4 Months

hourglassIt’s been 4 months Since. 122 days, 17 hours, and approximately 37 minutes as of this writing. Since.

Each day moves me a little further away from that moment. I’m trying hard to not let my mind wander back to that time as often. It’s a bitter, uphill battle. I’ve learned to be vigilant with my thoughts. I have a note taped over the kitchen sink that reads “Control your thoughts and keep moving.” I need that reminder. If I don’t constantly stay in control of my thoughts, I’m back there at that moment reliving the next 4 days of torture. Sometimes I’m not strong enough to be vigilant. I’m blindfolded balancing on a tight rope covered in oil over a pool of razors in a bath of salt water. I slip quite often.

Everything has changed. My life is a shadow of the richness it once was. I am but a shell of the person I once was. My playful, free spirit is weighted down. My wings are broken. My spark is drenched. My face has creases that weren’t there Before. I’ve aged at least 5 years Since. There are lines around and bags under my eyes. My skin is dry and thin. It feels like my outsides are beginning to mirror my insides turning me into a dry husk of a human. I barely eat yet keep getting heavier. My body is trying desperately to wrap me in layers to protect my fragile Self. The weight simply pulls me down deeper under the water.

I don’t recognize the woman in the mirror. Her smile is forced and it never reaches her eyes. The sparkle is gone. This woman before me doesn’t laugh as easily or stand as tall. Well, as tall as her slight 5’3″ frame once did. This woman can’t really be me.

This woman before me has no tolerance for petty drama or bullsh*t. She is empty inside but with a well of compassion that knows no bounds. Her thinking is at once clear and confused. She can’t understand why people get so upset about minor things. A car breakdown, a grumpy child, a fight with a spouse. She sees beyond the annoyances to what really matters. She has no filter. She will share her perspective on your struggles with a simple, blunt statement, not meaning to sound crass but simply unable to mince words. She would trade your struggles for hers in a heartbeat.

The people surrounding this woman have changed. She has been abandoned by those she thought to count on in her weakest moments. She has been hurt deeply by those who profess to love her. Yet, she is surrounded by people who are True, Honest, Authentic, Pure. Brave. It takes a brave person to walk in her orbit. It’s a messy, ugly space filled with obstacles and fragmented remains of a shattered life that can destroy you.

This woman before me spends a lot of time on her knees now, in sorrow and in prayer. She knows she is too weak to stand alone. She is somehow strong enough to allow support.

Time is different now. It seems like a second and a lifetime. I still wait for Nolan to come say goodnight at the end of the day. Every night I wait. I still expect to see him getting ready for school in the morning. Every morning. I find myself thinking about where he should be in that moment. Every moment. It’s not true that time heals all wounds. Time passes, that’s all. It passes too quickly and too slowly. I can’t wait to get to the end so we can be together again. I want time to stand still so I can hold Li’l N just the way he is. Nothing makes sense. I will wait for Nolan for every second of every minute of every hour of every day for the rest of my life. I will miss him. I will ache for him. I will Love him.

It’s been 4 months. 122 days, 17 hours, and approximately 37 minutes as of this writing. And yet, all that has passed is the blink of an eye.

 

Angels on the Field

10507019_10152393416675780_8248734576577210507_oDH and I were lucky enough to have dinner before the Big Game with Taylor Darveau’s parents. (See my last post for the backstory.) I will admit I was nervous to meet them. In fact, I said to a friend of mine that I didn’t know what to say to them. Her response as she had a fit of giggles –  “I’m not laughing with you. I’m laughing AT you.”  I know, it felt silly, hypocritical even. We are in the same horrific club. We both lost a child. How many people wouldn’t talk to me because they didn’t know what to say? I’m not immune to the irony.

