I posted a new blog the other day, and shared it to my Facebook page, as I always do. Five minutes later, I deleted the link on my Facebook page. It was nakedly personal. I am not oblivious to the fact that my life is heavy, and not everyone can relate nor can they comprehend what it is that I live every day. Heck, everyone has their own battles, and they don’t always post it for everyone to see. This is of my own choosing, and my own personal therapy. But I did remove this particular link about my daughter’s meltdowns….because not everyone wants to hear all of the negativity. And guess what? Neither do I. I WANT to be happy, and inspired. I WANT to be in love, and to be a wonderful and perfect mother…..I WANT to have a normal life. These may or may not be in the cards for me, but there is always something else around that corner. I find myself happy in little moments. Why I cannot seem to feel that way 24/7…..I will never be able to wrap my mind around that. I know that I am deserving. I know that I am a good person. And I know that I am busting my ass to follow the path of right instead of wrong. But sadly, somewhere along that path…..I have lost my way. I want it all, but not sure that I will ever get it. I am at war with myself every minute of the day. I don’t want to be. How about some peace? All of my life, I don’t think that I have ever felt peace. Only tiny moments of peace.
My daughter is on the spectrum, as you have read in my other blogs. My son is in emotional turmoil from the loss of his dad. We have lost several of our family furry babies over the course of this past year. Loss hangs over our family like a dark cloud.
I have a lot, and I am grateful for what is still here……but I am bitter about all of the loss. I don’t want to be. And I don’t want to be sad, lonely, or lost, anymore. But mostly……I don’t want my CHILDREN to feel sad, lonely, or lost. If my children are in distress, then I am in distress. And I can fight for my new chapter until I am thoroughly spent, but it will not mean anything, if my children are not okay. We are a family unit, and we all three need to work hard to move forward, together.
It has been a year and four months since Ross passed away unexpectedly. My family is pushing forward, but we are not okay just yet. Maybe we never will be, but I am getting help, and I am trying so hard. Everything in me is so tired. I am so done, but I cannot be done. Anyone with children understand what I mean. You do not get permission to check out.
My frustration level is off the charts. I look around me……I see heartbreak, neglect, and unhappiness. How can I make you understand……life can be taken away tomorrow, just like that. There are no second chances. There is just NOTHING after someone has died……every thing that you always wanted to say to them, will go unspoken. It will haunt you until the day that you die, and you will leave this world feeling unsettled and unloved.
Do what makes you HAPPY. Do what makes you feel ALIVE. Be proactive and forthcoming. If you feel LOVE, then SAY IT. If you feel helplessness, then ASK FOR HELP. If you feel like there is nothing here for you, then GO AND GET IT. Do it. Say it. Feel it.
That is all.
After I got the kiddos to sleep last night, I was feeling extremely restless and agitated. For no specific reason, just many reasons.
I sat right here, and I read every single blog that I have posted from day one, up until last week. I could feel the sadness, and the weight of all of the loss reverberating to my core. I read and felt this burden all the way into the morning hours.
There has been this horrible suffocating bubble around me, but instead of making me feel panicked, it is making me angry. I don’t want to feel sadness, hopelessness, and I don’t want to get up in the mornings, for the sole purpose of being a mother. I want to be a proactive, loving mother, but I want to stand by my true reflections, and continue to be free spirited, non-judgmental, and have empathy for others and their hardships, because I am not the only one who has suffered. I am determined to stay true to myself, to be a force to be reckoned with, and at the same time, still be soft and kind. I want to do this without fear of falling, getting hurt, or failing my children, even if I do get burned or face disappointment in my attempts.
This past year has changed me for the better. I remember every little detail that takes my breath away, and I hold it so tightly, that my fingers ache, and I find myself wanting to cry from all of the emotions involved with that moment. I want to scream at the top of my lungs….YOU ONLY HAVE ONE LIFE, AND THAT LIFE IS SHORT & FLEETING…..and for others to actually hear and feel those words to their very core, and to embrace all of the sweet sounds of family and friends, and to collect all of the intricacies of early mornings and sunlight, and how the world goes to sleep, but the big beautiful moon stands watch over us. Everything poetic and cheesy, but holding so much power over your perception of life and its brutal daily grind.
