It’s Back-My Two Sons

I wasn’t expecting it to come back.  I figured we had moved past this.  It’s like an unwelcome visitor that shows up unannounced, unpacks their bags and settles in.  I want it to go.

My insomnia is back.  You would think that having a 7 month old that doesn’t sleep would be able to cure my sleepless nights.  I cannot remember a night where I was asleep before 12 or where I got more than a 2-3 hour stretch.

I thought I was over this already!  I thought that I had moved on, but I suppose that with grief or PTSD you never really ‘move on.’  It’s just more of the same.

Someone was holding my second son and telling him all about his firsts.  How he would walk and talk and how 2016 was going to be amazing for him.  This was all said with so much love and hope.  All I could think was, will he?  Is his future any more guaranteed than mine?  Than his brothers was?

Dark, right?  Awful, terrible thoughts.  I had thought that 2013 was going to be amazing once upon a time.  I had expected that my first son would learn new words, might hop on a tricycle or sing his ABC’s.  That never happened.

As I watch this little man grow, I hate that these thoughts even enter my mind.  I have hope for the future, I do.  I want to think that things will be amazing and that I will grow old alongside my husband and children.  These thoughts are like my insomnia, unwelcome and unconstructive, but won’t go away.

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Fog

During the first year or so of grief you’re numb.  You’re not really thinking about anyone else, just trying to survive day to day.  Time passes slowly and fast at the same time.

You are so involved in your grief, you forget about everything else.  You stop caring what other people think, especially as it concerns yourself.  People still had opinions about what Parker and I did, I just really didn’t care as much.  I miss this.

This didn’t give me a license to run my mouth, I’m already good at that anyway.  I didn’t see it as an opportunity to burn others because I just didn’t care.  I just didn’t let their thoughts and opinions influence my life or make me feel bad about myself.  For the first time I realized that they had never stood where we were, therefore their negativity was irrelevant.  It meant nothing.

I’ve never felt so free, although I didn’t realize it at the time.  I mean, did it really matter what anyone had to say to us in comparison to us losing Benny?  All of the petty drama and bullshit became nonexistant in my head.  That nagging voice that always made me overthink my every waking move disappeared completely.  I was free from my own insecurities, most of which were petty and ridiculous anyway.  I’m pretty sure my own guilt overtook most of that anyway.

I would never have been able to blog like this before the accident.  Put into words all of my crazy thoughts and share them with the world.  I grew up in a house where emotions were not welcome.  I’m trying so hard not to make that same mistake, though it’s hard.

There are days when I miss the fog.  I miss not caring what other people think.  I make myself crazy sometimes (ask Parker as he’d surely agree).  If I could hold onto one part of the first year it would be my ability to shut it off.  Tune out the crap.  Remember to be grateful for what I have and not to let others influence how I feel about me.

That statement in and of itself makes my skin crawl, because I know how bad that first year was.  I’m shocked that I would want any part of it back, but I do.

I guess this is part of it.  Moving past the grief enough that other things outside of losing my son hurt.  I didn’t expect it to happen, no one warned me I would feel this way again.

I’m pretty I don’t like it for two reasons:  the insecurity and the fact that it feels like moving on.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be stuck in grief forever, but even thinking about moving on is sad to me.  It’s been 2 years and 2 months.  Longer than his 17 months.  How did that happen already?

 

Again

I remember one of my first thoughts moments after the accident occurred was that this couldn’t be happening again.  I wasn’t supposed to lose someone close to me again.  I had already survived what I considered to be my life’s tragedy when I lost my mom.  It felt impossibly wrong.  I just kept saying, why is this happening AGAIN?!?!?!

My mom died 20 years ago this May.  Tonight we just found out that my dad’s wife has a very rare form of stage IV bone cancer.  How is this happening again to him?  How is any of this fair?  My life has taken on this surreal feeling again, where I’m unsure what is real and what isn’t.

Besides losing Benny, the darkest hours of my life were when my mom was sick and after she passed.  Even though my parents had a complicated relationship, my dad was incredible for my mom when she was sick.  He was unwavering in his strength and willingness to do anything and everything for her.  I guess that I’m lucky because in those moments I got to witness what real, unadulterated love looks like.  For all of his faults, that man was truly amazing for my mom when she was sick.

But he was sick too.  My dad is an alcoholic, plain and simple.  I had spent 14 years of my mom sparing me from most of that though and my dad and I had a pretty good relationship.  I’m one of those lucky people that really had an amazing childhood complete with what I consider to be great family memories, undiluted by my father’s illness.  As a child I really didn’t know any different, ignorance is bliss.

When my mom passed, obviously everything changed.  I was alone in my house with my father, alone being the key word.  He disappeared.  Fell apart.  Broke down.  My life became a series of days – going to school, coming home, taking whatever money was left on the counter to buy dinner and going to bed, waking up at whatever time in the morning to hear my father stumble in the door, clearly drunk.  I would spend a lot of time at friends homes because no one was ever home at mine.  I coped the best that I could by hiding behind a smile and moving forward.  Trying to keep it together, thinking it could always be worse.  Wondering why it was my mom that had passed.  Looking back, it was a dark time, but I was too young to even comprehend what I was going through and know how completely wrong it was.

