Thursday, October 3, 2019

I saw you at the Fair

It's fall in Maine and I enter the fair with a group of friends who quickly spread out into different directions. It's packed and I'm not feeling well so I decide to find my parents and ask if maybe I can get a ride home with them since I know my friends won't be leaving for hours. Through the crowd I spot Dad walking and I quickly start in that direction, making my way through hoards of people eating cotton candy and fried dough. I spot mom as I'm getting closer and then I see you walking close behind them. I start running.... ZUKA! I run up and hug you so tight, so many dreams I have looked for you and never reached you and finally here you are right it front of me. I grab you and I hug you so tight, I keep saying, "here you are!!" I am so overjoyed to see you again, it's like you have been here the whole time and I just didn't see it. I never want to let you go!!

but then I wake up and realize it was a dream.... and though I am happy I finally saw you and hugged you in a dream, I'm also heartbroken that it was just a dream.

I have been pushing my feelings down. Trying not to think. Trying to just survive. All day the tears have been dwelling just beneath the surface. Zuka, it's still unbelievable to me that you are gone. I can't accept it...it's like you're away and you are coming back but you can't be gone forever right?!!! It's like that night never happened...I don't want to believe it did.

Oh Zuk, I'd give anything just to hug you one more time....

Thursday, August 8, 2019

it's been a year








Dear Zuka,

     On the 20th it will be a year since you left us. I still miss you every day. It took me months to start to live again. I thought life was over when you left but we have managed to survive. After nearly a year life circumstances, though difficult, have led me to be in a position to do all of the things you wanted for me. I am finishing up my degree this coming year, I am all registered and ready to begin my final year of my bachelor's and then plan on getting my masters. I don't know exactly what I want to do with my degree, I know I want to help others going through similar circumstances. I don't know if that's teens dealing with depression and suicide or families who have lost someone, I just want to use what this year has taught me....and all the things I have learned from you to prevent others from taking their lives.
     I know how much you wanted me to live my best life, part of that was getting into shape and being physically healthy, I have a plan for that too and I am working on it! I sure do miss having my "coach" here but you are always my inspiration and encouragement.
    I have changed so much kiddo, and continue to change every day, I wish you were here to see it. I want to make you proud.
     Your sister starts her freshman year of college soon. You would be so proud of her, she is strong, really strong! You said you would always be there to protect her, I know in one way or another you always will be. I love you both so much.
     Your best friend, your "brother from another mother" got a 4.0 this year. I am so proud of him, I know you would be too. They miss you and think of you fondly. It seems stories are coming with more smiles than tears these days as the grief shifts. We met up recently and shared stories of you along with laughter and a few tears too.
    You never wanted me to live a "shitty life" (as you called it) or accept anything less than the best, and I have no intention of ever doing that again kiddo. I have been surrounded by so much love and support and I finally believe in myself again, the way you believed in me. I got rid of everything but the memories and started a brand new life, figuring out what I want, finding what makes me happy.
    I used to be so afraid of lightning, as I sat outside and watched the lighting and the rain fell I realized I'm not afraid anymore. Some days I wake up in shock, feeling lost and remembering all the things I lost in the past year. Some days it's overwhelming and tries to swallow me whole but then I think of you and how proud you would be of me. I remember your smile. I know I can't give up....even on those days when it's hard to breathe. A year later there are still many days it's hard to breathe.
     We have all gone our separate ways...we all grieve in our own ways....and we all miss you so very much Zuk. I can't believe it's been a year since I heard your voice, saw you smile, watched you dance around the house. It's hard not to think if I had it all to do again what I might do differently. All those little moments I took for granted.... I would have hugged you longer....listened harder... made sure I made the most of every moment together because everything ends at some point, doesn't it... You always said "this too shall pass" and it's true...the moments passed by too fast...they slipped through my fingers and before I knew it life as I knew it ended...My hardest goodbye....

I love you Always~ Mom


   







Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Beta Readers Needed

If you are interested in being a Beta Reader for my book, Zuka's Legacy please send your email address to Zukaslegacy@gmail.com and I will send you the brief questionnaire. Thank you 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Healing



I was talking to a friend today and we discussed healing. I know healing is a very personal thing and people are very protective of their own grief and healing process. Like a person with an addiction needs to be ready to get clean on their own, a hurting person needs to be ready to heal on their own time. It's not something you can force upon someone or tell them to "get over." There is no getting over grief but at some point, you decide that you will no longer be stuck in the same spot and you decide to carry the grief. You carry on.

I was in a car accident as a child. A tree fell on the car we were riding in and did quite a bit of damage to my body physically. After skin graphs and time, I healed, but I will always carry the scars. When it's cold out I feel pain in my hip and it's a reminder that it's still there, though it's not something I think of every day. I have hope that this pain will one day be something I don't think of every day but it becomes something in the back of my mind I think of from time to time.

When I was in an accident I had to let the wounds heal. If I had not been kept still to let the skin graphs take, or if I had chosen to pick at the wounds they never would have healed properly. My current wounds are emotional, spiritual, wounds of the heart. I have to chose not to pick at them. What does this mean for me? This means that I know there are certain shows and movies I can't watch because they trigger my pain. There are songs I can't listen to. There are people I have to limit my access to. I have to leave the wounds alone and let them heal. I have to take care of myself. I must learn what feels healing to me and what makes the pain worse.

The key is making the DECISION that you are going to do whatever it takes for you to begin healing. It's as individual as your fingerprint. Each person's healing process is going to look different.

I have made the decision to go where I feel I can heal. I am changing the environment I am in, the people I am with. I am going back to finish my degree so I can help other's dealing with trauma and grief. I don't think every pain needs to be turned into something beautiful but I want to use this pain to help other people because that's what helps me to feel better.



Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Ships and Free Birds

In less than two weeks I begin my new life in a new place. I go back to college and finish my mental health degree. A change of environment, new people, new places, new goals.

This has been the hardest year of my life. I lost my son, my job, my marriage, my home, my daughter is going away to college. For the first time, it will be just me. Rediscovering myself, healing and turning my life in a new direction. It's bittersweet. As brave as everyone tells me I am, I must admit I am scared. Scared is okay though, be scared and show up anyway. Right now, I am pushing the feelings aside and making decisions based on what I know is best for me, not based on feelings. Feelings can keep you trapped in places where you cease to grow.

Zuka wanted me to be happy, he wanted me to fulfill my goals. I just wish I had been able to while he was still here. Milah has been so supportive as well...Maybe being thrown from my comfort zone was the push I needed to make real changes. Not saying that I recommend that, it has been tremendously difficult but I am trying to make something positive come out of the pain.

This is no insult to anyone but I haven't been truly happy in a long time. I felt unfulfilled like something has been missing but I made commitments I respected and I stayed where I thought I belonged. Maybe I was trying to fit where I wasn't meant to be. I don't know right now, all I know is that's past....and I am looking towards the future from here on out. No looking back!

I carry you with me always Zuka.... and Jamilah, I am always a phone call away. I love you.

                        I'm a free bird...and I am ready to fly!! 




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.