Saturday, June 22, 2019

10 Month Update MAJOR changes

It's been just over 10 months since Zuka passed away. Everything in life has changed. Some days I feel like I have lost everything but I still have me.

Pain changes people, changes relationships. My husband and I have chosen to take different paths in life. I wish him nothing but peace and happiness. I truly hope that for him. Healing. Peace. Happiness.

I have enrolled in my final year of college. It's been a while since I have been in school but I am so close to finishing my degree it's crazy not to go back. I have decided to sell nearly everything I own and move out of state. I will be working to finish my BS in mental health and would like to work in trauma and grief counseling.

I am closer to finishing my book but with the changes and the move to release date has been pushed back. I already have my second book in mind but one thing at a time. I took a writing class that I found very helpful in helping to get into writing some of what I am feeling. I have posted some of them on my page recently.

Our daughter is going off to college, so proud of the wonderful strong woman she has become. I admire her strength and determination so much! People often tell me I am strong, she is the strong one and though it will be painful to be away from her for a bit, I know it's her decision to stay here and go to school and I need to respect that. I am always just a phone call or a flight away.

I have been told recently not to share the pain or situations going through my life because some people like to see people in pain and will use that to delight in your unhappiness. I truly feel bad for anyone who could find pleasure in the pain of another. I have no room in my heart and mind for anyone who wishes me ill will. I can't live my life worrying about what other's think of me. I need to care for my own well-being and happiness, no matter what that looks like to anyone else. We all do.

Though there are many endings, there are also many new beginnings. There is the future, chasing my dreams and starting fresh but this time with a little more knowledge. I am a ball of emotions, excited, scared, nervous, heartbroken, hopeful.... Those who think I am so strong I am no less scared than any of you. I didn't choose any of this but I can choose to carry on. I choose to keep living and make the best damn life I can for myself, and for my daughter.

Packing Zuka's things to ship and store has been difficult. Selling items I bought to build our life hurts like hell. Every item has a memory attached, I choose to keep the happy memories and let the painful ones go. Zuka I will carry with me forever, and that's okay, I grow stronger as I continue to carry that weight.

Here is to new beginnings. 
Love, peace, and blessings to all. 

(even that bigheaded one reading this)

I miss you Always Zuka 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

My immortal

I can tell your story straight-faced like I am repeating back the lines to a movie I watched. People expect me to break down, they expect tears, sometimes I think they hope to see them. I have told the story countless times and each time the words flow out of my mouth, disconnected from my brain or my heart. The story is just a story when I tell it.

I open your laptop, looking for a picture I saved and up pops a video. Your sad eyes stare blankly at the camera as that song plays in the background. It's the song you walked in on me playing when you were about five. You came in my room, rested your head on my shoulder, "what's wrong Mommy?" I assured you I was fine but you responded, "you only listen to this song when you are sad." So amazingly perceptive for five.
Now 18 years old, sad eyes and Evanescence, "my immortal" playing in the background. No tears, I see the sadness in your eyes. There it is, like a punch to the gut it hits me. This isn't a story, this is no movie. You are dead. You will never put your head on my shoulder again. I will never hold you again. Tears flow. The pain engulfs me. Replay, I hear the song again, I see your eyes. I want so much to be with you and I cry out, "I JUST WANT MY SON BACK!" as I curl into the fetal position and smother my face with a pillow and cry.

I begin to wonder if it's okay to give up. Would God understand how much pain I am in? Your sister walks through the doorway to my bedroom. I quickly sit up and wipe my tears. "What's wrong mom?" she asks. "Nothing...." I start to say but decide that she deserves my honesty. "I am missing your brother and overwhelmed by all the changes in my life right now." She hugs me and returns to her room. I know it's not okay to give up.

I can swallow the feelings, ignore the lump in my throat and tell them your story. When I am alone the words rise back up and I choke on them, the grief squeezes at my throat and I can hardly breathe. You are so much more than can be summed up in words. I will never stop writing about you. My Immortal.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

for a moment....

