A father’s words

On August 12, 2016, we had to say goodbye to our son Michael.  My husband stood up in front of everyone there at his gravesite, with me by his side, and read the following.  He spent considerable time writing it, agonizing over every word.  Every once in a while he would hand me the laptop, asking me to read through it and give him my opinion.  Every time I did, I was blown away, and I told him that.  This man, even in our overwhelming grief, was thinking of others.  Please read it, and share it out to the world.

Dear John, I love you.  ❤

 

First, I want to thank everyone who has helped support our family with your heartfelt sorrow, and sadness with their thoughts and happy memories of which all meant so much to us.

So…

I, as Michael’s father would like to share a few words to you from my heart. I may have a hard time speaking these words I am about to say, so please forgive me.

Michael, or to some of you “Mike” was a smart, caring, funny, sensitive , strong and lovable young man who had a sense of adventure. I am hopeful that I had played a part in that and passed on to him those so endearing qualities you look for in a man. He has always cared for others and was there for them when they needed him the most and his friends and family were also there for him. I am so, so proud to call him my son and see the man he had become and through that he has made me a better father and a better man for the time he spent here on Earth.

Over the years, I have spoken with many people and some have said things that “stick in your head” or remember , and others you just “brush off”, and forget. I have said to people that we all here on this Earth for a purpose. Some people may agree and some may not and it really didn’t have any effect on me until recently, and so I was inspired to write these words to all of you.

Please, take a look around you ……., to the left of you……, to the right of you……., in front and in back of you……. and all who are here and have gathered these past few days in my sons memory. Michael, my son, has had an influence and purpose for being here on this earth with all of you. He has touched every life here, no matter how small or who you are, family, friend, co-worker or from someone you may know. Without him, we may never have known each other in some point in our lives. So I say to all of you, my son had a purpose in life and we all have a purpose for being here. We cannot change the past, or the present but we all can have some effect on the future.

My son Michael, has departed this life, so in his memory, please listen, listen carefully and closely to others you know, always offer your help to others, even if they do not want to accept it, so others may get the help they need so they do not have to suffer in silence.
Thank you

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525,600+ minutes

Well, we did it. We survived the first year. When we first began this journey, a journey no parent should ever have to take, we didn't think we'd make it.
Our beautiful son Michael took his life, and left behind his devastated family and friends. He took his life. I don't like it when people say "committed suicide", because it sounds like a crime. Michael was no criminal. He was a sad, hurting, young man, who quietly fought a battle that he ultimately lost.
My husband and I have spent the last few days reminiscing. We laughed through our tears, remembering Michael from when he was a so small, butt-shuffling across our kitchen floor (he never crawled), to driving his big plastic race car down our road, making it skid sideways, doing it so often he wore out the tires. My parents then bought him a "kettle car". He tried to do that very same skid, but instead flipped and rolled the car. You see, unlike the plastic wheels (think Big Wheels) of the race car, the kettle car had rubber wheels. Michael thought he had just done the coolest thing ever. I had my first, of many, stroke. We talked about how thoughtful and caring he was. The trench he dug in the backyard when it flooded. John waking up one morning to a painted garage floor. I was in bed by ten most nights, and many of those nights Michael would come in and sit with me, talking over our day. I miss that.
So yes, we cried, a lot, but we also laughed. John thanked me for talking about Michael with him. I was struck by that. I said of course I'm talking about him. I will always by happy to talk about my Michael. John then said something that I've noticed, but hadn't mentioned. It seems that most around us (not all) are hesitant to talk about Michael. It's like people are afraid that to bring him up will make us sad. Please know this, it won't hurt us. To talk about him brings us joy. It keeps him close. My biggest fear now, concerning Michael, is that he will be forgotten. I suspect that most parents who've lost a child feel this way.
So yes, we've gotten passed our first year. It's been a really rough few days. Next up is his birthday, which is less than a week away. Another rough day. We will be celebrating him in his way though. Pizza and beer (BYOB) (BYO chair) that night, with a release of eco-friendly Chinese lanterns. Are we nuts? Perhaps, but as long as there are people willing to celebrate with us we will do this.
A gigantic THANK YOU to everyone. I'm not sure we would still be standing without you all.
Our journey is far from over, but right now we are here, and we are, as I said in a previous posting, (fake) ok.