As it turns out, I had zero reason to be nervous. They are such warm, caring, open, and forgiving people. They traveled a much harsher road than we have and yet conduct themselves with a grace and a determination that speaks volumes for the depth of their love for Taylor. I feel honored and blessed to count them among our Friends. The parallels in our lives and in our childrens’ lives is uncanny. I firmly believe that Nolan and Taylor have their hands in all of this. As much as both families would give anything to have them back, it’s comforting to know that they are together and working hard to surround all of us with their loving guidance.

How did the Big Game go? The Huskies did it, and not alone either. I have no doubt that Nolan was there, and this photo simply proves it.

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The emotions that poured forth upon the win surprised me. It hit me hard and the tears just flowed. Luckily I was surrounded by loving support and they helped me stand. I wasn’t the only one. This has been such an emotional season for all of us. I went onto the field to hug some of Nolan’s best friends on the team and could have held onto them for hours. We cried together in joy and in sorrow. Thinking about it now still brings tears to my eyes. I know Nolan is so very proud.

Nolan has been with his Brothers every step of the way this season. We move on to the State Championship game next Saturday in Portland. Including exhibition games and scrimmages, next Saturday’s will be the Huskies’ 13th game. Do you think that’s a coincidence? Neither do I.

You can catch the recap here (remember to open in new tab!):

http://wabi.tv/2014/11/15/mci-battles-back-best-bucksport-win-class-d-eastern-maine-crown/

Learn more about Taylor Darveau and the T.A.Y.L.O.R. Foundation at:

http://www.taylorfoundation.com/

The Big Game is more than a Game

 

1507760_896734047028178_7975437336775227726_nFootball has always been big here in this little town of Pittsfield, and this season it’s become even bigger. Our Huskies are about to face their Championship Game tomorrow night with an undefeated record behind them. To the Team, to the Community, to all of Us, it’s about more than the game.

Nolan decided to switch from Soccer to Football at the end of his 8th grade year. He had begun weight training with the Huskies and was drawn in by their camaraderie. He knew these boys were more than teammates, more than friends. They were brothers. They were so welcoming and inviting to Nolan. He wasn’t expecting that. He was anticipating the usual antics and hassling towards Freshmen. Those boys were nothing like that. They connected with Nolan and he fit right in from the beginning.

It broke something in all of us when Nolan died before he ever got to play on the field in an actual game. His death also created something. Nolan’s passing tightened the bonds of the Huskies bringing rise to their passion, perseverance, and endurance. Nolan’s passing brought them a mission. Their mission was to play this season for their fallen brother. Their mission was to play harder and fiercer for Nolan and to make Nolan proud. Let me tell you, they have done that and more.

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This story has captured everyone’s attention and touched our Community. Below I’ve put 2 links for a news story covering Nolan and the Huskies this season. Please take a few minutes to watch. It’s very touching.

**open link in new tab so you don’t lose me!**

http://wabi.tv/2014/11/03/nolan-berthelette-still-part-mci-football-program/

http://wabi.tv/2014/11/04/berthelette-continues-inspire-mci-football-part-2/

Are you still with me? The story gets better.  Meet our opponents in this Championship Game. The Bucksport Bucks, and they are no strangers to loss. They lost someone very special to them as well, Taylor Darveau. Taylor was a cheerleader for Bucksport and was killed last year in a Distracted Driving accident. Please take another minute to read more about this amazing connection.

http://pressbox.bangordailynews.com/2014/11/09/home/bucksport-mci-cope-with-tragedy-while-reaching-ltc-final/#.VF_JybbH-FI.facebook

Now we’re down to it. Two teams playing for their fallen mates. You couldn’t make this up. Well, maybe Hollywood could, but you and I couldn’t. It’s an incredible showdown in the making. These kids on both teams are an example of perseverance. They are an example of kinship. They are an example to all of us that there is more than a Game at hand. It doesn’t really matter who wins. Of course we’d love to see the Huskies go all the way. There’s a bigger picture here. All of these kids have lost some of their innocence. They know all too well that bad things happen to good kids. They’ve shown us how to stay strong and keep going. They’ve shown us how to hold each other up when we fall. I usually roll my eyes at the saying, but I’m using it here with all sincerity. No matter who gets the trophies at the end of the night, all these kids have won so much more than a Game.

Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda

carouselI learned today that Nolan’s twitches were, in fact, a symptom of his aneurysm. He had this blinking twitch and this weird moving-his-hairline twitch. That one was pretty strange to see. He could literally move just his hair on his scalp. I’ve never seen anyone be able to do that before. I’d mentioned these behaviors to his Doctor on a number of occasions and was told they were just stress or anxiety responses. Like an idiot, I bought it. Ok, I’ll be kinder to myself. Not an idiot, like an ignorant fool. Try again? Like a passive parent. I can’t help feeling that as his Mother, I should have pursued the issue. I should have known.

Here it comes again. Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda. This is a bad road to go down, but right now it’s the only one I see. I should have seen something more was at play. I should have simply asked for a scan to be sure. I could have been more of an advocate for Nolan’s health. I should have known this deadly condition was lurking. I should have felt the danger! I could have saved him. We could have found out about this in time to maybe do something. I could have saved him if only I’d known. WHY didn’t I know? I’ve given that boy Reiki so many times. How did I not feel something amiss?

Where were my instincts? Where was my intuition? I can tell my kids are lying from the way they hold their bodies. I can tell they’re planning something sketchy by the tone of their voice. I can tell they’re not feeling well by a look in their eyes. How did I miss this? How could Nolan have been so close to death for so long and I didn’t see it? I noticed his twitches increasing in the months leading up to That Night. Why didn’t I pursue it? I believed it was simply stress and/or anxiety. It made sense. Nothing that bad could ever happen to one of my kids.

This is a slippery slope. It’s a carousel that doesn’t stop. People will tell you not to blame yourself, there’s nothing you could have done. People will say it was his Fate or he had something bigger to do. Maybe that’s true. It still spins me around and around and around. If I had just asked for a scan, Nolan might still be here today. He might be playing football this weekend. He might be downstairs right now playing drums. He might be driving me crazy with all of his plans. He might be standing right behind me asking my advice. He might have his hand on my shoulder right now. He might be saying “I love you, Mom” one more time.

I can’t trust myself anymore. I used to consider myself a good Mother. I took pride in being a Steward of these children. I thought I was so tuned in to them on all levels. How did this one get by  me? How could something so major slip my attention? What am I missing now? What if another of my children has something terribly wrong that I don’t see? I have lost faith in my instincts as a Mother, as a Sister, as a Friend, as a Wife. If I missed this, what else am I blind to?

I failed my son. I failed Nolan when he needed me most, and it cost him his life. How do I pick up and keep parenting knowing that? I’m not worthy of these children.

Hugs from Heaven

embrace101

A couple of times now, I have gained consciousness while I was sleeping. Think lucid dreaming, but a little different. I know I’m asleep, or I think I am at the time, yet I can see clearly. I see DH and Li’l N sleeping soundly beside with me. I can see the clock and the time. I can see the light from the pellet stove in the next room. I can see clearly even though my eyes are closed and I don’t have my glasses on. I haven’t been able to see without glasses for 30 years! It’s been an interesting experience, but I hadn’t given it much thought until last night.

