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.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Overflow of the Heart

I know that much of what I write isn't cohesive, the verbiage a little mangled and scattered about, but thank you for reading, in spite of my shortcomings.  Mentally, I am what I describe and then some.  I feel like I go from here to there and here and over there and back here, over and over.  I am, in the same minute, determined to find a purpose and acceptance and sobbing in disbelief, wondering how it is that this is my life.  My brain is so focused on survival that in my head I often sound incoherent, mostly because I forget in one second what I was just thinking about the second before.  According to one of my books, the short term memory will be gone for awhile, as the body/brain uses its energy to deal with the trauma.  I can be thinking about doing something, when my eye will see something that my brain interprets as a Brandon memory, so my brain wanders off before I even realize that I've now forgotten what I was just thinking.  I will be watching tv and realize that I'm crying because my brain just remembered that I forgot to take a picture of Brandon in his casket without his hat on, why didn't I take a picture of his beautiful hair?  I have pictures....tons of pictures...that show Brandon's hair, but all of a sudden it becomes unbelievable that I didn't photograph that.  Little moments like this are what my day is comprised of.  They are exhausting.  I am not quite sure if I'm exhausted from trying to run from my thoughts or exhausted from thinking so much.  Probably both.

 Matthew 12:34 says that...'the mouth speaks what the heart is full of' or some variation on that theme (like out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks), depending on what translation you are reading.  I have always felt intense conviction from that scripture because of all my fleshly foibles (ok fine, gargantuan sins), this is one I have battled the most.  I have had some mighty battles and been victorious, but the whole taming the tongue thing just doesn't stick.  I know it is because I have a heart issue. 

Today, that really hit me, but in a new way.  Almost everything out of my mouth has to do with Brandon.  My thoughts are about Brandon, my tears are for him, I physically long to touch him, to hear his voice.  I have only once in the last five weeks been angry and yelled out loud and that little burst of temper came from nowhere, completely irrational (b/c yes, all of my other temper issues are rational) and out of control, but I knew it had to do with my helplessness over Brandon dying.  My heart is so full of grief and trying to make sense of things, that the only words I do have are with regard to this walk.  I also know it's why I keep having random praise songs flow from my lips.  My heart has room for few things outside of the immediate trauma, but it reassures me that there is hope for me yet, with what is flowing out of my mouth right now.  As a side note, please don't hold it against me if you see me mad and letting the wrong things spew out tomorrow...I'm the mother of all works in gracious, please.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

.....I am bowed down and brought very 
     all day long I go about mourning.
My back is filled with searing pain;
     there is no health in my body.
I am feeble and utterly crushed;
     I groan in anguish of heart.

All my longings lie open before you,
          O Lord;
     my sighing is not hidden from 
My heart pounds, my strength
          fails me;
     even the light has gone from my

I wait for you, O Lord;
     you will answer, O Lord my God.....
For I am about to fall,
     and my pain is ever with me.....

O LORD, do not forsake me,
     be not far from me, O my God.
Come quickly to help me,
     O Lord my Savior.
(Psalm 38:6-22)

That particular section of the Psalms, written by my favorite historical figure, King David, pretty much sums up what I feel most days.  I didn't include every verse in that passage, as it is written with regard to David's enemies, but what he says is all me right now.  I so get him.  He seems to so get me.  One day, we will rejoice together that all of our earthly failings are no more.

The picture above is my go to position when I am in severe agony.  It is ironic that I took that same position, crumpled up in pain, when I was in labor with Brandon, but waiting to bring a beautiful, new life into this world, and when I found out that same beautiful life had left this world.  When I got to the hospital, I was already in hard labor, dilated to 8cm and in pain that left me unable to form many words, just simply scream out, O God, and cover my face.  I remember the nurses, literally, having to pry my fingers away from my face, in an attempt to get me to focus.  I don't remember most of what I said, in the moments after I found out my son had died, but I remember saying, "OH MY GOD," and unable to do anything, at one point, but assume my position and sob.  I have covered my face like that every one of the last 33 days, the agony just as David describes.  I can almost feel God calling me to pry the fingers away, to lean into Him and not try to rely on myself.  It is so hard.  Right now I have trouble talking to him, I mean really talking to him.  He is gracious and lets me bring the fingers back to my face a little while longer.

Grief is such a personal experience that I find myself surprised when I see one of my own quotes, said by someone else.  In a book I'm reading about a pastor and his wife who lost their 18 year old son, he says, "We were not suicidal, but we did not want to live."  He states it so succinctly and I think I used those exact words in grief group.  It is the strangest place to be.  To be caught in the middle of I do not want to live and I cannot take my own life, I have to live, is agonizing. 

My sweet daughter voiced the feelings that I think all three of us (my husband, included) share.  She said, "I don't want to go anywhere, do anything, be anywhere, talk to anyone, hug anyone."  She aches in a way that none of her friends can understand.  Her world...our so different, so new and so profoundly sad, we don't get how to live in it.  It's so hard just to see how other people look at us now.  We are different, our lives are ridiculously wrong, people hurt for us and it hurts to have to be those people.

