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The Dreaded Question

So, it finally happened. And I was no where near ready to answer the question:

“So, do you have any kids?”

The kind of question asked hundreds, thousands, hundreds of thousands of time a day every day. An innocent question 99% of the time.

I really hadn’t thought about it. It wasn’t a stranger exactly, not someone I’d never meet again, but someone I would have to spend a not less than significant time (at the moment). I stammered something, something that wasn’t yes but wasn’t no. I’m not sure what I said, but she stepped in elegantly with words, I too, don’t recall, but were so very tactful and she let slide by my non-answer.

The past two months have been so difficult but I thought that I had told everyone that I thought of. It hadn’t dawned on me that there would be strangers in the world that would crack the door on my life and ask me personal questions. I guess there always has been and in the past, I would gladly and joyfully told them all about the perfect son that I had and how wonderful a child he was and how much he brought to my life.

But how do I answer now? “Yes.” “No.” “I did.” “I don’t.”

I did manager, however, not to cry. Came close, but held it together. She was working on my hair, cutting, coloring, etc., and finally the question came back around in another form. I finally told her that he had passed away. Nothing more was said and nothing more was asked.

No doubt this will occur again, and probably many times. Perhaps the next time it won’t be so raw, this hurt and pain I feel, and I will be ready to answer the question. But what will the answer be?

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Streeter's Mom Final

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Erasing His Memory?

Wow, I wondered if this day would ever end. Yesterday they finally replaced the carpet from his bedroom and of course, they screwed it up. So now they have to order more carpet to replace it, once again.

But I started in on his video gaming systems and the games themselves. He has been collecting them for years and at one point it hit me that it seemed that what was happening was that I was simply erasing everything that is left of my son. It hit hard and honestly, between crying jags, I simply could not really even get started. All these ‘things’ were precious to him and I want to keep them all, but I simply cannot.

How do I get through this? It is just killing me inside to have to go through all of his things and try to make decisions about keeping and selling. It doesn’t help that all day long I kept thinking that tomorrow marks two months since he died. My mind knows that he is gone, but my heart keeps wanting him to just appear. God, this is killing me.

I consider myself a strong, level-headed person normally, but how does that help me now? I am falling apart and usually barely ahead of just breaking down in tears and it takes all my strength just to keep going from day to day. And most days I really see no reason to get out of bed.

I honestly don’t know how much longer I can continue this madness. This grief is literally tearing me to pieces.

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Such a happy kid… what happened and why didn’t I see it?

Streeter's Mom Final

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Doing Better, But Missing Him More

It usually seems to be this time of the day that once all the chores are done and the errands done, I start to really think about him. And I always think that this is just some bad dream that I will wake up from and he will be here with him saying “Hey Momma Momma” and giving me a hug and a kiss.

I recently watched an HOB special called “A Dangerous Son” that talked about children with mental illness. Mostly it focused on the angry and aggressive boys, but one really hit him with me. The (then) Governor of Virginia had a son very much like mine. Brilliant, eager, a pleaser and caring boy. Then out of the blue, the changes begin and with almost no warning or signs, he kills himself.

(There is more to the story, so if you’re interested, watch on HBO “A Dangerous Son”.

I miss him more everyday. As I make my way through each day of insanity and emotions, I feel his loss every minute. His wonderful humor and the way he would respond so quickly to my  requests or even suggestions of things he could do for me. I loved that, although we were in separate rooms, we were never physically for apart (maybe 15 feet) and loved knowing that he was there. Just there. There.

There. And now I will never see or hold him, never sweep the hair back from his face or feel that unexpected moment when he would hold my hand. His inquisitive nature of everything – always ready to try anything.

He was so like me in so many ways. I guess that happens when you have a child that is so miraculous – the five years and countless doctors and treatments and procedures and the worrisome of preterm labor that then turned into an overdue baby (13 days!).

Of course, I feel like he was special. To me he was my whole world. What do you do when your whole world is gone?