Again, the lucid state was upon me. I looked lovingly at the two sharing my bed and then I happened to look into the dark. It was in my mind’s eye, and at the same time it wasn’t. I don’t know if I can describe accurately the experience. Mere words seem inadequate. In the distance, I saw Nolan’s profile forming out of shadows. I felt a flutter in my heart, and I remember “saying” to myself or Nolan or whoever was listening “OH my God, it’s Nolan! Come here! Please come here!” and there he was. Fully formed in front of me, smiling with that twinkle in his eyes that I haven’t seen in 111 days. My heart raced, the adrenaline rushed, and I put my hands on his arms. Nolan was wearing his black Aeropostle sweatshirt that was hanging in my closet. I don’t think I noticed what he was wearing other than that. The thought came to me that every time I think of him, I think of a certain outfit he loves to wear and was surprised to see him choose that sweatshirt. He had his “gutter bangs” which he had stopped wearing recently but was one of his favorite hairstyles. I was able to touch him. I felt his arms, warm and pliant beneath my hands. I said to him “I can’t believe you’re really here!” Then I hugged him. I cannot begin to describe how that felt. He didn’t say anything to me, but he was smiling. He held me as tightly as I did him. God, it felt so good! He was taller than me still and wrapped his arms over mine, holding me to his chest like I used to do when he was smaller than me. I remember not wanting to ever leave his embrace. The waves of emotion began to flood over me and I felt myself being drawn away from him. Inside I screamed with everything I had “Wait! NO!!!!” I couldn’t stop the pull. He stayed still, smiling at me, as I was thrown into wakefulness, back into my body.

I lay in bed now fully awake, still feeling his presence. Was it a dream? It certainly could have been. It felt like more. I don’t know if I was in or out of my body. I feel like I was able to reach a place where we could both meet. My mind kicked in and pulled me back, but I really feel like I was with him for those few precious moments. I want to go back with every ounce of my Soul, I want to go back. I want to be able to spend more time in that Place In-Between; neither Here nor There, but the most special place I have ever been. There was no Otherworld around us. It was just he and I in the dark, but it was the warmest, safest dark I have ever felt.

I pray this is only the beginning of learning how to spend time with him again. Last week was so hard. I was pulled under by the Grief for a solid 5 days. I began to think I needed to be hospitalized. Seriously, it was that bad. This week I’ve been stronger. Is that the key? Each time I come out from under the Grief, I am a fraction stronger for a little while. Is this progress, or am I getting more delusional as the days pass? Honestly, I don’t care if I am. I was with Nolan for a few moments. He was smiling. I felt his arms. We held each other close, and I felt his love. If that’s crazy, then I never want to be sane again.

Hurtful Hurts and Truthful Truths

grief2Someone very close to me shut off their filters and let their feelings fly. Alcohol short-circuited those filters, but I think the emotions they shared, or more accurately hurled like burning daggers through my heart, were sincere. According to this person who I do love and respect, I am selfish and self-absorbed. I am weak because I take “F’ing DRUGS” to make it through the day. I am lazy and lay on the couch doing nothing all day. I am failing my youngest son and am not taking care of him. I am “ruining everything and destroying what is left of” my family. I hardly to go the cemetery, and the worst of it – I wasn’t there for Nolan when he left this world.

Want to let that sink in for a minute? Imagine trying desperately to get your head above water and managing the occasional gasp of breath, and then someone comes along who you thought would help you swim but they toss you a cement block instead and it drags you down into the depths of the darkness where you lose all sight of what’s up and down, and you lose all will to keep fighting for air. Welcome to my Now.

Before you condemn this person, consider their point of view. We all say things when we’re drinking that we wouldn’t and shouldn’t have said otherwise. I’m not sure it makes the statements untrue, just that they wouldn’t normally say them out loud. We are all entitled to our opinions and feelings. Just because they hurt, well, that just is. So without getting angry, what do you do? What do I do with all of that?

I’m doing everything I can think of to make it through each day yet each day is getting harder to make it through. I’m reading books about how to deal with Grief, meditating, reaching out to a support group, writing about my feelings, letting others hold me up when I’m too weak to stand. It’s supposed to get better, right? I find myself surrounded by people I wasn’t close to Before and yet I can’t imagine making it through this without them. I’m letting people in and telling Truthful Truths, as someone very dear to me calls the hard things to admit. I’m choosing to only spend time with people who help bring me to the Light, and I’m being authentic. What else can I do? Why is it getting harder?

