Today’s theme is “Family is forever.” I had to smile when I saw it, because that phrase was adopted by Kade’s friends after he died.
CarlyMarie says that when she finds herself asking, “Why?” she turns it into “What?” As in, “What heals me?”
I will try to remember that. I don’t ask the “Whys” as much. They are anguishing. But when they do arise, I will try to remember to turn them into “What heals?”
Yoga is healing for me, but I need to work on incorporating it as a regular part of my life. Same with meditation.
Time with my fellow bereaved moms is healing.
Date night is healing.
Family getaways are healing.
Journaling is healing.
Laughter is healing.
Time with a friend is healing.
Time with Kade (connecting with him, remembering him, honoring him, visiting his stone or his river) is healing.
Doing something that I know is good for me (like eating well, going to bed early, exercising, or keeping my schedule light) is healing.
Creating is healing.
Hikes/time in nature is healing.
I AM | Finish these 5 sentences
I wish: that Kade wore his soft burgundy flannel instead of me. And that the pictures I have of him didn’t stop at age 19.
I remember: his laugh and his voice, thank goodness.
I could not believe: that one so animated and talkative could be so abruptly silenced.
If only: I could call him up right now. It’s been too long.
I am: still experiencing a level of disbelief that this is reality.
Today’s theme is loaded with a lot of sub-questions so I will do them as a question-and-answer session.
Q. So many of us split our lives into a timeline of before and after our children died. Who were you before your child died?
A. I was a mom of a nearly-grown 19-year-old embarking on his young adulthood, and stay-at-home mom to a little toddler, not yet 2 years old. I blissfully got to be a stay-at-home mom to my little guy and often met friends for play-dates.
Q. Who are you now?
A. I don’t want to be what I am about to answer. I am a bereaved mom. As Dr. Joanne Cacciatore said: I am mom to one who walks and one who soars. I am a wife, a mom to a spunky, bright first-grader, and I figure out daily how to be a mom to one who soars.
Q. Who are you now in this present moment?
A. Sitting on my couch after getting home from class tonight at 10:00 p.m., I am very much a student. I just turned in an 8-page paper. My school program is wonderful. It is fascinating and rewarding. It also takes up more of my time than I thought possible.
Q. What are you feeling?
A. Tired (because being a mom to one who soars is not always conducive to a peaceful and sound night’s slumber lately). Happy (because my paper is turned in). Content (because my hubby is next to me on the couch, and my class load for the next couple weeks seems manageable).
Q. Have you been irrevocably changed by the death of your child?
Q. How are you different now?
A. I asked my husband how I am different now–not a great idea. First he paused…and probably against his better judgment said, “You get more upset than before. I think it’s even harder for you to get stuff done.” Then he said that I am probably more empathetic than I was before. And because I’ve been through this, will be a great counselor. Then we both laughed when he read that I wrote “I asked my husband–not a great idea”. He said, “Well, it’s not like you would have a trauma and you’re happier! And more organized and more efficient!” Aaah, grief humor.
Q. Do you love anything about the new you?
A. I like that I decided to go back to school, and that I will be able to help people in their grief. I like that I have a little different perspective to cut to the chase of what’s important, and to speak my truth.
Q. Do you want and old part of you back?
Q. Who are you becoming?
A. I am becoming a mental health professional. I am becoming more authentic. I hope I continue to become a better person, wife, and mom…to one who walks and one who soars.
Sounds: This is a different way to think of remembering Kade. Sounds. I can never hear the kickflip of a skateboard, or the jarring but not unpleasant sound of a skateboard deck scraping along a paved curb without thinking of Kade. Passing a skate park makes me freeze for a moment.
The bass line of any song brings to mind his focused form sitting on his bed teaching himself riffs. I have a bursting folder of bass tabs he printed from online.
Seasons: all of them. When spring approaches there is an excitement of rebirth, but the sting that not everything can be reborn. With summer comes my favorite season whose associations were traveling, volleyball, and summer dresses. Now the season first and foremost brings the anniversary of Kade’s death on June 29th. When fall comes, the colors and crisp nights remind that winter, ski season (Kade’s favorite), is around the corner. As well as Christmas with its special brand of heartache, and his birthday, and the turn from one year that hasn’t seen Kade in it to yet another that will not.
Scents: Sometimes when I smell cigarette smoke on clothing I think of Kade, and his friends. And AXE Body Spray doused over cigarette smoke on clothing? A direct olfactory path back to some early teen times. One of my favorite times and places in my memory is him in a clean white t-shirt and pajama pants (with little penguins with Santa hats on), sitting in his satellite chair in the basement. I would come down to tell him goodnight. Sometimes I would lean in and kiss his just-showered head. Damp and freshly shampooed.
21. RELATIONSHIPS | How have your relationships changed? Did you lose any? Have you made new friendships?
Because the death of my child colored everything, my relationships have changed.
Some are more real and authentic. A life-changing event nudges in that direction.
Some have been strained because of the fact that more truth does enter in.
Some have been shaken up a bit because I’m learning what I can and can’t expect from others for whom this is also new, and who are also figuring it out.
Over some rough spots, I thought that I was losing relationships. But then something I was told clicked: The words or actions that I perceived as hurtful were coming from a caring place. People Just. Don’t. Know.
Some relationships are more distant because I don’t have the bandwidth to reach out as much as I would like. Some of that is purely due to energy, and some, to emotional availability.
But most of my relationships can take the bumps and curves, and continue to grow and develop. Change is hard. Who wants a relationship to change? Screw that, let’s stick with what’s working. But the only constant is change, right?
I certainly have made new friends. The bonds within bereaved parent circles is unexplainable. We can let our hair down at a meeting. We can talk about our intimate stories over omelettes. We can share our narratives: the unabridged versions.
I’ll just say it. It’s hard to have gratitude since Kade died.
I know I have a lot to be grateful for. I know this when I look at my 6-year-old, or husband, or home, or Colorado Rocky Mountains, or feel my heart beat. It was hard to have gratitude right after Kade died, and is still hard at four years out. I’m not saying that it’s right, or that it’s not something I need to spend time on. I’m just sayin’.
Today is Brian’s and my ninth anniversary. I am grateful for my devoted and supportive husband. Here is the card I opened from him tonight: perfect for today’s theme.