In my head, I know there is much to live for, life is out there for the living, surely there are many enjoyable things in life, but my broken heart cannot even begin to understand how that could be possible, how it could ever be all right to do such a thing.  I still just cannot believe that there is life going on around me that does not have my boy in it.   I want him back so badly and I resent hate a world without him sharing it with me.

Monday, June 17, 2013

What Day is It?

That is a question I frequently ask.  Time has little meaning to me, nowadays, except in relation to when I lost my precious boy.  Today, my daughter came home during her lunch break at school to get a paper signed by me.  As I went to fill in the date, I asked her what day it is.  She said, "The 17th."  I asked if it was 5-17 and she had to tell me no, it's June.  At that precise moment, it hit me that it was such a duh question, because were it May 17th, Brandon would still be alive.  What a wave of grief that started, as I immediately felt a deep longing for it to be May 17th, again. 

What I would give to have May 17th back.  I try not to dwell in the what-ifs, but they are inevitable in this season.  I wonder what I could have done differently to change what happened on the 18th (even though I won't even know what happened on May 18th for a couple more months).  In spite of my faith, I am absolutely certain that had I done something different, said something else on the 16th or the 17th, not given in to my stubbornness and selfishness, done just about anything other than what I'd done, my son would be alive.  In my longing to go back and wave some divine wand over everything, I am not consoled (today) by our last conversations, which both ended with I love you.  I know how much he loved me.  My love for him was unequivocal and he knew it.  None of that gives me a chance to, as my sweet daughter says, hit the rewind button.

I am what I call a practical, positive, pessimist.  I can get sucked into negativity, but my hopeful nature refuses to give in to the negativity completely, so I compromise and become practical, logical.  I can apply that here, by reminding myself that maybe if I hadn't stuck to my guns at other times, Brandon would've died at an even younger age or maybe if he'd had a long, very hard life, not as many lives would've been touched and I definitely do not want my kids to suffer, just to save me from grief.  Of course, I don't really have any idea about what might've been different, but I have never in my life wanted something so badly as to turn back the calendar to May 17th.  Tomorrow, the one month mark, is what I thought would really get me.  No, today really got me. 

I cried and cried.  Then, I decided to take a nap, before hauling myself to grief group.  I haven't yet talked about the dreams I had of Brandon, starting five or six days after he left this earth, but they made me not want to dream of him because I'm afraid of the extra grief.  As I napped today, I was dreaming that I walked into the house.  I was doing something out of view of the front door, but I heard it open and close.  In my dream I knew it was Brandon walking in behind me, but my non-dream state mind knew that I could not bear to see him.  At that moment, right before I turned around, I told myself it was time to wake up now and my eyes shot open.  It was almost like what I imagine being hypnotized would be like.  I am amazed (and thankful) that my awake and asleep mind were communicating in such a way, that it was like being between two worlds at the same time.  The two worlds I want to be in, though, are not happening.  As strong as my mind is, it cannot wish the clock backward for me or let me into Heaven to visit with Brandon.  And, so I wait.

The UN-Life

A question was posted in a group I'm in, essentially, asking how we are doing.  I said I didn't really need to elaborate, but that my life felt like an "UN".  There are many I could list, but I guess that'd just become a pity party and I'm trying like hell to not have a pity party every day, much as I feel I have the right to indulge.  Unfair, unreal, unlucky, unbelievably sad, unnavigable, unsettling, undone.  I think unreal and unfair are the ones I say the most.  I really hate unfair because, as every mom in history has ever said, "Life isn't fair."  I do know this isn't about fairness because it's not fair for anyone to lose a child, no matter who you are...which ends up leading me to the other thing I keep saying, "Most people don't lose their kid," why do we have to be part of the club no one wants to belong's unreal.  It's way past surreal, it's just so not possible.  How can it be?

Today has been 30 days since Brandon went to his permanent home.  There are people who struggle with living so much that they can't stay sober for that long and yet the half of my heart that is left has actually kept beating for thirty long days after a phone call from the medical examiner changed my life forever.  

I try not to cry constantly because I actually end up upsetting myself further at the sound of my own sobbing.  It seems to make it more I'm crying, so my son must really not be coming back.  And, still the tears come.  They don't wait for permission from me to fall from my eyes.  It doesn't matter where I'm at, out of nowhere, my vision becomes blurry and my cheeks wet.  It's a new, completely dumbfounding, unreal reality.  How can it be? 

I'm going to end this post with some lyrics from a song by my favorite artist ever, Chris Tomlin.  It's from the song "Whom Shall I Fear" and I really felt convicted to declare the truth in those words.  I know these things to my core, within every fiber of my being, but knowing and living something aren't always the same (more often than I care to admit in my world), especially when every fiber of your being is fighting, every single day, just to find the desire to want to live.

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side

The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Blessed Assurance

That's an old hymn that I grew up singing in my (very) conservative Southern Baptist church.  As a kid in a conservative church, I never understood much about the Holy Spirit and, in fact, I still think I'm probably pretty clueless.  I didn't understand a lot of the scriptures nor did I understand or particularly care for some of the "weighty" hymns we sang or the messages given by our Pastor.  I sang them anyway and I read the Bible, anyway.  Like most kids who go to Sunday school, I memorized verses, regardless of how much they spoke to my soul.

