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.

The Great Race

1939 LaSalle

In Gumby

great_race_media_2014

photo-29

Last Saturday Darcy and I dropped Parker off in Lowell to begin the Great Race, which is a classic/antique automobile road rally that stretches from Maine to Florida.  It is a timed event where you are not allowed cell phones or GPS, just someone that you can trust to navigate and a car that can you from point A to point B.  Parker was part of what I call the ‘pit crew.’  He and another had to travel down the coast with the truck, tools and trailer ‘just in case.’  

At the end of every day the cars are available to be viewed until 8 PM and tons of enthusiasts show up to enjoy the event.  This meant that Parker was up late many a night working on the car.  His buddies George and Andy raced with a 1939 LaSalle.  Anyone that was at our wedding would remember this beauty as she was the car that we left in.  She held her own for the first several nights, but weather and lack of time in the end started to wreak some havoc.  Last night I was texting Parker text and diagrams out of one of his many reference manuals so that he could work on the carbeurator.  

This was the first time that Parker had participated in the Great Race and the first time that he had been away from us for so long a period of time.  By Wednesday, Parker was having a pretty hard time as he watched father and son racing teams and saw little boys playing the cars.  The team was aptly named ‘Benny’s Bunch’ and they wore our shirts, with that beautiful picture of our little dude smiling on the back.  At the end of every day the announcers would say that Benny’s Bunch was racing for a 2 year old boy who loved cars.  That’s the understatement of the year.  Benny was obsessed with cars and was with me at Parker’s shop at least 4-5 times a week, in and out of every vehicle that came through.  

The team was holding their own and doing ok, by mid week they were ranked around the middle of the pack.  Parker started asking Benny for help just around the time that the LaSalle was acting up.  Suddenly, George and Andy’s runs were going smoother and they actually got Aces (I’m not entirely sure what the jargin means, but it’s somewhere along the line of a perfect score) for the day’s times.  The car was smoking and having all sorts of troubles, but they were able to improve upon their times and finished in 24th place overall (out of 100+ entrants), getting 6th place in their class.  It was an emotional week for Parker, but Benny was there, I know he was, there was no place else that kid would rather be.

Last night, for the first time since he passed, Parker dreamed about him.  This had always bugged Parker.  I had dreamed about him within a week and received so much comfort from it.  He held Benny’s hand and all that I can think of is the the sunflower painting.  At today’s finish they announced again about how Benny’s Bunch was racing for a 2 year old that loved cars and a random stranger asked Parker what they were talking about.  So he told her about Benny and turned around to show her his shirt as he started crying.  This woman started crying and just gave Parker the biggest hug.  We have found so much comfort in the love of strangers.  Here was this woman doing for me what I have been dying to do all week and I’m so thankful for her love and support in a time that Parker needed it most.

I never doubt our little guy.  He’s been busy these last few weeks.

 

Redemption

ImageImageTonight during dessert I was walking into the living room when I heard what sounded like pouring rain from the playroom.  When I looked out the window, there was a river flowing down Chester Street.  Darcy and I ran outside and saw that there appeared to be a water main break on Chester Street right outside the front of our house.  We watched as the water flowed down the hill and the road began to buckle in the center under the pressure.  I called 911 and we waited.

Meanwhile, Parker was held up at work, one of the cars wouldn’t start, so he couldn’t get it back into the shop.  I called him to warn him about what was going on and told him that he wouldn’t be able to get into the driveway.  People kept driving up and down Chester Street, it was scary to watch. 

By the time Parker was home, things had gotten a little out of control, the road was buckling, we could feel the water running below our property.  Chester Street actually lifted and silt, rocks and sand began to wash down the road and the water began to flow onto our neighbors lawn and was headed for his foundation.  Parker helped to create a temporary plywood dam with some of our neighbors and Darcy (who I had left in the yard to help) began to get hysterical.  She kept saying that she wanted me, I’m sure the whole thing was a little scary for her.  The police showed up and I stood there gaping.  Here we were again.  People crowded all around our street and the police blocking traffic.  It was a lot to take in at first.

As time passed, the street and our driveway began to buckle considerably.  A large section by the main break fell inward and the hole kept getting larger.  It was kind of hard to ignore the fact that this was happening right outside of our home, right where the accident happened.  It was hard to disregard the fact the street was destroyed from right up above where the accident occurred down past Bjorklund.  I couldn’t overlook the fact that the base of our driveway had folded in upon itself, right where the car had hit us.  I wasn’t able to ignore the fact the curb and the lawn where they brought Benny to give him CPR had washed away.  It was gone, ruined, destroyed. 

