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.
I try to wake up early enough on the weekends so that I can catch just a tiny bit of quiet time. I will take any amount of quiet time that I can soak in. But then here I sit, and I feel completely broken, my mind is racing with worry, and my quiet time becomes a chaotic hot mess. Everything about me has changed now.
There are days when I am a huge sloppy mushy mess, and days when I am stoic, yet I never seem to miss any of the beauty that used to race by me at top speed. I see everything, and I embrace it….I am gripping so fiercely that my knuckles are white, and my arms are shaking from the hold. For fear of losing it, and never feeling it again.
Last night I sat outside on my porch, and I watched the storm. Storms always scared me, and though there are justifiable reasons as to why, last night I sat in this cool breeze, listening to my wind chimes, and staring into this creepy sky with this wicked lightening, and found it beautiful for the very first time. I found myself crying, and didn’t even realize that I was. This storm was taking everything out of me, pulling and tugging at buried sorrow, when before, it would have chased me back inside the house with my shaking dogs. I felt every little moment, and I allowed myself to cry, because I am not very forgiving with myself, and for once…I just wanted to be.
What do I do with all of these uncontrollable emotions, tears, and unrelenting helplessness? I am terrified of dying. I have completely changed how I eat, what I eat, and everything about the actual physical act of eating. I don’t have anymore enjoyment in the tastes that I did before, because it only makes me feel sick to my stomach, and it only makes me feel disappointed in myself.
My children are terrified of me dying in my sleep, and they are hovering over me with such a desperate and frantic need, that it breaks my heart into a million pieces, more than anything. And every day I come to the same conclusion. My children and I, will always be, my children and I. There is no man out there strong enough to embrace all of our brokenness, and there is no man out there strong enough to hold us up, band-aide our wounds, and make everything right. Last night it hit me like a ton of bricks, and had my daughter not come out looking for me, I would have been shattered. I don’t WANT anyone to swoop in and make everything right. I don’t WANT someone to take Ross’ place, and for us to just resume our lives as if nothing ever happened, and there isn’t this huge gaping emptiness inside all three of us. That emptiness exists like the elephant in the room, and it is looming and haunting….and turning away from it is moot, because it is never going away.
I want companionship. I want to be able to fall apart, and know that “he” will not move from that spot. I want to be able to have fragile days where I need to aggressively clean as I like to do, and to FEEL him there, and know he will be there, no matter where my emotions take me. I don’t want help with my household, or help with my parenting, but encouragement, knowledge, experience, and partnership. Most of all, understanding. Understand that I am a mess, and yet have no choice, but to stay strong. Understand that my son is a tender hearted soul, and needs to be gently coaxed into wanting to be a better person, by watching others around him, and feeding off of their work ethics and their empathy for others. Understand that my daughter will have these horrible days that are fierce and physically nerve racking, but that it shall pass, and she will feel peaceful, once I lay with her and make her feel safe. Understand that I have each and every one of these dogs for a REASON. They are family, and they are everything to me. They have carried me through the most heartbreaking days, when there was no one else there. Absolutely no one. What I have done within the community, and what I am doing matters. Laugh with me when they are goofy, and cry with me when they pass, because they will always pass, and every time that they pass, a little piece of me dies with them.
I am too exhausted from all of these twists and turns and bruises on top of bruises. Whatever happens will happen. I will always wake up, and miss my laughter with Ross, and miss the friendship that he showed me, and miss that daily companionship that was always so comforting, and made me feel safe. I can’t say that have I nothing, because that would be inaccurate. I have more than many others don’t. I value everything with such an overwhelming protectiveness, that I can barely function at times, but thankfully, these times are fleeting now.
We are coming up on the one year anniversary of Ross’ death. July is going to be the hardest month yet, though it can’t hold a candle to our first Christmas without him. We have Reagan and Bailey’s birthdays, Ross’ birthday, our 16 year anniversary, and the day that Ross died. July 2nd, July 8th, July 14th, July 19th, and July 24th. It would be really cool to skip July altogether. But I cannot fast forward or check out. I would NEVER desert my children, nor leave them broken or in pain with the loss of ME, after I have watched them reel from the loss of their dad. The way their eyes went dark when the front door would open, and it was a dog pushing through, and not their father. I will never be able to comprehend the grief of a child, and the loss of a father, not one that has been so present in their lives, and been such a force of nature, and one day just gone forever. How does something like this happen? How can someone just be alive one day, and gone the next? Years will pass, and I will NEVER be able to wrap my mind around death.
I have connected with other widows and widowers. My heart hurts SO badly for them, that I want to reach out and hug them, and make them feel loved and safe. Though they are so far away, for the most part, I feel protective of them…..each of their journeys are so different from the next, but each journey holds such pent up anger, loneliness, and raw bleeding sadness. If we could all live in a community together, where we were side by side, maybe we could heal faster, and in a more healthy manner. We could talk openly about our spouses, without any of the judgement or insecurity. But this is our reality, and we have to survive in our own world, with our own demons. We have to function with other humans, answer their questions, and we are held accountable with how we respond to these cold waters that we have been thrown into unexpectedly. I have so many fears, so many regrets, and I am a completely different woman now, because of what I have been through, and what my children have been through.
I feel like I haven’t thanked everyone enough. How do I thank my family, and my friends, that have been there from day one? I am still finding Facebook messages that I missed, especially that week that Ross died. I was in a haze, stumbling around, hardly eating and sleeping. I am still struggling. I can still feel it, but I want out of it. It is stifling, suffocating. I don’t want to be unhappy, and I don’t want to be alone, but at the same time, I know my whole package is a tall order. I am a realist. I am trying to not think too far ahead, and focus on the only thing that is important…..my children. Rebuilding. Providing for my family. Making them feel safe. Giving them what they need emotionally, and replenishing everything that has been stripped from them.
