that are used to make words.  A couple of nights ago, I went into one of my games and those were my tiles.  JOY IS BK.  That's my boy, Brandon Kashef, known as BK to so very many people.  I looked and looked at those tiles, totally amazed.  I doubt I'll ever see that combination of tiles in my tray, again, and I know it's not a coincidence. 

I haven't really asked for "signs" regarding Brandon.  Most of the time (99.5%), I am secure in knowing where he is and that he's happy, much happier than anyone on earth could possibly be.  I am human, though, and I've had a couple of moments where I've cried out to God, telling Him I just need to know for sure.  I know his heart would break for mine and the thought of him being sad for all of us is too much.  Heaven has no sadness, though, so I have to believe that he's content just walking with the Lord, until we meet, again.  I'm still not totally sure how to view those tiles; he is joy, like living in complete joy or that's my joy-BK.  I guess either way works, but the point is, it was really quite something to see and such a neat thing I was given.  God cares so much about us, if it takes game tiles to reassure us, He meets us where we are.

Conversely, I miss my boy so much, I practically ache from head to toe, inside and out.  I found myself wondering today, if someone told me that I would lose Brandon at 19, and I had a choice, would I have still had kids?  The truth is, I don't think I know the answer to that.  I think that, yes, I probably would've.  I was always meant to have children, something I knew from the time I was a teensy child, myself.  I think I would've said yes because I couldn't have known how horrific the pain of losing a child could be, never having experienced it before.  Were I to see into that pain, though, I think I'd have said no.  Having my kids is one of the few things I don't regret in this life and nothing I'd ever want to take back, but reconciling that happiness, that completeness, with the deepest, most wretched pain in the universe is impossible. 

And, I'm still struggling with God's sovereignty.  He knew.  He's been everywhere I've been.  Why couldn't He send a messenger to tell me something, to warn me, to do anything?  Knowing He was going to allow Brandon to go home, why didn't he make absolutely sure that Baze was home for his 19th and last birthday here?  I absolutely know that Brandon was spared from the heartache that goes on in this life.  Somehow, God decided that what he had to do was done in those 19 years and it was ok for him to go home.  That sovereignty I trust in wholeheartedly, I just don't  understand why he went so suddenly, no chance to say goodbye, no final moments together.  A blessing, also, that I didn't have to see my son taken from my house in a bodybag breaks my heart that my boy died without his mama.  Brandon is happy, happy, experiencing a joy like we can't fathom with our earthly minds, but I just want him back.  We can go home together, later.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Leaving Brandon's House

Monday, I sent my daughter off to spend a couple of days with my dad, before they both flew to New Orleans yesterday.  It's been hard not to talk about it, but it was a surprise for my sister.  I don't keep secrets well, mostly because I don't lie well, but it seems we pulled it off.  This trip had been planned for about six weeks prior to Brandon's death or, believe me, she would not have been going.  Sixteen days we will be apart.  She has never been away from me for 16 days and, really, I don't think this is a good time to start doing drastic things.  Yes, that's drastic.  Right now.  She is the only child I have left and letting her go so far away is hard.

Equally hard was leaving my house...Brandon's house.  I flew to Vegas to stay with my Mama so that I wouldn't have to stay alone in his house for 16 days, but leaving took a lot of strength.  I have good people house/dog sitting.  Still, it took a lot of strength.  I want to be where there are so many memories of the boy.  Being around those memories still breaks my heart.  So many fine lines in life right now.

From the time Brandon was born, I have checked on him, every single night that he was home.  Ariana never worried me quite as much.  Even if I would forget to check on him, and just climb in bed, my heart would beat wildly and I'd be filled with dread over what could happen and what if, by not checking on him, I cost him his life?  With Ariana, I was comforted by praying over her and trusting she was safe.  I had to see Brandon with my own eyes and know he was breathing. 

In this house, Brandon and I have a Jack & Jill bathroom between our rooms.  So, every night, I'd walk down the couple of steps and slide open the door to his room and check on him or tell him to take his meds and get some rest.  Since his death, I still walk in there and check on his room, every single night.  I look around and make sure things are "ok".  At times, I'm tempted to pretend that Brandon will be back.  If I thought I could get away with it, I would fully embrace denial and pretend that he's away at college...then medical school...then his internship...and just too busy to call.  It seems so much easier than leaning into this sadness.  What I decided, instead, was that I would keep looking at Brandon's room to remind myself that he is really.not.coming.back.  When I look in his room, I can still see Baze in there, curled up on his bed with one of his shirts, absolutely broken, crying because our son would never be back.  It makes it hard to deny the reality with memories like those.