As I grew up and matured, songs stuck with me, scriptures started having light shed on them and I cannot remember the last time I was at church (any church) with a message that didn't hit me in some way.  I devour all of it, in almost a greedy, gluttonous way.  And, I only say gluttonous because we're here to love other people and I think if you're struggling so much that you can only take, how can you be giving, right?

I'm going to be completely transparent here because those that know me will know if I try to sugarcoat things:  I can totally be a Sunday Christian.  I get caught up in the real world with my real struggles, my lack of discipline and my wounds from real life.  I have always said that if I could just live life at church, I'd be so good.  In reality, my true self, the one who yells and swears like a sailor and judges people and....I'll stop there because the picture only gets uglier....that part of me would eventually insist on being dealt with, one way or another.  Sin is no respecter of the building you are standing in.  I love more, yell less, judge less, you get the idea, than I did 10 years ago, but I am still a huge work in that, as it would appear, is painstakingly slow.

So, where does Blessed Assurance fit in?  I'll tell you.  Since I lost my son, I have found zero comfort in my praise and worship music.  I have never had that happen to me, since really sort of "discovering" it, about ten years ago.  It was more of a conviction thing, not that I'd never heard of it, but that's another long story.  Anyway, no matter what I've been walking through, I've been able to fall back on the songs I know and love to comfort me and praise God, even some of the old hymns, since I hear them differently than when I was a kid.  Right now, though, they almost make me mad.  I feel betrayed, deserted, totally and completely alone and trying to muster up worship, at best, makes me sort of resentful.

My spirit, though, knows better, which is why I had to blog today, even though I'd planned to take a break.  For the last 10-14 days, I've just been randomly having a couple lines from different songs pop into my head.  I can't get them out.  I sing or hum them out loud.  The same lines, over and over, until I run to a computer to remember what song I'm singing.  (My memory has been very fuzzy the last few weeks, so I rely on Google for a lot)

First, it was, "Nothing can take me away from you" followed by humming because I'd forgotten the next words and then, "Your love will never let me go."  Then, a couple of days ago, I started singing "I love I love, I love your presence."  I could remember nothing else except the words and the tune..  Turns out there aren't many words,  they just aren't necessary.  Here are the words:

In the glory of Your presence
I find rest for my soul
In the depths of Your love
I find peace
Makes me whole

I love, I love, I love Your presence
I love, I love, I love Your presence
I love, I love, I love You Jesus
I love, I love, I love Your presence

I am having trouble articulating what I want to say, but I know it's important because I know I'll need this later when, yet again, I forget what being comforted feels like and break down in despair.  I know someone needs it now.  I know I was supposed to come do this, but my brain is going so fast, my fingers cannot keep up.  If you look at the words to that song and put in a couple of lines from Blessed Assurance,
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!

And you add in nothing can take me away from me, your love will never let me you see the picture?  It's like all these  different  parts of these different songs go together.  Those words are to me for me.  While I do not have a song, I cannot find comfort, the Holy Spirit longs to comfort me and put words on my lips that my soul desperately needs to rememberIt's as if I'm being sung to and the revelation of that blew me away.  All those days, I missed it.  I went along with it, but I missed what was really happening and when the light was shining brightly on it, I sat there stunned.  I am still so blown away.  It is in the presence of that very thing, but SO.MUCH.BIGGER. that my sweet son now sits. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Joy Cometh

Two of my favorite words in the Bible.  I am clinging to Psalm 30:5 that says....weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.  I haven't seen that morning in over three weeks, but despite the picture of the last eight years, I know that for everything there's a season and this season will just have to end, eventually.  In the meantime, I'm still struggling just to exist, just to simply be, while I try to figure out what my place is in this world. 

Today, I had to take care of another thing that required a death certificate.  It is already hard for me to drive the car because it was the last place I saw my boy alive.  To drive down the road with a death certificate in the spot that my boy always sat is just so very wrong.  It is surreal.  I've taken to driving like a normal person because I'm so aware that I am actually not aware, not really present in my surroundings, that I want to take extra precautions so I don't hurt anyone.  It was because of that very thing that a bicyclist got to keep his body intact the other day.  It was totally his fault and he is very fortunate that I didn't go when I could've, but hitting him would've undone me. 

Everything I do feels like an out of body experience.  I'm functioning and, probably, pretty well, given the situation, but nothing feels right or good or normal or the same.  Eating is one of those things.  I have zero interest in doing it.  Not one thing sounds good or tastes good.  I eat merely to give my body some kind of fuel to function.  My husband has been doing this for years, a byproduct of depression.  I'm very picky.  VERY.  To care so little about what I eat that I'm not worried about my pickiness is almost worrisome.  Some people can't deal with grief and they eat.  I cannot deal with grief and I do not eat.  When I went through that hard time in 2007, I lost 45 pounds in 10 weeks.  It almost becomes a game for me.  Food has a weird relationship with people who battle their weight.  I'm an angry eater, odd because if you know me, you know I have no issue whatsoever with not keeping my anger bottled up.  It's obviously not the healthy way to handle it, though, because looking at me will tell you how much of my life I've wasted on stuffing that anger back down.  So, not eating for any reason other than to give me sustenance feels sorta out of this world.  I've had exactly one time in the last 24 days that something sounded good to me and, oddly enough, it was the night after my boy's memorial.  The prior six days I'd had exactly one meal and by meal I mean a piece of pizza.  The rest of the time I survived on pieces of cheese.

