Learning to swim again!

A new year has begun and the world keeps moving along even though I feel stuck in a horrible nightmare. Life goes on without my precious son and I hate every second of it! Time can be both my worst enemy & best friend. As days, months, and years go by, it’s that much longer since I’ve heard Andrew’s voice or saw his precious smile. One of my biggest fears is to ever forget what my son’s hugs feel  like or his  laughter sounds like. But on the other hand, I have somehow survived one year and five months without my child and each day I get through is one less day to feel this emptiness and allow my deep wounds to heal. The scars are there forever but I pray one day to be able to breathe normally again.

Every morning I wake up and dread beginning another day. It’s like I put on my armour and trudge through another day even though what I really want to do is stay in bed and hide from the world! People see me out with my make up on and hair done and functioning through my day to day routine. I can smile and look like I’m doing okay, but sometimes looks can be deceiving. I’ve been told how strong I am but I am no stronger than anyone else. I do what I have to do to survive because I don’t have a choice. No parent asks for this, it’s just handed to you!

When my younger son was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, I witnessed many mothers & fathers losing their children. I thought how I couldn’t imagine their pain and prayed I would never have to know. I thank God each day that my baby, Michael is a heathy 19 year old  and thriving in college. However, I still got to experience the pain I prayed I would never know when my middle son died in a car accident and it’s worse than I could have ever imagined.

We unfortunate bereaved parents just do what we have to do and are no stronger than anyone else. Nobody thinks they could handle losing their child, I know I certainly didn’t! We do what we have to do to continue to live for our other children, spouses and the memory of our deceased child. It’s our job to honor their short lives and keep their memories alive. We need to live the life they didn’t get to. So we wake up and face each day the best we can. We even have moments of joy and laughter….that’s not always pretend. But it isn’t the same joy we once felt because the pain and emptiness never leave us.

This was our second Christmas & New Year without Andrew. We took family vacations both years and that was what has worked for our family. My other 2 children are now 19 & 26 so we don’t need to decorate and Santa doesn’t come to our house anymore. Going to a tropical warm island over Christmas is what helped us survive the holidays without Andrew. Feeling the warmth of the sun on our skin and putting  our toes in the soft white sand and the teal blue ocean is very healing. Most of all, just being together is the best gift we could receive.  It’s a nice escape from our sorrowful reality and a much needed distraction.

But then it’s back to cold, grey and dreary Pennsylvania for a long depressing winter! Now it’s a new year and time to continue facing  each day with courage & grace! UGH! I don’t want to!!!!!! I am feeling very sad, alone and unmotivated to get back to life and time is not helping….not st all!!!!!!  So I decided to write and share my truth!

It’s 2:30 on a Thursday (I think) and I’m still in my pajamas! I need a push and to hold myself accountable to keep living a meaningful life which is why I’m  writing this blog! I am hoping this will help me to get the strength I need to get back to my goals for this upcoming year. I have much to accomplish, for not only myself, but for my son Andrew who I miss more than words could ever explain! I am not strong! I am not an inspiration! I am a struggling mother in pain who is just barely holding her head above water! I read a quote today that said “you drown not by falling into the river, but by staying submerged in it.” I don’t want to drown in the river, I want to keep paddling and fighting my way out even though it hurts!

So here I go….starting back to life in 2019!  I want my family complete and I can’t have that! My son is in heaven and I’m here and there’s nothing I can do to change that, so I will just keep trying to face each day the best I can! I refuse to drown so I’m learning to swim again, one day at a time!

 

 

 

Not feeling very Merry

It’s been a long time since I have written a blog. I’ve thought about it a few times but I was afraid to open up the door to my deep sorrow. It’s always there, however I try to keep it hidden because when I allow myself to really face it, the pain is unbearable. As we approach Christmas, I can feel myself unraveling. My heart is starting to pump a little faster, I can’t sleep and I feel like I’m carrying weights around on my shoulders! I dread leaving my house because the rest of the world is shopping, decorating and baking cookies in preparation for a joyous holiday and I am trying to run as far away from Christmas as I can.

I used to love Christmas! I would make my kids stand in front of our perfectly decorated tree to pose for our Christmas card. I baked cookies and shopped like crazy to find just the right gifts for everyone! I hosted dinner every year on Christmas day and I loved it! My kids would wake up Christmas morning so excited and I would rush down to start the Carols before they came down to their piles of gifts! It was always such a magical time of year that I thoroughly enjoyed. We all just loved Christmas, most of all, Andrew! He would have his long detailed list ready Black Friday.  He was usually the first one to wake up and be so anxious to get downstairs! It was so much fun to watch him open his gifts because he would be overly excited and wanted everyone to see all his treasures. Andrew loved  sticking to our family traditions and didn’t want  me to ever change things up at all.

So here we are again, our second Christmas without our son and it’s more dreadful than words can explain! I thought maybe this year I would want to decorate or put up a tree but I just can’t do it! I don’t want to do it and even the thought makes me want to throw up! I can’t decorate a tree without Andrew here to hang all of his ornaments up! I can’t place stockings on our mantle knowing Andrew isn’t here to open up the one with his name stitched on it! How do you shop for 2 kids when you always had 3?? It’s cruel! It’s mean and it’s fucked up! I’m sorry but it is and it makes me so angry!  I just want my son back! I just want my old life back! I hate this! It takes so much energy  to wake up every day and have to face the world with a fake smile on my face when what I really want to do is just lay in bed and scream!