It’s going to come no matter what 

11 months tonight. With that we begin our decent towards one year.

 For all of my happy and fun posts with my “fake ok” persona, just below the surface lurks the real me. I’m an easy cry now. Gone is the woman who didn’t cry easily. Losing a child does that to a mother, and father.  

Don’t get me wrong, we still have a good time.  We still have happy in our lives. One of our daughters was recently married.  That is a truly joyful occasion, one that even grief can’t overpower.   There were moments that grief tried to ruin the evening, but I had great support  from both family and friends, and had a wonderful time.  

Grief lurks, like a bad guy in a movie, waiting to pounce unexpectedly, taking you down when you can’t fight.  When you’re at your most vulnerable, BOOM, grief.   I’ve been in the most benign places, driving, shopping, etc, and been nailed by this beast.  I am left to wonder how the Hell that just happened.  I wasn’t thinking about Michael, I was doing whatever.  The evil hit doesn’t care.  How dare I not be sad all of the time.  Take that! Good, you’re sad. Another battle won.  Yes, grief won that battle, but this is war, and there will be many battles to fight.  I’ve won quite a few myself.  

This is where I say, for the uninformed, Michael was the first of five close losses in our little family.  After Michael, in January we lost my grandmother, who was 94, a good age.  Next, quite unexpectedly, my wonderful brother Steven, who, at 47, should, like my Michael, still be with us.  (Steven left us on Michael’s 6 month anniversary, not too gut wrenching).  A few months later, my mother-in-law.  She wasn’t very old, 81 actually, but she had very advanced dementia, and was living a life no one deserves.   One month later, another unexpected blow, my mom.  Also, at 70, not old at all.   And just for fun, we lost our 20 year old cat, on the day of my MIL’s funeral.  

Back to the war.  As you can see, this war has had many battles. Probably more that I’ve lost than won, but there have been wins.  I’ve been sorely tested.  I’ve been told that I’m strong, brave, and (GASP) inspiring.  

I can honestly tell you that I don’t believe I am any of these.  What I am is a wife, who walks beside a wonderful husband.  A mother, who is trying to be ok for her amazing daughters.  I’m a daughter, for a father that never thought he’d outlive his wife.  

If I’m strong, it’s because I need to be.  I’m strong, but it’s a facade.  It’s part of that “fake ok” Lori.  

I have no expectations from this journey we’ve been thrown into.  All I ask is for sanity and survival.  Anything else positive I’ll take and appreciate for the gift that it is.  

PS: please understand if I’m rough around the edges.  The next month, especially August 5th,  (the last day I saw our sweet Michael alive), August 6th, (the day our beautiful son left us), and August 7th, (the day we found our no longer suffering son) is going to be so horribly difficult, emotional and painful.  I know our family and friends will understand.  

Time after time 

Have you ever noticed that time has a way of dragging, and flying, all at once?  Does it drive you as crazy as it does me?  

266.  It’s a big number.  That is how many days since my Michael left this world.  It feels like it was just yesterday.  It also feels like forever ago.  

I have quick moments when I forget he’s gone.  I’ll see or hear something and think, I need to tell Michael about this. He’ll think it’s funny, stupid, whatever.  Then, well, I remember.  It hits me with such force, almost physically.  How could I forget?  Then I’ll do it again another time. Hashi will do something funny and I think I can’t wait to hear what Michael says about it.  Then I realize, I’m normal. (Shut up.  I am too normal) 

Our brains have a way of insulating us from pain.  We’re being protected by the same thing that hurts for us. So these quick moments are that.  It’s ok.  It doesn’t seem that way at the time, but you come to realize that it is.  I’m not saying I’m ok.  I am way way far away from ok.  I told my husband tonight that we’ve become very good at appearing to having it all together.  We look like we’re ok, on the outside.  It’s on the inside that we’re a quivering mess.  It’s ok though.  We’re dealing with something no parents should.  That’ll mess anyone up.  