Listening to music.  The CD in the car is the one that was playing the last day I saw Brandon.  I listen numbly.  I even sing along.  But, I will be sitting at a light and start crying.  Brandon loved music so much, a love he got from me.  Sound is my most precious, valued sense because I love music with my entire being, straight through to my soul.  Not now, though, something else that doesn't feel right in my world. 

Going to the movies, the laundry, the dishes, the recycle bin, I could go on.  It's a huge list of things that don't seem to fit.  I know it's normal.  Brandon had a role in my life that has been replaced with a gigantic hole, until we all adjust and find a new normal.  I don't want a new normal, I want my old normal.  (You see my simultaneous acceptance and denial?  It's a new theme)  I don't want to feel like I don't belong anywhere, that I'm cut off from the world.  I want to do something I did before Brandon died and enjoy doing it.  I simply can't fathom that happening today.  Tomorrow maybe.  Maybe not.  I hope I don't have to go find all new things to fill my life so that I don't cry over everything that was in my life before I lost my son.  I don't think so, right?  To me, that wouldn't be joy....or maybe it will be, I'm not needs to quit being a slacker before I get permanently lost in this world.

Stronger Than Yesterday....

Not really, sorry to mislead you.  I stole it from a Britney Spears song, which has absolutely nothing to do with grieving and everything to do with avoidance.  I realized, after reading one of my posts from yesterday, for about the fifth time, that something was missing.  Ah, yes, Blogger ate 3/4 of the post I had saved.  The part that it posted was originally written on the 5th.  I forced myself to come down here and get to work on some of the writing, after managing to avoid sitting here for four days, and that's what happened.  Eh, in the big scheme of things, who cares, but it is just so hard to do this.  Words have rarely escaped me.  Talking is not an issue.  Writing is even less of an issue for me.  I've written A+ term papers on books I've ready only the cover of because I have a gift of going on and on and on ad nauseam about mostly nothing.  Sort of like that.  And, now I'm avoiding the pain of writing, again, so I should just get on with it.

The whole 'you are strong' thing is intimidating.  Few things intimidate me, but those that do, really get in my head and mess with me.  I have always considered myself to be a very strong person.  Physically, I'm much stronger than I look and anyone with whom I've ever had a war of words with knows that I'm not easily defeated.  Stubborn, tenacious, strong...really, what's the difference, if you ask me?  Partly, I do believe this to be a pride issue, but a lot of it has to do with my faith.  I trust the one who calms the seas, even though I may be screaming to let me off the boat during the storm.  When you have a reputation of being able to endure anything, though, it's as if 'anything' keeps finding your address and you have to continue to be strong are strong.

However, eight freaking years of storms have made me seriously take pause.  If this is what happens to strong people, no thank you.  I do not want to be strong.  I'm not kidding when I say eight years.  This is the eighth year, which I already know to be the worst of them all.  Really?  Eight?  In a ROW?  Yes.  In a row.  I'm not superstitious, but I only ever remember breaking one mirror in my life.  I'm talking monumental issues like death, separation, death, death, death and that should be plenty, but it's not all.

I remember a moment in 2007, not sure of the exact month and I can't remember my blog address for that one to go check, but I had something take me to my knees from the grief.  I had been trusting God, much as I did with Brandon, and had it taken from me, through no choice of my own, exactly like Brandon and hell yes, I cried out to God all the questions that hit you.....WHY?  How?  Why?  What will I do?  How can the pain not split me open?  And, I don't think I ever got an answer.  That's not true, I got one answer, it was, "Wait."  I'm not kidding.  Totally inappropriate there, big daddy, but um ok.  Are you sure?  And, I heard correctly, something I am totally sure of because if I told you how many times that word showed up in how many places, you would be sure that I have God's number to His direct line.  I do NOT, in case you're wondering.

As I was saying, I remember that grief.  I will never forget those feelings.  Truly, it scarred me.  Grace prevented me from letting that wound dictate my life, but, like a scar, it is always there.  It pales, though, in comparison to this grief.  It's not even on the pain scale, comparatively.  I have words for those days and for these I still do not.  What I do know, is that it truly feels like I have lived with a tornado coming by my house every single year, sometimes more than once.  Every year, I rebuild.  I run back to God's arms and beg for help.  I falter some when the building is slow, but I stay, sure that the same storm will not strike the same place, year after year.  It has.  And, finish the place off, here comes Hurricane Katrina.  Can you even imagine?  Seven years of a tornado to your house and Hurricane Katrina in your eighth?  In what world does that make sense and who is strong in the face of that?  God.  I do not get it.