I just kept wondering, what are the chances?  How is it possible that this had all just been washed away, vanished?  It was like we were being given a clean slate, the ability to actually not have to look at the spot where he died on a daily basis.  This to me, was a sign, I was sure of it.  I hated the fact that the accident happened at all, but the fact that happened outside of our home made it that much worse.  It was all gone, the physical landscape where it all occurred.  I’m convinced that Benny had a hand in this.  The fact that our neighbor’s daughter (who we’ve never met) happened to be wearing a Benny’s Bunch shirt when she came down the street on her bike to check things out isn’t lost on me. 

There is a crew breaking away and removing the pavement outside of our house right now.  There is something so healing about standing there and watching them take it all away.  It is as if this water break washed away everything that happened.  I wish it were that simple.  At least I know the little guy is still up there still causing mischief.

http://www.telegram.com/article/20140618/NEWS/306189470/1116

My Sunflower Story

The weather today makes me feel like writing something positive.  After Benny passed there were so many incredible signs from him, signs that he’s ok, that he’s moved on and that he’s being taken care of.  I want to share just one of the many stories, but probably the strongest sign that that little guy wants us to know that he’s still with us.

The accident happened on a Friday.  Suffice it to say that the first 24 hours were pure hell.  I probably could have endured physical torture better than the realization that Bennett was gone.  In the chaos that ensued at our house following the news of Benny’s passing, Pastor Aaron came over  on Saturday to talk to us and offer his services.  He asked me how I was dealing with what I saw.  If I had a lifetime, I don’t think that I could describe it, but the flashbacks were intense and brutal.  My mind was trying to wrap itself around what had happened.  Pastor Aaron gave me a visualization technique to try to make it easier on me in the days ahead.  He had me visualize myself sitting in the theater and watching the accident happen on the big screen in the front row.  Then he had me move back a row and watch myself watching it, and then back a row, all the way to the back of the theater.  Once there, he told me to change the picture to something comforting like a field, or a beach.  I chose daisies, they were my mom’s favorite flowers and made the most sense.  I did this technique several times throughout the day on Saturday, but something was always weird about the daisies, they kept taking on the look of sunflowers.  I kept seeing the brown furry sunflower centers with the sunny yellow petals.  I had no connection to sunflowers, but this whole technique seemed to be working, so I went with it.  It was amazing how I was able to begin controlling what was torturing me.  I told Parker that I kept seeing sunflowers late in the day on Saturday, and thought nothing else of it.

Beginning on Friday night, the community of Worcester began to leave stuffed animals across the street at the church and created a makeshift memorial.  It was a lot for me to take in, but we watched as people walked down Chester Street with their children in the cold to leave notes, pictures and stuffed animals.  Parker went to check it out Saturday night and came home with a funny look on his face.  He said that someone had left a bunch of sunflowers.  This was my first sign from Benny.  Why sunflowers?  That took a little longer to figure out, but I was sure it was my little dude connecting the dots somehow.  The night of the memorial the Tuesday after the accident Parker and I were sitting in bed.  I suddenly saw a field of sunflowers in my head, Benny was walking holding my moms hand and our dog Mason was trotting alongside.  This was not a dream, I was awake.  I described what I saw to Parker in detail, how my mother looked (like in one of her school pictures).  A week later my aunt (my mom’s sister) called to tell me that she had a dream about Benny and my mom walking through a field holding hands.  In that dream my aunt said that my mom looked just like her school picture, the same one that I had said to Parker.

In the first 48 hours we were trying desperately to connect with the folks that had been present during the accident.  There were so many people that gave Benny CPR or were in the street with me.  I remember screaming to them to save him, it seemed as if forever passed before the EMT’s arrived.  I remember the first girl to give Benny CPR, how she cried, how I thanked her and we hugged.  She seemed so young, I felt so awful that she had to be involved in our tragedy.  At the hospital, we were given a bag with Bennett’s clothing, inside there were ear buds.  This confused us at first and we weren’t really thinking too clearly.  After the fact we realized that ‘the girl’ must have been jogging by when everything happened.  We had been talking to the police and were trying to get in touch with ‘the jogger,’ but no one had her contact information.  It was so important to me to see her, to know that she was ok.  I don’t remember much from that day, but I remembered her.

