Tag Archives: Faith

3 Years

3 yearsIt’s been 3 years. 156 weeks. 1,095 days. 26,280 hours. And yet, it’s still been only half a minute. You’d think by now I would be used to the idea – the fact – that my son died. We’ve gone through birthdays and holidays, milestones, events. You would think it wouldn’t be a surprise to me that Nolan is gone. You’d be wrong. I know it’s real. I even believe it’s real now. Denial has left the building. I can be in the middle of the most mundane task – running errands, folding laundry, even reading a good book, and it hits me out of the blue. My son died. My son died. Nolan DIED. It’s just as shocking as it was 3 years ago today. Time doesn’t heal this kind of trauma. Nothing does. Time allows for you to get used to the pain. It absorbs into your very being and becomes a part of you. Your shoulders learn to bear the weight, and your feet learn to take smaller steps. Your mind still clouds over to protect you from the horror, but every so often, it seeps in. This nightmare is your life. There are no more tomorrows with him. I will live more of my life without him than with him. The ache doesn’t lessen. It seems to deepen as the time between Before and Since grows longer.

Everything has changed in the last 3 years. I have a different job now. I live in a different house. I have some different friends. I look a little different too. Grief has etched lines in my skin and left bags under my eyes. I’ve grown softer. I’m aging faster now. I don’t have the energy for things I once did. I have no tolerance for people who are self-serving or dishonest. I can’t be around people who create drama or who blame others. Those who judge or talk about others unkindly, people who complain about the dissatisfaction in their life but do nothing to change it? Can’t deal with them. I have become adept at holding people in my heart and letting them go from my life. I’ve come to realize that my feelings Before were muted in comparison to how deeply I feel now. It’s a strange, twisted gift of Grief. Only after such a devastating loss do you realize how intensely you can love.

In the time Since, I’ve learned that I, too, have a brain aneurysm. I’ve also developed a heart condition. The doctors say it was caused by medication I was taking, but I secretly believe it’s because my heart broke the moment Nolan’s stopped beating. I feel my mortality. I fluctuate between just wanting to go to sleep and not wake up and wanting to suck every moment from this life that I can. In my stronger times, I know that Nolan is fine now. He’s not going anywhere and will meet me once my own fateful day arrives, so I should live out loud every moment until that happens. On my vulnerable days, it seems like forever and joy is so far outside my grasp that I don’t have the energy to try. It’s a strange dichotomy to exist in – both waiting to die and striving to truly live.

I don’t really have the words to describe what this feels like today. Another year has gone by without Nolan’s smile, without his laughter, without his voice. I wasn’t done parenting him. I’m still not. My arms feel empty, and I physically ache to hold him one more time. I still cry every single day. I think I always will. The first thought each morning is “I love you Nolan” The last thought each night is “I love you Nolan, and I miss you so terribly.”

In a few days, 4 other people will be celebrating their milestone of 3 years post-transplant. They will be filled with love and hope. I know they will shed a tear for Nolan, as they hold him in their hearts, wishing their life didn’t depend on his death. Knowing that parts of him are still alive brings me comfort, and I am so very thankful for each of those people carrying him within them.

I don’t have any words of wisdom. I can’t be anyone else’s guidepost in this dark. This, perhaps, isn’t a very eloquent post today. I struggle to find the words when they usually flow freely. All I can say is, we have today, this very moment. When you have a chance to do something to help someone else, do it. Share a smile, a kind word. Hold those you love closer and longer. Never miss a chance to laugh or to love. Try something new, and think of a boy who wanted nothing more than make the world a better place and follow his lead. We are all One Tribe.

For you, Nolan, I will keep going. I will love. I will laugh. For you, Nolan, I will live.

 

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Birthdays

Every day is hard. The very first thought in your mind each day is, “He’s not here. Another day without my son.” Each morning you have to re-orient yourself to this “New Normal” that everyone tells you about. It doesn’t matter how much time goes by. Day after day it’s the same thing. You wake up and that jolt of adrenaline hits you. This is your life now. It takes a minute. Eventually, the air makes its way back into your lungs and you put your feet on the floor. This weight is familiar, you remind yourself. You know what this feels like. It’s heavy, but you’ve been carrying it for some time now, and you know you will bear it just like you have been. A few more breaths, and you are able to put one foot in front of the other again. Keep moving, you just keep moving.