So, I am scared.  I don't do scared.  It makes me angry.  I spent seven years somewhere between trusting that everything would be neatly wrapped up and waiting for the other shoe to drop.  ALL the shoes dropped.  The feet, the shoe rack, all the boxes OH.MY.GOD.  All of it.  Someone who has always said that it can always be worse, there is always something to be thankful for, is damn afraid of what is around the corner.  My heart is racing as I type this because of all the what-ifs.  I am rounding up grief books like they'll stop printing them and hoping that someone will feed me a lie.  Tell me I won't be changed (I hate change btw), tell me I'll 'get over it' even though I know it won't be true, tell me the sun will come out and stay out and that I won't be overcome with grief over losing my boy, 20 years from now.  So far, no one is trying to sell that in a grief book, so I buy them anyway, hoping that I can accept the truth and hoping that I'm as strong as I hear I am.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Sad Church

Today I seriously began to second guess my decision to have Brandon's memorial at my church.  I mean, where else could I have it, that church is like my home and Brandon has been going there with me since I was pregnant with Ariana.  But, the same way my home is so full of Brandon that it is sad, so, too, is the church.  The boy tired of children's church at a relatively young age, so I let him sit in the sanctuary with me.  Sometimes, I MADE him go with me.  He was a regular presence there, sitting next to me, and I sat there crying because he will never sit next to me, again. 

Most people, or so they say, have their regular seats.  We had our regular section, if not the same seats, and rarely strayed from it, but the last two times I have been there, I've purposely stayed away from the last place we sat.  I guess I'll play this game of musical chairs until those seats don't trigger heartache and that's ok, as long as I don't let it run me from the place I need the most. 

When I went to the prayer and worship night, just a week and a half after he died, my breath caught as I walked in the doors.  A few of the flower arrangements were still there and I remembered the last thing I saw on the big screen...Brandon's pictures and his date of birth/death.  It's hard to marry my happy place with my sad place.  I cried for a good hour, sitting there.  I sat there with my arms folded defensively, trying to convince myself that I did, indeed, still believe those songs I've sung for years.  One friend came over and hugged me and told me everyone loves me and reminded me of the difference Brandon made in so many lives and what a phenomenal service it was.  I told her that God could have all those people back, every one of them, I don't care about the difference, I want him back.  I still feel that way.  Sorta.  I think I would do just about anything for 24 hours with my kid, hell, probably ONE hour with my kid, but the truth is, Brandon would never do the trade.  Who would leave the presence of the almighty to come back to a hard world?  No one.  And, it's grace that Brandon had such a beautiful memorial that made the difference it did.  God gave us such a gift in that child and, while I never realized how true my words were, when I told him, repeatedly, that the steps he makes today will effect generations to come, the true impact is grace washing over us, again and again.

So, I went back to the sad church today and, again, wondered how I'd be able to keep going, how I would ever be able to make that building my happy place, again, and God heard me.  I wanted to be alone with my grief.  God said it's ok, I'm sending someone, anyway, and you'll sit there.  And, I did.  I wanted to run, but I stayed.  I heard a good message and then got some good counsel from the friend God sent over.  Then, He sent more and what I thought would break my heart, soothed me.  The hugs from people hurt, sometimes.  You know?  It's a reminder.  They want to comfort you and make sure you know you are loved, but it hurts so badly that they need to comfort you.  It's a fine line between leave me alone, stop feeling sorry for me, and please remind me that I matter and feel sorry for me.  And, I don't know how to describe it any better than that, even though I think maybe it sounds crazy.  Today, though, I actually laughed for a moment when I said Brandon's name.  The mere mention of his name brings me to tears almost without exception, but I could laugh and someone laughed with me.  Very briefly, but it happened.

I ended the day with a trip to see Brandon's best friend.  It has been weighing heavily on my heart to have a talk with him.  I needed to tell him not to feel guilty about anything that may have happened those last couple of days.  He loved Brandon so much and the feeling was mutual.  Brandon knew that we were all just trying to take care of him and keep him safe, even if he didn't like it.  I know how horrible it is when the last words you say to someone are not I love you or an angry conversation took place, something I learned when I was just a pinch older than these boys, and I know the guilt can condemn you for years.  Brandon wouldn't want that and I needed his friend to hear it from his mom's mouth, do NOT feel guilty.  Honor my son by not leaving things unsaid, but do not carry guilt on your shoulders, it's not your burden.  And, I think he and the other boys received it.  I'm so thankful he had friends that have good memories of fun times. 

No day has been without a ton of tears, for the last 22 days, I don't even know where they all come from, but if I can do something my boy would've wanted, it was an ok day, right?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

They tell me I'm strong

I read somewhere...a comment from someone...that you never get over something like this.  Um, that is NOT encouraging.  I know it may very well be the truth, but I'm in need of some denial and some shrink said that's one of the five stages of grief, so I'm entitled to it.  To me, that says this pain will never let up.  A lifetime of this?  I'm sorry, but I am  No, I mean it.  To quote Kay Arthur, "I just keep up waking up every day, like it or not."  It's so spot on because you can't desire it, no matter how much you're supposed to, you can't fathom one more day, much less many, MANY days hobbling around this earth with half a heart very faintly beating, every single bit of energy you have spent on wiping tears, remembering to breathe, and trying to console yourself with things that are small consolations.

