1,000 Years

My heart hurts so much after reading that singer/songwriter Christina Perri’s daughter was born sleeping. This after she suffered a miscarriage.

Her song, a Thousand Years, has been Fletchie’s and mine since he was born. I would sing it to him at bed every night and every naptime. Now when it comes on the radio he immediately seeks me out. And then falls into my arms in a blubbering mess. Because this kids loves more than anyone I’ve ever known. And he feels more than most people.

Some part of him recognizes how shattered my mama heart is. I swear he understands. So he holds me and I hold him. And we sob. Every. Single. Time.

And my heart is broken knowing that another mama is struggling. Her words have had such a huge impact on my healing and now she knows this pain. It makes me very sad. Sending her family so much love.❤️

‘And all along I believed, I would find you
Time has brought your heart to me, I have loved you for a thousand years
I’ll love you for a thousand more.’

Brave

I’m not feeling very brave. I’m feeling very beaten down and tired. I’m feeling overwhelmed by the fact that it has been 7 years since Benny died. And maybe if the world wasn’t a disaster, and school wasn’t a mess and work wasn’t overwhelming I could spend 5 minutes actually acknowledging this very fact.

My soul is weary. Maybe even more so than it was 7 years ago. The constant reminder of death, the statistics and the faceless people is too much to bear. Because I know how absolutely soul crushing it is for these families to have to try to pick up the pieces. But I don’t know how they do so in the absence of hugs and physical touch.

I don’t think that I’m fighting so much right now as I’m surviving. It seems to be a constant game of defense, as something new rears its ugly head to contend with. I don’t feel like I’m pushing away the waves as much as I’m being slammed by them. Over and over as I try to right myself and swim again.

Trust me, I very much want to give up some days. I want to get in my car and drive until I’m somewhere, anywhere. I want to be done with 2020 and all of its constant reminders to ‘enjoy every moment, because you never know when it will be your last.’ If anyone knows about death and loss, it’s me. My bingo card is filled to the brim. It’s overwhelming to constantly be reminded of this.

But I’m here. And tomorrow’s another day. And hopefully I will find my 5 minutes of peace with my grief. And if it’s brave to just exist right now, to just be, then maybe, just maybe, I am brave.

Mary Poppins Returns

I watched Mary Poppins Returns tonight for the second time and I am again obsessing over how well grief is normalized/portrayed/handled in this movie.

The first time I watched it I sat sobbing in the theater. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of triggers in the movie. When I say triggers, I mean in the very best way. Because I sat there watching Disney talk openly to kids and families about death. And grief. And it made me so very happy that they had created a movie surrounding a very hard topic that had some very great messages.

The music in that movie had me sobbing. Song after song I needed tissues as I listened to the lyrics that I felt I could have written. Because I lived them. And they resonated with something deep inside. Again, in the best way possible.

A Conversation

‘This year has gone by in a blur
Today seems everything’s gone wrong here
I’m looking for the way things were
I know you’d laugh and call me tragic
For everything’s in disarray
These rooms were always full of magic
That’s vanished, since you went away’

This song, a conversation between Michael Banks and his deceased wife, guts me. It is so hard to carry on after our people are gone. And it is so hard to do so without feeling some sort of guilt or failure. Not that’s there’s a right or wrong way to grieve, but my goodness it is so very hard when there are children involved. It changes everything.

Where the Lost Things Go

This song gets me every time. Every single word in this song is beautiful. And true. And I love that it is used for a lullaby.

‘Do you ever dream
Or reminisce?
Wondering where to find
What you truly miss
Well maybe all those things
That you love so
Are waiting in the place
Where the lost things go

Memories you’ve shed
Gone for good you feared
They’re all around you still
Though they’ve disappeared
Nothing’s really left
Or lost without a trace
Nothing’s gone forever
Only out of place’

Trip a Little Light Fantastic

I love how this song talks about being ‘lost’ and in a ‘fog’. I think we can all agree that is exactly how it feels. Sometimes you are in the fog, unaware and lost. In grief, we all just need our own leary. And maybe sometimes it’s a person, or a pet or whatever when we can’t find our own light.

Sometimes Friendships

Man, this one resonated with me. Sometimes relationships end. And it’s really freaking hard.

‘Listen, sometimes friendships break.

They just do. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you it means you’re normal. Every single one of us has been there. Friendship is hard and complex and it doesn’t always turn out like we wish it would.

Sometimes friendships fall apart and you’re not even sure why. Sometimes you do everything know to do and it’s not enough.
Sometimes you have a fight and you try to pick up the pieces, but it feels like you don’t have the tools to glue the broken edges together again. It hurts and you wish you did, but you just don’t.
Sometimes you both carry wounds from childhood and it makes communication hard or impossible.

Sometimes you can’t get healthy without moving on.

