It's been a long time since I've written. Much longer than I meant it to be, but as soon as I opened the first page, I remembered why...it breaks my heart to see the blog, to read what has happened, to look at yet another reminder that my son is not here. As a friend said, I like some fluff with my bad news, but there's no fluff to be found here, it's just straight up grief.
Much has happened, but I'll try not to write a book. We moved into a new home. It's a much smaller home, perfect for us, and we like it here. It was hard to move out of Brandon's house, to know I'd never get to go in his room, again, but God gave me much peace about all of that and I was able to have some people help pack up his stuff and the rest I took care of...and I survived. I'm still so very sad that he never got the chance to live in this new place with us, sad that there are no memories of him in this house, but I know it's what needed to happen. I don't think living in the other house was helping me move forward. Not that I'm necessarily moving forward, but it definitely wasn't going to happen there.
Here, I don't immediately see the scene play out in my mind, every time I get in the shower, of me sobbing through that first shower. I don't open the door the of the bathroom and imagine all the people in my living room, all the eyes on me, while I have no idea what to do with myself other than sob and stop every once in a while to wonder aloud if Brandon is all right. When I stand in front of the living room window, I don't imagine Ariana in my peripheral vision asking me what happened, while I choked out in between sobs that he'd died. I think those are pretty heavy burdens to carry around in a house and not being forced to relive them every single day has to be a good thing, right?
My baby girl, my only other child, graduated from high school. I imagined the entire day being a meltdown of epic proportions, but it actually wasn't, and I held it together pretty good, for the most part. We were packing to move at the same time, so it was sort of a crazy time, but my husband was home and I guess we managed ok as a family of three. My kids were never supposed to be only children, it was one of my rules of life, after being one myself, and yet here we are. The girl walking this path, while maneuvering adulthood, and accepting how things are much better than her parents. The girl and her friends, a breath of fresh air in our lives, really. I'm sad that she has to grow up. I want all the time back that I wasted, all of it.
People told me, and I'd read in many books, that the second year was the hardest. I told my mama that
I just could not handle having a year worse than the year my son died. Honestly, how in the hell do you survive worse than that? She told me that that didn't have to be my story, to not take on someone else's walk and I agreed, partly because there's some of that fluff that I like and partly because I agree. I always told Brandon not to let labels or someone else's walk dictate his, he did not have to accept that that's just how it goes.
And, so, I set about avoiding more, probably living less, trying to feel less, I suppose, to make sure that I didn't spend every moment of the second year crying that awful, primal wail that still haunts me. I've found that almost everything makes me cry. It catches me off guard fairly often because I really work at avoiding things that could potentially make me cry. There was still the 18th of every month to contend with, but one day I realized that I'd gotten through an 18th without crying, without even realizing it was the 18th. I wondered how in the world that could've happened, though asking it now seems silly....duh, I was avoiding. Then, one of the 18th's, one of God's special scriptures to me popped up on my phone. "Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:14. Our history with this verse goes back over a decade and I know when it pops up out of the blue, God is reminding me that He is ever present and comforting me, even when I am trying to not need to be comforted.
Then, on November 18th, the 18 month mark since Brando went to be with God, a friend posted something on her FB wall that was HUGE for me. I'd planned on doing a blog post that day, since it was during my annual 30 days of thanks, being thankful for the time I did get with the boy, thankful that I know where he is, even though I desperately want him here with me...just thankful, even if I wasn't feeling particularly joyous and thankful. What ended up happening was that just thinking of blogging threw me for such a loop that I fell apart inside and ran from being thankful for anything, because what mom has the nerve to leave her son out of her thankfulness just because it hurts? I'm not really embracing a ton of logic here, as you can see, but it's the way my thoughts go, at times.
Anyway, the friend posted a scripture also from the Psalms and it happens to be the very first scripture I was ever given, directly from God, after asking him for a word. At the time, the scripture was exactly what I needed to hear from God, it was an enormous moment for me. I was 20 years old, the second worst year of my life, and though I'd known God since a young age, I had a fairly new relationship with him, at that time. I've had to go back to that scripture too many times in this life, but I'm so thankful that I have it to lean on. I'm going to post some of the devotional that goes along with the scripture, so bear with me.