The Grocery Store...Bad Idea

Yesterday, I desperately needed to go to the store.  I considered sending my daughter and letting myself off the hook, yet again, but let my husband talk me into getting out of the house.  I'd ventured out for a while on Sunday, seeing several of my friends, and decided that it was too soon.  People are unsure of how to act, what to say, knowing there's not much of either to be done.  I am blessed with a great number of friends that care about me and want to help, but this is a hugely isolating trauma, for lack of a better description, and I think it's hard on other people to sit and watch a zombie pretend to be present. 

So, I have ended up with MANY 18 more than I previously had.  For someone who can kill a fake plant, it is no small feat trying to keep them alive and happy.  At times, they're a welcome distraction, though, as I research what is best for them and try like hell to care for another living thing...something I feel, at best, completely incapable of doing.  I needed soil and pots and plant food and, well, people food, so off to the store I trudged. 

I managed to do ok, mostly, until I saw one of my son's best friends, who works at that store.  Such a precious boy and, someday, I'll laugh at the memories of the two of them hanging out here, but I'm not there yet.  I gave him a hug and promised to invite him to dinner, as he asked me to do, when I saw him at Brandon's memorial.  What a sweet thing for him to do, right?  I told you...precious.  With some deep breaths and reassuring myself inwardly, I got through that and went to the checkout.

There were two older ladies at the checkout ahead of me, chatting happily (and in no hurry btw) with the clerk.  I stepped away to grab something and came back to the one woman STILL trying to carefully tear her check out of the checkbook.  As she finished, another conversation ensued.  The other older woman was telling the clerk about how both she and her friend adopted their daughters and what a miracle it was.  The clerk turned to them and said, "Oh yes, you know He works in mysterious ways."  I immediately wanted to turn to all of them and say, "Really?  Is that what you call that...mysterious ways...taking my 19 year old son from me?"  I was seriously angry in that moment.  I bit my tongue and reminded myself that they had no idea about my hell. 

They walk off smiling, I wait for the clerk to get done so I can have more room to unload my cart.  She turns to me and says whatever the normal jargon (I know it's not technically correct, but Brandon LOVED that word, so I'm working it in) is in that situation, like how are you or did you find everything...that sort of stuff.  I grit my teeth and even manage to ask her how she is.  She, btw, is probably doing pretty damn good because she has not lost a son less than three weeks ago.  Well, I assume so, anyway.  If she had a 19 year old son, she started LATE.  I get up to the register to pay and she asks me if I have kids getting out of school soon.  I paused.  Like a palpable pause.  I saw her physically pause, as she watched me.  Because, in my head, I want to say, no KIDS, I now only have A kid.  Not plural.  My son just died, don't you know, can't you see that?  I can't say all of that, though, so I say, "Just my daughter."  She said oh and left it at that, though I know she was trying to make conversation.  She found me extra coupons, was very gracious and patient and sent me off with a have a great rest of the day.  "You, too." 

As I walked out, I realized that I hate everyone.  I know that sounds awful.  It IS awful.  It is no one's fault and, honestly, as I have always taught my kids, I have no idea what anyone else is going through.  Their hell still hurts, don't assume the worst about them and don't expect them to know what you're going through.  But, the world just won't stop.  As we all know, life keeps going, no matter how loudly I want to scream, "STOP!  My son is gone, I will never get to see him, again.  JUST STOP!"  It is too soon for me to start living, again.  I know that.  I want to want to, but I just cannot. 

Today, I am not so angry, so maybe that stage of grief was only one day?  Yeah, if you know me, you're audibly laughing right now.  A girl can hope.  For now, I go back to the constant stream of tears...alone...until I can let people in.  Someday.  I hear it gets easier. 

The Last Time I Saw Him.....

The last day I saw my boy, two days before he died, is full of many regrets and sorrow.  I thank God I never let a conversation with my boy end without saying I love you, but there are so many moments I want to do over.

Brandon had a seizure late in the morning that day.  I'd just turned off my air conditioner in my room and heard what I thought was a crash.  Since he'd been suffering from seizures for about two and a half years, I'd become attuned to listening for sounds (or the lack of sounds) that were out of the ordinary.  I called his name and got up to go check his room.  He wasn't there and it was then that I heard a rhythmic, very faint "clicking" sound.  I knew immediately that he'd had a seizure and ran downstairs, where I found him in front of the stove.  The crash I'd heard was the butter dish flying across the kitchen floor.  I stood next to him and just held onto him, until it was over and then waited for him to come around to be able to send him to lie down upstairs.  When he woke up, I told him to go lie down and I would make him some eggs and an English muffin.  I asked him if he'd been skipping his medication and he said maybe a couple of times.