Sometimes you grow apart. You can’t put your finger on it, it just happens, slowly and suddenly, you wake up and you’re different people. You wish you could stay, but you know you have to go. Your paths have split and you can’t travel the same road anymore.

Sometimes things stay broken when they should be fixed. It’s no one’s fault it’s just the truth of it. The truth of it is that things don’t always turn out with happy endings.

Sometimes you hurt someone deeply and even the most heartfelt apology doesn’t make it the same again.

Sometimes people hurt you. They say the wrong thing and they do the wrong thing and it hurts.

Sometimes friends walk away when they should have stayed.

Sometimes you walk away when you should have stayed. You should have stayed and fought harder. You know that now, but you can’t go back.

Sometimes friends betray you. You trust them with your whole heart and it turns out they didn’t deserve it.

Sometimes you can’t do everything anymore. You can’t pull your weight and their weight, you need it to be a two way street.
I don’t have all the answers, I’ve been in every one of these stories. All I know is we have to begin again. We have to open our hearts and risk again. There’s no guarantee we won’t be hurt or disappointed. There’s no guarantee we won’t eventually grow apart.

Friendship includes struggle, we don’t like to talk about that, but it’s true. It’s impossible to risk in relationships and come out the other side unscathed. Sometimes friendships break. It’s painful and it’s hard.

All I know is life is for living with people.

All I know is that friendship is the most sacred of treasures and it’s worth picking ourselves up, dusting ourselves off, and fighting for it with all of our hearts.’

Written by Jess Johnston

Follow @sisteriamwithyou. for more.

Those Back to School Photos

I’m beginning to see the smiling faces of all of my friends kids on social media, all gussied up for the first day of school…or remote learning…or homeschool. With everything going on over the last 6 months, I had forgotten.

No I didn’t forget Benny had died, the rainbows and I drove by the cemetery the other day blowing kisses and saying a hello. I had forgotten that yet another school year has begun. Another milestone has been missed. Another memory will never be.

This is a messed up year in a lot of ways and maybe that’s why it didn’t occur to me until I saw a child Benny’s age. They were all dressed up and smiling for their first day of 3rd grade. I cannot believe that he should be starting starting 3rd grade. I cannot believe that it has been that long.

I just had to sit and do the math over and over, because it’s hard for me to rationalize in my mind that he should be 8 years old right now. While this year has provided me with time with my living children, it has kept me so busy that I feel I have neglected time with my dead child. Time in general in 2020 seems to be an abstract concept.

So I’m sitting here, with really tired eyes because it’s been another busy day. And my head is spinning as our new school year is right around the corner. And I just needed to make some space. I needed to take a moment and wrap my head around the picture that I should be taking of my crazy 8 year old guy as he starts whatever version of school we would have chosen, without the guise of loss hanging overhead.

I can almost see the smile with those dimples. I can almost hear him and Darcy rough housing and bickering like my rainbows do. I can imagine that he would be a mess before I even had a chance to take a picture. Because he was always into something. I can almost feel the hug that I have been dying to give him since 2013 when this whole disaster started.

Another school year, another landmark missed. That’s the thing with grief, you don’t just lose somebody all at once, but rather in pieces, over time. My god, I miss you buddy.

She Understood

There were many people that showed up and sat with us for months after our loss. They came with food and drink and presents for Darcy. There was so much honesty and connection through these visits. My work family was a big part of this.

When Benny died people were pretty amazing. We talk so much about the people that have disappointed us, but in truth there were so many that stepped up to help us too. We were lucky to be surrounded by love.

There were many people that showed up and sat with us for months after our loss. They came with food and drink and presents for Darcy. There was so much honesty and connection through these visits. My work family was a big part of this.

One of my co workers ‘C’ came by a few times to spend time with us. I remember sitting in my living room, or going out to dinner with her and her fiance. It was easy and a good distraction for us. She was one of those people who was able to hug me and cry and even though she didn’t have children of her own, she was able to empathize. That meant the world to me then.

Fast forward a few years and I was asked to write a letter about my boss and how he had supported us through our grief. Because of who he is and what he does for those around him, he won Core Net’s Service Provider of the Year. Parker and I were invited to the event and I was terrified to go.

This was 3 years after Benny had passed. I had since quit my job and had been working with Parker growing our antique automobile business. Fletcher the rainbow was 1 year old and we were surviving. I had been avoiding the reality that I had lived a whole other life for a long time. For 7 years I had built relationships with clients, contractors and vendors alike. This event would force me to face all that I had lost/given up professionally.

When we got there, I was nervous. I knew that we would be sitting at a table with some of my past clients and I knew that I would see others from the industry. I remember taking a deep breath and walking up the stairs, and there to my surprise was C. Now C had just had her first child about 6 months prior. I was so happy to see a familiar face and I ran to give her a big hug. And she started crying. And then I started crying. Because I knew in that moment that she understood.