It’s probably  why after Benny died, it was so important to me that Parker and I didn’t shut down on Darcy or each other.  It’s why I don’t accept people disappearing from our lives as ok, or have any ability to deal with their weaknesses.  I’m still not great at expressing emotion because quite honestly, if I let myself feel 100% of what I should, I would probably be in a padded room somewhere.  But that’s ok, because I know my limitations and I’m trying my damndest to work through them to be as healthy as I can for my family.  I’m not strong, I’m just doing what I need to do to survive.

It’s taken a very long time, but we finally have a good relationship again, probably not the healthiest, but it works for us.  I’m terrified about what all of this means for my father and my own family.  I don’t know if he’s strong enough to go through this again.  I’m angry as all hell that he should even have to.  Has he not suffered enough?  I just don’t get it.  We’re given one life to live, how many times can you just roll through the punches before enough is enough?   My stepmother actually apologized to him for getting sick, because she doesn’t want him to have to go through this again.  My heart is breaking for both of them. How many tragedies should one have to endure in their lifetime?  This is my question.

The Driveway

This topic has been a long time coming.  As I sit here rocking Fletch at 3:30 AM, it feels weird to write about such things.  This is part of the new paradigm that exists in my life of joy/sadness.  Hard to except that they now exist mutually exclusively.

After the accident, it was if my driveway didn’t exist.  It was like a game I used to play when I was little, it was ‘hot lava’ and I couldn’t go near it or I’d be burned.  It was my achilles heel, still is.

I used to park on a side street and go through my backyard.  The problem was the school hours parking ban and climbing up brick steps and then balancing along my stone retaining wall to even get to my yard.  Not a great option in New England winters.

I knew once Fletch was here things would have to change.  At first my solution was to park at the base of the driveway and still only use the bottom portion.  This then required climbing a hill of ground covering up to the house.  The only way to any door in my house was up.  Carrying the carseat this way didn’t make any sense.

Eventually I just gave up and started parking in the driveway again.  It was the only ‘safe’ way to get Fletch into the house.  Parker had always backed in since the accident, the theory being that we wouldn’t get caught in any open doors should the car roll.

I can’t begin to tell you the number of times I check to see if the car is in park.  It’s become an OCD habit.  I refuse to pull keys from the ignition unless I’m in the car.  I triple check the parking break as extra assurance, although I’m not entirely sure how helpful it really is.

We live on a busy enough street, on a curve in a hill.  Backing into this driveway sucks.  People aren’t always very patient with me and make me panic when they come flying down the hill at me.  To say I have anxiety over backing into my driveway is an understatement.

The week before the 2 year anniversary of the accident, I found I had to pull in one rainy day because someone had parked at the bottom.  Well, Parker came home and this unnerved him which in turn stressed me out further.  You really can’t see well out of the back of the suburban.  I had already backed into the fence and the Volvo, further adding to my discomfort.

The Friday anniversary of the accident found me running late to get home to get Darcy off the bus.  Friday always seems tougher than the actual anniversary date for me.  As I came down Chester Street, Darcy’s bus was headed uphill. I could see Darcy up on our lawn and breathed a sigh of relief.  I started to back into the driveway and Darcy was on my right up on the grass.  The driveway is steep, so I usually have to gun it a bit to get the Suburban up it.  At the last second I stopped because Darcy was gone from my sight.  This was strange as she knows to stay away from moving vehicles.  I started looking around in panic, and there she was, peering at me on my left, in my drivers side window.  I wanted to scream at her and cry, yet hold her and never let her go in that same instant.

She had walked behind the truck as I was backing up the driveway.  It was just about 3:30 on Friday afternoon.  A little after tragedy had struck in that exact same spot two years prior.  It took everything in me to get out of that truck not completely lose it.  How could something so similar almost have happened again, in the same spot, at almost the same time?!?!?  What.  The.  Fuck.

Thank goodness I stopped and looked for her.  I couldn’t see her from where I was because the lawn is higher than the driveway, something made me pause and duck down to see if she was where she should be.

So much for feeling like backing in was now the safest way to be in our driveway.  I guess that nothing would ever really make me feel comfortable again anyway.  It’s all just a false sense of security.

If only this driveway wasn’t a part of this house.  If only I could pick up my house and move it away to somewhere new.  It’s time to admit this doesn’t work.  We tried, but perhaps it’s time to move on.  This also fills me with joy/sadness because being free of this driveway excites me, but this is my home.  This is where I brought my babies home from the hospital, yet where my son died.  It’s hard to balance these two emotions sometimes when they’re everywhere in your life.  Why can’t it just be one or the the other?  Why does it have to be both at once?