I already skipped my first Holiday party tonight. I was so anxious all day and just stayed in my pajamas and did nothing. I tried to get myself together but I wasn’t in the right frame of mind so I decided to stay home.  Luckily, I have wonderful friends who completely understand and support me. it’s not that I don’t want to be around everyone, I’m just not in the mood to celebrate because of my intense grief. It is so exhausting to get in party mode when you’re suffering the loss of your beloved child, so sometimes I just have to say I can’t do it today and that’s okay!

I went to the cemetery and brought some Christmas stuff to place at Andrew’s grave. After I was done I just sat in my car and cried wondering how can this be true? It’s Christmas time and ready to become a new year and my son is still gone! It’s just so unbelievable to me that my precious child is never going to walk into my house again! Never give me a hug or tell me he loves me! Never going to get married or be a father! Why? Why did this have to happen?

This second year has been brutal. I have heard other bereaved Mother’s say that the second year can be worse because the first year, you’re so numb that you don’t feel the pain as deep but the second year the fog clears and the fact that your child is gone forever sinks in! It’s been true for me…..I have been feeling very depressed and I just miss Andrew very much! It’s so unnatural to not be able to talk to your child for over a year so I actually crave to touch my son! I long to hear his voice or smell his scent! I just want my son to come home where he belongs. When the reality of living the rest of my life without my son hits, it literally takes my breath away!

Today when I was just daydreaming and thinking about Andrew I thought of an anology to explain how I feel. People see me living my daily life and I look normal and think  I’m doing well, but deep inside I’m really not good at all. It’s like I was on a cruise ship having a wonderful time surrounded by my friends and family having the time of my life and then I was thrown overboard, alone in the middle of the ocean! What a scary place to be, all alone in the dark unknown waters. I have a life vest so I’m staying above water, but barely. I survive day after day….somehow, but then wake up the next day and have to face that I’m still out in the middle of the ocean with nobody to help me. Some days I wish I didn’t have to wake up and feel this sorrow anymore.

We are leaving for Aruba on Christmas morning so I’m looking forward to going somewhere warm, sunny and beautiful with my family. That will make the days be a little softer that holiday week. We went away last year too and it was definitely the right thing for us to do. The pain is always there, but it helps to have a change of scenery and pleasant distractions.

I’m just trying to get through each day and not focus on tomorrow, let alone next week. It is too overwhelming to look ahead to the future. I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing…which is my best! I feel like that’s all I can do for now. I finished real estate school which was a huge accomplishment for me right now because my brain is broken.  I also started selling jewelry and I’m  having much success with that and I  really enjoy it. I have a fantastic network of friends  that build me up time and time again! I have a lot to be grateful for, even though I also have reasons to feel very cheated! I allow myself to feel both!

I am amazed I’m still standing after 16 months aince Andrew’s tragic death. I used to look at mother’s in my situation and think “how do they do it?” The andwer is that we don’t have a choice! We just have to keep going because we are alive and we have other children and spouses to live for. We also need to honor our child who is no longer here. It’s my job to keep Andrew’s memory alive! I talk about him each day and will continue to do so! I love you. my sweet boy, and I miss you more and more every single day! Life without you isn’t the same and never will be!  cc2e8996-bf24-4d65-8457-31270ce7d082-e1544342341228.jpeg

 

Mother of three forever!

It’s been a long time since I’ve written a blog. I’ve been afraid to stir up my pain  by writing because it does open up the wounds to my huge heartbreak. In the beginning I needed to feel the deep sorrow and writing helped me to express my agony and begin to heal. My huge loss of losing Andrew will never go away….it’s with me forever, however, it has a certain place in my brain and in my heart. Sometimes. I just can’t go there because it opens up a huge hole and void in my life. It’s a very scary & lonely place that I try not to visit too often. Today was a day I needed to go there. I needed to feel the pain of missing my son so deeply!

It’s been a year and few months since Andrew tragically died in a car accident. His room is still left untouched and his bedroom door remains open. It’s like it’s waiting for him to come home. Most days I just walk by and don’t really acknowledge that he’s not coming home. I’m just not ready to go there yet. It hurts my heart too much to really try to wrap my brain around the fact my son is never coming home. Obviously, I know Andrew won’t ever sleep in that bed again, but it’s like my brain plays tricks on me and I just pretend it’s all okay.  It’s crazy how our body protects us from the physical pain that unimaginable grief causes. We feel it in small doses over a lifetime!

As time keeps moving along, people stop asking about how I’m doing or talk about Andrew and I understand that.  It’s just so important for me to keep Andrew’s spirit & memory alive so I will continue to talk about my son for the rest of my life! It’s my purpose to make Andrew’s life live on through mine.  We have started to use the money we have in Andrew’s foundation to help others. “Show Up Like Shelly” is going to do good for others just like Andrew’s life.

I’ve been keeping busy taking real estate classes and selling jewelry. It keeps my mind moving & distracts me which has been helpful. I enjoy interacting with people so the jewelry business has been allowing me to be engaged with some wonderful ladies which is a blessing. I have received alot of positive feedback which has been good for my soul! I needed to do this for myself. Of course, a little extra money always helps, however this has been about so much more than money for me. It’s allowing me to realize I’m alive & capable of making meaning out of my life in spite of my horrendous heartache!