"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18. The word broken in Hebrew is the word shabar and means "to rend violently or crush; to maim, cripple or break." Shabar was used to describe ships that had been splintered and torn due to ferocious and wild winds. It was also used to describe the tearing and ripping that wild, ravenous beasts performed upon their prey. When the Psalmist declares that the Lord is near to the brokenhearted, he is reminding us that the Lord is lovingly attentive to those who are enduring unimaginable pain. If you are emotionally torn apart and wonder how you will make it through one more today, be comforted with the surety that He is with you.
There is more, but you get the gist of what it is saying and oh my gosh, how huge to open facebook and see that on that day. God. God is so involved in the details of our lives, all of the details, and he made sure I got a word that I would know was right from him, right when I needed it. The detail of that crushing, that breaking, is something I so understand. I hate that I get it, but I'm so thankful that it's not only all right to feel it, but God is right here in the trenches with me and he reminds us of these things in a real, tangible way.
I still have many dreams about Brandon. I can recall exactly one where I woke up and went, OK...wow, it's ok. Because, I still wake up crying. It's not the sobbing, choking in my sleep wailing of the first year, but rather a soft sobbing, the gentle sound of my crying and the wetness of my tears rousing me from sleep. And, then there's the moment the other day when I woke up and forgot, for just a moment, that he'd died. I was panicking about his meds and then it hit me...we haven't gotten them refilled because he died...remember? Oh. Yeah, I remember now. That is brutal. The shock just made everything stop for a moment. The next day, I dreamt about Brandon and, while I knew he'd died, it was like he was there, anyway. I've had similar dreams a few times, where he's shown up and I'm totally confused because I know he died. Well, in this dream he wanted to go somewhere and I said no and grounded him or sent him to his room or something. I went to his room and he was lying in bed and when I called his name, he lifted his head up and said, "Yeah?" And, I started crying and told him it was for his own good that he had to stay home, that I just loved him so much and I kept saying that over and over, I love you so, so much, until eventually I woke myself up because I was crying and saying that out loud.
It is so hard. I don't embrace living a whole lot right now. Going into yet another year that has no Brandon, well it's unimaginable and it's sad. And lonely. It hurts just to do this post, but I somehow guilted myself into believing that if I left the year without talking about Brandon here, again, I'd be a bad mom. I don't do guilt, but I think you find you actually do a lot of things that you didn't think you did, after your chid dies. I cried through all of this and then someone set off fireworks and the dog started barking and that struck me as funny, so I stood in the bathroom with my Kleenex, trying to stop the tears, blow my nose and laugh at the dog. It was a funny moment. I'm thankful for the funny moments. Brandon had a great sense of humor, which he got from his mother (the girl has it, too, of course) and I know he'd never want me to forget how to laugh, even if I have to do it while I'm crying.
There's so much I wish I'd written sooner, but I know it's not a stretch to understand how I cannot make myself get here. I've said this so often and I'll probably never stop...this wasn't supposed to be my life. My child wasn't supposed to be the one that others had to grieve that others had to learn from. Not my child. I don't guess I've reached the acceptance part of the grieving process yet? I don't know. I'm trying. And, I'll close with a text from a friend that I absolutely needed today. What a treasure she is and I can't wait for Brandon to meet her, someday. Oh, how he'll love her sense of humor and her beautiful spirit.
"I'm not going to just wish you Happy New Year. I want to wish you something else I just can't find the damn word for it. I want you to know that in your dark moments however wrong it seems, you and your boy help each other. It seems awful and I can only imagine slightly cruel. But nonetheless, your transparency and strength, even sadness have helped people. I could so do the whole "he's still here" thing but I hate that. Still a beautiful spirit is touching others. No longer just him or just you. But in a way a work you are doing together. Get pissed about the injustice of that, and then harness it and use it to bolster you for another year. I love you and the boy I didn't know. I pray for you and miss you."
And, so, I'm going to work at doing exactly what she said, harnessing it and working WITH my boy for another year. Until we meet, again........
Happy New Year, friends!