‘Normal’

This was sent to me by my friend Sue…very appropriate

Are You Normal Yet?” — A Mother’s Response

This moving letter was sent to me by a mother whose son had died 18 months ago. She got a call from a friend who wanted to go out with her, BUT the defining question was, “Are you normal yet?” This is the response given by the mother. Pay close attention to her words. She shares a lot of wisdom for those parents who are grieving the loss of a child, as well as for those who want to know what to say to grieving parents.

“I awoke this morning feeling so great. It’s been a year and a half since my 18-year-old son died, and I can finally say that I’ve worked through the grief and I am back to normal. Thank you to everyone that told me to take all the time I needed. Time certainly does heal all wounds. Now, maybe you can tolerate being my friend again as I am now the same person as I was before my son died.
And, you were right to tell me that Danny is in a better place, and that I must feel good knowing that he is not suffering any more. I do hope your children go to that better place as soon as possible so you, too, can experience such comforting thoughts.
And, thank you for telling me that you know just how I feel as many of you (my friends) have experienced loss. Loss of parents, grandparents, and even pets. At first I felt so alone and my pain so minimized by your words, but after time and getting over the initial year-long shock, I realize that the loss of a child is no more profound or devastating than that of your beloved pet. Thank you for setting me straight and making me realize that loss is loss. And, that someone who loves their pet dearly suffers the same devastation as that of a parent who loses a child.
On a couple of occasions over the past 18 months I have shared with some the overwhelming sadness in my heart, and all-over physical pain that can threaten at any given time to debilitate me. I was criticized and told that these feelings were not okay. I was informed that Danny didn’t want me to be in pain and that he would be very unhappy if he knew the extent of my suffering. Thank you for that admonishment, as of course you do know better than I. I really appreciate the guilt that I was perhaps making my son unhappy even in heaven.
Oh, and as so many of you have pointed out, at least I have other children. Yes, loving my other children and tending to their needs sure makes losing Danny so much easier to handle. Whenever I expressed any upset at the hurtful, insensitive support, I was quickly told I should appreciate the fact that people mean well and that sometimes they just don’t know what to say. Thank you for pointing this out. I now realize that along with my heavy burden of grief, I must also make sure that I smile and say ‘thank you’ no matter what is said. The grieving parent must not ever upset the well-intentioned by being honest!
I think it’s about time grieving parents tell the truth!! We don’t need to be bullied into being okay with whatever is being said just because it is well-intentioned. There is rampant grief illiteracy among the
vast majority of people. The only ones who can bring about change are the grieving parents, so let’s start by being honest about cruel, hurtful, minimizing platitudes. We can do so kindly and tactfully. I appreciate that you care and that you mean well. Your support means a lot to me. Your words, however, are painful to hear. Let me share with you what would be helpful.
What grieving parents would appreciate:
Ask about our child – anything is fine. Don’t act like he never existed. Trust me, you may think you are reminding us of our pain, but you’re not. Our pain is always there.
1. Share a memory you have of my child.
2. Send me flowers on his birthday or his death day. Those are hard, hard days.
3. Grieve with us. Listen to us. And, most of all be willing to learn. We don’t need advice. Again – we do not need advice. Just remember him.
4. Know that I am forever changed, and accept that fact. I will never be just like I was before. This grief is different than any other. We know because we have lost pets, parents, and grandparents, uncles, aunts, and even spouses and siblings.
Our hope and our task are to learn to balance the pain and incorporate it into our lives. In order to survive it at all, the grief must become part of who we are forever.”

Bereaved Mother

Benny’s Garden

After the accident, Parker had these grand ideas about creating a garden/zen like space somewhere in our yard. If you don’t know my yard, it’s the kind where wild things grow, where nature takes over and landscaping is a battle. When we bought our house some ten years ago, the yard was so overgrown you could barely see the front of the house. I remember walking through the backyard and feeling like I was in the book ‘The Secret Garden.’

For years we’ve tried our best to tame our wild things. For years we’ve also tried our hand at a vegetable garden to no avail. We tried to grow them in pots from seeds, than seedlings with no success. This year I figured that if my soil could produce such beautiful flowers and an abundance of weeds, logically it would be the best place to grow our vegetables.

Parker borrowed a rototiller and built raised beds. Darcy and I had planted seeds back in March and some of those we were able to transplant, but most of them didn’t make it. We had tried sunflowers, but they also were sun fried and wilted. So while Parker was on the Great Race we planted cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, strawberries, squash, corn, pumpkin and beans from seedlings. I really had no clue if this would work or what would grow, so Darcy and I planted a little bit of everything. We put up some netting, watered nightly and sat back and watched the garden bloom! It finally worked!