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Having To Retrain Myself

This is exactly the kind of shit that just rips my heart in two. Humming along trying to stay sane for at least the day at hand, when something happens and makes me think of my boy.

The WI-FI installed in my house was conveniently (that’s sarcasm) installed with all of the routers and Airports installed under my desk, you know, to keep things neat and tidy. But since the double knee replacement surgery, you can imagine what it takes to get under there now.

Well the WI-FI has been acting up all day, my Nest camera and thermostat keeps going offline and I’ve had some difficulty with my iPhone as well. This is the place where I would usually yell upstairs to The Kid to come reboot the system.

Yeah, it just turned into a very bad day.

(Sorry about the quality of the picture)

Streeter meeting his Grandfather for the first time.

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Missing My Sweet Boy Today

Sometimes things happen that make me feel so alone in the world.

I turned on Netflix and on their homepage had the three episodes of both “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”.

Sometime back, like 2014 or so, the theatre that we attend, they had all three of “The Hobbits” playing for the premier of the last movie. We were so excited that we bought passes and for about 7 hours – with a few breaks – we were transformed back to age of hobbits. We had so much fun.

These are the times I miss him most. And overhearing Dan make plans to fly out to visit his daughter and son and his aunt and uncle, there is no mention of solace to the man who had been his father for 22 years. Not a fucking word.

Which leads me to believe that I am ALL ALONE in this world. I really have no reason to keep drawing breath. This has been such an up and down day.

I have been reading the blog of a friend and something I read caught my attention. 12:34 am or pm. As for him, it too is something that catches his eye. And similar things that people normally don’t recognize.

For me, its little things that I see that I believe that Streeter is near. Like sitting at a traffic light and watch 5 green cars in a row go by. When you glance up and the time is that magically 12:34. Or my mourning doves who sit on my balcony and sing those sad tunes. They all make me thing of the only good thing that ever came out of my life.

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Answering A Couple of Questions

I know its been a couple of days since I last wrote. I am happy to announce that stopping the sleep medicine has enabled me to have a couple of nights of really good sleep.

I have been using my days keeping busy packing and sorting. I try not to think too much about things more than a day out, keeps me from asking those questions that I seem to not be able to stop tonight.

This post is kind of special because a really great friend of mine posed a few questions for me in response to the last post:

Powerful. And undeniable. So, question and topic for a post, perhaps. Where are you finding your courage? Where do you get your strength? Are you engaged in any support groups or community or church organizations or writing outside of this? What keeps you moving forward?

Where am I finding my courage? I have no courage. Every night I go to bed wishing I were the one who was dead instead of my beautiful young boy who had his whole life ahead of him. Like I said, I usually try to just keep my mind on the tasks at hand and just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I also have no strength. When I do allow my mind to wander, if it isn’t to my son, it is to the uncertainty of my future. Right now I don’t know where I am going to live or where I am going to work and which friends will still support when this becomes old news to them. I am a coward and just want to hide from all of this.

Am I engaged in support groups or community or church groups. I’ll start with the last one first. Church groups don’t hold any interest, because frankly, religion has failed me. If one more person tells me he is in “a better place” I may attack them. Can anyone tell me why God would want my beautiful 22 year old son to take his own life? Fuck God.

I haven’t been to any other groups because I fear that it will turn into a “one up-man” contest. Whose child’s death was worse or more heartbreaking or more devastating. To me there has been no bigger tragedy than the loss of my son. Still, I have a ‘wellness coordinator’ through my insurance that has been more supportive of me than I can imagine a healthcare company ever being. She has sought out many avenues of therapy than I can almost count, and she has found a group that focuses on children’s suicides and I promised her that I would try this one that meets on the last Thursday of every month. But I swear, because it meets in the back rooms of a church, that if one person brings up God or  religion, I will be out of the faster than you could know.