Now as a mother, she understood my loss at a deeper level. I was sad for her because she realized the magnitude of love that comes with carrying and having a child. And I think for the first time she clearly realized what we lost. So we cried and hugged. We didn’t need to say anything because we both understood. And I felt seen. My loss felt acknowledged all over again.

I wish that I could say that the rest of the night was as great as that single moment, but it wasn’t. It was awkward as all hell. I was awkward. And I’m okay with that. I stepped out of my comfort zone. I accomplished something that I had been avoiding. And that single moment made the whole night worth it. Thank you C.

Year 1

On the eve of the first year, I feel I still cannot talk to you. Rationally, I know that you’re gone, but I still can’t quite accept or understand it. If I can’t believe that you’re gone, how can I accept that it’s been a while year?

While I lay here trying to come with grips that it has been 365 days since you’ve been gone, I’m reading your eulogy. I’m wondering how I keep you alive to my children, who are so young. I’m trying to figure out how come my children have more ghosts as family members than they do flesh and blood. And it makes me really sad. Because none of this is fair.

But to try to imagine you alive during a pandemic isn’t really fair either. You never were very good at following the rules or doing what you were told. You were stubborn and a royal pain in the ass. It would have been pretty awful.

You could be pretty awful. And how we could fight. But it doesn’t change the fact that I miss your voice on the other end of the phone. I miss your ridiculously crude jokes. Hell, I even miss arguing politics. ‘Opinions are like assholes,’ you’d say, everybody has one.’

You were flawed and broken. And at times you failed me. But I still loved you. And I still have so many great memories with you.

I think I’m so tired of all of the loss sometimes that’s it’s just easier to put it away for awhile. I wrap it up in a box and leave it on the shelf with all of the others, as I decide which one to unwrap. Well, it’s been long enough. And so much has happened since you’ve been gone. This year has been HARD. And I’m tired.

When you died, it wasn’t just me losing my dad. It was the nail in the coffin that made me an adult orphan. I’m parentless. My kids won’t grow up with either grandparent. And that’s fucking hard. This empty feeling inside of me grows bigger with this statement. Because I’m so tired of loss. I’m tired of sadness and pain.

It’s been a year. And there is a lot to unpack from my life as I wrap my head around how your loss defines me now. And I probably won’t know what that even means for a very long time.

Late to the Hamilton Party

We just finished watching Hamilton here tonight. There’s just so much to digest. I’m still not even sure what we watched because not only was it visually stunning and musically unique, there were so many phrases/lyrics that struck me.

‘There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is suffering too terrible to name
You hold your child as tight as you can
And push away the unimaginable
The moments when you’re in so deep
It feels easier to just swim down.’

‘There are moments that the words don’t reach
There is a grace too powerful to name
We push away what we can never understand
We push away the unimaginable’

Both of these passages are taken from the song ‘It’s Quiet Uptown’ and are actually about two parents after the loss of their son. I can tell you that I wasn’t expecting this from a musical about Alexander Hamilton.

In the background of the song the cast is singing, ‘they’re living in the unimaginable.’ That’s probably the best way to describe life after child loss. We are living in the unimaginable. No one can understand this life until they are thrown into it.

Another song that struck me was ‘Who Lives, Who Dies, Who tells your story.’ Because that’s what we do as parents of children who are gone. We tell their story. We say their names. We remind people that they were here.

‘And when you’re gone, who remembers your name? Who keeps your flame? Who tells your story?’

This of us that are stuck in the unimaginable tell your story. We remember and we keep your name alive. If you haven’t watched Hamilton, I highly recommend it. It’s beautiful from beginning to end.

Forcing It

In the years since Benny died, I find it really hard to try to force myself to do something I don’t want to. In the early days it was honestly hard to do anything besides breathe. Getting up and living was about my limit. And that’s ok.

Now I find that the amount of fucks (pardon my French) I have available on any given day is minimal. I’ve really been able to refocus on what actually serves me. And if it doesn’t, I’ve become pretty good at letting it go.

It’s not always easy. Saying good bye to a relationship is hard. Setting boundaries on what I will and will not spend my time on is hard. I’m a people pleaser and I like to help. But I’ve learned through my grief that I can’t help others if I’m run ragged or if my heart is not in it.

I’ve come to learn that I cannot force how others feel about me and I think I’m finally ok with that. So much of this grief process for me has been making peace with many different aspects of my life. It can be exhausting. But sometimes, it can also be a little bit freeing.

I’m done forcing things. If it doesn’t fit into my life, it’s time to take stock and decide how I want to handle it. Life is too short for me to be doing things if they don’t make me happy.

End of the World Thoughts

Well damn. Here it is. Every day of my life. Every little thought that something could go wrong. Some days are worse than others. When you’ve lost as many people as I have, maybe you’re just more aware of what can happen. The anxiety certainly doesn’t help though.

Anxiety and Fear of Losing Loved Ones