Another day, another family to victimize…
I miss my son. Sometimes so desperately that I feel like I can’t even breathe. Other times it’s a dull ache. I miss who he was and who I think he would become. I miss who I was. I miss our life from before November 8th.
We are officially 4 years after the accident now. Four whole years. I think back to the broken people that we were. We are still not whole, I don’t anticipate that we ever will be. We will live the rest of our lives ‘incomplete’. We are learning to deal with that.
I was just reading my other ‘AA’ (after accident) blogs. I’m amazed at how much my life has changed. It gives me a glimpse into the shattered person that I was and how I have had to put myself back together. It has been a slow process. I don’t think that there will ever be a point where I will feel ‘healed’ or ‘better’. It just is for now.
Every day a part of me is sad or anxious or both. I’m terrified of what could happen. I nag my children, constantly trying to keep them safe and close. I snuggle the little ones a little too much, just wishing that they would stay small forever. I worry constantly how Benny’s death will shape his older sister’s life. I’m wistful for the naive life we lived before, where we couldn’t even imagine something bad happening. I’m sad that I miss my son.
He would have gone to kindergarten this year. He would have been 5! If I concentrate really hard, I can almost see him heading off for his first day of school. He would have been a big brother. What I would give to see him and Fletcher playing together! Maybe he would have played a sport or taken up drums, or furthered his interest in the cars.
Four years later and I still don’t have any answers. I don’t know why this happened. I don’t know how different my life would have been if it hadn’t. I celebrate my mini victories and life milestones as they occur and try to take each day as it comes. Grieving is hard work! Choosing to find joy in each day is even harder.
Sigh. I don’t know where to begin. I don’t know when it began. Maybe I’ve been like this forever. Maybe the grief intensified my needs. I’m going to admit it here, shout it out loud to hold myself accountable, I have too much stuff!
There, I said it. I thought I was doing good before the move. I felt like I had gotten rid of so much stuff! It’s really hard to sift through 13 years of living in one place. Parker and I both had our own stuff and lot’s of it. We had lived on our own before. It didn’t seem like much until we put it together. Then add in 4 kids and pets and a house that is busting at the seams! It is completely overwhelming.
And that’s just life. We all probably have too much stuff at the end of the day. We can all feel overwhelmed by it. First world problems. Here’s where it gets complicated though. Grief compounds this.
My mom died when I was 16. You’re damn right I want to hold onto as many memories of her as I possibly can. I have to teach my children about their grandmother because they will never meet her. It is so important to me that they know who she was and where they came from. Does that mean that I need to hold onto her early 90’s mint green track suit to do so? Or her costume jewelry from the 80’s? I honestly don’t know.
Once someone is gone, how do you make that distinction about what is important to keep? Even some 22 years later I don’t have any answers. I try really hard to hold myself accountable. I try to weigh how important it really is to hold onto a physical memento. I’ve been able to let some things go. Others have been harder.
What do you do with 10 lbs. of toddler clothing from your deceased son? I’ve had a few blankets made with some of the clothing and I’m thinking of having memory bears made for the kiddos, but what do I do with the rest? I was able to talk myself into donating some of it, but there is still a good trash bag full. How about the diaper bag that remains untouched from the day he died? Sure I’ve looked at it. I just don’t know what to do with it now.
There’s this whole Konmari method of cleaning out where you’re supposed to ask yourself if the item in question bring you Joy. I’m not sure these items bring me joy, but they bring me back to a point in my life that I can’t ever get back to. When things were simpler. Less heartbreaking. My ‘before’ if you will.
Do I need these things? Probably not. I don’t know how long they will remain in boxes in the new house simply because they are not items that we use on any type of frequent basis. But still they comfort me, knowing that they are there.
I don’t know how long it will take me to let go. Maybe never. I guess that will just have to be ok for now.
Day 16:. Conscious Gratitude
Today is a day of gratitude. Part of the description for the day was about how hard it is to feel grateful while grieving. I find this interesting. For me, grief and gratitude are two very separate emotions and just because I was grieving Benny didn’t mean that I couldn’t be grateful for the good things that came into our lives. This is not every persons reaction, it just happened to be mine. I remember thinking a few days after about how grateful I was that Darcy was at school. Parker and I talked about how grateful we were that the car stopped when it did, that it didn’t hit or injure any other drivers or pedestrians. We felt tremendous gratitude to our community that did so much for us in the days that followed. I could go on and on. This is just how I’m wired. I wouldn’t say that I’m an eternal optimist, because I’m certainly not. In fact, I think I tend to be more negative than positive in general. But when it comes to making lemonade, I’ve become somewhat of a pro. When things are really bad, you just need to find something good. It will be there, I promise.
Day 18:. The Grief Shift
Where am I my grief journey? How have I come to terms with my grief? This is why I love I love this project. I would never think to ask myself this question otherwise. I’m not even sure I have an answer, but it certainly makes me think a bit.
I’d like to think I’ve made my peace with things, but I’d be kidding myself. I will never be at peace with losing my son. Maybe that’s me being at peace about never being at peace? Or something like that? Grief is complicated to say the least.