I'm sitting on the floor in my room. Zuka is dead. My daughter going away to college. For the first time in my life, it will be just me.  I feel the weight of it all pressing down on me. I am immobilized by indecision, overwhelmed. I start picking up papers and books from beside my bed, trying to organize my space in hopes of clearing my mind. Tears flow from my eyes and for a moment I feel defeated.

I lift a book and there it is, a piece of confetti from your gift last Christmas. Laying on the carpet that I have vacuumed so many times since. I place the piece of metallic confetti in my palm and wrap my fingers around it. With a grin on my face, I say aloud, "Thank you Zuka." It doesn't matter if you placed it there or not, the memory alone is enough to bring me peace. For a moment, I am delivered from my grief and I feel that you are with me. For a moment, everything is okay...

If you were here....

If I imagine you speaking to me I can hear you asking if I am okay. You always made sure I was okay, even when you were angry with me, even if you had just hung up the phone on me. You would message me and ask if I was okay and tell me you loved me. I would tell you how your departure left me fragmented and how nothing has made sense since. You hug me, you tell me you're sorry, you flash that Zuka grin and try to make me smile. Here's where you would make a joke, trying to lighten the mood. It probably would be mildly offensive and still, I would chuckle with tears in my eyes.

You would tell me that "This too shall pass" because you lived by that phrase. I wouldn't have the heart to tell you that this, my beautiful son, will never pass. You would tell me to find happiness, to only do what makes me feel carefree. I couldn't tell you that I don't know how to find that anymore but I'm searching. You would curl up close to me, just wanting to be near me, lay your head on my arm. There would be so many feelings you would want to convey, but you wouldn't speak them. There would just be an understanding between us.  You and I never needed words, we were too much alike, more than either of us would have admitted.

You would wipe my tears and remind me that I still had Jamilah. As if that somehow compensated for the Zuka sized hole left in my soul. You never understood how much you were worth, you were everything. I would tell you, You are everything. You would assure me that I will be fine without you, that I will carry on and be happy again. I won't have the heart to tell you that I will miss you every single day for the rest of my life. We will sit in silence the rest of our time together, my arm around you, your head on my shoulder, wishing we could stay like this forever. We can't. You are gone from me and all I can do is close my eyes and imagine.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

I want to remember, I want to forget

I want to remember your smile, it's so cliche to say it lit up a room. No, your smile provided me peace, as long as you were smiling everything would be okay. I want to remember when I picked you up at school after not having seen you in three years. You had grown taller than me and now had defined muscles and you were no longer that chubby little boy. I held on tight as tears flowed from my eyes, joy, and relief. You pulled back and smiled, "I knew you were going to cry," you said with a smile. 

I want to remember you as my little boy who always wanted to be with his mom. I want to remember the first time I held you. I want to remember your light-heartedness, the times you were carefree and wild. You were my wild child, daring to live life on your own terms. Though as your mother that scared me at times, it also inspired me to be a little more willing to take chances. I want to remember the times you were happy, the pranks you played, your laughter. I want to remember you this way.

I want to forget every tear you ever cried. I want to forget the times when this world broke your tender heart. I want to forget that day, the sound of the gunshot. I want to forget devastation I felt when they told me you didn't survive. I want to forget watching them wheel your covered body out on a stretcher and knowing I would never see you again. I want to forget the indescribable pain.

Some days I want to forget it all. I wonder if amnesia would be easier. With each blissful memory comes the realization that it's over. There will never be another moment that I want to remember, no new memories created. That wouldn't be fair to you. You lived and as painful as it is, I must remember it all. I must honor and appreciate you for who you were and the short time we had together. I must hold you in every little piece of my shattered heart.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Where I would take you, a house tour

Zuka if you came in this door today, 
the place you haven't seen in 9 months 
I think you would be surprised at how much has changed

When you left the shelves beside the front door had my favorite vase and a picture of a mermaid, reminding me of the Anais Nin Quote, "I must be a mermaid, I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living."

Above the shelf hung a picture I painted, my first attempt at painting.