I am trying so hard every single day to make something out of the rest of my days here on earth. I am a different person and my life will never be the same as it was before the day my son, Andrew died so tragically. I count the new year from Aug 12th, 2017 not on Jan 1st like the rest of the world. I don’t fear my own death….I look forward to being reunited with my precious son one day. However, it’s not my time yet so I will do my best to make the most out of every single day.  I am grateful for my extraordinary family. My husband and two other children are huge gifts & fill my life with so much pride & joy!

I know Andrew’s life has meaning and so does mine. As much sorrow as I feel, I also still feel joy. As much anger as I feel, I can still feel happiness. As many tears as I shed, I am still able to laugh! I have been surrounded by love, compassion & kindess and that is the true definition of a meaningful life to me!

So in honor of my son, Andrew, I will continue to do my best every day to figure out my purpose & accomplish my dreams. One thing I do know is that it will always involve surrounding myself with people. Communicating with other humans is such an important aspect of my happiness  and fulfillment. I will also allow myself to grieve my son and have days like today that I just feel broken.

I will forever be the mother to three children! Being a mom has always been how I define myself first! I am so proud of the beautiful people my kids have become and Amanda, Andrew & Michael will always be part of who I am! They have made me a better person and I strive to improve every single day! Life hasn’t always been kind to me but I’ve also been blessed in so many ways. Why? That’s the unanswerable question! I just refuse to focus on the negative because I have so much positive I would miss out on!

 

Words a mother should never say to their son….Happy Birthday in heaven!

On August 27, 1996 I gave birth to my second born child. I had a beautiful baby boy and we named him Andrew. He was perfect….until we brought him home. He literally cried for 7 months straight. He was a colicky little guy and just wanted to be held and rocked 24/7. Thank God he was a good sleeper. He took long naps and slept though the night….which saved both of our lives!

Once Andrew was mobile, he stopped crying and became a complete terror. There was no gate, playpen or safety lock that could contain him. He was Houdini and amazed us with his abilities to find a way out of anything and get to whatever he wanted. Once he climbed over a gate that went into our kitchen, pulled over a chair and climbed onto the counter & reached up on the top shelf of the cabinet to get a lighter stick. He then took a piece of paper off of the refrigerator and lit it on fire and dropped it onto the  kitchen floor. He came back into the living room as cool as a cucumber and I smelled something burning. Our kitchen lanoleum floor was on fire!

Another time, Andrew decided to wake up extra early and go down into the kitchen and get the Hershey’s chocolate syrup out of the fridge and decorate the living room with it. He came upstairs to wake me up and I could smell chocolate. I walked down the stairs and just started to cry. There was chocolate syrup all over our couches, carpet & dripping off of the coffee table. This is when his cuteness was a necessity to keep him alive!

I have dozens and dozens of stories like these of our mischievous little boy! How many times he overflowed the toilet because he flushed toothbrushes down it or pulled up the stopper on the sink and turned on the water to just let it run until it eventually came though the living room ceiling.  We had to open our windows from the top and had eye hooks on every door. We even had a circular gate around our Chrisrmas tree. Andrew kept our creativity alive trying to keep him out of trouble!!

I can remember many days feeling very overwhelmed but also so entertained by my baby boy. He was as cute as a button and was always smiling! His laugh was so hearty & contangious since he was so young. I rememeber once I took  him to see a movie and he was sitting on the very edge of his seat laughing hysterically the whole time. After the movie was over, an older couple who were sitting in front of us stopped me and said they were so happy we sat behind them because Andrew’s laughter made the movie that much funnier.

Andrew was so affectionate and wanted my undivided attention. When he was sitting on my lap and I was distracted he would put one hand on each of my cheeks and turn my face so he could kiss me right on the lips! He was so devilish, yet so sweet at the same time.

He started his obsession with Batman when he was about three. He LOVED Batman until the day he died. He had a Batman keychain hanging from his dashboard in his car and was so excited to get a Batman tattoo when he turned 21 but he never made it to his 21st birthday. He died 2 weeks before.

One of my favorite stories about Andrew was when we were in the beach one day and Andrew was playing in the sand all by himself. He was very good at entertaining himself with his vivid imagination. I’m sure he had his Batmans (as Andrew called them) in his hands as he was having fun in the sun. This couple were amused as they watched him in adoration. They said hello to Andrew and asked him what his name was….he answered “I’m Batman!” They laughed and said “No….what’s your real name?” Andrew didn’t hesitate and said “Bruce Wayne!”

Andrew was a passionate young man who stood up for his beliefs even if it wasn’t what was popular. He didn’t care about fitting in with the cool kids…he knew whar he liked and there was no changing his mind. He once told me “When I grow up I’m gonna ride a motorcycle and smoke cigarettes!” No matter how many times I told him how unhealthy cigarettes were or unsafe motorcycles were….to him they were cool!

He could be challenging to parent because he was very argumentative and secretive. He would never ever tell on his siblings or friends and actually took the blame before he ratted anyone out. The things that made him hard to parent made him a great friend. He was so loyal and safe to share secrets with. He was there on a drop of a hat if anyone needed him. He was nonjudgmental and very open minded.

After Andrew passed away, I received countless letters and messages from Andrew’s friends telling me how important he was in their lives.  They shared some very personal and private events that happened where my son helped them out. I had never known how much Andrew quietly & humbly came to the aid of the friends he loved and did it without any acknowledgement or praise necessary.  He built people up when they were feeling down and told them all of the beautiful attributes they possessed. Andrew actually saved lives of friends who were contemplating suicide. He went to them anytime they needed someone. He even called the police and sent them to a friend’s house when he thought they were in danger of hurting themself. I never knew any of this until they told me after his death.  I was so grateful they shared these very personal and heartbreaking stories with me. It made me so proud of the compassionate and loving young man my son was.