Darcy and I began calling this our ‘Benny Garden.’ I hung my wind chimes out on a tree nearby and bought a large metal sunflower and hung it on the fence. We moved our ‘Benny light’ that was given to us by a stranger from the roadside memorial and put a little picket fence complete with pinwheels, Benny’s favorite.

At the same time we bought the seedlings, we bought more sunflowers and tried again to grow them in pots. I eventually moved the pots over to the vegetable garden and was excited when the sunflowers actually began to grow! What was even more exciting were the sunflowers that were mysteriously growing in both raised beds. The only ones that we had planted were in the pots and now 10+ sunflowers have started to sprout up everywhere in the beds inexplicably. Perhaps inexplicably isn’t the right word. Once again, my little man’s work.

Just when I feel like I haven’t gotten a sign in awhile, something so concrete happens. People say that it’s happening because we are open to it, but I would say it would be hard to miss what’s happened in the last 9 months.

Storyland

Last weekend we escaped to New Hampshire. I say ‘escaped’ because Parker and I had 2 blissful days alone. We could actually start AND finish a conversation uninterrupted, stay up late, and go to a restaurant without a kids menu. I love Darcy and try very hard not to take a moment of my time with her for granted, but it was a nice break.

Tara and Chris met us with the kids on Friday and we ventured to Storyland. We already did Disney, so I was unprepared for my reaction in Storyland. Maybe it was because Darcy was around the same age as Benny the first time we took her, maybe it was because there were a million little blond eyed angels with curly blonde locks, or maybe the numbness is starting to give way to reality. Whatever the case, it was tough.

You can’t really dwell on it when you’re running around with three very energetic kiddos, so once the moment happened, something would distract me and I would be on my way. We had a really great time and it was so nice to see Darcy really break out of her comfort zone and exhibit some confidence. We had a blast.

When we were sitting in the condo I noticed that Chris’ bag had the number 88 on it, the bag that we took around to the park and hiking. We were also lucky enough to hear Benny and the Jets on the way to our Sunday hike to the river. Darcy and I always sang that song to the dude, and it’s probably how his nickname came about. There’s those signs again. It was comforthing to know that he was there with us, I just rather it be in person…

8 Months ‘AA’

I’m angry. I’m angry and I’m sad. We sat down to update our pictures in our picture frames. We will never have pictures of Benny past 17 months old, he will forever be frozen in time. I will never know what he would have looked like because he will never grow up. When he was born I remember the nurse holding him and asking him if he would be the one to cure cancer or create world peace. We will never know what amazing things he could have done with his life. I look at Darcy and she just seems so damn grown up. I miss having my little guy around. Like Parker said the other night, I just want to blow raspberries on his tummy.

It’s been 8 months. I don’t know how this happened. When we hit 17 months we will have lived without him the same length of time that we lived with him. We’re almost halfway there. It kills me inside. I don’t know why this happened to us. I don’t know why it was him and not me. I don’t know why I’m here again. My grandparents, my aunt, my uncle, my God parents, my mom and my son. Maybe I’m cursed. Maybe this is hell and I don’t even know it. Sure feels like it some days.

8 months. There’s that number again. November 8th, the day he died; May 8th, the day we buried him; June 18th, the day the water main broke; 88, Parker’s car number on the Great Race. I’m not sure yet the significance of 8. I know that turned on it’s side it symbolizes infinity. How ironic a sign of infinity in this case.

I look at my physical scars, mostly healed now and I’m frustrated. How do I look the same 8 months later on the outside? There are a few scars, but nothing that really tells the story of the accident on my body. How is that possible? Why am I spared? There are days when I feel that I should carry the scarlet letter A on myself, for accident.

I’m scared to meet new people because I don’t want to answer the question about how many children I have. It feels wrong to not mention Benny. It’s easier when people just know, although if I have to listen to another person ask me how I’m doing, I might scream. How do you think I’m doing 8 months after watching my son die? I know they mean well, it just gets tiring. I’m tired. Of all of this.

8 months and I’m still numb. 8 months and I still don’t understand.

Petition for Bereaved Parents Time off of Work

I was blessed (and still am) to have disability kick in so that I can take time off of work. I came across this petition on another bloggers site and feel that it’s important to push this forward. Losing your child is like losing a physical part of your body. Would you be back at work so quickly after losing a limb? Please sign, support and send along this petition. Thanks.