Speak with your children, but really listen to them. Give them reassurance, confidence, and always tell them that you love them, because no child can never hear that enough. At the same time, use the word “love” sparingly outside of your family nest…..only speak the word when it is clear and present in your heart.
Discovering Ross had died in his sleep…..that has done this to me. Watching our son hover over his father, screaming, “Dad, Dad, etc.”, and helplessly trying to bring him back…..it will forever be tattooed in my soul, and our son will never be the same child again….he will carry that weight into adulthood, and there is nothing that I can do to erase it.
It slips away so quickly, but you don’t realize it until it is gone forever, and there is no coming back from death. Grief is an ugly monster, and it wears many faces of sadness, loneliness, anxiety, anger….and it will strip away all of your hope until you are bleeding and raw.
You have to look around and pay attention to everything around you. The slight shift in the wind, the sound of your child’s laughter…..you have to give yourself a break. You have to let yourself feel what it is that you need to feel, because if you don’t allow yourself to feel, then you cannot rediscover and redefine who you are.
I have come so far. I am proud of myself, and I am proud of my children. I have admitted to my faults, recognized my weaknesses, and I have been fighting to get both feet on the ground.
Bailey has autism. Yes, we have so many horrific moments, where I cannot pull her back….it breaks me in a hundred different places, but I try and focus on her spirit…and if she is pushing through her fits and coming back up the the surface fully winded….then I will, too.
Reagan has his own challenges, and I like to put myself on trial for coddling and babying him for so many years….but I recognize that now, and I have no shame in identifying that I have made some mistakes, but will make it right, for the purpose of raising a strong, hard working, and compassionate son. He will be someone’s husband one day….someone’s father….and he will remember these moments…and reflect back on them with joy, instead of fear and doubt. I stand on our front porch, and I watch him walk to his bus stop, towards all of the bigger junior high boys….and it makes me want to cry, because he is so tall and strong….and he keeps pushing through, no matter what. How does he do that, when he has been broken down to his knees, time and time again?
I love my family so much. I want so badly to make Ross proud. I want so badly to be happy. I think that is the first step, after all of the other first steps….wanting to be happy, and allowing yourself to be happy.
I suffer from a fear of everything falling apart once again, after the kids and I have rebuilt our lives. Every stick, stone and brick….all to have shelter from the darkness. Will saying the words out loud, “I will be okay”, ignite a chain of failure and destruction? Would blogging a post that is actually hopeful, be swept away, as soon as the words hit the screen?
There are many days where I am exhausted from being strong all the time, but in the late evenings, into the early morning hours, my mind is racing, and I cannot stop the abrasive worries, falling down like hail around me, not showing any mercy. I cannot get what I need, and that is a full night’s sleep. I cannot get that peace of mind that lets me take a breathe, and exhale it slowly…..not without my anxiety ridden heart beating so fast that my chest hurts. Did I make the right decision? Am I doing right by my children? Do I need to move even further away to finally feel comforted and “home”?
I want to do everything, but I know that I can’t. I want to give everything to my children, but I know that isn’t feasible, and what they need is more important, anyway….my time and love. I am studying so that I can work, cleaning so that I can decompress, and pushing forward, as violently as I can, without breaking a sweat or letting myself cry.
I am consumed with all of the expectations and judgments from the outside world….what in the hell do they know, anyway? Every one travels their own individual journey, and their journey can be brutal, but their journey can also be filled with wonderful moments. These moments are forgotten so quickly, though, and we are all guilty of this.
Loss has taught me to appreciate the little things…..my daughter’s laughter, my son’s newfound independence as he enters junior high, and forcing myself to walk outside when I am feeling stressed and fatigued…..the sun and the wind sweeps away that first layer of sadness.
Loss has taught me to embrace any happiness that blesses my family…..to bathe in it and soak in every little drop. I have finally let go of the heavy weight of guilt, and I don’t hesitate or flinch when someone reaches out to me. I let myself wonder and be fascinated with the thought of new beginnings, and at the same time, soften my guard until I have a reason not to.
I have lost my mother and grandpa. I have lost several pets that were family members, all around the same time. I have lost my husband and the father of my children, unexpectedly and without any closure or clarity. I have lost my home. I have lost my identity.