Your Urn sits where we had once placed decor,
 the picture we used at the memorial of your beautiful smiling face hangs on the wall where my artwork once hung. 

The living room once had very minimal decor, 
now has a curio cabinet filled with memories of you. 

Over the television hangs the beautiful picture Mr. Brewster took of you and your friends 
Your best friend, the one who loved you like a brother...

Let's go into the dining room. 
Jamilah and I had hung a monogrammed picture, representing our last names

Now, Look at the black and white picture of us, we took it the night you went out with my friends and I am we danced together for the last time. The night was epic, care-free. We sat by the pool after everyone had gone to sleep and we had extrodinary conversation, you shared your manifesto with me.

Maybe you want to see your room next? Your football banner still hangs on the wall. Storage boxes full of memories and clothing you once wore.
 This is the room I sat in for hours, staring at your face and asking why? 

Do you want to see the shelves of your memories, what remains we treasure?


The house you left has become a museum of you. 
The family you left behind torn part, going their separate ways. 
Forever Changed.

I wish you could see how much we miss you.
I wish you could have realized how much we love you.
I wish you understood that you were everything.

The home is about to crumble, it can no longer stand the pressure of your loss, I wish you could see. If you came home, this is where I would absolutely take you.... a tour of what you left behind.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Losing my son to suicide, month 9 update

Most of my recent posts have been my writings on grief so, I am writing an update about what's going on in my life, just 2 days short of 9 months from losing my son.

We are preparing for my daughter Jamilah's graduation. I am a ball of emotions, I am excited that she is graduating but not ready for her to be an adult. I can't believe she turned 18 this month!!

It hit me hard that my children are now the same age. 

Milah went to prom and maybe I am biased but I thought she looked like a QUEEN! 

This month she also graduates, so we had her 18th birthday (which was the same day as prom) and her graduation all in one month. Today we took her to look for a dress to wear to graduation and Antonio and I looked at graduation decorations and talked about her cake and gift... When I got back to the car, we sat and waited for her to try on another dress and I just cried.

It seems like YESTERDAY we were planning Zuka's graduation party. I am missing him so much, and I'm so sad that he won't be there to see his sister graduate. Like I said, a whirlwind of emotion!

Mother's day was difficult but my daughter made my day, she cooked me dinner, bought me a beautiful orchid, a lovely card and spent time watching movies with me. Antonio bought me breakfast in bed, a rose and a sweet card. I woke up feeling dread, wanting to melt into the sky and she saved me. Before she went to bed I gave her a huge hug and told her she gave me an amazing mother's day. It was sad and amazing at the same time. Complicated feelings are something I am becoming accustomed to.

I have suffered some other huge losses and grief that I am not yet ready to talk about, because they involve other people and it's not the right time to talk about what is going on. I definitely could use support, prayer, good vibes or whatever it is you do. There will be a lot of changes coming soon. Change scares me so much. I feel like eventually, things will be okay, but there is a lot more pain coming before I get to that place.

I plan to return to college in the fall. I am finally finishing my bachelor's degree in mental health and want to go on to get my masters. I am working on my book.

 I can't say too much except everything in my life is changing and I am petrified! Tough decisions need to be made.... I am heartbroken. It's one of those "cuts both ways" kind of situations, neither path is easy.

At 9 months I have started putting my grief on a shelf and only dealing a little at a time. Right now it's easier to stuff those emotions down a little so I don't become overwhelmed so that I can function. I will never move on, but I must carry on. I no longer cry every day, I try not to cry in front of people. The shower and my pillow are the two places that see the most tears.

I am thankful for the continued support of friends and family. I would not make it through without you! There are a few friends who have really gone out of their way for me recently, I don't want to embarrass them by posting their names but you know who you are and I am so grateful for you!

 I am thankful for my amazing daughter...