Exactly 2 weeks after the accident my next door neighbor came over and told us that she knew who ‘the jogger’ was.  She lived less than a mile away and was an aquaintence of her daughter’s.  We were ecstatic.  My neighbor told me that ‘the jogger’ had lost her teenage brother in a car accident a few miles away about 8 years ago.

Before I had the chance to, the joggers mother reached out to me.  Sue sent me a beautiful card, memory light and grieving resources.  She explained about losing her son and what she has done to get through it.  I e-mailed her instantly.  We connected and soon discovered that our boys were sending us some strong signs.

I told her about the sunflowers and she was a bit shocked, her daughter was the one who put them at the memorial after the accident.  When her son passed they had sunflowers at the service, and she and her daughter had always connected with sunflowers.  Sue said that her daughter definitely felt her brother’s presence in the road during the accident.  She had been home from school on a Friday because she skipped class, which she never did.  She had just started jogging her normal route down Chester Street when the accident happened.  People were screaming, cars were stopped and someone was yelling if anyone knew CPR, that was when she came jogging over and said ‘I do!’  All I could think was that this was Benny’s way of connecting with me, connecting with this other family that had also lost so much.

Sue became an amazing resource for me.  She stayed in touch, did yoga with Parker, Sandy and I try to alleviate some of the anxiety and stress that had become so present in our everyday lives.  As Sue’s daughter tried to save our son, Sue started to save us.  She was over one day and pointed out to me and Parker that there is a huge sunflower poster in our living room.  I never gave it much thought, it had been there for 10 years or so.  What Sue pointed out was that Benny would have seen that poster every day, would have looked it while nursing, playing, etc.  It brought home to me why he chose a sunflower to communicate with us, it was something that he saw every day of his life, something so obvious.

About 3 months after the accident I received a gift basket from the church across the street, it was decorated with daisies and sunflowers, my mom and my son, how appropriate.  In it was a book titled ‘Heaven is for real,’ the cover was a picture of a field of sunflowers and a little boy.  On Mother’s Day we went to the cemetery to visit with Bennett.  There was a mason jar filled with daisies and sunflowers there.  We weren’t sure if they were for Benny or his neighbor, but it was clearly a sign for us, Mason, Benny and mom all represented.

A month after the accident my sister Deb talked to her friend Deanne about doing a painting of my vision.  Deanne had been painting for years, mostly portraits, and most took 6 months to a year to complete.  This would be her first ever landscape.  She received photos from my sister and aunt to complete the project and turned it around in under 3 months.  I never knew that this was even happening, but when I got it, I was floored, it was exactly what I saw, down the position of Benny, my mom and Mason, the height of the sunflowers (they were small in my vision).  I cannot explain how peaceful it made me feel.  I knew that Benny was ok, that he wasn’t scared and that my mom would take care of him.

This has made it so much easier, knowing that my boy is ok, knowing that he is being loved very much by some very special people.  It’s been easier knowing that Benny put people in our lives who have gone through the same thing and were there to help us.  It’s been easier knowing that Benny is still there for us and that he always will be.Image

Signs

I love the signs.  They are everywhere if you’re open to them.  I picked up a book about a girl who lost her mom to breast cancer.  There’s a brother character named Bennett.

I’ve been feeling super guilty lately.  Have I been grieving enough?  Do I think about Benny enough?  Have I been a good mom to Darcy today, a good wife to Parker?  I’m trying so hard to be everything that my family needs, and pay bills, and fight insurance and do laundry, dishes and renovate the house.  I’m in the present, in survival mode.  Feeling like the worst mother because I’m not missing my son enough.  I can’t hold it together and miss him though.

My friend Mac called to chat.  I was telling him that Darcy was having a tough time and he can relate because his kids lost their mother.  He told me that he just had to keep moving forward for the kids, be in the moment.  It took him a few years for it to really hit him.  He told me not to feel guilty and just keep doing what I’m doing, that I’m a good mom.  He said he had a feeling that he needed to call me, that I needed to talk.

I don’t know how he knew what I was feeling, I hadn’t even said the words aloud to Parker.  It’s funny how the Universe has it’s way, although, I’m sure there was a little help from a beautiful curly headed blue eyed boy and his grandma.  My god, I miss you Benny.

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