Normally, when he had a seizure, he slept the day away, exhausted from all his poor body would go through each time.  His muscles would ache from being tensed up and he'd have a headache.  How I wish that's what he had done on that day.  Instead, he got up after not too long and wanted to go out, since it was a nice day.  We'd planned to see a screening for Fast & Furious, so I told him that we would go to the movies.  I had the date wrong, though, and couldn't find another movie I wanted to see.

As we walked to the parking lot, I pushed Brandon to make a decision on whether he would go to his Grandpa's, as I'd insisted, or decide to go against my wishes.  He went against me, which surprised, hurt and infuriated me, all at once.  I'd set some ground rules, several months before that he hadn't taken seriously, partly due to his lack of motivation and my lack of following through on my threats.  I'd hoped that he'd come to the adult conclusion and take the consequences for his actions, though, legally he didn't have to.  He was a respectful boy, even when stubbornly breaking the rules.  He even said he didn't want me to hate him.  I assured him that I could never hate him, but promptly flipped out about his decision.

I drove home angrier than I can remember in a long time.  I realized a couple of days later, and planned to let let him know, that it was because I was so hurt by his decision to blatantly go against me.  He broke many rules in his lifetime, but not blatantly, because he didn't want to hurt us and didn't much care for punishment, though that was really never an issue.  He really did not want to disappoint us.

So, I drove crazy.  I wish I'd gotten in a wreck because I think things would've been so different.  Maybe not, since I don't yet know how he died, but he'd have been with me, regardless.  How I didn't get into a wreck, I don't know, but I was mad and yelling at him the whole way home.  We got home, I told him to get out.  We walked in the house and I called his dad, just going off.  I tried to make it clear to Brandon, as did my husband, that he was closing the door to his home with his decision.  He said he understood, but had to make it on his own.  Something that, in his 19 year old mind, he didn't realize was possible yet.  And, I know we have to let our kids make their own mistakes, but I just really thought I could keep him safe and save his life until his maturity caught up and realized how much he needed our help.

I got back in the car and planned to leave, figuring I'd call Brandon later, after I calmed down.  Instead, I ended up texting his dad a book and before I'd finished, there was Brandon at the passenger door, asking me to unlock the trunk so he could put his bags in there.  In my mind, I thought, "Are you SERIOUSLY asking me for a ride to your friend's house, where you're going WITHOUT my blessing?  SERIOUSLY?"   But, I had a check in my spirit.  I immediately felt like God told me to let this one go, to just give him a ride.  One of the few things I did that day that I am proud of, though I realize that had I not insisted on my way, he wouldn't have left.  I guess maybe he would've, I'll never really know that, but I'm sorry I won't ever have the opportunity to find out.

So, he got in the car and I had a talk with him.  I told him not to wear his struggles like a badge and to not be proud...if it didn't work out at his friends, don't turn to the street, COME HOME.  He said he knew and we had a little conversation on the short ride.  When we got there, he turned to me to hug and kiss me like always and we said I love you.

Later that night, I called him and got no answer.  I called repeatedly and started to panic b/c he knew the phone rule and knew if I was unable to get a hold of him immediately, my imagination took over, fear took a hold of me and I went straight into meltdown mode.  I finally called his friend, who informed me that he was at someone else's house, the mother of a friend of his, a place TOTALLY off limits and unsafe.  He said that Brandon didn't want me to know.  The boy finally called me back and told me that he was sorry, that he'd fallen asleep.  I said, "At ******* house?"  He asked me how I knew that.  I made it clear to him how utterly disrespectful it was, given how I feel about this woman (justified, b/c this woman lied to both me and the paramedics when he OD'd many months prior, telling them he'd had another seizure, instead of telling them the truth, which could've cost him his life) and how I didn't want him there.  He insisted that it was short term and he had his own room there, unlike his friend's house, and he said that his friend wasn't ready for him yet.  I finally relented and told him I was sorry for angry words earlier, but that I also wanted him to understand that if he was going to make decisions like that, he was going to have to deal with hearing some ugly things, something I told him he could do if the situation were reversed.  It doesn't take back the words, but we were two peas of a pod who could yell and insult with the best of them, but we always knew what we threw out in anger didn't mean we loved any less.  This was no exception.

I talked to him that next day, again, very briefly.  Again, told him I love him and he told me he'd call me later or the next morning, I forget which now.  When I didn't hear from him Saturday, I tried calling him and texting him.  I wanted to take him to lunch on Sunday and have a heart to heart and make sure that he knew how much I loved him.  Of course, there was no Sunday lunch, I'd never the chance to take him out to eat, again, something he loved. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

The beginning...contined

I started the first post on May 22 and then promptly left the draft to sit, unable to continue. 

I left off where I phoned my daughter to have her come home.  She knew something was wrong, when I called her crying.  Because I didn't want her to drive upset, I didn't tell her, just said come home right away.  I think she was probably there in record time.  She walked in and asked me what was wrong.  "Brandon."  I will never forget standing in my living room, staring out the window, sobbing the words out to my daughter that her only sibling was dead. 

