It’s tormenting to lose a child. I put myself through an emotional wringer every day. It’s almost like I’m keeping score. There is the good mother column and the bad mother column, and the bad mother column always has the higher points. I know it’s crazy. I know I’m punishing myself, but I still do it. I remind myself over and over again of all of the missed opportunities I had to be a good mother and it’s breaking my heart.
We’ve all heard the expression that a person turned gray overnight. Well, I didn’t turn gray overnight when my son died, but I turned into a different person — a person I don’t always like. Yes, my physical appearance has changed. When I look into the mirror the twinkle in my eyes isn’t there. My hair doesn’t shine any more. My skin has a strange color — dull, and has lost elasticity. In a word, I aged overnight. That’s what a broken heart will do!
Nobody ever plans on child loss becoming part of their life, yet the sad fact is that every day children die and parents are left grieving the loss of their child. This journey of grief is not an easy one. In fact, this is the most difficult path a parent will ever walk. The journey is long, lasting a lifetime. There’s no way to get off of this road. It is now the road that must be traveled every day for as long as a parent of child loss remains alive. My life has been turned upside down and inside out by child loss and like so many others I was…
I looked at my foot closely as I continued to rub coconut oil onto it in hopes of softening the skin surrounding the scar. That scar is now twenty-four years old and it still looks like it became a part of me yesterday. Normally, scar tissue isn’t something that I would look at, but this scar is different. This scar was given to me by my son Mike who died on May 22, 2015. I never, ever want this scar to go away because locked up in that puffy mess is a well-spring of memories that make my heart smile!
Tonight was one of those nights. I went to Monday night yoga as usual, not really feeling any different than I had all day. It was Monday, and time to get back into my work routine. I ran into class a few minutes late, placed my yoga mat down on the floor and began to do the relaxation breathing. I closed my eyes and began visualizing a beautiful beach scene when suddenly out of nowhere………I could feel myself beginning to shake from the inside and then it happened. Hot tears began streaming down my face.
I don’t remember much about holidays as a kid, but I do remember the first Father’s Day in our home after my young sister Carmella died. My dad was never the touchy-feely type of dad. In fact, getting a hug from him was a very rare thing. I can remember two times when I got a hug from him. He hugged me at my wedding, and he hugged me when I was pregnant with my first child. This particular Father’s Day was going to be rough. As a kid of sixteen I knew it. I saw how terrible Mother’s Day was for my mom, so I was already bracing myself…
When each of my children were born I studied them for a long, long time. I ran my fingers across the tip of their noses. I grasped their tiny hands into mine and looked in awe. I slid my fingers ever so gently across their heads leaning down and smelling that newborn baby smell. I loved how each of their tiny feet fit into the palm of my hand. These are just some of the things I’ll never forget. A love as deep as a parent’s love wants to soak up everything about our child. We even study the pores of our child’s skin! As our children grow older, we continue…
Garbage. Garbage. Garbage. I’m cleaning files at my office, and tossing out files from fifteen years ago. It was getting late, and I was grabbing one more pile of papers to toss into the garbage, when I stopped — frozen. I looked. I stared. As I began to read the words my tears began. Tears poured from my eyes. I began to choke on my sobs. There it was. My son’s obituary from a year ago.
Since my son Mike died, I’ve lost my car keys at least a hundred times! Slumping down and bursting into tears I decided to call it a day at 5:30 p.m. I was exhausted. I couldn’t think straight. I was frustrated because I lost my keys again only to find them sitting on a box in my garage. My life is messy because I seem to have lost the ability to organize even something as simple as what I should wear to work in the morning.
When child loss occurs, there is often chaos within the family unit. Nobody knows what to do or say. Everybody knows that each person is suffering. But, no words are spoken. Why? How do you even begin to communicate within a family when everybody is in shock and grief? This radical miscommunication often leads to the breakdown of a family and that’s just what we want to guard against. “As we know, the death of a child doesn’t just affect the heart of a mother.” — This is a direct quote from the book Child Loss; The Heartbreak and the Hope.