Day 10 – A Space Reimagined
This is supposed to be about creating a space to devote to your lost loved one. This one is really tough for me right now. It’s like Benny is in the ‘in between’ now because his stuff is mostly packed away. Sure thereare pictures of him on the wall, but there’s no space dedicated to him like we had in the old house. He had a shelf in the dining room and in essence, he shared a room with Fletcher. Now I have letters that spell his name with no home. There’s no place to put them here and I’m not sure where we will put them once we land somewhere final. I’m lost as to what to do with this. At the old house we still had his room, there was a sense of belonging. Now things are just so temporary, none of us have that. Renting right now and not being able to be settled is tough, especially around his anniversary. It will be interesting to see what we come up with once we’re settled somewhere.
Day 11 – Life is Short
You’re supposed to take some time to remember how short life is and make sure to tell those you love how imporant they are. Even with one of the toughest lessons in loss, I forget this some days. I get so caught up in the chaos and minutia. It’s sad really. None of that is important at all. What matters is that others know how much you care for them. This whole exercise is turning into looking at how I live my life and what changes I need to make. There’s always room for improvement.
Day 13 – Student of Life
Simply put, I’m supposed to learn something new. Darcy had a school project to make a scrapbook for the state of NJ. Right up my alley! I love anything creative, crafty and colorful. We set about researching the project and printing out pictures. I did truly learn a lot that I didn’t know.
When it came time to do the actual scrapbook, that’s when it got complicated. I have a background in design and an obsession with perfection. I tried to tell Darcy several times that she had too much going on on her pages and she needed to let the pictures tell the story. After we went back and forth several times, she finally looked at me and said, ‘Mom, it’s my project, and I really like it this way. We really just have different opinions’. Yep, that moment when your child is more mature than you.
She was telling me nicely to back off. I forget sometimes that she is just 8 (especially when she handles herself like this). I have to stop being a perfectionist and just let her be a kid. She is her own person and I need to respect that. Raising humans is damn hard!
So clearly I’m not going to hit every day of this exercise and that’s ok. It’s all about self love and healing and I’m not going to muck that up by stressing myself out. Sometimes all I can do is my best and I’m learning that that’s ok.
CYG Day 4: Belonging
I could write a novel about this topic, how it has felt to find ‘my tribe’. I’m lucky in that I have taken some of my closest friends with me into this new normal. It made the transition much easier. Did we lose friends, yes. It’s taken me a long time to make my peace with that. It’s easier because of all of the new people that have stood by us. Most of them never even knew Benny, but they have seen us at our worst and helped us through. These people amaze me. Where others would have turned and run, they have stepped up. They have allowed me to be unapologetically who I am.
I think of all of the other bereaved families that we have met. The tribe not one of us wants to be in. The amount of love and support from these people has helped tremendously.
CYG Day 5: Soul Therapy
I’m supposed to do something today that makes me feel good, that feeds my soul. So I went for a walk with a friend and then snuggled my baby for a nap. It was a great day!
CYG Day 7: For the First Time
Today was supposed to be about doing something new to honor your child. I’m still thinking on this one.
CYG Day 9: Clear and Let Go
This topic couldn’t be more fitting right now. I feel like since we made the decision to move, we have been clearing out a lot of the useless ‘stuff’ in our lives. We got rid of so much stuff, but we still have a ways to go. It’s truly eye opening when you take your whole life and pack it up. Ours fit in a 10×20 storage unit, 2-10×15 units, a 24′ car trailer and some various outdoor items tucked at friends houses here and there. We do not need so much stuff! I have made it my mission to get rid of more. Even though we are moving to a larger home, that does not mean we need more stuff. It just overwhelms me at this point. And I thought we had it under control!
I did this project a few years back and really enjoyed it. Because it’s been such a crazy few months, I thought it would do me good to jump back into this again. The project can be found Here in case anyone else wants to join in.
CYG – Day 1: Sunrise Blessing
Ok, so I see the sunrise, alot. It’s usually in the company of a beautiful little lady. She typically wakes around 4 AM for a snack and then we snuggle and snooze until the rest of the house wakes up. This is probably my favorite part of the day. I get to wrap my arms around her warm little body and breathe in that sweet baby smell. There is no better way to start my day. All too soon she will be too old to do this with, but I will enjoy it now.
CYG – Day 2: Rise + Shine Mourning Ritual
Today I was supposed to set an intention for the day. How I wanted it to be. I didn’t start out my day with this goal in mind, but I certainly ended it that way. Things have been super stressful. Today I took the time out to stop. I actually relaxed. After I stopped feeling guilty about it, I was able to take a step back and realize it’s time to get back to basics. I need to get back to yoga. I need to get out and go for a walk to clear my head. I need to enjoy the company of great friends. My husband and I need to take time out for our marriage to catch our breath. These things need to become priorities. I need to sit down every once in awhile and check in with myself to see what I need instead of just going, going, going. I need to give myself a break every now and then.
CYG – Day 3: Meaningful Mantra
This is one of my favorite quotes that I found after Benny died.