Mike, Amanda, Michael and myself all miss Andrew so much and can’t believe he has  left this world forever. His huge personality was one of a kind and leaves a huge void in our family.  We grieve Andrew’s absence for today and tomorrow and the rest of our lives! We grieve the life he didn’t get to live….20 is too young to die! We grieve Andrew not becoming an adult, buying a house or getting married. We grieve that Andrew will never experience being an Uncle or Father. It’s just so unfair and cruel!

People think that after a year of losing someone you love, it gets easier! I’m here to tell you that when it’s your child it is  untrue. The fog is just beginning to lift and the reality that my son is gone forever is becoming true and that reality sucks and hurts so bad. We live our lives and put a smile on our faces but it feels like the weight of the world is on our shoulders! It’s always there and changes who we once were. I have been told by other grieving mother’s that I will learn to live with this pain. It never goes away….I will just learn how to live with it.

So today is Andrew’s birth day. I am grateful I was his mother and had 20 (almost 21) very adventorous years with my precious son.  He taught me so much and I continue to learn from him. I’m still coming to grips with the tremendous and painful loss of my child and I know I will for a very long time ;however, I’m trying so hard to not focus on my anger and resentments about the death of my baby! I’m so pissed off and feel so cheated! I want my son here with me on his birthday! I want to make him a cake, sing happy birthday  and buy him presents like mother’s are supposed to do on their child’s birthday! I’m sad! I’m angry! I’m exhausted!

I love you Andrew! I love you more than you ever knew! You were a beautiful soul and are so deeply missed! Happy Birthday in heaven my sweet boy!

 

The nightmare began

Friday, August 11th, 2017 was a good day. I was down our new shore house and I went out with friends and had a lot of fun. I came home & went to bed exited for the arrival of Andrew’s Godmother, who is one of my best friends, in the morning.

8:30 am on August 12th my phone rang, I saw it was my husband,  Mike so I picked up and I could hear in his voice something was wrong. He says to me “I don’t know how to tell you this..I don’t know how to say this but I have to tell you something awful.” so I responsed, “Just say it…what’s wrong?”. I never ever in a million years expected to hear his next few words! “Andrew was in a car accident this morning & he died!”

Wait….please repeat that, I don’t think I heard you correctly! ‘‘This can’t be possible! No! No! No! No! I could hear my daughter, Amanda in the background & I knew what he was saying was true! I couldn’t even process those words!

Our youngest son, Michael was away all week at camp. He is a cancer survivor and spends one week every summer at Camp Can Do & it’s his favorite week of the year. Mike was picking him up on Saturday & taking him to his football scrimmage that day which is why he didn’t come down the shore. Mike was up getting ready to leave when the police knocked on our front door to tell him what had just happened to our son. Mike and Amanda went to go pick up Michael & tell him about his big brother. My mother & father in law came to pick me up and take me home.

I really don’t remember that ride home. I was completely numb and my phone was blowing up as the news was spreading about Andrew. It was a living nightmare driving home to my new life without my son! How was I going to survive this? How?

As we got closer to my house I was looking for where the crash was. I knew it happened on St. Davids Rd but I didn’t know exactly where. As we got really close to my house I saw it! The fence was down & bushes were flattened. I screamed “Are you fucking kidding me? This is one block from our house! Andrew could have crawled home from here!!!!”

We pulled into our driveway and all of our family was sitting around out there, except my other two kids were inside. I jumped out of the car and began to scream on the top of my lungs! I just let out screams that have never come out of me before! I started shouting “I can’t do this! I can’t do this! I just want to die!” I was rolling around in the grass just sobbing and screaming! I looked up and my kids were standing over me. Amanda sat down on the grass next to me and just put her hand on mine. Michael looked at me and said “Don’t ever say that again, What about us?”

I jumped up and wanted to go to Andrew’s bedroom. Mike said “don’t go in there” but I said No! I have to go in there and I ran in his room and just laid in his bed and sobbed! I could smell him! His clothes from the day before were on the floor & so were his work boots. How could he not be coming home? How is this possible? He’s 20 years old and needs to come home!

All I wanted to do was go see him. My sister in law called the medical examiner but they said we couldn’t see Andrew until he got to the funeral home. The funeral director, who is a friend from childhood, said we should wait until the next morning so we did just that.

Our house was filled with close friends & family. Mike & I were just in complete shock and disbelief. Our friends made all the phone calls to the church, funeral home, cemetery & planned the luncheon. They drove us around to everywhere we needed to be to make arrangements. They filled our house with food & drinks and anything else we needed. They were a Godsend.

I wanted to go see the crash site. I needed to see where my son took his last breathe. I was shocked because it was a barn fence that he hit. The wood type with 3 railings….I expected to see a tree but there wasn’t one. He hit the fence and shrubs and then drove down the small hill into the home’s backyard. He didn’t go too far down because he wasn’t driving fast. The police think he fell asleep because of the way the accident happened. I just couldn’t understand how that killed him.

The next day we went to see Andrew. My brother & Mike’s sister came with us. Andrew still had on the hospital gown from the autopsy. He looked perfect, not a hair out of place. I just kept rubbing his hair because he looked like he was asleep but when I touched him I knew it wasn’t Andrew anymore. It was horrible to touch your child who was freezing cold & stiff. I just kept stroking his hair because that felt like my boy! I looked at Mike and said “Andrew would hate this!” He always wanted his hair to look perfect and didn’t like anyone messing it up, but I couldn’t help myself.