Here’s my Truthful Truth for today. I am drowning, and I have no desire left to swim. Perhaps Dagger-Person is right and my family would be better off without me. No, I’m not suicidal, but every time I get a migraine, I’m almost hopeful the Aneurysm will rupture so the decision is taken out of my hands. I’m not supposed to talk like that. It makes people nervous. I would never do anything to force the issue, but there it is. I spend more hours a day crying and reliving that horrible experience over and over and over than I spend doing anything else collectively. I’m exhausted with fighting to make it through. There is no respite. There is no peace when Death steals your child and your Soul.

Chasing Ghosts and Finding Signs

chasing ghosts

I heard the footsteps again last night. This wasn’t the first time, and I’m not the only one that’s heard them. They walk the same path Nolan would take when he was getting ready for bed at night. The steps woke me from a dream where I brought this indescribable, unconditional, pure love to children. I’m not sure what kind of healing I was doing, but as I cradled a young girl to my chest, she said she needed to lay on my necklace. (I have a necklace with a heart-stone that Nolan held all the while he was in the hospital that I wear every day.) When I asked her why, she replied in a whisper “Because it tells all the Secrets.”

That’s when I heard the footsteps. They usually come around 3:30 am. This time I got out of bed and tried to find him. “Are you there, Nolan?” I asked the empty room as the tears silently fell. “Where are you?” I didn’t see him. I wish I had. Is he wandering the house at night? Is he still going through the motions as he did here on Earth? I wish I knew.

I sleep in about 30 minute intervals. My mind is constantly calling out to Nolan. Every dream I have is about him. Usually I’m looking for him or something that I know represents him. Many times I’m trying to move in my dream but being held in place or trying to run and not going anywhere. It doesn’t take much to interpret these dreams. The night before last, I was restlessly searching for Nolan and finally was able to find part of him. I saw his feet. Is this progress? I don’t know. I couldn’t find the rest of him, or I just couldn’t see the rest of him. It’s hard to tell. You know how dreams are.

After searching the house for Nolan, I laid in bed for hours just watching the clock and crying quietly. At some point I fell back to sleep and dreamed that I was at school and a girl came up to me asking where Nolan was and how he was doing. I had to tell her “Oh Honey, Nolan passed away in July.” We both broke down, and I awoke awash in the emotions of that moment once again. There is no respite in sleep.

This morning I was reflecting on many of my dreams and not really listening to the radio playing. I was lost in my head, talking to Nolan, begging him to come back. Something strange happened. It’s not the first time this has happened either. It seemed like the volume turned up or my consciousness tuned in just as I heard:

“Sleep tight, I’m not afraid. The ones that we love are here with me.”

Was this a message from my Boy? A message from myself to myself? I don’t know, but it brought me both pain and comfort. These lyrics speak to me on so many levels. Take a moment to sit and listen with me.

The first time this happened, we were in the car. I was just sitting there, lost in my head, crying out to Nolan and it sounded to me like the radio volume increased just as the lyric rang out:

“You’ll be in my heart. Yes, you’ll be in my heart. From this day on, now and forever more.”

When I listened to the whole song, it rang such a Truth to me. I knew it was Nolan speaking to me through music. Why do I even question it? Music is (was?) such a huge part of him, is it any wonder he would reach out in this way? The signs are there. They comfort and they bring sorrow in equal measure.

I wish I could go back in time. I wish I could jump forward in time to the moment I see him again. All I have is Now. But Now really, really hurts.

 

Dinnertime

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Last night we sat down to family dinner. I cooked two nights in a row. You probably don’t know what a big deal that is. I’m a good cook. Truly. I won’t give you salmonella, listeria, trichinosis, e. coli, or any other yucky food-type-poisoning. I have some dishes I make that DH says is better than Olive Garden even. (Hey, we set a mediocre bar here.) The problem is that I don’t like to cook very often. It’s not even that I don’t like to cook. It’s really that dinner comes at the most inconvenient time of day. We undoubtedly have some kid at some practice from 5:30 – 7 most nights. There’s homework and cranky time and getting ready for bed time. Who can combat all of that and still pull their family to the table together over something actually cooked and not defrosted? As Karma would have it, DH and Nolan always equate love with food. I couldn’t care less whether I even eat, and that’s not due to Grief. I’ve always been that way. I like food. I just don’t equate it with love.