The sights and the sounds of the day greet you, and in those mundane moments, you feel stronger. You know there are blessings to be had this day, you need only notice them. So you look. You hear the sounds of your youngest child getting ready for school and feel so blessed that he is still here, healthy enough to be giving his Dad some sass. You hear your husband responding and feel so thankful that this man is steadfast in his commitment to your family. Your blankets are warm, and you feel lucky that they have wrapped you in comfort as your body struggled to find rest. It’s the little things you no longer take for granted. The sink full of dishes, knowing your family had food to start their day. The piles of laundry, for it shows your family has clothes to wear. Warm water in the shower, a clean towel, fuzzy slippers – these are your blessings, and you count them one by one. You wrap these blessings around you like armour to protect against the onslaught of Grief that can grab you unaware and rip the very fabric of your Soul to shreds.

Every day is hard. There are some days that are harder. Holidays, milestones, anniversaries are some of the hardest. Then again, any random Tuesday that the sun is shining brightly and birds chirp merrily in the air is enough to break open the tenderly covered wound of your heart and cause you to go crashing to your knees, begging for the sweet relief of death, the only thing that will ever free you of this pain.dsc00518

Then there are birthdays. Yours, your other childrens’, and his. Another year has passed and there is no escaping the iron clad fist of Grief as it steals your breath, your strength, your mind, and your heart. You are forced to face the fact that he will never be any olderdsc01475 than the sweet 14 year old boy he was. Past tense. Nobody ever warned you that a simple verb would destroy you. You are faced to wonder – what would he look like now? Would he have the creepy pedo-stash he always talked about growing? Would he be as tall as his Dad? Taller? What size would he wear? What would you be buying him for his birthday? A car? A new phone? He should be here still arguing with you. He should be here still asking for your advice. You should be going to visit colleges and plan for his future. You should be frustrated because he leaves his shoes out all the time. You should be annoyed that he stole your comb – again! Your grocery bill should be double SAMSUNGwhat it is. You should be talking about girls and cars and life.

You’re not. You’re crying. What used to be one of the happiest days has become the epitome of despair. You desperately want to focus on his life – he was HERE! He grew inside your body and took his first breath in your arms. You heard his first words! Try as you might, you can’t quiet the knowledge that he “was,” but is no longer. He took his last breath in your arms as well. You hear his last words to you echo throughout your body, “Mommy it hurts.” You see only your child lying on the floor and watch as the last breath escapes his lips. You are frozen, panic setting in as you realize he isn’t breathing. You still feel his warm skin under your hand as you notice his heart isn’t beating, merely fluttering. That same heartbeat that was as quick as a baby bird’s. Your world turns inside out. You remember hearing that heartbeat for the very first time and the excitement in your heart, in your husband’s eyes. Then you remember hearing that heartbeat for the last time inside his precious body.

It doesn’t make any sense. How can you be there at the start of his life, at the end, and still exist more than 2 years later? All you have are memories. Past tense verb. History. His future is gone. Your family’s future is forever changed. The sun continues to rise each day and set each night. Breath after agonizing breath continues to fill your lungs. The moments come – in between those breaths – a crack in the darkness, a whisper in your heart. “I’m still here.” There is a nanosecond between the inhale and the exhale where possibilities still exist. You can feel him as lightly as a feather passing by in the breeze. You can almost see him next to you and feel his heart holding you. Then the breath leaves your lungs and the weight returns. It’s inevitable. You search for those moments. You would do anything for him. You would die with gratitude if only it meant he would come back. You cry to the Heavens for something to do for him. There is no present you can buy him for his birthday. In that moment, between one breath and the next, you hear it. The whisper so softly you think you imagined it. “I know you would die for me, but will you live for me too?” It’s too hard. It’s too much. Yet, nothing is ever too much for our children. You have to. You know it. You strive to live in those moments between breaths, where he still is. There is no past tense or future tense in the moment. There simply is. Love, peace, and stillness. That is where you find him, where you find courage, where you find purpose.

You would be 17 now, my dear Nolan. Hardly a boy and not yet a man, although I know you would argue that with me! In my mind I see you a little bit older, in my heart you are still my baby boy, as you will always be. I work hard each day to focus on your life and not just your death. It’s not ever easy, but it’s worth it. I see colors brighter now because of you. I hear more clearly now because of you. I taste more sweetness now because of you. I touch more tenderly now because of you. I feel love deeper now because of you. My life will never be what I wanted it to be. It will never be as I planned. That doesn’t mean it won’t be filled with joy and laughter. It will be filled with even more – because of you.

birthday

 

 

Bye Felicia

bye felicia

2 years Since. It’s really hard to believe it’s been that long. This time of year will always be difficult for me. Difficult is an understatement. It’s torture, really. PTSD is on screech. I relive those moments over and over and over again. The waves roll in and pull me under. After it all, however, I’m still standing. I’m not left curled in the fetal position wishing for Death’s cold embrace. I’m standing tall – as tall as my 5’3″ can be – with my feet planted firmly on the ground, looking towards the light that I know will come out of the dark. I feel proud of myself for how far I’ve come in the last 2 years.