After we left the funeral home I wanted to go see his car. It was like I was trying to put all of the puzzle pieces together. The front of his car was damaged and his windshield was all cracked but still attached. A piece of the fence was on the hood of his car and went through the glass and was leaning on his dashboard. I’m not sure if that’s the actual piece that killed him or not, however a piece of wood slammed into his chest and collapsed his lungs. That’s what killed him.

We ran into one of the police officers who came to our house that horrific day. He came over to us while we were going though Andrew’s car. He told us that when he saw the car on the lawn, he thought to himself that this kid’s parents are gonna be so pissed at him! He said I never expected to find someone dead because it wasn’t a bad scene. He told us he was shocked that Andrew wasn’t alive. He explained he has been doing fatal car accident reports for a long time and that he has never seen a fatal accident that looked so peaceful. He said Andrew appeared as if he were asleep. The officer thought this was such a freak accident that if a million people were to hit that fence one would die & that one was our son! He believes Andrew died instantly and felt no pain. The medical examiner also told us that Andrew died instantly. We will never know exactly how or why that accident happened.

His toxicology report showed he was not under the influence, He was on his way home from a friend’s house and they did have a few beers the night before, but it was out of his system by the time of the crash. They stayed up playing video games & he never went to sleep. They were all going to bed around 5:30 and he wanted to come home and sleep in his own bed. He drove a friend home and stopped at Giant. We found the grocery bag in the front seat of his car with bacon, pork roll & prosciutto in it. Andrew was planning on coming home and making himself breakfast. Andrew’s favorite food was breakfast, especially the meat.

One memory I have from those first few days is one that I’ll never forget. On Saturday afternoon an older man came to our front door. He said to me, “You don’t know me but your son was at my house yesterday.” He proceeded to share with me that Andrew was working st his home on Friday and that he offered Andrew a cup of coffee. He said, I expected him to take the coffee and get back to work but that’s not how Andrew rolled. Andrew pulled out a chair and made himself comfortable at the kitchen table with this gentleman. He told me how they sat and talked for a while and he offered Andrew a refill & Andrew obliged. They sat some more and had a very nice conversation. This kind man said after Andrew left he thought to himself what a fine young man he was to take the time to sit with an old man like me and be interested in what I have to say.

His daughter lives in the development where Andrew crashed and she told him about the accident. He realized it was the same kid who sat and had coffee with him the day before. I clearly remember him saying “This really hit me hard, your son was such a nice kid & I just can’t believe this happened to him. I had to come look you in the eyes and tell you how much I enjoyed your son’s company and what a really nice young man he was.” I don’t even know this man’s name but I would love to tell him that Mike & I are so grateful he shared that with us. During the worst day of our lives this stranger brought a little joy into our hearts and it will live there forever!

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Almost a year later….

In two weeks, it will be a year since my son, Andrew died. How is that possible? I can’t even explain where this past year has gone or how I’m still standing. It’s just one big blur! However, as the one year anniversary is approaching I am feeling the pain & sadness much deeper …it’s like the fog is clearing. That is actually very scary to me. I’ve been crying a lot out of nowhere and my anxiety is coming back. I keep replaying that awful day over & over in my head.

I was talking to another mother who lost her child five years ago & I asked her if it got easier the second year and she said No…it actually was worse for her. The second year the haze wore off & the reality of her child’s death set in. She told me it does soften eventually but not for a few more years. I think it will be the same for me.

I have to continue living and force myself to do things I don’t want to do because once I get moving, it does help. I’m very blessed to have a great family. I have two other awesome kids & a very supportive husband. Also, I have wonderful friends who I can talk to & stil laugh and have fun with!

I also go to a grief therapist who has become a special part of my life. It was important for me to find someone to talk to that completely understood what I was feeling and she does. Unfortunately , we are both members of the worst club on earth. Her beautiful daughter passed away nineteen years ago so she gets it. I respect & trust her immensely and she has really been a Godsend in my life:

I stopped a lot of the medications I was taking because I didn’t like all of the side effects. There is no magic pill…the only way to heal is to walk through the pain.
There is no way around it. I’m not saying medications can’t help because I know it can. I just need to start from scratch because I didn’t even know what was helping and what wasn’t. I believe sometimes, less is more.

I need to figure out some healthier coping methods such as exercise & meditation. I’ve been using food & sleep as my therapy and I need to change that. I think sleep is important but my sleeping patterns are all out of whack & I’m always tired. I also use food as comfort. I’ve been eating whatever I want and as much as I want and I hate the way I look & feel right now. I’ve gained a lot of weight & just feel so unhealthy.

I was at the cemetery a few times this week and I told Andrew this year my goal is to lose weight. He was so brutally honest & if he were here he would be telling me I need to go on a diet! He got that from his father!

So i am planning to have a balloon release at the cemetery on the one year anniversary of Andrew’s death. After, I’ll have everyone back to my house. I’ve been in touch with Andrew’s friends and they are the reason I want to do this. Being around all of them brings me comfort.

I feel closer to Andrew when I’m around his friends. They love to talk about him and I love to hear their stories. They knew a different piece of Andrew. He was so private about his relationships with other people so I have learned a lot about Andrew through them. He was a safe place for people to go when they needed someone to talk to because he was so loyal & nonjudgmental. He adored his friends and they felt the same about him. He would drop everything to help anyone who needed him and I’m so proud of him for that.