We are facing summer time now, and it will be the kids and I, 24/7. I am so exhausted already, but determined to help them reach a whole new level of growth. They have to reach a whole new level of growth.
I have Bailey signed up for Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and Reagan signed up for counseling throughout the summer. I don’t even know what CBT is at this juncture, but I know that I have to investigate this resource before I ever resort to medication, to help alleviate her anxiety and pressure that she puts on herself each and every day. Our family cannot function anymore with these meltdowns. Bailey is getting older, and stronger, and she is still taking me off guard. And I have yet to master the hold where we don’t get ourselves hurt, and we are not reeling from physical and emotional turmoil. Reagan lacks confidence, assurance……he needs to know that he matters, and that he is different than Bailey, and more is expected of him, and this is a GOOD thing, not a sentence or punishment. How can I do this for him, as a sole parent, when I cannot replenish myself fully? I ask myself that question every morning, and yet still find that tiny bit of strength.
I will ask for help. I will reach out. And I will be responsive to those of you who are wanting to embrace our chaos. I am already making grand strides in the right direction, and though I have so many moments that knock the wind out of me, there are no other options. This is our life now. This is something that has happened to us, but this does not define us.
I am still broken in so many ways. But I want to say his name, and honor everything that he was, because his legacy meant something to me, his children, and everyone that he touched. It was so evident at his service, that he was loved and cherished, and that he brought so much laughter to everyone he encountered. I am so blessed to have had 17 years with this man. I will never glorify our marriage, nor will I tell anyone that everything was perfect, but I knew that he would never hurt me, and at the time, I knew he would never leave me.
I look around, and I get so frustrated…..angry….and I want to grab people and strangle them. Why are they taking advantage of this person, who has offered everything they have? Why are they settling? Why do they continue to feel just CONTENT, instead of giddy, on cloud 9, with everything at their feet? Why are they not racing to the finish line, each and every day, and grasping every straw of happiness that they can?
We can only do this once. This is it, people. Let’s not let another moment fly past us, without grabbing the hell out of it, and soaking in every single detail of it. Please learn from me. Please take what I have to offer you, because it is all that I have left.
Today you wrapped your arms around me, and I could feel your warmth.
You have been gone, and everything has been cold and distant, though I have these fleeting moments of happy, and fleeting moments of hope. They are fast, though, and I can never catch them. Maybe they don’t want to be caught yet, but I am too tired to chase them.
But today, you chose to sit with me, and let me feel your presence. Why?
Do you feel my brokenness? Do you still know me, the way no one else did…..losing my way so many times with all of these twists and turns, and yet, you always knew how to bring me back.
Losing you suddenly feels a lot like falling. I am spinning and falling, and I can’t seem to grab a hold of anything, or anyone, to brace my fall, but at the same time, falling is so much easier than fighting.
I have so many regrets, and left so many things unsaid. I tell you everything today, because they have to be said out loud, but I will never forgive myself, for not telling you while you were alive, and standing in front of me. You deserved better than that, and you were such a ray of sunshine for so many lost souls, that I cannot bear that you are no longer here to light their way, and embrace them with your words of comfort. I cannot stand that you are not here to hold your sons and daughter in this dreadfully dark place they are in, where they are alive, but aren’t living, because they miss their father so desperately.
It is all a game, pushing forward, and laughing, but not truly laughing. Some resemblance of happiness. I am still in this same spot, even though I am getting help for our children, taking care of our home, fumbling around in the dark, and trying to catch my breath every time that wave hits. I don’t want to be in this spot anymore, but I don’t know how to be happy. I need for you to know, that the loss of you has reshaped me completely, into this hot mess of forgiveness, empathy, compassion, and such a yearning for more than what I probably deserve. And I don’t want to push and pull anymore, I just want to BE.
This is the most beautiful day. I opened all of the windows, and watered my flowers, and filled the hummingbird feeder. All of these moments…..I am trying so hard to take them in, and embrace them.
I don’t have many great days, but I have a lot of really great moments, and after this past year, that is something. I am eating healthier, exercising, and doing more fun things with the kiddos…..being more active is uplifting, and makes me feel better inside and out. My kids are always going to try my patience, drain my energy, and these autism meltdowns do break me down, but then I revel in my children’s laughter, encourage them to be outside on days like this, and hug and kiss them as much as humanly possible, even when they are rejecting me.
I feel changed, as if something has switched over in me. Loss, loneliness, bitterness, and exhaustion, have all been my demons, but I am working so tirelessly to continue changing for the better. I cannot wrap my mind around it……it feels as if I have missed so much all of these years. I was living in the shadows, and never even knew it. How does that happen? Is it being the parent of a special needs child, that has taken my drive? Feeling sorry for myself? Ross dying suddenly, when he had so much light and positive energy ?
I am sappy, and tearful, and I love and adore my pain in the ass children. I miss my friends, my family, and I miss having that special connection with someone, yet still being grounded and true to myself. I am a hot emotional mess, and am terrified of someone rushing in and taking away this new light, because everything is so raw still, but I love this feeling, and hope it doesn’t go away again. I am not dwelling on being alone anymore. It takes away the joy from these moments, and that dark place is so haunting and painfully addicting. Besides, what is meant to be, will be, and I have always believed that. I will carry that with me.
That is all. I wanted to post something positive for once. Thank you, everyone, for all of your support, prayers, and I love you all like crazy.