I have had these stripped away, and yet I still have hope. How is that possible? I want success and fulfillment for my children. I want to fight against all the haters of the dog rescue world, because the voiceless need me. And I want to feel proud, because pride is alive and strong, and I need to feel alive and strong, after so many months of living in death and weakness. If I find new friendships, and possibly love, along the way, then I am even more blessed, and I will safeguard and cherish those friendships. I will cherish anything beautiful that drops in my lap, and anything that I work my fingers to the bone for.
You only get one shot, after all.
Cowboy, you are my third personal dog to lose in a row. You are part of the endless domino effect of death, and you have had such a heartbreaking impact on our family unit. Every single one of us have continued to weep for your bittersweet absence. Ross would have shed tears for you as well, and my only comfort is knowing that he has his big strong arms wrapped around your big mushy sweet head, and that you are covered with warmth and love, no matter where you might go.
You had thyroid/weight issues. You were a lumpy dog, but these lumps were not cancerous nor did they put you in any discomfort. You were an older dude, 11……but a bigger lab, so your life span was probably shorter than the average smaller dog. But you still had lots of time, did you not? You spirit was bright and full of life. Why did you suddenly develop brain cancer, or whatever neurological setback that turned you blind and confused that big beautiful head of yours?
You didn’t want to come inside, but chose to lounge around the back yard, every now and again, changing locations to avoid the summer heat. I saw you lapping up your water, and I kept ice cubes in your water dishes, because I knew you loved to eat them, and I know that it excited you to find those floating in your bowls. Anything, and everything, just to see your tail wag in appreciation, and to see those droopy adoring eyes, looking up at me with anticipation.
You were a slower moving boy, unless you saw a squirrel or promised a treat, then hell hath no fury on your speed and power. But your heart……there is no animal alive, with a bigger heart than yours…..and I can still feel you here, stomping around with those huge bear-like paws…peeking around the corner from the bedroom….you hated the wood floors because they were slippery and unpredictable, so you always paused and looked at me that way…..”seriously, mom? No rug yet?”……scratching on the back door when you were ready to come back in (more like mauling, to our dismay), to throw yourself onto the floor at our feet with a huge sigh of exhaustion, after soaking in sunlight, and wiggling your itchy back in the grass.
YOU ARE HERE, Cowboy…..and as I sit on the bathroom floor while Bailey takes her bath…..I can feel you barreling in through the door, fumbling for a spot next me, and laying your big sweet head in my lap, and following my hands with your pitiful loving gaze. And when I would stop petting your head, you would gently touch me with your gigantic paw, though it isn’t really very gentle, because you never recognized your own strength. You loved so hard, and as far as you were concerned, you were a small lapdog, front and center, and the most important family member alive. You were not wrong, Cowboy….you were the one essence that always made us smile and brought such a warmth when our days were cold.
You were handsome, proud, and the most loving soul that I have ever known. I cannot believe that you have left us. There will never be another dog that will replace you, nor will I ever forget or stop feeling your beautiful presence of light and love. And I would give anything, just to look into your big sad eyes, and embrace your huge soft body once again, as you lean into my hug, and sniff my hair.
Cowboy, you cast a spell on us. We will never forget you, nor will we ever stop honoring you.
I love you so much that it hurts. I miss you so much that I want to cry a river every single day, but I am almost numb and shielded from all of the loss of this year. I will ache for you forever, but I am so very happy that you graced our family with such a sweet unwavering love. Thank you. Continue reading
This morning the kids and I went to Bailey’s therapist for her weekly cognitive behavior therapy. Reagan was in a dark place, so I asked if he could also receive some light counseling, just for today, to see if he would not be resistant to it.
He was very resistant, and got increasingly louder and louder. He didn’t want to talk about his father to anyone, and it was “no one’s business”. Everyone “was stupid”. All of these protests aside, I completed his paperwork, and the doc came into the waiting room with her service husky, and took him into her office. He only went willingly, because he wanted to pet the dog, so I thank God for that beautiful animal.
Reagan has been diagnosed with PTSD. He is 11 years old. The events leading up to his father’s untimely death, and how Reagan woke up, right next to his father’s body…..how he screamed and worked hard to revive him….it is too much for a child. It is too much for a grown man or woman. He needs more help, and I have known this for some time now, and though he has been receiving counseling via the school district, there have been no resources during the summertime.