The Gift

She walks into the room a wiser woman than she once was, eyes look upon her with uneasiness. She has seen things they have never seen, felt things they have not felt. Some believe they can comprehend the pain, and they rush to tell her this. Others look in awe, wondering how she survives.
She brings a gift. A box she places on the table which no one has the courage to touch.  She is the crone, the survivor, the one who lived through the unlivable. There is a knowledge inside of her that no one wants to truly understand but there it sits on the table, waiting for someone to open.
There is tension in the room as apprehensive dwellers circle around the package. Do they have the resolve to poke at the box? Will they receive her gift or retreat and pretend not to have noticed the sage and her bundle.

This is a gift she offers, the only thing she has left to give. Within is an appreciation for life, that can only be gained through death. There is knowledge of what it feels like to be stripped of her own skin and cling to life.
A woman steps towards the table and slides the piece of gold ribbon, untying the bow and the box falls open. They gasp as the sorrow forms a cloud above the table, not comprehending how this could be a gift she is giving them. 
The cloud is her knowledge, her comprehension, her compassion, her strength, and her tenderness. Her gift is a safe space to lay your burden. Her gift is guidance and wisdom. She holds keys to understanding and unlocking the darkest nightmares and staring them straight in the eyes. Her gift is an understanding, true perception of the deepest pain imaginable. She can look you in the eyes and say "I feel your pain" and you will glance back and believe her. She senses loss, undoing, destruction,  and she never looks away. She holds it in her hands, she knows it can no longer bite her, she has become to unsusceptible to the venom. She will never come undone again. 
Her gift is hard to receive, to someone not in the circumstance to receive it. So she keeps her gift, writing down the contents of the box, the words within the cloud of darkness. Only giving her gift to those who seek it, and who are ready to receive it. She knows it's too much weight, a burden to those not ready, and a relief to those already there.

Friday, May 17, 2019

What is left behind

Grief swept over me like a fire. Everything left scorched. My hard edges were burned away. All trivial things now ashes. The future I thought I had, burned away. I am a tree without bark, bleeding my sap wherever I go. I used to feel shielded and now I stand naked in a world that seems so sharp.
My selfhood is gone, what do I do with what is left?

I want to behave better, people look at me and see possibility, they see strength, they ponder why I would choose to stay stagnant. I want to progress. How do I overcome the trepidation, when I feel nothing but nakedness, vulnerability?

My burned edges are clothed with the love of defenders, those who wish me well. Even the cover of love hurts right now. I have to shake it from me, I have to stand like a singed tree whose missing bark will never grow back. Hoping the parts of me that remain will grow and protect the holes left from pieces burned away.

A talk with Grief

Grief. I speak of you often but fear to open my eyes to peer into your depths. I know you want to be seen, you want to be felt, you need to be heard. I attempt to turn my back to you, a fantasy in which you do not exist.
 Now, under the warmth of this prayer shawl, given to me but a fellow griever, I will sit with you. I will lean into you and understand that beneath the terror, the trauma, you are the remnants of love. The fragments of memories, hopes, and dreams, you are what is left behind.
Honestly, you have made me softer, not weaker, but a soft place for others to lay their grief. You have given me understanding, compassion. You are unbearable and have left my heart gaping. Though you are heinous and to some unspeakable, I have also learned from you. One day grief, I will sit with other's who face you, I will show them the things I have learned. I will be a safe space.
You are a fire, one that I can warm myself with, with bittersweet memories, and cry tears of love. You are also a fire that can destroy me if I let you, you could swallow me whole and leave other's to grieve. For now, I need to fold up my shawl of comfort and put you back on your shelf. You are too much for me to handle all at once, I will take bits of you and work through you, let you work through me. A little a time, so that you will never consume me again.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

the hollow

evening falling - a soft lamenting
I find myself in desolation
In a haze between wake and sleep
not heaven nor hell
A place where the grieving go

I am there
When darkness falls
I hear my sons voice, calling my name
Unable to answer his outcry

Darkness and hollow
Overtaken by sorrow
It’s the present and the past
But there is no tomorrow

Time has stopped
In this purgatory of shattered hopes
I hear his cries, I see his shadow
My hands will never hold him again

Colors of Grief

White. White is symbolic of purity and peace. Your pure heart as delicate as the eighteen white roses we placed beside your urn. Even at your angriest moments, you reminded me you loved me and asked if I was alright. You cared deeply, maybe too deeply for this world.
White. The color of peace, the waving of the white flag. You couldn't bear another moment and you left us. The turmoil boiling inside you laid to rest. I know you are at peace. I wish I was too.