I was recently told by someone I care deeply for that Ray and I were “stuck in our grief, filled with negativity,” and they couldn’t be around us anymore. They needed to “move forward with their life,” and that didn’t include us.  I’ll be honest here. My first reaction was “@!#$&*% *%#@%* !@#@$*&^!” <edited to protect your sense of propriety, ok, not really, but I was so mad, even I didn’t like the words coming out of my mouth> I eventually calmed down and sat to reflect on whether their words had any truth to them. I tried to be brutally honest with myself.

I tried to look at where their perception was coming from. Facebook? I do post a lot about Nolan. After being thrust into a parent’s worst nightmare, the next greatest fear you have is losing another child. After that, it’s the fear that people will forget your child. That’s why I post a lot about Nolan on Facebook. He will always be part of my everyday life whether or not he takes a breath! The memories feature on Facebook is a blessing and a curse. I love finding snippets of conversations I forgot about, or pictures I don’t have on my new phone. I love sharing them even when they make me cry. It helps to make sure people will remember my son.

I suppose if you don’t see us on a regular basis, you may not know. You don’t hear the laughter that still reigns in our home. You don’t see how easily I go from tears to laughter. You don’t see how losing Nolan has enriched our relationship with Nason. You may not see how drastically we’ve changed our priorities and our lifestyle to make the changes in our family that Nolan wanted. I suppose if you’ve never been a parent, you couldn’t imagine how this feels. Even as a parent, you can’t imagine.

A by-product of losing Nolan has been my ability to let people go from my life. I used to try to keep everyone close and everyone happy. I used to say “that’s ok” every time someone said or did something hurtful to me. I’ve realized that I don’t need to do that. I can’t fix anyone else’s relationships. I can’t heal anyone else’s heart. I do need to be sure to surround myself with people who bring light into my day. The people who have remained close to me and the people who have become close to me are of a very different substance than those who have walked away. My heart is open to everyone I meet. I am quick with a smile and a compliment. I am finding more of the old me every day. I support each person around me with any struggle they may be having, but I do not encourage those who vibrate with a sense of drama and negativity. I refuse to participate.

It’s not easy to let people go who you have been close to and love dearly. I remain steadfast in my support should they ask for it. My love is unconditional. I am a work in progress, but I am working every day to be better than the day before. I will always have moments and always have days that are impossible. That is part of the life that comes after losing a child. Here’s the thing, though. Life still comes after losing a child. If you can’t get your head out of your ass to see that, then I only have two words for you.

“Bye Felicia.”

Blank Pages

blank pagesRock Bottom is a scary place to be. It’s a dark abyss with seemingly nothing but pain and hopelessness surrounding you. Funny thing about Rock Bottom is that if you search way deep into the darkest depths, you can find a tiny spark hidden in the shadows. This spark is so very small and fragile, and if you’re not vigilant, you might miss it. I’m convinced it’s always there – for everybody.

I’ve been extremely vigilant these last few weeks. I’ve searched high and low in the dark and in the shadows. I’ve found that infant spark. I’m standing careful watch over that spark and encouraging it into a flame. Make no mistake, this is not an easy task. The winds blow hard and fast here in the dark. I need to be watchful; protective.

When I wrote last about 16-yr old Me, I focused on my downfalls. What I forgot – or couldn’t see – was how strong that version of Me is. Yes, she nearly destroyed me, but she also saved me. She saved me all those years ago, and I believe she saved me now too. I am working to acclimate her into my current Self. She’s chaos, but she’s also a lot of fun! More than anything, she is strong. I’m working to take those qualities and hold them close while I navigate these stormy seas. It’s working. I think.