So, I got on an airplane yesterday.  And cried.  For two hours.  Quiet, subtle crying, tears welled up in my eyes, much of the time, blurring everything around me.  I wanted to sob and tell the woman complaining about her peanuts that my son was dead.  Do effing airplane peanuts really matter.  Who cares if they're stale.  Hush up.  I wanted the whole plane to know that my son just died.  He was only nineteen.  NINETEEN!  I wanted to show them his picture, show them what a beautiful life was just snatched away, tell them how much I hate death.  I wanted to tell them that even in this, life's cruelest of tragedies, the deepest sorrow anyone could go through, it doesn't mean I've reached maximum capacity.  Life still goes on.  There will be more pain and suffering.  In my life.  How fair is that?  I told them nothing because I think the Marshals would tackle me, but mostly because I don't want to tell them those things.  I want to sit and have my private grieving session.  With a couple hundred strangers. 

And, while I was sitting there, crying over having to leave Brandon, it suddenly struck husband had to fly home to his dead son.  Imagining having to fly home after learning of my son's death was too much.  I started shaking and had to dig furiously in my purse for Kleenex becase the tears were spilling over, everywhere, and my nose was running like crazy and my stomach was shaking from the sobs wanting to escape.  Oh my gosh, the agony.  How did my husband do it?  I guess the same way we are doing all of choice, we have been forced, the clock keeps moving forward and we go with it, like it or not.  And, then he had to fly back home with the knowledge that he would never come back to a house with Brandon in it.  It's hard for me to believe that with half a heart, I have to endure my own grief, much less the grief of a spouse bearing the same pain.  I hurt so badly for someone else having to live this pain.  He doesn't talk much about it and I don't push because it hurts me, too, talking to my sweet son's other parent, and I don't want him to know I'm crying in the background because his grieving heart cannot take it.

Still trying to remember to breathe.  I have to apply the oxygen mask to myself, first, before trying to help someone else.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Blame Addendum

I was thinking about my blame post because of a message my husband sent me.  I was sitting with my friend, who was doing my hair, and talking about my blame post and how I did not blame my husband.  My phone chimed and it was a PM from my husband.  All it said was, You can blame me for being too late in bringing him here and....., that was all it said.  I looked at her and was like ok, what the heck, that's downright he listening or WHAT?  Then I said, "OK, well, if he heard our conversation, he'd know that I, in fact, do NOT blame him."  Well, about that time, the light went on and I realized that he must've read my blog entry or, actually what I'm thinking, just the title because he says he cannot read them.  Maybe in time.

The timing of that message was just sooo creepy.  Anyhow, as I lay in bed last night, it occurred to me how very ironic it is that I don't blame him.  We have parented together for over 19 years and have probably been on the same page in the parenting book about 15% of the time.  No joke.  I have blamed him for every stumble the kids have had, with the iexception of the boy's foul language (b/c there is just no denying where that came from) and this.  His death.  I don't even understand how of all things, THIS is where we don't blame each other, we blame only ourselves.  Maybe (I hope not) it will come with the anger stage?  I don't think there's a blame someone else stage and I think right now we must both still be struggling with guilt, but I'm not even sure where we are, stage wise.  I seem to go through them all within five minutes, at times, what do I know.  Maybe it's grace.  Do you think maybe that's part of grace?  I hope so.

And, as I ponder grace, I ponder the love that has to be there to extend it.  I want to keep reminding myself of the love of a Father to send HIS only son so that mine could also spend eternity with Him...and ME.  Faith, right now, as with grief, is not a linear path.  I'm struggling so much and I usually won't listen to someone else try to comfort me with it, it's something that has to be entirely mine in this season.  This song below 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman has been played probably 10, 000 times on my computer in the last week.  It may not be your type of music.  Sometimes, it doesn't feel like mine, but at the end of the day, I want my lips to keep singing about all of the reasons, even if my heart isn't so sure right now.  

In case, you really just aren't up to listening, here are the words.  Really let them sink in.  I know it's no small miracle that I can even be in this place right now.

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

You're rich in love, and You're slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

Jesus, I'll worship Your holy name
Lord, I'll worship Your holy name

Sing like never before
O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name
Jesus, I'll worship Your holy name
I'll worship Your holy name

Monday, June 24, 2013

Who Do I Blame?

The blame game will probably make semi-frequent appearances here.  Honestly, it's mostly rhetorical and something I just have to work out and this is as good a place as any to try to do that.

That question, for me, has a lot of history behind it and it starts with the Grandma who raised me.  None of this story is meant to dishonor anyone in my family, I'm simply speaking of history as I know it.  As a baby, my Granny was very sick and not expected to live.  At some point, she was given to some neighbors.  As she told it, those neighbors had already lost several children to illness, so I guess the next logical thing to do was to give them someone else's child to die?  This was 1925  in podunk Oklahoma and I'm thinking they do things differently nowadays.  At any rate, she did not die.  So, this other family raised her, while her daddy (her birth mom died in childbirth or shortly thereafter, maybe, I don't remember exactly) remarried, had other children and raised all of her siblings with his new wife.  My Granny went on to have three boys in three years, all with different dads, and did not raise any of her children to adulthood.  She did the best she could, a single mom working her ass off in an era that was not kind to single mothers.  Those three boys all had kids that they did not raise for all of their childhood.  As I mentioned, my Grandma raised me and that started at the age of two, until I went on to live in a foster home my last couple of years of high school.  One of my uncles even signed away his birth rights to his first son, never seeing him, again.

