Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Happy 20th Birthday, Son

I was going through Brandon's baby book the other night and found a letter I'd written to him.

Brandon, God brought you to us at the exact moment you were needed. You were a life changing (and saving) present! Daddy and I have always been so much in love with you from the moment we laid eyes on you. I don't think there is a greater love than what a parent feels for a child and I hope one day you will experience the same kind of joy. No matter what kind of trials or struggles we go through in life, don't ever, ever forget how much I love and adore you. We are so much alike and I promise to do my best to steer you in the right direction in a loving manner. Believe me, I know what a challenge our personality type can be, but I also know that you can do absolutely anything you put your mind to, just put all that energy, determination and independent little nature to good use. God has been by you since before you were born and He will continue to guide you if you let him. Love always, Mommy

I'm so sad that he never got to see that letter, so sad that he didn't get the fullest life here that he could've had. It's heartbreaking to lose anyone, especially if they were living with you and it was unexpected. There are reminders EVERYWHERE, things that were left around the house and you find later, all the pieces that made up their life, a life that will no longer be lived here, a life that you're no longer sharing with them. Losing a child is infinitely more painful and difficult than anything experienced on this earth, I'm sure of it. The shock, regret, anger, immense grief I feel at him not being here to turn 20 and celebrate another year is something most people in my world cannot fathom or understand. I barely fathom or understand it myself. I'm still not sure I understand the permanence of him being gone. The thawing of the shock is definitely happening, but it's hard to grasp a lifetime of living without your child. I keep hearing that the second year is the worst and I keep praying that it isn't true. It's almost impossible to live with the current pain...worse is just unacceptable.

Anyway, I want to celebrate Brandon's life today. We got 19 years with the best boy EVER and we'll have an eternity with him, blessed gifts to be sure!

Brandon, we love you and miss you so very, very much. A huge light in our lives was dimmed when you left, but we are thrilled for you that you are surrounded by the brightest light and love from the Father, each and every day. Happy 20th birthday to one of the greatest gifts of our entire life! Love, Mom, Dad and Ariana!

I hope you'll watch the video that my daughter's sweet friend made for us. It's long, but I wanted to share as much of my boy with the world as possible. The picture at the very end has a hand shaped heart, using one of my daughter's hands and one of mine. When Brandon almost died in November of 2012, he was intubated and unable to speak, supposedly in a medically induced coma. I told him I loved him and his hand (strapped down to keep him from pulling out the vent tube) came out from under the sheet to make a half heart to tell me he loved me, too. It's a precious memory of mine. That boy loved his mama so much, a merciful gift.

Thank you for reading!

Friday, March 14, 2014

300 Days - Why Is My Faith On The Ground?

This is a combined post, I guess, some recent musings, along with another milestone, if you will, 300 days since Brandon died. One day, I'm sure these horrible anniversaries will stop being such a big part of my life, maybe once I'm past all the firsts, who knows. I still can't believe I ever got past the first week. I guess you do it because your body has involuntary actions that keep propelling you forward. I know science isn't all of it, but it has to be the majority of it, because those first hours and days still haunt me on a pretty regular basis. The wound is still gaping.

I walked into my room the other night and said, "Why is my faith on the ground?" I really think I spent way too much time as an only child speaking to my imaginary friends because I sure do a lot of talking when there is NO ONE around lol! I know...I just do a LOT of talking-period. So, even though I really was speaking to no one in particular and it was in reference to a piece of my sign gallery being on the ground, I immediately saw the relationship to my life and knew the obvious answer: Because I haven't picked it up. Heh. And, that's what I said, "Heh."

That sign gallery and the wall it hangs on is one of my favorite things to see in my house. I know that scripture, so a piece of wood missing from the wall hanging doesn't stop me from saying it daily, but for some reason I just won't super glue the hook, again, so it will stay put. Much like I've been doing with God. I know his words in my heart, in my head, in every part of my being and I know where I'll turn no matter the storm, when push comes to shove, but I'm not picking it up. I let it fall and I see it every single day, but I can't make myself fix it. Talking to God for other people is easy. People need prayer, I'm all over it. I've been pleading for a friend's brother, the heart of this mama broken for her mama and I know God is there, I feel him, but then I set it back down. I pound this scripture into my head because I know I have to remember all the traits of is SO very many things...but then I see that faith is missing and I get it. Where is the faith? Faith is much more than just believing something to be true, it's KNOWING it to be true, sometimes in spite of mountains of supposed evidence that would have you believe otherwise.