I’ve been at my new job for a couple weeks now, spending a solid 8 hours a day outside my comfort zone. I’m learning about things I never thought I would ever need to know. Geek Speak – it’s a real language, and I’m learning it! (slowly, but still.) Someday I might even understand half of what Ray says! I really enjoy the people I’m spending my day with. It’s an eclectic group which makes for some really interesting discussions and banter. We laugh a lot. Being away from Nason is difficult. It’s an adjustment for both of us, and I think he’s handling it better than I am. The Grief I battle daily is still present, but I don’t have time to face it during the day. My hope of being distracted and busy to get through the hours has turned out well. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that Grief compounds itself. What I push down all day rears it’s ugly head even harder on the drive home at night. I cry most of the way – all those tears I bottled up during the day. Sometimes a discussion during the day hits me hard, and I feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach. I can’t run away like I could at school. I have to suck it up and keep trucking. Surprisingly, I’m able to do that.

Night time is harder than ever. The panic attacks are really bad. One night this past week, Ray came home again to find me on the floor, not breathing. He didn’t know how long I’d been there before he walked in. He was able to rouse me, but then I did it again, and again, and again, and again. Five times I stopped breathing that night, and he was getting ready to call 9-1-1 when I finally started to come around. Thankfully, Nason wasn’t home. He suffered through one with me the night before and was still raw from that. The nature of the panic has changed slightly. Twice I’ve had the cessation of breath without the hysterical crying beforehand. I’m not sure if this means things are getting better or worse. It’s a horrible feeling – almost like having the hiccups but instead of that little gasp, my lungs or diaphragm seize up. I’m literally physically unable to draw the air into my lungs. If I can fight past that to catch a breath, my lungs seize again and don’t allow the air out. It’s a terrible feeling, knowing that I’m going to pass out and unable to stop myself. This morning I was able to stop the process on my own, but it wasn’t easy. I should probably do some research about how panic attacks can manifest, but honestly, I’m afraid to find out. What if this means it’s getting worse?

Getting up and going to work after these nights is difficult. But I’m able to do it. I’m starting to feel the ground under my feet again. I’m starting to feel like I can walk again. I’ve taken ownership of my faults, actions, and choices. I am working to not take on the faults of others. I’m working to allow myself to be vulnerable instead of angry. I hate that part the most! I’m working on voicing my feelings and taking care of them myself. God love him, Ray is challenging me greatly in this area. We truly are a Yin-Yang. For years I’ve been his catalyst for growth, and now he is mine. Damn it.

I have come to see that there are nothing but blank pages in front of me. My life is a story in progress, and it’s not over yet. It’s tumultuous. It’s scary. It’s painful. It’s also humorous and filled with love. I get to choose the story I write. I choose to paint these blank pages with color. Every moment of every day is a choice, and I am choosing better. In the words of one of my favorite people,

This is the story of my life
And I write it everyday
I know it isn’t black and white
And it’s anything but gray
I know that no, I’m not alright
But I’ll be OK ’cause
Anything can, everything can happen
That’s the story of my life
Yes, I did just quote Jon Bon Jovi. Deal with it.

Rock Bottom

rock bottom

Sometimes after you think you’ve hit rock bottom, you realize that you were wrong. There is so much further you can fall. That’s happened to me. I thought I had passed the worst. I actually wrote, “The draw of Death has released it’s iron grip on me. A little. I still think about it, but I know I made it through the worst.” How naive I was. How blind. Shortly after writing that, I learned the bottom can still drop out of rock bottom. You fall deeper into an abyss you didn’t see coming. You should have seen it , but you’ve become such an adept liar that you lie to yourself as much as everyone else. That’s me. The most adept liar I’ve ever met (and I’ve met some doozies!!)

I thought I was gaining ground, truly. I had found that adrenaline was a great escape from the Grief. I thought it was a healthy escape. It kept me active, engaged with my friends, enabled me to laugh, helped me feel the blood flowing through my veins again. Turns out the adrenaline was actually the dizzying affect of such a downward spiral that it turned me upside down, backwards, and inside out. I was in constant search of that rush. It was alluring and captivating. Incipient of the destruction to come. It began innocently enough, with a day filled with friends, laughter, and mayhem. A day unplanned. A day where the laughter flowed so freely and I felt like the Old Me again. It was the Old Me, but not the recently inhabited Old Me. red dress

This was 16 year old Amy come back from the recesses, from the darkest parts of my past, grabbing me in her arms and doing what she did best. Avoid feeling. 16 year old Amy is a nightmare wrapped in glitter and spKISSandex. She shines brightly, laughs boisterously, loves freely, engages easily, draws everyone in to her web. She’s hedonistic. She is the quintessential party girl. She’s a master manipulator, a liar, a deceiver. She has a selfish heart, and it’s only purpose is to avoid pain. She pays no attention to the misery left in her wake. I embraced her completely, not even realizing she was back. black dressThe psyche is a very clever entity. It creates all these self-defense mechanisms from trauma. 16 year old Amy is just that. She was created from years of trauma, mixed with a natural tendency towards mischief and needing to rebel against authority. She was born of internalized anger and rage. She was my Protectress. She is my restless spirit incarnate. She both saved me and nearly destroyed me when first she emerged. She did no different this time. 16 year old Amy has no business being anyone’s wife. She has no business being anyone’s mother.

