Tuesday, March 31, 2020

One of those days

It's been one of those days... maybe too much thinking? I made a youtube video but it's not even fit to post here... if you're not following Zuka's Legacy Youtube channel, here is the link... 

I have plans to start writing again and finally finish up this book.  I've been letting life get in the way of some of my goals. Zuka deserves to have his story told, he would want that, in hopes to help others...

Hope you are all taking care of YOU! 

Be well, Jenn

Mental Health

I often talk about my son, Zuka's mental health but what I seem to avoid talking about is my own. There is no shame, or there should not be shame in talking about mental health....so let me start.

Dealing with my sons loss has been very difficult, I have flashbacks, nightmares, thoughts that won't leave my mind. I'm sad, I'm heartbroken. I'm dealing with PTSD and depression. I startle very easily, loud noises bother me. I have to be careful about what I watch for shows and movies to avoid certain types of violence and suicide-related material. I see a therapist to help deal with these issues and my own personal issues as well. I see a psychiatrist to manage medications for sleep and anxiety.

I had lost 60 pounds before Zuka passed away and 134 since he passed away for a total of 194 pounds lost. I thought losing weight would fix all my issues, make my problems go away but losing weight has its own set of issues. I don't really know what I look like anymore, I look different and I don't have of sense of my size anymore. It's weird, it plays games with your mind. I often think I am larger than I actually am, trying to put on clothes I wore before and being surprised when they are way too big. I think it affects your self-esteem and sense of self, in both positive and negative ways.

Losing a relationship has also really affected me. I think when someone leaves your life you wonder, "why wasn't I good enough?" or "what could I have done differently to fix things?" Along with a broken heart, there can be so much self-doubt involved. Very similar to when going through the loss of Zuka, I would keep thinking about what I could have done differently. That stuff can really eat you up... at the end of the day, you have to realize that you did the best you could do for the situation you were in at the time. If you live in regret and questioning it will run your life.

Break-ups, divorces, end of friendships are a loss and like any loss, they need time to grieve. I don't there should be shame and stigma attached to that. I have been ashamed to admit that things weren't so easy to just put behind me and that it really takes a lot to get over someone, even when things weren't so good. This has caused me to make some pretty major mistakes, more regret and things that are irreparable but again, everything is a learning experience. All you can do is apologize for how you were wrong and try to do better in the future.

This outbreak has a lot of people staying inside and maybe spending much more time alone than you normally would. I would really encourage you to take time for your own mental health. Perhaps you write daily one thing you are proud of about yourself, or one thing you are thankful for. Take time to meditate or do some type of relaxation. Talk with others on the phone or through video. Get out and take a walk. Please don't allow this time of uncertainty and/or isolation to be a reason to fall back into unhealthy patterns, or make unhealthy choices for yourself. Take care of yourself, however you need to do that!!


and remember....

You're never alone. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you are struggling emotionally or thinking about suicide.

Saturday, March 28, 2020


I asked God if I could dream about you...and I did. Perhaps this time in quarantine is giving me too much time to think. Too much time to think about all the things I've lost and what I could have done differently.

I dreamed that you were a ghost, I couldn't see you but I could hear your voice. The piano began to play a song you liked and I can't remember what it was. I woke up in the middle of the dream, trying my hardest to get back into the dream so I could remember what song you were playing. I woke up sad, I don't know why I can't have good dreams....but even those can be sad, remembering....

I remember the last words I said to you. If I could teach anyone anything it would be that you always need to think about what you say to people... you never know when it could be the last thing you ever say. I wish I could take my words back. I wish I had a chance to do things over. I think about what I would do differently.... and wonder if the outcome would be any different.

You see those things you thought you would never live through, You live through, but it doesn't mean that they don't haunt you forever. I'm haunted by your loss. I'm haunted by everything I lost in the last two years. I miss the life we had before, I miss your smile. I miss having you there to talk to and how you were the person who understood me the most. I'll never get that back and it haunts me. I'm just here dancing with beautiful ghosts.

I don't know why you had to go kiddo. I know you are at peace, I just wish I could be too...

Monday, March 9, 2020


        It's been 565 days, 1 year 6 months and 16 days, 80 weeks 5 days,  approximately 13,560 hours since Zuka died. I just had a dream that I met Zuka at school to discuss future plans and we had to go in a conference room, he ran ahead laughing and locked his friend and me out of the room. He let us in, laughing and sporting that Zuka smile. That smile, it was huge and made me happy. I know people always say things about the deceased and how their smile lit up a room, so cliche but with Zuka it was true. His smile was mischievous. I woke up from the dream, and couldn't help but cry. I miss that smile.
        I know some people would wonder why 565 days later I'm still crying about his loss, and some people would say, "of course she is!" 565 days to realize he's not coming back but still, I can't believe that he is gone.

You see, I know sometimes it feels like no one would care if you were gone. I know it feels like you are a burden and people would be better off without you but I guarantee there is someone who would be grieving your loss 565 days later. You mean the world to someone and people's lives wouldn't be the same without you! Please don't give up! Please read my journey of the last 565 days and understand how the death of someone you love impacts you. Zuka's friends, his family, his loved ones, and I, we will never be the same. We will always live with his memories both happy and devastating. We will never forget where we were when we heard that Zuka had taken his life. 565 days ago Zuka completed suicide. That smile that lit up a room, is forever extinguished and the world will never be the same.

You're never alone. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you are struggling emotionally or thinking about suicide.

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


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.