Still, we move.  We live.  Time is going to keeping going.  We have no control over it.  So we keep going with it. 

Dear time, you suck.  
As always, 

For my Michael.  

Nameless 

Do not judge the bereaved mother.She comes in many forms.

She is breathing, but she is dying.

She may look young, but inside she has become ancient.

She smiles, but her heart sobs.

She walks, she talks, she cooks,

she cleans, she works, she IS

but she IS NOT all at once.

She is here, but part of her is elsewhere for eternity.

A child that loses a parent is an orphan.

A husband that loses his wife is a widower.

A wife who loses her husband is a widow.

However, there is no word for a parent that loses a child.

For there is no word to describe such pain.

-author unknown

I’m dreaming of a……..

25 years ago today, on my birthday, we found out that you were on the way, in about eight months. Well, to be fair, we didn’t know it would be you, but we knew that someone wonderfully amazing was headed our way. Little did we know how wonderfully amazing you were. We announced your pending arrival at the family Christmas celebration here at home. Your sisters were only two and three at the time, but they were so excited by the thought of a baby coming into their lives. Your grandparents, aunts and uncles were also happy. Everyone thought that maybe this time there’d be a baby boy. Eventually we would find out that yes, we were going to have a boy. Very exciting times indeed.

Now, fast forward to you turning 14 and starting your first job. For my birthday that year you gave me flowers. This began a years long tradition for us. Every year you gave me flowers. Always carnations, because they are my favorite flower. The arrangements varied year to year, but still, always flowers. I loved them. I looked forward to them. That you were so thoughtful to do this made me so proud, and happy to be your mom. Sure, there were a million things that did this for me, but this was something just between us.

So today is my birthday. You’re not here. No flowers from you. I stood at your grave today and I cried. I talked to you and told you, for the bazilyionth time, that I miss you and love you more than words could ever tell. I then told you how much I was going to miss your flowers. I so wanted your flowers, but I can’t have them, ever again. This made me sadder than I already was. As the tears ran down my cheeks, as I choked by the sobs, trying so hard not to be loud, I talked to you. Some things I say every day. Some things I say once in a while. Some things were new today.

Dad gave me flowers today, and I love them. There is no but there. It’s not, “but they’re not your flowers.” They are beautiful. Dad is amazing.

Dad truly is amazing. He is also having a hard time too. Christmas is bringing everything so close to the surface. I didn’t think that we could feel worse, but boy, was I wrong. We’ve tried to do things for others, using you as our guide. Three children will have a better Christmas because of you Michael. A few adults were helped along as well. It felt good to do those things, but it was temporary. We’re searching, yearning, for a way to get through this without losing ourselves. Not an easy task.

If you were here, of course it would all be different. Sure, we would still have done the philanthropic stuff, but not on the scale it was done. We instead would have been freaking out over what to do for you. We had that talk today. We should be panicking, because you didn’t give us enough ideas. I thought about how you would sit on the couch on Christmas morning and roll your eyes, without hiding it, over the silly things I put in your stocking. We aren’t doing stockings this year. It’s just too much. We’d just be looking for you. Truth be told, I think Dad and I both would have been ok with just skipping over Christmas. Let it go by, no celebrations. We can’t though. We love your sisters too much to do that. So, we’ll do it. We’ll have our Christmas and try to get through it.

I’m not sure what you were thinking. Did you think we wouldn’t miss you? Did you think we’d be ok and “get over it?” That things like Christmas, birthdays and traditions would just keep going on like nothing happened? Fat chance my handsome boy. We love you. We miss you. Life as we knew if changed that day. Things are different now. At some point I am certain that we will find our footing. We will figure out a way to be “ok”. Not ok with you being gone, just ok in general.

So, my dear, sweet, thoughtful, loving, handsome boy, tonight I hope to dream about you, and your flowers. THAT would be the best possible gift. Please send that to me.