I needed something to do on that day to honor Andrew & his precious life! He loved a good party so that’s what we are going to do! We are going to celebrate Andrew together. We will share all the crazy & funny stories we have about him….and hopefully I’ll get to hear some new ones!

I’m a survivor!

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog…I started twice and had to stop because I just couldn’t gather my thoughts. I’ve been struggling with my feelings and I’m all over the place. One minute I’m okay, the next I’m sad then angry and it’s exhausting. I haven’t been able to get up the energy to delve into my emotions.

Today was 11 months since my life was so horribly changed forever! Andrew died 11 months ago and I can’t even tell you how I’ve survived this long without him! My life has been a complete blur and I’m still in shock. I’m trying to figure something out to do on the 1 year anniversary of my son’s passing and then his birthday, which follows shortly after. I need to have something to do in order to get through it with my sanity. I don’t have any tattoos but want to get one with Andrew’s handwriting that says “I love you” so I may finally go for it on Andrew’s Birthday (which is Michael’s first day of College).

Life is crazy for sure! Why do some people have to suffer so much more than others? Why are people born into poverty and others with silver spoons in their mouths? Why are some people gifted athletes and others completely paralyzed? Why are some people healthy their whole lives and others have serious heart, lung or liver conditions? Why are some people born with no mental issues and others struggle with horrible mental illnesses their whole lives?? There are a million secenarios to wonder about but we don’t have the answers & never will here on earth!

I feel like I’ve been handed a lot of struggles, heartache & tragedies in my life. I had my daughter when I was 20 and had to drop out of college and figure out how to be a grown up very quickly, My father suffered from bipolar disorder so my childhood was very dysfunctional and he committed suicide 12 years ago, my son was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer at age 14 & my other son died in a car accident at 20 years of age. But I’ve also had so much happiness in my life! I married the love of my life & my husband is my best friend.  I have a beautiful family and the most wonderful friends anyone could ask for! I have been surrounded by so much love and support which I’m so grateful for. My son, Michael is healthy and doing great. He’s starting nursing school in the fall and I’m so excited for him! My daughter, Amanda is back in school doing an accelerated nursing program & she’s kicking butt! She already has her bachelors in psychology and I couldn’t be prouder of her!

I also have a wondeful mother who has been a huge help to me. She’s always available in any way I need her but also gives me my space. My puppies make me smile every single day! They’re so loving and comforting plus so much fun! I’ve been spending a lot of time down the shore and I find more at peace there. The beach is so healing for my soul & I’m very grateful for my beach house! I never thought I would own a house down the shore and I feel very blessed that we do! I love it!

Tonight I had dinner with my son and his girlfriend and then my husband got down and we all went up to the boardwalk. We went on a roller coaster and got treats. It was a very enjoyable night just walking on the boards on a beautiful night with the people I love. Unfortunately, Amanda has work & school so couldn’t be here with us. When I’m with my family I always feel the best! I have days where I don’t want to get out of bed and just want to hide from the world & cry. But thank God, I also have some good days too where I can actually have fun & laugh!

I miss Andrew immensely and I think about him all the time. Everything reminds me of him and I always wish he was with us to laugh at things we know he would find amusing or watch the new superhero movies that are coming out or talk about what’s happening in WWE wrestling. I often wonder “what would Andrew think of this or that?” He had such a huge personality so his presence was always larger than life and I miss that tremendously!!

Somehow I’m surviving but it’s not easy it’s never easy! The pain is always there when I wake up each day and when I go to bed each night….it’s with me! I can’t believe my baby boy has been gone almost a year! When I take the time to really contemplate the facts that he’s gone forever, it enrages me! It scares me, it saddens me and it makes me feel physically ill! I still can’t soak it all in at once or I would go absolutely out of my mind! It’s just too much!

So I do what I need to do to get through another day. Another day closer to the one year anniversary of Andrew’s death! I do what I need to do to survive! I surround myself with the people who make me feel better….my family & my close friends! I talk to Andrew and tell him how much I love him and miss him. I play with my puppies and cuddle with them. I read good books and go for walks. I also go to my therapist and share my feelings with her. All of these things help me heal.

My huband, Mike and I share a lot with each other about our grief. I know there are many parents who struggle with connecting with their spouse during such tragedies but Mike & I are very open with each other and that’s a huge gift. I couldn’t imagine not being able to share my most intimate feelings with him.

As usual I’m writing this very late at night while lying in bed. It’s 2 am and I’m wide awake. My mind is very busy at bedtime. Tomorrow is a new day and I will wake up and face it like I do every day! Hopefully, it will be a beach day and I can have my toes in the sand, hear the waves crashing and feel the sun on my face!  No better way to spend a day! I will miss my son and long for his hugs and kisses but I will do my best to honor him and keep him with me in my heart! My Andrew was a very special kid….one of a kind for sure!! I miss everything about him….even the things that drove me crazy!

Andrew, I can’t believe you’ve been gone for 11 months! I never would have thought I could continue to live after losing a child but here I am surviving somehow! I will continue to do my best each day for you! I’ll have some bad days but I promise to have more better ones! You are my sunshine for always and I love you so much! I need you to give me strength to get through August!!

Batman is real!