I am hoping this doctor can continue to Reagan manage his grief in productive manners, and make him feel like his sadness is normal, and that it is okay to cry, and it is okay to miss his father. I can talk to him about this every single day, for the rest of his life, but I am too close, and he tends to lend a deaf ear in my direction. Reagan needs help. He feels guilty for not waking up his dad, and for not breathing life back into him. Bailey needs help. She is lost and confused, and she doesn’t know what to do with this huge pile of sadness, but to grow increasingly agitated with all of her usual triggers, but struggling even harder now, to come down from them. Our family is in distress, but I am getting help, and that is all that I can do, but to be a constant force of stability.
How does this happen to our CHILDREN? We lay down our LIFE for them, and they still get wounded. Something like this happens suddenly…..and their entire world is turned upside down. Something like this happens gradually…where they have time to process….but their world still crashes down. They are defiant, disrespectful, and they push down all of that pain, and walk forward without a scratch, but they are forever broken. The only relief that you can offer is an embracing hug, and a reassurance that they are loved. You can’t give them the reassurance that you will never die, because that would be a lie, and what a cruel one it would be, if you died tomorrow, and they had no parents at all.
Bestill my broken heart. Today has been the death of me. Ever since Ross passed away in his sleep, I have always said, “as long as my kids are okay, then I am okay”, but they are not okay.
Please pray for my little family.
Being broken isn’t just a state of mind. It is the feeling of instability, an aching fear of change, the terror of letting go, when all you want to do is stay under your rock, where it is dark, but safe and familiar. Being silly with your children, laughing with the outside world, but crumbling slowing inside. Reassuring everyone that all is well, when it is not. Once you have seen death, everything that you see, feel, and touch, is never the same.
It is a different journey for everyone, and there are different shapes and shades of grief. There should never, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, be any judgment placed upon those who are weighed down with grief. If you do not wake up with that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach every morning…. if you do not physically ache to your very core, for that one person that completed your circle :'( If you HAVE had these feelings of despair, then judging someone else is even more damaging, because you are familiar with a tiny FRACTION of how brutal that loss is. What you don’t know, is what is bubbling at their surface, while they are living, and appearing to laugh, when their insides are decaying and fighting for survival. That is grief in a nutshell. Survival.
You can never recover from being broken. You will never get over it, nor will you ever be healed from it. It is now a part of you, and it will always live inside of you. There is no coming out of that dark place, but there are candles, stars, and there is almost ALWAYS, that one hand, reaching up, grasping for anyone that might grab a hold, and pull them out, even if just for a moment. Perhaps those moments will come more often, and that dark place will not be so tender and raw.
Ross was such a happy man, full of such love for his family, and such a joy for life. It is beyond my comprehension, that he was suddenly taken away, and I will never believe he is “better off”, because I need to visually see that he is better off….but I can’t even FEEL that he is better off. All that I can see, is that he missed his firstborn’s college graduation, his younger son’s 11th birthday, and he is going to miss Bailey blossoming into a beautiful young girl. He is going to miss everything. I can say that he is with us in spirit, but physically, he is not. In reality, it is the kids and I, and we are left to pick up all the pieces that were left behind. We are expected to take the hits as they come, and just survive, because Ross is “in a better place now”.
Yes, I am bitter. Yes, I am lost. I have struggled to find any and all ways to feel better, and at peace, with what has happened. It is a constant push and pull. A never ending battle with myself, and a war that I will never win. And still, my prayers never stop, and my motherly arms never leave my children, and their aching empty hearts. I would give my life to take away all of their pain, but I cannot.
I miss him so much. I miss hearing his voice every day, and making wisecracks to each other, and laughing so hard that my sides hurt. I miss his goofy expressions, his crazy little dances, and that out of control laugh during tickle fights. Mostly though…..I miss the reassurance, security…..and I miss the way I knew he would never leave, and never hurt me. Right in this moment, I cannot fathom ever trusting another soul this way again. I have had a tiny taste of this life of isolation, and I am not wanting to take another step towards anyone who means me any harm. I pray that isn’t true, because I want to find love and happiness, but it is what it is….and it is a whole lot of NOTHING right now.