Family dinner was always super important to Nolan. The most random and important topics were covered during family dinners. We talked about politics and world events and we talked about manscaping and horrors of waxing. We had fun. We argued and when things got heated, I’ve been known to throw lettuce at someone which would spark a food fight that was way more fun to have than to clean up. We had fun, even when stuff like this happened (yes, that’s a green bean in his nose):

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We had dinner as a family every night right up until the middle-school and teen years tore everyone in different directions. I managed to cook double on nights that I found time so that we always had leftovers for the next night. The worst offender of interrupting family dinner is baseball season. Really. Our player had to be down at the field by 4:00 for a 5:30 game, which didn’t end until around 7:30, at which time they had to clean up and have the Coach’s talk and yadda yadda yadda, and it’s 8pm before we even get home. I gave myself a pass, and Nolan was kind enough to give me a pass as well, on family dinner during baseball season. Hey, we were all at the field together anyway, right? Popcorn counts.

Nolan loves (loved, damn I hate past-tense verbs) eating as a family. He hated “make a plate” nights and would always ask me to at least sit with him while he ate. Even more, he hated (damn past-tense verb, I hate you!) “Whatever” nights. That’s when there was no food prepared and you had to find “Whatever” to eat. Sandwich? Cereal? Whatever.

I haven’t cooked more than a handful of meals for DH and Li’l N “Since.” I’m trying. I know Nolan would be so mad at the lack of thought given to dinners in this house “Since.” I want to honor him and still be as close to the old Me as “Before.” It’s not easy. Wednesday night, I made a lovely dinner and waited 30 minutes for DH and Li’l N to get to the table and ended up starting dinner alone.  Believe it or not, it was easier on me before they came to the table. Anyway, last night we all made it there at the same time and Li’l N decided he wasn’t eating what I made and was going to cook his own dinner. Whatever. It took him a little longer and I had to help a bit, but he finally made it to the table. I tried to eat but only tasted tears. We were 3 when we should still be 4. I remembered back to our younger days when we were 7 around the table. It made me profoundly sad. Li’l N now sits in Nolan’s seat, which he did “Before” on nights Nolan wasn’t home. That’s ok, but still. Nolan should be sitting there.

Li’l N was in a really crabby mood. I’ve noticed his fuse getting shorter lately, and I’m concerned he’s got some anger towards the world that might be coming on. DH did his darndest to pull Li’l N out and start a conversation. N was having none of it. I just happened to ask about a project he’s working on and had mentioned in passing, and the words came tumbling out. I hit on something he cared about. It was a great diffuser and a great conversation, and it made me think. We really haven’t been present like he deserves. We listen and hear “blah blah blah,” and N knows it. So I took a turn last night.

After dinner when he fake punched me, I didn’t scold him has I’m afraid I’ve done all too often “Since.” I just fake-punched him back. Then I fake-karate chopped him. Then I for-real picked him up, flipped him onto the couch and sat on him. Do you know who would do that? The old Me. The Me from “Before.” We went on to have the best fake-ninja fight that I totally fake-won. N laughed. Really laughed. Uninhibited, full-bodied laughs came. You know what else? So did I. For that little span of time, I was present with Li’l N, and he was present with me. We weren’t “Before” or “Since” but simply “Now.” It changed the energy of our house. It became a Home for just that little span of time. Yet, that was something big.