Some things are seared into my memory right now.  The moment I found out.  The place I was standing when I fell apart.  My daughter running in the house to find out what happened.  Walking into the viewing.  Walking into the chapel of my church for the boy's funeral.  Being in his room, having to pick out clothes for his viewing.  Flowers.  All the flowers.  Death flowers I call them.  Lasagna...the universal dish of grief.  These things seem so random, but what they are now associated with is such sadness and there are many more.  Any seemingly random thing can cause me to burst into tears.  The shower.  At one point, I got in the shower.  I sobbed through every minute in the bathroom, in the shower, out of the shower, doing my hair, all of it.  And, opened the bathroom door to an entire room of people staring at me, like deer in headlights, stone cold silent.  Surreal.  The car, which is the last place I saw my son alive.  I hugged him and kissed him goodbye and told him I loved him...something I'll address in a later blog.

I eventually called the medical examiner back that first day and got a few details, though there are still many unanswered questions.  Like, is it not suspicious that a 19 year old just died, in someone else's house and they are telling you that there was a 16 hour gap in between when they last saw him alive and when they found him?  Is time of death not a relevant thing to corroborate what they are saying?  I was informed that they don't "do" time of death here, it is listed as the time it was called in.  HUH?  The death certificate says unknown.  So, I wait for toxicology.  But, as I told the ME, having answers doesn't change things.  Knowing what really happened doesn't bring my boy back.

I never could talk to my husband that first day.  My own grief so overpowering I thought that if I had to bear his, also, it would actually kill me...literally.  I spoke to few people, actually, and tried to keep anyone from coming over, but our friends knew we were in need and showed up, anyway. 

One friend showed up totally beside herself for me, not even sure what to do with me or herself.  Because there is nothing to do, there are no words, I get it.  What can you say or do, how do you comfort someone who cannot be comforted?  She immediately stuck a cigarette in my mouth.  It's still funny to me, though I'm not sure why.  I guess it strikes me as funny that it is such an awkward situation, one would naturally think a cigarette is the answer.  I'd quit smoking some time before, but I took that one and decided that I'd started smoking, again, when my son died.  It's probably good that they have a bad memory associated with them so I'll stop, again, very soon. 

A blog for my grief

Just putting that right there immediately so if you found your way here accidentally you won't be mislead.

I am a 43 year old mama who lost her only son four days ago (5/18/13-it took me a bit to be able to finish this post), very unexpectedly.  He was just 19 years old.  There he is celebrating his birthday with us on March 19th of this year.  I have a beautiful daughter who needs me now more than ever.  Right now, grief envelops me, I think it's my entire identity.  Rather than bombard my close friends with sorrowful texts and post every thought in my mind on FB, I figured this was a better alternative.  If you're here on purpose, thank you for taking the time to listen to this mama's heart.

Warning here, I'm starting at the beginning, meaning when I found out about my baby and it's not emotional for emotions sake, but just to give me an outlet.  It might be hard reading.

Saturday, May 18, I looked at my phone and saw a missed call from Snohomish County.  HHHMM, I thought, as I showed my friend the phone, this must be about Brandon?  To myself I thought, it's probably the jail.  Well, that's ok, it means he's ok.  I listened to the voice mail which said, "This is Courtney, with Snohomish County, regarding Brandon Kashef, please call me."  For a brief second I allowed myself to think it was bad news and then quickly reassured myself, while also thinking it odd that the police would call me directly.  I thought maybe they had some belongings of his or wouldn't let him make a phone call.

I walk outside to call.  It rings.  She answers, "Snohomish County Medical Examiner, this is Courtney."  (right now I'm pausing to let my heartbeat regulate as I remember-it was horrific)  I immediately questioned having reached the ME and told her my name.  She asked me if I knew Brandon Kashef.  I said, "NO!  I KNOW Brandon Kashef," at which point she said she was sorry to tell me that my son had been found dead earlier that day, at his friend's house.  I may have screamed no or what or something, I don't know, but I immediately hung up on her.

I ran back inside to look for my friend, in a complete panic, absolutely beside myself.  Everyone looked at me, it was like the entire place froze, and I screamed something like my son is dead and lost it.  People were immediately at my side, one person who is also a mama, was sobbing with me, hugging me, saying she was so sorry.  I am not someone who cries around other people, even my own family, much less in a room full of people, and I think I probably seemed hysterical.  Well, of course I was hysterical, it was all so surreal, but having someone standing there sobbing with me and for me, hearing her heart break for me, will always mean a lot to me.  Initially I thought I'd just state as matter of fact what was wrong and wait for my friend to lean on, but the grief just owns you in that moment.

Sometime, not long after I broke down, my husband called.  I wasn't sure if he knew because we'd been squabbling a bit over the previous few days, trying to work things out for the boy.  Why I thought he might be calling for ANY other reason at that precise time, I'm not sure, but I risked it and answered the phone with a sobbing hello.  On the other end, gut wrenching, soul searing wailing.  I hung up.  He called back several more times, I could not answer.

At some point in my hysterics, another friend insisted on driving me home.  I really thought I could drive, I am thankful I wasn't allowed.  On the way, I had to call my daughter home.  I was crying into the phone, but didn't tell her what was wrong because I didn't want her driving upset.