I tried psychotherapy and it didn’t go very well. The first one I saw seemed to be more interested in getting her money (because there was a short gap in health care), but my care coordinator talked me into another. It just didn’t seem to work either… I think she was honestly bored or something as she kept glancing at her open computer. But honestly, how can I tell her my whole life story in 45 minutes so that she knows what I have gone through – the good and the bad – so that she can make some meaningful suggestions? No, therapy doesn’t work.

Also the drugs don’t seem to work either. I actually got the doctor to take me off of one and really listened to me when I told him that I wasn’t sleeping and would only have moments of anxiety. He goofed on upping the dose on the sleeping pills, but did listed to my request of something that I had been prescribed years ago when I was having difficulties.

Right now the friends that are supporting me are the best avenue I think I could take. And writing this blog. More comes out of me every time I write and I think it is very therapeutic for me. I think that for the most part, people want to help, they just don’t know how. And that’s alright. I know that they way he died is abhorrent or unnatural and they just don’t know what to say or do.

Like I said, its okay.

What really set me off tonight was thinking about one of the last things packed today. I ran across a set of dish towels that my grandmother made and crocheted the edge and my mother embroidered. They were handed down to me, and I continued the work. But who do I have to hand them down to? Something that three generations have worked on separately will now go into an estate sale and will never know the love and dedication behind it.

Lastly, ‘what keeps me moving forward’? It is only by sheer will and nature. Although I lay down every night hoping not to wake up, I still wake up. And since there are no signs that I will be leaving this life anytime soon, things have to be done as I will soon be all on my own – extensively for the first time in my life – I have to prepare for that.

Hopefully, now, I might be able to fall asleep.

Thank you Geoff, for asking. You have been a very good friend.

Streeter Sequoia

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Trauma Permanently Changes Us.

Trauma Changes

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One of the First and Worst Holidays

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.  This one is really hard as it is the first without my baby boy. I can’t begin to imagine how joyful and happy everyone is going to be, you know, out there in the world. Restaurants, shopping, parks, whatever.

I know that I have said this before, maybe even here in this blog, but somehow not having a child anymore means I am no longer a mother. Who will celebrate me? We weren’t big on celebrations in general, but Streeter always remembered me on Mother’s Day. My last year’s gift was breakfast in bed and a gaily wrapped bamboo plant (he knew I preferred plants to flowers, as they last longer). He spent the entire day with me, just kicking back and being silly, we probably watched our favorite movie again – John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982). We have seen this movie so many times that we could recite every single word of it.

I’m going to hang out with my friend Chuck, since I couldn’t stand to be in this house with all these memories tomorrow. Every wall and surface is covered with his photos, his creations, his things and most of all, his memories. God I miss him so much.

Like I have said before, I try to keep myself occupied with tasks that have to be done relatively soon, so that the house can be sold. But when I have a free minute, I look up from the foyer to his bedroom door – like I have done a million times – only this time, my heart breaks. And here come the tears again. I find myself having difficulties just writing.

The past year he had become camera shy, after being such a ham for so long and loving the cameras. We considered him having a modeling career when he was young and so outgoing. But I, too, became camera shy about the same age, when I decided that I would be behind the camera so I didn’t have to be in front of it. But as a consequence, I don’t have many photos from the past year. Just when I needed them most.

How could I have ever known that he was unhappy? He had the most wonderful smile. Without my baby, I feel like I am no longer perceived as a mother, as I no longer have a child.

If you could take any kind of advice from me, hug and tell your child how much you love them, no matter how old or young they are. Talk to them and if you feel like there is anything – and I mean anything – wrong, get them to talk to you. I wished I had known what was going on in his mind before all of this. That even though we spent so much time with one another, I didn’t know what was really going on.

Think kind thoughts of me as you all celebrate this day. I wish you all joy.

Streeter's Mom Final

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Let Me Introduce You To Streeter

Many of you didn’t know Streeter other than from my stories and mentioning in my blogs.