I can’t do it all the time. Not yet. I don’t know if the old Me will come back as “Before.” I doubt it because that old Me never knew this pain and didn’t have to carry this emptiness. Perhaps, in time, a new Me will have some of the same characteristics and tendencies as “Before.” For now, for just right “Now,” I strive to be in the moment with N. Giving him his Mom back is the best thing I can do to honor Nolan. That, and maybe cook more.

3 Months “Since”

Nolan suffered his Aneurysm on July 18, at around 10:10 pm. He lacked any brain function at the time the neurosurgeon first checked him at 2am on July 19. There has to be a second evaluation for brain function at least 4 hours later before a person can be pronounced “Deceased”. I remember dreading 6am, knowing they would check again. I was able to put the doctors off until the afternoon of July 19, when I watched everything they did during the 2nd neurological evaluation. It was horrible, but I’m glad I stayed with him during that exam. It left no doubt in my mind that Nolan was already gone. So, in the late afternoon on July 19, Nolan was pronounced officially “Brain Dead” (although they had some kinder, fluffier term they used it means the same ugly thing). Because we chose to honor Nolan’s passing by saving as many other lives as we could, Nolan was kept on life support while transplant teams and recipients were gathered and prepared. He was taken into the operating room the night of July 20, and was finally taken off of life support in the wee morning hours of July 21.

Which date do you go by? Is it by the “official” time/date stamp on some stupid “official” certificate? Do we call it when his heart was removed from his body? It’s horrible. It’s more than just 1 day to survive each month. We have to survive 4 separate anniversary dates each month. Which do we pick as our own “Official?”

We (DH, me, and Little N) consider Nolan’s passing to be on July 18, 2014 at approximately 10:15pm. That’s when his heart stopped beating. That’s when his breathing stopped. CPR was able to keep his blood oxygenated, but he didn’t maintain a steady heartbeat again until he was somewhere between Pittsfield and Bangor on the Life Flight helicopter. By that point, we all knew he was gone. I knew before the 2 ambulances even got to the house that he wasn’t coming back. I knew. I just knew.

Because of the length of this ordeal, we have 4 days every month where we remember some part of the trauma more strongly. The night he “went down,” the day of his “official” date, the night he went into surgery, and the day he was taken off life support. I think this makes it even harder.

On October 18, I decided that I simply couldn’t handle this 3-month mark. I opened the door wide and invited Denial right in. I asked Denial to bring as many friends as he could to help pretend the night away. What I literally did was this (taken from my personal Facebook page):

3 months. I can’t do it, so I’m not going to. Here it is, this is my Bat Signal going up, rallying the Troops. I’m going to have a Denial Party at my house tonight because that is way more fun than a Pity Party. We’re going to pretend that everything is ok and that we can survive this. We’re going to pretend that Grief isn’t swallowing us all, and we’re going to pretend laughter comes easily. We’ll throw some carnage on the grill and pretend we still like to eat. If you can handle that (and some cocktails) come on over, bring your kids, a snack or drink, and we’ll open the door wide for Denial. Just for tonight. We can get back to Grieving tomorrow.

It worked. So many of our friends showed up with food in hand and a hug in their hearts to help us make it through the night. 10:15pm came and went without my noticing. Our house was filled with laughter just like “Before.” I couldn’t have managed that night without everyone surrounding me and helping me stand. Seriously. I am so thankful for everyone who answered the Call. So what happened when everyone went home?

It turns out Denial is a fickle son-of-a-bitch. That “F-er” left with everyone else. He left me stranded and alone at 3am. I am so lucky that my dearest friend, my Soul Sister, was staying the night. I crawled into bed with her, sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. She simply gave me tons of Reiki and love until I fell asleep.

The following few days were also horrendous. It’s funny how things only occur to you in hindsight that should be so obvious. It really wasn’t until I began writing about Nolan’s timeline that it dawned on me. You’re probably one step ahead of me at this point. No duh the next few days were so hard! I didn’t consciously think about each day’s representation, but my body knew. My heart knew. Now I know, and maybe next month will make more sense when I spend 4 days in bed crying.