I saw this generational legacy and was determined to stop it at my generation.  My sister had had already had a son that she was raising and I knew that no one would ever raise my children.  I think I figured if I could just get them through the teen years, then the cycle would be broken, we'd be safe, all would be ok.  I prayed many prayers about the things that had been passed down, generation to generation, everything from this cursed curly hair (trust me, it is a curse) to addiction to raising our own kids to our tempers, even to things spoken over me that weren't recognized as curses, but definitely were.  I don't mean like voodoo curse, I am speaking about the power of the spoken word.  It is so mighty and powerful.  We throw words around like they are nothing, I'm the guiltiest of the guilty when it comes to this, but we have to understand that we could be cursing generation after generation with our carelessness.

My Grandmother buried one of her sons (as an adult), my dad buried his only son (as an infant) and now I have buried my only son as a teenager.  I didn't pray about this.  THIS I didn't think about or see until Brandon died and I began to question God about how truly awful the things are that have been passed down and why he would let me bear a son to lose him at nineteen.  I prayed a lot for Brandon.  A ton.  I struggle with wondering if I prayed enough.  Sometimes, I felt more secure in avoiding directed prayer because I was too afraid of the what-ifs.  I simply couldn't bear to think that God might actually let him die, like if I felt I had to beg God, maybe, I would think to myself, that meant God could really take him, if He chose to.  I mean, I know that all we have is not ours, including our children, but sometimes in my heart of hearts when I said He could have it all, in my little voice I was whispering, "But not one of them....right, God?  Not before me, right?  RIGHT?  You would not ask me to let go of one of them.  You couldn't."

I'm a big fan of the blame game and I'm quite good at it (which is not a good thing) because I can lay blame on someone else faster than you can say whodunit.  I hate guilt and people trying to manipulate me through guilt, so I pretty much don't do it.  It's a wasted emotion that robs people of their lives.  Right now, though, I am really having trouble figuring out who to point the finger at.  I will, literally, stand in the middle of my room and say out loud, "Who do I blame for this?"  Do I blame God?  God is sovereign and I both trust in that sovereignty and question it, since He chose to allow Brandon's death, when He could've snatched him right from death, again.  Do I blame my parents for bringing me into this world and passing down such a painful legacy?  Do I blame my husband for parenting differently than I did?  Maybe this is God's way of making sure we don't pass on anymore sickness.  And, OMG what if He makes sure with my daughter and she has to suffer the same you think if we make sure she has all girls she will be immune?  Ultimately, my finger pointing stops here.  Why didn't I see the potential for tragedy and just say no to children...why didn't I pray harder, longer...why didn't I learn to parent better...why didn't I keep him in church more...why did I not make of his life the best day of his life?  If I had been the perfect mom, I'm sure this would hurt a lot less.

Before you start looking up the numbers to refer me to the mental hospital, let me assure you that this is all part of how I am trying to work this out.  I do feel awful.  In knowing that I have ZERO control in this life, when it comes down to it, I still feel that I could've done something, even just changing the direction of one step, to keep my boy with me.  I want him back so badly and wondering how I could've possibly kept him here, is something that keeps haunting me.

While I blame, I also comfort.  Many emotions are fighting to be front and center in my mind right now.  I blame myself and, in the same breath, try to remind myself that Brandon left a huge mark in this world.  I am not being punished.  Really, really wonderful people have also lost children.  My guess is that most people who have lost children are probably pretty wonderful.  I truly have no idea what Brandon was saved from in dying young.  I fought for him, really and truly fought for him, since I found out I was pregnant with him.  I loved him the best way I could, with every ounce of my being, which brings me back to blame because maybe it wasn't enough, but then I go back to getting over myself and say, it was the best I had with what I have.

Tonight, a boy at church called out, "Mom."  I turned.  I scolded myself for turning towards a boy's voice and then started crying because I'll never, in this lifetime, have a son to call me Mom.  I will end with what I read, immediately after that's from a new book by Dr. Daniel Brown, called Embracing Grace. 

Guiltiness gnaws at all of us.  We worry that our specific wrongdoing has crossed an invisible line beyond the limits of grace.  Plus we labor under a vague sense that we haven't done enough, prayed enough, or been good enough to be worthy of God.  This biblically rich, highly accessible message offers you sturdy truths to silence condemnation and self-reproach.

And that's just it.  Deep down, I know the truth and I know that I neither earned my son or lost him because I wasn't worthy.  Right now, it doesn't stop me from begging for another chance to do better by Brandon, be a better mom, a better person, but I'm sure I'll eventually stop playing this game and accept what has been given to us all.  Grace.  I am generous with it.  For you.  For me....not so much...but I bet I'm about to learn some things I never knew about it and it's probably just in time.