2 Years ‘AA’

So I need to write one more entry for CYG to close it out, but in order to do so, I need to look back at where I was last year relative to this year.  Suffice it to say, it’s going to be awhile.

I’m curious how different things look through the lense of 2 years out opposed to 1 year out.  Yes, there are obvious things have changed, such as Fletch, but it’s supposed to be about where I’m at in my ‘grief journey.’  I don’t know that I like that term because ‘journey’ implies that there is an end.  There is no end to this.

I cannot believe that I’m writing about this 2 years out.  It all seems so foreign to me now.  It’s like that awful thing that happened to someone else-but it actually happened to me.  How is that even possible?  2 years out and I still cannot wrap my head around losing Benny and I was there!  I guess not too much has changed in that department.

He would be 3 1/2 now.  I can’t believe that.  He would be in preschool.  Maybe he would play soccer or do gymnastics.  Maybe he and Darcy would fight like siblings do.  A lot of ‘maybe’s’ and ‘would’s’ here.  More like ‘should.’

I miss him every day.  I watch Fletch, who is so like his brother, and wonder what kind of mischief they might get into together.  They have the same flirty smile and deep dimples.  I watch Fletch play with Darcy and I’m so filled with happiness and sorrow all at once.  There’s someone missing from their game, there always will be.

I’m not surprised at how much I miss him, but rather how much I miss my mom.  I feel like every time something big happens, I miss her more.  I missed her at graduation, both high school and college; I missed her at my wedding, but most of all I missed her when I first had kids.

My grandmother was right down the street from us growing up.  She came over after school and did our laundry, ironed and always had fresh baked cookies and butter cake.  My mom’s family is close and I have so many amazing memories growing up with that family during holidays.  I miss that.  I want that for my kids.

I think what made me miss her most this year was the absence of our remaining parents.  Not one of them acknowledged November 8th.  No phone call, no email, no text.  It probably wouldn’t bother me so much if at least one of them remembered.  The worst thing for a grieving parent is the belief that their child is being forgotten.  Well, thanks for that.

I know that if my mom was here, she would have been there.  She would have been there so much over the last 2 years.  She would have been an amazing support, she would have been a parent.  It kills me.  It’s grief compounded.

2 years out sucks too.  All of it still feels so unfair.  I mourn for Benny, I mourn for my mom, I mourn that Fletch will never meet his older brother.  I’m assuming it will just get harder too, because he’s our after.  He doesn’t know what he’s missing.  Kind of like Darcy with my Mom.  She doesn’t know what she’s missing.  It breaks my heart for both of them.

I wish that I could say that it gets easier.  It’s like parenting I suppose, it doesn’t get easier, the grief just changes.  What used to set you off a year ago is ok and another trigger has taken it’s place.  You start to lose another part of that person.  It sucks.



Year Two – Mother’s Day

Yes, I am behind on my 17 Days of Benny blogging, but there is just so much going on right now.  We are ‘attempting’ to finish up some lingering projects around the house so that we have some options in the future.  I have been busy with Parker and the business.  I am now officially the treasurer for the North Atlantic Packards Club as well.  Let the chaos begin.

Then comes Mother’s Day.  Right in the middle of it all.  Or perhaps just May in general.  Last year sucked.  I was in a terrible mood all day, staining countertops and just trying my damndest to ignore the whole awful thing.  It was bad.  I didn’t know how to handle missing my mom and my son.

This year I decided to try something different.  We started the day with a yummy brunch with Parkers mom and then headed to the cemetary.  It was completely packed!  There were tons of people there, we couldn’t believe it.  Darcy had brought Benny two pinwheels, so we cleaned up his toys a bit, visited and then walked around.  We noticed that there was a new headstone in the baby garden, which killed me.  They were twins that passed on Darcy’s birthday last year.  It broke my heart.

Parker and I sat down on a bench as Darcy walked around.  We were the only ones in the baby garden until another couple walked over and sat down by the twins.  It broke my heart again.  I watched this newly grieving couple cry for their children.  I wanted to go over and hug the momma.  I just sat there silently crying for them and everything they lost.