When I found myself at the deepest, darkest bottom I have ever encountered, I had no choice but to look around at what I had done. With the depths of despair came the words from my Husband, “You need to leave.”  I hurt those that I was tasked with protecting. I hurt those that I love most in this world. I disappointed those who looked up to me. It was pretty sobering. Literally – as in it’s been 19 days since I’ve had a drink.

I reached out and begged for help – from the Universe, from Nolan, and from (finally) a grief counselor. Truthful truth is I had been crying out desperately for help for a long time. It’s not an easy thing to own up to your failures, but that’s what I’m trying to do. Being brutally honest with a counselor is so difficult. I don’t want to look in that mirror, but I have to. For as open as I’ve been about my Grief and this Journey, I hide 1000x more beneath the surface. The PTSD has been out of control for a long time. I’ve been self-medicating until a blackout blissfully removes all feeling from my heart. I’ve been told that my behaviors are a “Passive Suicide.” I can’t disagree with that.

I have failed utterly as a wife, as a mother, as a friend. I can’t take anything back. I know more than most that there are no magic time machines. No matter how desperately we want to go back, time moves in only one direction. It’s time I moved in that direction too. Forcing myself to face the feelings is something I battle every day. I want to avoid. I want to hide. I want to deny. I want 16 year old Amy to whisk me away to where the music is so loud you can’t hear yourself think. I want her to take away the pain. I can’t let her. I have to heal that part of myself as well. I’m learning that new trauma often brings up old forgotten traumas. Things you thought you had dealt with years ago resurface in a different light. <insert sarcasm font> It’s awesomely fun.

I’m taking baby steps forward. Tentative steps on broken glass. I know it will hurt, but I’m trying to tread gently. I took Nolan’s picture off the background of my phone and put Nason’s in its place. I’m hoping this will help keep my focus on him rather than my loss. I’ve given my notice at school and accepted a new full-time job. I have so many mixed feelings about this. I will miss the kids and the teachers so much, but school is fraught with triggers for me. I hear Nolan’s voice echo down the hall. I catch a glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye, and it cuts me off at the knees every time. I need to spend my days in a place with no memories. I need to fill the hours. Home isn’t my safe place anymore.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to salvage the wreck I’ve made of my family. The only thing I can do is to take care of myself better so that I can take care of them. Please don’t tell me I’m strong, because right now I’m not. I’m broken. I’m bruised. I’m vulnerable. Maybe I will get strong. Maybe I won’t and this “passive suicide” thing will rear it’s ugly head once more. I don’t know what the future holds. I only know that right now, in this moment, I’m trying to be a better human being.

NB13: The Nolan Berthelette Story

nb13

I was approached a while back by a young film maker in New York who got wind of our story. Ashley Robinson grew up in Pittsfield, and she lived here until she was 8. Through mutual friends, her Mom, Rachel, found my blog and she began to read and follow my journey. She shared it with Ashely and it touched her deeply. She wanted to share Nolan’s story with the world. That was the humble beginning to an immense project.

Since then, we have met and filmed, shared and talked, cried and laughed. Ashely and Rachel have become part of our family, our Tribe. I feel like Nolan was the puppet master pulling the strings. There are so many parallels in our lives, and an instant kinship was formed. This process hasn’t been easy. Bringing up all of our memories has been hard. Even the happy ones brought us tears.

When we filmed my interview for the documentary, it was the first time I had shared the full story of what happened That Night. I’d given the basics to people who asked, but not many specifics – like the moment Nolan stopped breathing while my hand hand was on his chest; like immediately having to make the choice between the child I knew I couldn’t save and the one standing next to me; like seeing blood pour from his nose in torrents, like seeing the color leach from his body and the grey pallor of death fall over him. I talk about all of this and more in the film. It’s raw and morbid and so painfully honest. Going through all of it was the hardest thing I’ve done Since. But it was healing too, eventually. Bringing up all the details did cause a downward spiral at first. I was sucked into the depths of despair and spent many Grief Days in bed hiding. There was no help for it. Grief is a very physical process, and my body needed to shut down and just concentrate on breathing.

