Today I’m supposed to write about a sacred place where I feel most connected to Benny. I don’t know that I can nail down one space, as there are some great places that I go where I can just feel him. It used to be his bedroom, but it’s changed and that’s ok. The shop is definitely one of those places because we spent so much time there together and he was Daddy’s little helper.
The place that I feel the most connected to Benny is the garden. Sunflowers grew that we didn’t plant, and I’m now harvesting seeds so that I can share my ‘Benny sunflowers’ with friends and family next year. Darcy and I worked so hard at planting all types of vegetables because we didn’t know what would actually grow (we’ve never had luck before). I spent July and August picking zuchinni, summer squash, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, you name it! It was unreal that the garden took off the way that it did. It turned into a magical place and became ‘Benny’s Garden.’ We put a pinwheel and solar light from the memorial last year into the garden to make it his. Tara took it one step forward with her sign (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!)
I don’t know what I’m going to do over the winter. I hate that I cannot be out there in the dirt, feeling the earth, taking care of his garden. I found so much peace in connecting to the earth and being able to grow something that we could eat. I find myself looking forward to spring and planning an even bigger garden for next year. Hopefully Benny will sprinkle it with a little more angel dust again.
Parker and I were asked to be interviewed for the Greg Hill Foundation’s upcoming thank you party on October 24th. In it’s 4 years, the foundation has given back over $1 million to it’s beneficiaries. It fills my heart that we are able to be a part of a group that is so involved in supporting the local community.
We went into Boston early this morning, not really knowing what to expect. When we got there, it was somewhat of a reunion. James, a fellow beneficiary, was there, who had donated money to us back in February and completely blown our minds. We got to see Lindsay who helped give me the confidence to deliver my speech at the 1,350 days celebration. Of course, we got to see Erin and Adam, who work so tirelessly for GHF.
This was the real deal. We had hair and make-up (Parker LOVED that part), and then sat on camera with an interviewer answering questions about the foundation. It’s nerve racking sitting in a silent studio with half a dozen other people, everyone staring at you.
We talked about the foundation, what it’s meant to us. We thanked our donors and the foundation. Of course, now I’ve come up with at least a million other things that I want to say, but I hope that our message came across – this foundation gave us hope when there was little in our lives. These people reached into their wallets and their hearts and gave of themselves. They have helped us to manage through the last awful year of our lives. We lost our son, but we’ve gained a family.
I have not been able to read any books on grieving or grief, or child loss. The thought of reading an edited version of peoples feelings just doesn’t appeal to me. Perhaps it makes it too real, puts my loss into a category that I’m not yet prepared to face.
I read blogs, lot’s of them. I’ve connected with many other moms that have walked in my shoes. I could spend days reading through how they have dealt with different situations. I have ‘met’ many other moms in my journey, women that bear the same scars as I. I have entered a community of women that have held my hand and understand what I am going through.
When I began blogging, it was a way for me to let things out, I had never intended to actually share any of it. When I finally did, it felt freeing. In those first days, I started to receive comments and likes from other moms. This opened my eyes to this whole group of women and men who were going through what we’ve been through. All of a sudden, I wasn’t alone in my anger, my sorrow. It was ‘ok’ to feel how I was feeling. It was amazing reading how eloquently others could put my feelings into words.
So, in the wake of Benny’s death, books are out. I’ve tried reading some novels just for fun, but I have a hard time focusing and most of the time I’m not able to finish them. Instead I spend hours reading through grief blogs, soaking up other’s experiences and advice. The connection that I feel to these people has helped me in so many ways. I honestly feel lucky to have this in my life, which is ironic, because if you asked me, I would say that luck left our lives a long time ago. Thank you to my fellow bloggers.
Today was a busy day. We raked, painted, leaf blew, pressure washed. Darcy and I played Rummy, Legos and read books. We rode bikes at the church across the street. We went to the store. I’m exhausted. I should feel fulfilled after a day like today. I miss you. I miss the chaos that you brought into our lives. We would never have been able to do half of what we did today if you were here, and I wish that were the case. I hate this reality. I hate this ‘new normal.’ I hate a lot of things about this new life. Hate is where I’m comfortable, it’s much easier than sad.
Continuing with my ‘Capture Your Grief’
Now, it’s hard to be honest with myself. Who have I become? Who is this person? I’m still out of work. I now have a 5 year old to juggle-Only a 5 year old. I only drive short distances. When I read, I usually cannot finish the book because I become distracted, or maybe I just don’t like endings. I don’t sleep at night, even though I’m exhausted. I’m terrified of meeting new people, scared of being asked how many children I have. I binge watch Netflix sometimes just to have something to do. People have disappeared, my social circle is small.
My life is small. I am small. I am broken. My after is filled with small family pictures and and an overwhelming feeling that I have make things ‘ok’ for everyone else.
My after is also filled with love and lot’s of it. Love and support that I never imagined possible. Complete strangers raised a lot of money for my family to make our lives easier. Friends reached out to everyone they knew and the community of Worcester surrounded us in their love. The Greg Hill Foundation raised money for us. We have become involved in their events. I have found so many grieving mothers that have opened their arms and hearts to me. I have learned that people are genuinely good. I saw the best side of humanity. I am able to make the best of any situation.
One of the bloggers that I follow is participating in the ‘Capture Your Grief’ project. This seemed like a good challenge for me as October leads right up to what another blogger likes to call ‘Devastation Day’ (thank goodness for my fellow bloggers, giving me direction every day). I’m joining this 3 days in, so I’m a little behind.
Today I’m supposed to capture my ‘before.’ I’ve often thought about how different I was before and how much I have changed. If I’m being honest, my life was crazy. Everyday I fought to spend enough time with my kiddos, get enough hours in at work, get enough hours of sleep and maybe see my husband somewhere in the middle of all that. There never seemed to be enough hours in my day, there was never ‘enough.’ I worked 30 hours, supported Parkers business, was a FT mom, fundraised for the 3 Day, loved reading, was a friend, a wife and sister. It was AMAZING!! I thrived on it! Yes, I did get burnt out, yes I did get overwhelmed, but it was me, it was how I thrived. I enjoyed a challenge and trying to juggle/problem solve is my forte. Chalk it up to my alcoholic parent upbringing, or perhaps losing my mom at a young age and having to fend for myself. For some reason, the more that I had on my plate, the more that I seemed to rise to the occasion.
I loved being a mom. I never anticipated how much it would change me and my priorities. I struggled so much with what was important-being home or going after what I wanted at work. I struggled with my identity. All of this aside, I loved being a mom. I loved the chaos of the kids, the constant noise and mess. The happiness, there was so much laughter. There was so much love.
Couldn’t have said it better.
Grief is not a process. It is a state of being. It is a permanent state of being. It is the new place I live day in and day out. I function as best as I can. Some days better than others. But I am continually in a state of grief. I can’t describe the pain of missing Zachary. I can’t make others feel how I feel. I can only express that I am trapped in this nightmare fighting through each and every moment, hoping for something better to come.
Last year we participated in the ‘Jingle All the Way 5K’ for the Greg Hill Foundation. It was our way of giving back. We’re at it again this year, gearing up to walk/run in the sub zero temperatures to raise money for the foundation. If you want to join us, you can register at the link below.