I sometimes forget that it’s ok to cry for us too.  It did happen to us too and we’re allowed to be upset.  I can’t use housework to cloak my grief forever.  I sat there watching that couple, seeing us.  I cried for all of us and it felt damn good.

We left shortly after to work in the yard, play in the sprinkler and pool, burn the Christmas tree and just spend the day together.  It felt good.  I felt like I honored Benny.  The day wasn’t nearly as bad as last year.

My heart still misses Benny and my Mom terribly though.  At the cemetary I was wishing that she was buried closer so that I could visit and Darcy could sense some physical connection.  I hate that they’re not here, hate it everyday, but especially today.  It’s comforting to know that they are together at least and that is something that I know with absolute certainty.

Loving and Missing my Mom and Benny always…CAM00166

Year Two Reflections – Seasons

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A year ago I was dreading Spring.  I was quite happy to hibernate indoors.  I didn’t want to be reminded of rebirth and growth and new life.  I suppose that I still don’t.

Although, this year I’m excited to get outdoors.  I want to breathe in fresh cut grass and dig in the Earth.  Maybe it was the endless snow, maybe it’s the new street out front of our house, perhaps it’s looking forward to gardening that has me so excited.

Last fall I was told to plant garlic in my garden and it would bloom in the spring. (Thanks for the tip Katie!)  I was so depressed after gardening season that this seemed like a great idea.  Darcy started back at school and life happened and well, I never got around to it and I regretted it.  About a month ago, I noticed the garlic cloves that I had purchased were growing on their own in my pantry.  I’ve since potted them and now they’re thriving!

A sign of my little man taking care of things for me once again.  A sign he’s never gone, never will be gone.  I can’t wait to plant these in his garden.

Year Two Reflections – Life

Life is getting in my way. In some ways it was easier when I was in the thick of my grief. These little glimpses, these days that pass me by are fine until I look back and think, geez, where did the time go? How is it already April?

I’m dreading May. Not only because we have so much to do in such a short time, but because Benny will have been gone for 18 months, just as long as he was on this Earth. That just seems really unfair to me, a huge turning point. His life feels like a blip in time. How is that possible?

I said to Parker yesterday that I felt like this Easter was the first holiday where I wasn’t overwhelmed with sadness or trying to avoid the feelings. Then I said, well it was the second Easter without Benny, now we’ve had more without him than with him. Cue sadness.

I hate these milestones, this time that keeps marching by. Last year I felt like we were keeping busy. Now we are legit busy. Life happened when I wasn’t paying attention and I didn’t want it to. It swept us along and brought us to today.

I’m now working with Parker more than ever before because he’s so busy. I know that this is a good thing and I’m so happy that he’s able to seriously support us. There’s a sense of satisfaction in having a job again, albeit one on my own terms. I was giddy when our accountant said I did an excellent job with our tax prep this year and we actually got a return. I’m feeling somewhat useful again.

With that comes guilt. I’m busy, I’m not able to focus on all that I’ve lost now all of the time. No matter how silly it may seem, there’s guilt there. There’s also guilt when I’m not contributing, when I feel that the financial burdens are falling on Parker, so I’m trying to take stuff off his plate. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t I suppose. There’s no way to win in this situation.

Yeah, Year 2 sucks.

Year Two Reflections – Work

After the accident, I was fortunate to have a very compassionate and understanding boss and co-workers.  They truly did everything in their power to help us out.  They showed up ‘en mass’ and brought us food, brought Darcy a ridiculous amount of presents and just supported us in so many ways.  They donated vacation time so that I could continue to get paid while we figured out my disability and what my options are.  My boss became my friend, never pressuring me to return and always willing to talk to me as a friend first and then as my boss.  They continue to be a presence in our lives.  I honestly don’t know what we would have done without these people.

About a month ago, I finally left work.  I’ve been having nightmares about it for months.  It was plaguing me.  With not driving so far, there was no way that I could even imagine commuting to Boston every day again.  It killed me.  I was one of those people that really loved her job. I loved the feeling of control.  Now I’m stuck between feeling proud of walking away and sad.  Another decision I wanted no part of.