I saw one of my favorite clients the other day. She has been with me the entire seven years that I've been preparing taxes. Gosh, did I get a lesson in research my first year, but she trusted me and we've had a special connection ever since. She noticed my tattoo and asked me about it. I told her what it said and that Brandon had died and she felt so bad for asking, but I don't mind people asking. Baze told me I was going to regret getting something in such a visible place and I told him that was the whole point and it is! He keeps his covered all the time, he can't bear the looks and questions and I can't bear to wear long sleeves which will cover my boy's name. I love my tattoo and I'm proud that I have such a beautiful memorial for my kid and more than happy to talk about it.

So, we had a nice chat and I think if there's one client I'd say has really made me re-think my decision to not go back, regardless of what I'm doing, it's her. She loves me and she hugged me several times and she said, "You're a Christian, aren't you?" I nodded and she said she knew it. And, it's not because I walk around in obvious perfection, never a doubt in anyone's mind who I worship, it's because of my faith in Brandon's new life. I trust that God was merciful in allowing him to go home and I trust that God didn't make that decision lightly, knowing the trail of heartbreak it'd leave behind, but the best decision for Brandon had to be made and that was to allow him to go home. She said to me the very same things, almost verbatim that I say to my daughter on a regular basis, "We don't know what he was spared from, what kind of suffering he may have had to endure." And, I said, "YES, yes that is exactly what I've been saying," and it made my heart leap just a little because I know it was confirmation, yet again, that Brandon was allowed to go for a reason. My heart is so broken and I've actually spent HUNDREDS of days a doesn't seem possible without him, but I know that God knows his children and he knows I will go on. Somehow. My friend, Ernie, said the same thing to me at Thanksgiving, that he could tell by looking at me that I'd eventually be ok. I saw that look in my client's eyes. I knew that she knew I'd be ok. It hurts dreadfully, it's a pain you would never, ever wish on your worst enemy, it has taken people out, it's horrific, but I have faith. Faith in God and his love for me, my daughter, my husband and, most importantly right now, my beautiful son. Love never gives up and love never loses faith.

Faith may fall, but love never doubts that it'll get picked up again. And, it will. It's there when I shed the tears and second guess every single decision I have ever made in my life. Every one of them. Picking the faith up off the ground may not (probably will not) magically fix all of that, but maybe I can start to see something in my life a little clearer. We are strong, we will endure, God wants his best for our lives, for all of his children.

And so, this new person, whom I barely recognize, wonders at the hope of ever getting somewhere healthy and sane. You just have no idea what 300 days of solid grieving does to a person. I am always going to be a different Lisa. I think God has guarded my heart well and I still have a sense of humor, I'm gracious, I love to give, things like that, but I just feel so different, so lost, almost like I'm in shock, which I am not. Three hundred long days of trying to reconcile the old Lisa's life with the new Lisa's life and trying to convince myself that it's for the best. I will miss this boy, I will long for his presence for the rest of my days. It may not look pretty at all and I hope it doesn't scare anyone is reality.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Dreams

I woke up crying, again. I was so sad and distraught in my sleep that it woke me up and then I was so sad when I woke up that I started sobbing, again. I had another dream where I don't think I saw Brandon, (I went back to look for him and swear he wasn't there) but I couldn't stop crying about him. I vividly remember that, in my dream, the anguish was consuming me on such a level that my body ached. My head hurt, not a headache, but my head actually hurt to touch it, from the pain of him being gone. Baze was there and we were in Brandon's room and I leaned against the wall sobbing and just fell down the wall into a heap. Then, I was in a classroom or something of the like, just sobbing and sobbing.

I tried to remember every detail, but it was a two part dream and when I went back to sleep and woke up, I must have forgotten some of it. I just know that when I woke up I couldn't shake the sadness. I thought to myself, what day is it, is it the 18th, why today? To wake up and know that there is no cure for that feeling, that you will have that hole for the rest of your life, is a wretched pain, heartbreak that is just devoid of an apt description. I wish I had one. I don't feel like I can convey the pain that is losing a child, an entire part of you, and longing for him, every single day.

Outside of my bedroom door, the floor was creaking and I thought it might be my daughter, so I tried to cry softly, but she heard me and asked me about it later. It scared her. Maybe it scared me, too. It does scare me. I don't think I can handle a lifetime of heartbreaking dreams, waking up feeling totally helpless and so very sad.

I don't know how to help my daughter when, evidently, I cannot help myself. I don't know what it's like to have a mother so distraught that she wakes herself up crying. I don't know what it feels like to lose your only brother...something that I have actually had happen, but I was too young to remember. My girl, unfortunately, will be profoundly affected by such a loss. It's already been 9 1/2 months. Is that a long time or a short time? My girl is strong, I see it, I know it. I thought I was strong, but I cry in my sleep. How do you keep the grief from killing you? Is it any wonder that I have sleep issues? Who wants to sleep when they face waking up like that and if you do wake up like that, who would want to wake up? It's a real problem that is my reality...all of these questions and many more.