There were times when I sat in my car in the garage just willing myself NOT to turn it on. I tried to filter out the voice that told me I could see Nolan in just a few minutes if only I was brave enough to turn the key. I thought about just not feeling this pain anymore. Then I thought about Nason, Li’l N, (no use in using initials anymore since we’ll all be outed in the film anyway). I thought about him having to hear that I had left him, by my own choice. I was pulled right back into that moment when Ray started CPR on Nolan, and I had to choose between the child I knew just died and the child standing traumatized beside me. It was the same thing. I could go to Nolan, but there’s nothing I could do for him. I had to choose Nason. If he lost me too, I can’t even imagine how he could carry the pain, especially knowing I chose death over life with him.

Eventually I began to come out of it – and stronger than I was before. Laughter came and sometimes it wasn’t even forced. The draw of Death has released it’s iron grip on me. A little. I still think about it, but I know I made it through the worst. The temptation was strong, but I was stronger.  I’m getting there. Nason is my Light.

I am including some links here. If you’re reading my blog, then you are already a brave traveler on this journey with me. I hope you’ll help us spread the word about this documentary. Nolan’s life here has passed, but his work is not done. It’s up to all of us to carry his torch, and be a part of Nolan’s legacy.

YouTube trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt4vvlQyGdA

The documentary Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NB13Doc?fref=ts

IndieGoGo Campaign (help fund the film!): https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/nb13-the-nolan-berthelette-story

The Documentary Website: http://imaginechanges.wix.com/nb13

Smoke and Mirrors

smoke

When your child dies, you don’t lose them all at once. You lose them by increments, microscopic particles, little by little, bit by bit, second by second, hour by hour, day by day, month by month, year by year. The immediate absence of their physical body is shocking; traumatic. I imagine this is the same whether your child suffers an illness or is ripped from your arms in sudden tragedy. Even if you know it’s coming, nothing can prepare you for that moment when their breath stops, their heart quiets, and a silence fills your Soul never to have sound again.

This is what I’ve been going through and why I’ve been on hiatus from this blog. It’s been too much to carry – to heavy for words. I survived Mother’s Day. I survived a birthday. We survived Father’s Day. We managed to make it through Nolan’s one-year anniversary. The days continue to be wrapped in darkness. The panic attacks are back in full swing. The nights are filled with terrors only to awaken to find that is has become my life.

I’m losing Nolan in pieces. Sometimes it feels like he’s just not home, and I have to remind myself that he’s not coming home. I look for him everywhere, in everything. In every tree, in every leaf, in every whisper of the wind. I try to see him in every cloud and bird. I search each rock and flower and blade of grass to find something – something – that calls out to me from him. I was laying at the lake last week, just watching the clouds and talking to him in my mind. I could swear the clouds spelled “LIVE,” and I started to cry. The eagle chose that moment to soar over the lake, and I almost believed it was real. Part of me knows that he is still trying to reach me, but the bigger part is so wrapped in pain that it makes those signs easy to rationalize away.

Pieces of him drift away. Slowly, quietly. The emptiness is becoming familiar, routine. I still cry every day. Every. Single. Day. Endlessly. I see all the posts about Grief online and they don’t help. Grief is the price of love and all that nonsense. I call bullsh*t on that. Love has no price, especially the unconditional love for a child. Grief is what rises up and engulfs the energy that you used to spend on that child. All those thoughts about them, the physical energy in taking care of them, the emotional devotion directed towards them, your hopes and dreams for them – it all just hangs there like a specter hovering in your heart. It becomes Grief incarnate. It takes over every aspect of your life.

I am beginning to see the understatement that “New Normal” really means. It’s that Grief encompassing every part of you – mind, body, and Soul. It pushes out all color from your life. You actually become used to it. The constant battle of railing against the pain and trying to find the sun – and your Son – begins to feel familiar. Your shoulders slump under the weight of agony, your back curves, everything hurts, but you begin to desensitize yourself to the sensations. The fight is gone. Surrender is the only option.

All this goes on behind the smile and the “I’m ok,” in response to your “How are you?” All this happens behind the laughter of a joke you told or a memory you shared. Smoke and mirrors. People become more comfortable with that perception. They want you to be ok. They want you to be happy. They want you to laugh, and so you do. Only those who look beyond that surface, only those brave Souls who travel the same path really notice the laughter never reaches your eyes. They notice you always deflect questions about yourself. They know it’s self-defense. Self-preservation. Even with all my devotion to being brutally honest about this Journey, I have somehow become a Master of Smoke & Mirrors.