This was the greatest kid was ever born. As a baby, he slept through the night at 3 weeks, in fact, after waking for an eight hour night’s sleep, I was panicked and raced into his nursery to make sure he was okay – and there he lay gently cooing.

He was a large baby – 9 pounds 4 ounces – but it took him over a year to reach 20 pound so that he could face forward in his car seat. He took his first steps around the time of his first birthday and from then on, you couldn’t stop him.

He was always comfortable playing by himself. He was diagnosed at 6 as having borderline ADHD, but another pediatrician told me that he had something more akin to the same thing Einstein had, that his thoughts moved faster than he could act upon them. So, as a consequence, he always had more energy than he knew what to do with – so he would tap his foot or hum or sing and could never walk, but trot or run. He could watch something without ever really watching it, he would build Legos and have a video playing – he loved Winnie The Pooh videos until he was like eight – and could recite the lyrics and words by heart an hour later.

He was kind and generous and loved hanging out with his friends and had good friends both girls and boys and was always helpful. He figured out what he liked and went nuts on it. Couldn’t do anything halfway or even the whole way – he had to do over do it. Every time.

He was smart and funny and he loved his mom. He would hold open the door for me and pull out my chair and hold things and look for things and cook for me. He never said no to me and never, not EVER said the word ‘hate’ to me. He always told me that he loved me and would hug and kiss me – on the lips – always and in front of friends and strangers.

He was always a happy kid, at least to me. He was my partner in all our adventures – we loved to go ‘abandoned house hunting ‘ and exploring the country and thrifting and cooking and a zillion other things. We had computers in common and he taught me as much as I taught him. We both loved our Macs and iPhones and iPads and iPods and all of it.

But he had some quirks, maybe I gave him some, maybe he gave me some.

The first one is that we have this three way light switch in the hall… the first for the hallway, the second for the stairway going up and the third for the stairway to go down to the basement. They always had to be up and he would run and up and down the stairs to get them all lined up right.

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Another thing was that we could never set anything digital to round numbers. He once remarked that wasn’t it interesting that people in general would always use round numbers for everything: the thermostat, the over temps and microwave settings. So he started using odd numbers for things, never using round numbers whenever he didn’t have to.

And of course, he got me to do it too:

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He was a lot like me in some ways and nothing like me in other ways. But he was my best friend and I miss him so much. And I just cannot understand why he chose to end his life.

I wish I could have introduced him to everyone in the world. He was the greatest kid, the greatest son and the best person I have ever known. Will ever know.

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And The Pendulum Swings Back…

Today has been exhausting and frustrating and makes me question whether I can do this at all. This day has been about the long process ahead separating what to keep and what to not. So far today, it has been about what I am keeping. But the very thought of going through each and every item that my son collected. Much as his mother was a collector, so was he. And of course, we collected things together which are even more endearing. Everything meant something to him and to me, and it breaks my heart to have to make a decision on each item or collection. I want to keep it all.

And as logical as I am trying to be – after all, I know I can’t keep everything barring a miracle – it all hurts so much to have to discard even one of his treasures. I just am paralyzed with indecision. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I know that this has to be done, but right now it seems that I have more than enough time and justify not sorting and organizing based on it.

This morning I had to go to the pharmacy and while I was waiting a young mother came in with her little boy, couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6. He was not feeling well. She was giving him all the comfort I recall giving Streeter when he didn’t feel well, letting him sit on my lap and rubbing his back and giving his forehead little kisses. It made me miss him so much that I had yet another crying jag right there in the middle of CVS. Even as a ‘grown up’ when he didn’t feel well, Streeter would crawl in bed with me and I would rub his back and kiss his forehead until he fell asleep. How can that all be over?

I expect that the days will swing back and forth forever for me. And whenever I cry I get a headache and sleepy and just want to cuddle with his pillows, which is all I have left with his smell in them.

I can’t believe this is happening to me… where is my baby boy?

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