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.