Green. Your school colors. Your green wrestling singlet. Your green state champion jacket. Your green letterman jacket for football. Your green tracksuit. Most of what I have left from you is green. Your memorial pages, all done in green. You were proud of that color, you accomplished so many goals in green. We placed a green ribbon on your memorial bouquet. Green brings images of spring, green grass, new life. A life I don't feel equipped to commence.

Red. No one knows about this color. No one would understand and I keep it secretly stuffed down inside my heart. A red pool on the carpet. No one understood why I would want to sit by that massive red stain. They washed the walls, threw away every stained article of clothing. They put new bedding on the bed. They couldn't wash away the red stain. They didn't understand that it was the last piece of you. I just wanted to sit there with the last piece of you. They used a box cutter and cut away the red piece of carpet and disposed of it. I felt robbed,  it would be absurd to keep but, I wasn't ready to let go.

Grey. The shorts you were wearing, once blue had faded to grey. I remember only grey, was your shirt grey? Grey is what I feel now. Grey is uncertainty, precariousness. Grey is emotional and yet emotionless. Grey is somewhere in the middle, stagnant. Grey feels like rainfall is imminent. Tears looming behind my eyes.

This is my life now, remembering green, holding on to red, hoping for white and living in the grey. These are the colors of my grief.

Monday, May 13, 2019

She is Strength

      She wiped the last tears from her eyes and resolved to move forward. Other's said they were concerned that she was blocking out the pain, keeping it hidden. They were concerned about her emotional well being. I wasn't. I know this is how she handles pain, she puts it away and carries on.
I was a bundle of nerves when I put her little 5-year-old body onto this giant school bus in a strange new state. With no hesitation, she walked on, assured me she was fine and never looked back. She was brave. She has always been brave.
When she was eight years old and her father told her he no longer had any children, she didn't cry. She stuck out her chin as if to say "f*ck him." and moved forward. She never needed anyone who didn't need her. I looked at her with awe, how is it she was born so so strong? She thinks with her head, she works towards her goals, she needs no one but herself.
She walked home from work the night her brother took his life. Flashing lights were everywhere, emergency vehicles scattered the street. There were people gathered around me. She emerged through the crowd, and after hugging me she went over to the car by herself. She laid her head on the car, her arms blocking her face and she cried. She cried by herself, the way she prefers to cry and I allowed her her time alone to grieve. When they allowed us into the house she went to her room grieve in peace. She came into my room to check on me,  I could see she had been crying but she wouldn't let us see her tears.
She isn't a cold person, she feels things deeply but she has this amazing capacity to compartmentalize her feelings. She can put them on a shelf and carry on, deciding when she wants to take them down and feel them. She was soon ready to get back to work, get back to school, and continue on with life. I was frozen, overtaken by grief and unable to even function. She was my one reason for wanting to be alive. She was what gave me strength.
I curled up on the couch beside her the other day and asked, "do you ever think about him?" She doesn't often talk about her brother. "of course I do," she replied, "I just know he is at peace now." She is so rational. What can't I be rational? Why am I consumed by emotion?
I have so many changes going on in my life right now. I am grieving the loss of my son, also grieving things I don't talk about. I try to be more like her, I try to learn from her. I try to put my emotions on the shelf for right now so I can make the choices I know I need to make instead of letting the fear and the pain hold me back.
Funny, I am her mother, but she has taught me far more than I feel like I could teach her. She has taught me to be strong. She has taught me not to need anyone who doesn't need me. She has taught me it's okay to feel but it's also okay to put the feelings aside and do what needs to be done. She is my strength, my reason to go on. She wouldn't want that though, she would tell me to be my own strength. She would tell me to live for myself. I will, my girl, I will.