I’m no longer the bread winner.  In some ways that’s a nice feeling because the pressure is off and it means that Parker is really able to make a living at something that he loves and is passionate about.  I’m so proud of all that he has done and how he has really stepped up.  He has taken on more of a role of ‘the boss’ and has less time to really focus on his own work, because he is constantly helping his employees.  He’s surprisingly enjoying himself and maybe it was time.  I’ve always been involved in the business, but with him so busy, it has taken on a new role.  I’m happy to help out accounting, marketing, HR, etc. that he needs.  It has also brought back to me a sense of control over something.  In the last few months I’ve gotten into a new groove of working from home daily and trying to keep up with the administrative tasks involved in the business.  It works for us because Parker and I actually enjoy working together and make a really good team.  It probably also helps that I work from home and we both have our own separate responsibilities.

We went on a ski trip with my co-workers about a few weeks ago.  This is a yearly trip that my company pulls together and is great little family vacation for us.  We went last year and it was tough, but I was still in such a fog.  I think this year was harder because I no longer am part of the company.  It’s weird to sit there and not be able to talk about projects or clients, to not even know some of the new staff.  I had a very uncomfortable start to the day.  I realized that this is now the ‘after me.’  The person that no longer works for DPM.  When I’m working with Parker, I’m completely content, but then throw back in with my co-workers and I’m sad, I miss it.  It’s another reminder of all that we have lost.  Another part that I have lost of myself.  Damn you Year Two!

My Thoughts on Year Two

I spent a lot of late nights last year looking for ‘others,’ other moms and dads that were in the same crappy situation as myself.  I wanted to understand what we were in for, I wanted to understand how they handled it, I think that i just wanted to understand something.

I very quickly noticed a pattern in those that were further along, year two was harder.  I started going to grief meetings and I was being told the same thing, watch out for year two.  I couldn’t fathom it.  How could it possibly be worse than those first few seconds after Benny was hit?  How could it be worse than when we had to tell Darcy that her brother was dead?  How could it be worse than it was holding him for the last time???

November 8th, 2014 came and went.  We got away to the Cape, I couldn’t be in this house, where it happened.  Against all odds, we had a very nice family vacation.  We went to the beach and wrote Bennett’s name in the sand as the kids ran around, not fully comprehending what the adults were feeling.  We visited the cemetery briefly as it was biting cold that morning and windy on top of the hill where he now lies.  Several amazing people sent us beautiful tokens for Benny in the mail.

That weekend I felt contentment.  The anxiety of the date came in advance and we dealt with it, but November 8th, 2014 wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.  I’m sure that the little guy in my belly is a huge part of that, the ability to look forward and hold onto some hope for my future family.

The other side of November 8th, 2014 has been different.  It’s as if a line has been drawn in the sand and it’s now ‘time to move on.’  I couldn’t feel more different from that, but it’s the feeling that I get from others.  All of a sudden I was expected to make decisions again and start moving forward.

People stopped talking about Benny, they had moved on.  It was a subtle cue that I was to do the same.  Yes, we still have an amazing support system, it had just gotten much smaller.  People stopped asking how we were.  The expectation was that we had moved forward, especially because of the new baby.  For me, it felt like he foreshadowed Benny’s death, that now everything was OK, because we were having another boy.  I don’t think anyone meant it to come off that way, it just has.

One of my close friends said it the best when she said to me that we had time off to grieve, we had therapists to talk to.  They had to go back to work the next day, bring their kids to school and daycare, make dinner and lunches.  They didn’t get the time to grieve that we did.  They didn’t get the chance to wrap their heads around any of it, so they moved on, because that’s what they had to do to survive.

I can understand it, I truly can.  I just don’t want to.  I want the world to stop turning for everyone else, because it did for us.  If that’s selfish of me, so be it.  I still cannot give a free pass to those that have disappeared or expected us to move on.  A year is not long enough to grieve a child, period.

After a year of shock and numbness, you awaken to see that everyone expects you pick up and move on.  They want you back the way you were, which will never truly happen.  You all of a sudden have to make some large, life changing decisions that you have been avoiding over the past year.  The biggest decision, is who are you going to be now, how will this child’s death affect your life?  How on Earth are you supposed to move forward?  And how do you do it when you feel like the world is judging you for still grieving the child that you’ve lost?

Yeah, maybe year two is harder.

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