I was looking through all the pictures on my phone tonight and every time I saw a picture of Andrew I just stared at his handsome face, zoomed in and just looked into his eyes and longed for him to come alive! I miss him more than words can explain and I just have an overwhelming sadness all the time! I just want to hug and kiss him so badly….just one more time! Grief is like an ocean and it comes in waves. I’ll have a descent day and then the next it’s like BAM! Knocks me right down and takes my breath away! Today I just had Andrew on my mind every second and I was just feeling very down & depressed. It’s so surreal to know you will never see your child again here on earth and then have to wake up and continue to live life without him.

I noticed that in every picture Andrew is always touching someone… he either has his arm around them or his hand is placed over theirs. I could see & feel the love right through the photograph & that is precious to me. In 2016, we went on a family vacation to Ocho Rios and it was such a wonderful time. One of the best family memories I have is from that trip. We went to the the “ Blue Hole”, which is such a cool place. They have caves, waterfalls & cliffs to dive off and the water is a beautiful shade of turquois. Our tour guide was amazing…he was doing flips and dives off of the highest cliffs and was so entertaining! It was a perfect day and we all loved it! We swam through caves, walked down waterfalls & jumped off cliffs….even me! I found a picture of the five of us from that day and it literally made me smile remembering the fantastic day we had together, yet so deeply saddened me because I know that we will never go on a vacation like that as a family of five ever again.

It seems like when I’m really struggling, people reach out to me in ways that really warm my heart! Last week I received a book from another mother who lost her son very recently. She read this book and thought I would like it which is so kind that she’s thinking of me during her own horrendous grief. It’s a short book that a mother whose son passed away wrote. It’s called “Through the Eyes of a Dove” and it’s about seeing signs from our children to bring us peace and acceptance which I really need!

Two other people texted me pictures of things they saw that reminded them of Andrew and they wanted to let me know they were thinking of him which is the best gift anyone could ever give me! One picture was of a Batman license plate & the other of a whole display of Batman decor in a store.
I also received a beautiful card in the mail with a kind and thoughtful note saying she’s praying for me & my family and that she is always thinking of us!! The best mail I could receive!

But my favorite thing that happened this week was a friend who sent me a message that she saw on Facebook. This young girl she knows was at the cemetery visiting a family member. She decided to take a little drive around which is something she never did before. She came across a beautiful stone with Batman on it. She’s a huge Batman fan so she pulled over and got out to look at it and she even took a picture. She noticed how young this person was when they died. It was Andrew’s stone. She read his name & remembered her cousin losing a friend recently named Andrew so she texted the picture to him and it was the same Andrew. She couldn’t believe that the one stone that caught her attention was her cousin’s friend. This really made my heart happy! To know that random people just stop to admire his stone and know they have the love of Batman in common just brings me joy! She said he’s my Batman buddy now!

I don’t believe in coincidences…I never have and I believe it even more strongly now! None of these little hugs I received all week were coincidences! They happened to the right people that would take the time to let me know they were thinking of Andrew & me and those signs came from my son! I really believe that! He knows I’m grieving his loss and wants to help me feel that he’s here with me and he’s at peace and in a better place. It’s funny how ao many signs I get from Andrew revolve around Batman & music which were two of his favorite things on earth! I never thought I would be so grateful for Batman, but I am!

To me, love is God and I received a lot of love this week! God is with me and my son is with Him! I’m so thankful that even through my sadness I can feel so much love surrounding me! That is what gets me though each day!

Lick my tears away!

Ten months since my precious son, Andrew died….ten months! I haven’t heard my son’s voice or seen his handsome face in ten months! This is such a hard concept for anyone to truly grasp! I’m living this nightmare and I can’t even understand how I’m surviving day by day….let alone 10 months without my child, my 21 year old child driving into our driveway, walking though the door or sleeping in his bed! I miss him so much and my heart aches every minute of every day!

I went to the cemetery to pay my respects to my son. I don’t feel any closer to Andrew there, yet I crave to go. I’m not sure why…maybe because I just want him to know he will never be forgotten. I don’t want his gravestone just sitting there with his name engraved in it like it has no meaning. So I go and I always bring my dogs with me. Andrew was a huge Batman fan so our dogs are named Bruce Wayne & Harley Quinn for him. I never would have gotten these dogs if Andrew was still here so I was telling them that they need to thank their big brother because he’s the reason we have them. I’m convinced that Andrew picked these two puppies for our family! They have brought us so much comfort & I never knew I could love any animal as much as I love Bruce & Harley!

I’m trying so hard to make my life meaningful every day but it takes a lot of effort! I am constantly talking to myself in my own head about changing my thoughts & what I need to do to honor my son! I see people who feel sorry for themselves and are consumed with self pity and I know I do NOT ever want to live that way! I cannot change the fact that my son has died. Asking “why me?” won’t bring Andrew back and only make me feel worse than I already do so I just try to  remind myself about the good things in my life. My beautiful family and friends, the love and support that surround me and the fact that my faith tells me I will be reunited with my son keep me going.

I had therapy today, which is a huge help because my therapist is an amazing person. She is wonderful at making me feel heard and validating my feelings. She also lost a child so we have an instant bond & connection. She has walked in my shoes and continues to shine so I admire her immensely. She tells me all the things I’m doing right and of course that makes me feel better. She has been a gift in my life & I’m very grateful for her.

I came home after therapy and my daughter Amanda and the puppies were on a walk so I went to find them. As I went looking for them, my mind was nonstop racing the whole time with my internal dialogue. I’m not sure if everyone does this but my brain is never quiet. I have full blown conversations with myself. I was having a conversation with myself about the fact that I have conversations with myself! Wow! I just can see how the pain of losing a child can ruin a person and I don’t want that to be me so I work hard at not letting that happen.  I crave to laugh, feel joy and actually live while I’m still alive! I never knew that just living would be something that I actually need to work so hard at!