Swallowed Whole

tears

This morning I spent 45 minutes composing a blog entry about a happy memory. I decided that after baring my Soul, I would give myself, and you, a break from the Grief. I think that’s important to do every once in a while. It was a fantastic piece of writing, if I do say so myself! Considering I’m not all that impressed with my writing, that says something! I laughed while remembering the great Slim Jim War. I planned to finish up and publish the piece, get dressed quickly, and spend my day in my new favorite place, Castine Candle Company. ( http://www.castinecandle.com ) Carrie and Micah, who own Castine, have become so dear to me. Their shop is my safe place to go and just Be. They let me help with whatever they’re working on, and most importantly, they make me laugh. I love them.

My writing was going so well, I decided to include a short video of Nolan being funny. I wanted you to hear his voice and his laughter. Inadvertently, I clicked a link which navigated away from the page. Yeah. Bad move. Everything I had poured my heart into, everything I laughed about, everything that made me feel good in that moment was gone. Simply and irretrievably gone.

The floodgates opened. I called DH to come help. I posted for help on Facebook and stepped away from the computer. I tried to hold off the panic, but it came full freaking force. So, trying to stay rational, I went and took a shower. I thought I’d just go about my day and not let it get to me. It’s frustrating to lose all that work, but it’s not the end of the world.

I found myself on the floor of the shower crying so hysterically you couldn’t tell which was water and which were tears. I couldn’t breathe. I was trying to tell myself that it was only a bunch of words and I could write them again but it didn’t help. My emotions didn’t match the event. Then it hit me. Nolan’s gone. Just like that. Simply and irretrievably gone. And I can’t get him back. There is no “undo” button. I poured my heart and Soul and every fiber of my Being into that Boy. I laughed with him, at him, because of him. I enjoyed everything about him, and as simply as I clicked away from a screen, he was taken from my life.

I don’t even know how I managed to get out of the shower or upstairs. It’s all a blur. I was having a full-blown panic attack. I have no idea how DH knew to come check on me, but thank God he did. Well, good for me, not him. He found me on the bathroom floor, in the very spot where we lost Nolan. I couldn’t stand and was hyperventilating severely. I had taken a half pill (under the tongue like you’re supposed to in an emergency), but my bottle was empty. No help there.

I don’t know how long I was on the floor. I remember almost calming down and my head spun so quickly, I passed out. I know I stop breathing when I pass out. I heard DH’s voice from what seemed like far away telling me that “This is not good for me. Get up. Get in bed.” It roused me enough for him to get me out of the room. God, it broke my heart all over again. I was the one on the bathroom floor with Nolan when he went into cardiac arrest and stopped breathing. DH was on the phone with 911 and came in to start rescue breathing, and then when we lost his pulse, DH was the one to start CPR. I grabbed Little N and tried to get him out of the room so he wouldn’t see. I can’t get into all the details of that night right now or even just the events of that room. I was in and out of the room and have those visions that replay on a constant loop 24 hours a day. It’s nothing compared to what DH has visions of. And there I was, in the same spot, on top of Nolan’s blood stains still marking the carpet, unconscious and not breathing.

I let DH get me to bed, and there I stayed all day.  I managed to get up long enough to pick up Little N from school and take him to the doctor. My head was still spinning so badly, I was nervous to even drive. I pretended like nothing was wrong, but Little N knew. He looked at me a little sideways and asked if I had remember to pick up my pills today. Little Bugger is quite an intuitive young man. As soon as we got home, I climbed back into bed where I remained right up until I decided to just let the words out, which was about 7:30pm. I cancelled my plans at Castine. I didn’t answer my phone. I watched bad reality tv all day. And I cried an ocean of tears. Instead of the respite from Grief I had given myself permission to enjoy, it sneaked right up and swallowed me whole.

Some days that happens. Tomorrow is 3 months “Since.”

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