Later, I was driving home from running errands and it’s the same route I drive 100 times a week. It’s the only way in & out of my street and it’s where my son took his last breath. One block from my house, where he crashed into a fence! A wooden barn fence that killed my son! How is that possible? It’s a one in a million freak accident and it happened to my son! So I was driving down that same street I travel multiple times a day & Pink Floyd “Wish You Were Here” came on the radio. This song reminds me of Andrew so I blasted it as I drove by the cross we placed at the sight of Andrew’s accident and I had tears streaming down my face knowing this is where my son’s heart beat for the very last time.  I will never get used to driving by that spot no matter how often I am forced to….it will always be the place my son crossed over into heaven. It is a sacred space for me and I can’t pass it without acknowledging my baby boy! I either say “I love you”, “I miss you”, or “oh Andrew”! If I’m honest sometimes I scream “WHAT THE FUCK!” (Sorry Mom) but it’s the truth!

I pulled into my driveway, cried in my car and then came into my house where I was greeted by my sweet puppies!  I am grieving my son but at the same time I have to continue to live my life. So I allow myself to cry & then come home and let my puppies lick my tears away!  It’s so much more complex than I would have ever realized. What I know for sure is my son was a special kid & I was blessed to be his mother for his short life. So, I will continue to work hard at being the best person I can even though my heart is forever broken!

 

kindness is contagious

It’s been a very busy few weeks….my son, Michael is graduating High School next week and we have been attending nonstop graduation party’s!! Michael’s party was Friday night and it was a very emotional day/night. We are so happy and proud of Michael; yet, without Andrew here to celebrate it just doesn’t feel right!  It’s a huge void in our family and it just feels horrible to be celebrating without him here with us! I cried a few times the day of Michael’s party and didn’t want to ruin it for him so I just kept drinking & dancing! It wound up being a very fun party and was a very nice night for everyone.

The day after the party both Mike and myself felt so beat up physically & emotionally! We had 3 parties we had to go to on Sat & another one on Sun. Somehow we drug our butts  out of bed and forced ourselves to go! It’s not easy to get all dressed and ready and paint a smile on your face when what you really want to do is curl up in bed and sleep or watch tv. It’s just the way it is now with our new life without Andrew. It’s easier to just hide from the world at home, but it’s not the healthy thing to do…..so we don’t. We go and talk with our friends and sometimes even have some laughs and then we go home and get back into our jammies and in our beds to watch tv, read or sleep.

I’m looking forward to going to the shore tomorrow for a few days. A change of scenery is always a mood lifter. Hopefully we get a day or two on the beach!!! I find the ocean & sand so relaxing & tranquil! It’s just so peaceful to sit and read on the beach! One of my favorite things to do on earth is to go to the beach! I am very grateful we have this house as our retreat!

Michael has his graduation next Friday, June 15 & I know that’s going to be a very proud & happy day for Michael; however, very sad without Andrew there to participate in the celebrarion of his little brother’s graduation! Andrew would be so excited for Michael! He would be proud that his brother wants to be a nurse! He adored Michael more than  anyone in the world! He was his favorite person….always was! So without bim here to cheer him on is heartbreaking! It makes me so sad but it also makes me very angry! He should be here with us and it pisses me off that he’s not! I have found myself feeling tremendously sad and depressed but also very angry! I feel jipped that my son only lived to be 20! That’s not long enough & it makes me feel cheated out of seeing my son grow up!

Tbis time needs to be focused on Michael so I have to keep moving my focus on him and his happiness! He deserves nothing but the best! He’s such an amazing young man who has been through so much pain and heartache at a young age and now he is leaving for college and majoring in nursing and we are so excited for his future!

So I have to find time to grieve and feel the huge loss and void in my life without Andrew, yet also feel the happiness, pride & excitement for Michael! I’m doing my best at trying to make that work! I love my three kids more than anything in the world! They are my pride and joy and my favorite  people on earth! I don’t know why Andrew was taken away at such a young age and it really is so heartbreaking & painful every second of the day but we have to fight through it and keep living the best we can! I just crave to see him and touch him! I close my eyes and try to feel him….try to hear his voice or his energy! Last night I was craving to feel his presence so bad I went and laid in his bed and wound up sleeping there for the night. I actually slept very well in his comfy bed! If only I could have been cuddling next to my budgy bear (Andrew’s nickname as a baby & sometimes more recent) . I just miss him so much and as time goes by I actually feel worse because I miss him even more!

I still have a lot to be grateful for….I am married to my best friend, I have two other wonderful children who both want to be nurses and take care of people for a living…and they will both be amazing caretakers! They are my world and we are lucky to have each other. We have two beautiful homes and adorable puppies who make us laugh! My mom would do anything she could to help us and does anything we ask of her. We have the best family & friends surrounding us and supporting us! None of this can bring Andrew back but it is a gift to be surrounded by kindness & compassion! It makes me want to continue to live and share the kindness & compassion back with the world!  We all have one life so let’s try and make the most out of it! Be kind! Be compassionate! Love one another! Have fun! Smile and laugh! It’s a gift to others but also such a gift to yourself!! kindness is contagious so let’s all pass it on! Let’s all be kind like Andrew! We don’t know what someone is dealing with in their lives but a simple smile can change fheir whole day!!