Grief and Loss, Tom Petty, Uncategorized

Four Months on This Groundhog Day

22195256_10159447341855711_7932537416085145978_nToday took me by surprise. For the past nine years I count down the days until February 2. Not because I am awaiting an adorable rodent’s prediction of the length of winter…because living in New England, we all know the weather does what it wants and in February we are almost guaranteed twelve more weeks of dreadful, dreary winter.

The evening of February 2, 2009 my world began to crumble as I received the call that my uncle had passed away, and I was the one to share the news with his mother, my gram.

I didn’t know what to say or how to phrase it, so I sat in front of my eighty-nine-year old grandmother, blinded by tears and blurted out the information. Her son lived over seven hundred miles from her for the past four decades. He visited every few years, and they talked on the phone almost as sporadically. He was her oldest (and favorite) child, and she loved him with all she had. I knew the news was going to kill her, but had no idea how quickly.

Soon after his death she began talking about hers. I shushed her as much as possible. “Gram, stop it…you are not going to die.”

“Jessie…I’m eighty-nine…I’m ready…”

I covered my ears and started to build the wall higher around my heart in preparation for what was coming. She tried to preplan her funeral, but I was not ready to help her. She wanted me to take notes to write her obituary, but I wouldn’t listen.

Denial is a beautiful thing, but only lasts so long. Regret however, can last a lifetime. Two months later my gram died of a heart attack. A broken heart. My world went black as she slipped away. Nothing made sense any more. I didn’t know who I was. Parts of me died that day too.

Without diverting too far from the point, February 2 always takes me back to that phone call, and the days that followed. Every year there are reminders of the day on the news, on social media, the radio…everywhere. My family members have a habit of dying on “holidays” -Flag Day, Groundhog Day, Thanksgiving, and Good Friday- so reminders of death-iversaries are everywhere.

As I connected the dots this morning, I could feel myself going down the familiar, well-worn path of grieving, I turned on Tom Petty to help ease the pain. And, like that, it worked. His words filled all of the empty spaces in my heart. As his voice hit my ears…tears began to well.

Today marks the fourth month since Tom’s passing.

While I am sad, I am also grateful.

I am sad that his life was cut short. I am sad that the world will think he’s “just another rock and roll star with a drug problem.” I am sad that he gave his fans his all, and because he worked so hard, and tirelessly, he was in an extreme amount of pain. I am sad that we will never be able to have new words written by his talented soul. I am sad that his family, band members, and friends lost him so young. I am sad that we all lost him so soon. I am sad that a simple mistake cost him his life. I am sad (and maybe a little angry) that opioids stole another life.

But I am grateful.

I am grateful of the gifts he left the world. I am grateful that his music heals so much for me. I am grateful that just the sound of his voice sooths my soul. I am grateful that he left behind so much talent. I am grateful that future generations will have his music. I am grateful that I was able to breathe in the same air as him at nine different concerts. I am even more grateful that I was able to catch his pick this last tour (two days before my birthday). I am grateful that Tom Petty saved my life, and gave me a sense that I belonged in this world.

His words are powerful, and reach people where they are at. In the darkness he brings light. In the light, he increases your joy. Pure. Gentle. Subtle.

Tom Petty’s music is the soundtrack to my life. I am not alone on that one. I have met countless others who feel the same way. From twelve to ninety, his music touched his fans. The lyrics snuck in through our ears and tangled around our hearts. No other music has ever done that to me, and I am doubtful it ever will.

My love for a man I never met keeps me going. It gives me hope and strength on the toughest days. It connects me with others, who love him too. We are in this together. As a fan, you are never alone. A family of strangers, who love a man and his music who has touched so many of us.

Thank you Tom for giving us all you had, and a little more. Thank you to his family and friends who shared pieces of this incredible, gentle, kind man with us.


Grief and Loss, healing, Tom Petty, Uncategorized

2017: The Year My Dreams Came Alive

5954D43C-D01F-4EE8-95F3-A9634268D394A couple of weeks before 2017 came to an end, I started to reflect on the last few months. They happened so fast, and were filled with so much joy, and heartbreak. As I thought back to what had happened, I could feel the energy swirl through my body. For the first time that I can remember, I felt clear of negativity. It was such an unknown feeling, I almost did not recognize it. I just knew that I felt lighter—and free.

Freedom is something that I have been chasing my whole life. Freedom from the abusers I encountered throughout my life, freedom from my own negative self-talk. Freedom from the darkness. Sure, the light had always been there, but the weight of it always lurked near by. Depression is like that. Waiting to pounce when life seems to be going too well.

The months from 2017 replayed in my head as I allowed this new feeling to linger. January tested me in a job that went against everything I believed in, and it was Tom Petty that helped me see what I needed to do in February. “Can’t sell your soul for piece of mind.” Tom was right, he is always right. I walked into my job without a plan and quit. The money was good, but it demanded I went against my own ethical code and left me angry. I did not want to waste another day being unhappy.

Quitting a job with no backup plan was not something I had ever done before. There was no time to have a plan in place, I just had to jump and pray that I landed. A week of feeling sorry for myself and letting anger fester inside of me, I picked up my manuscript that I had received from my editor, Alice Peck, in September 2016. I dusted it off and began to go through it. There was a lot of work to do, and the thought of it was overwhelming, but I brushed away the fear and developed a plan.

February, March and April were spent reading, writing and rewriting some of the most painful parts of my story. Depression came crawling back as I sat alone in the living room remembering things I had spent a lifetime trying to forget. Each section of my story I became the age I was writing. I dropped myself back in time and relived each painful memory. Tears fell from my eyes as I typed. It was exhausting, but I was not going to let the pain keep me from my dreams of being a published author.

It had also been almost a year since I had the attunement for Reiki II, and I felt that I was ready for the Master training. I reached out to SaliCrow and asked if she was able to offer the training. She had a Reiki II class coming up at the end of the month, so it was perfect timing. I spent some time studying and making sure I was ready.

April came with the anniversaries of my gram’s and my mom’s death. Year eight for Gram and the first anniversary for Mom. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ 40th Anniversary tour began on April 20th—the year anniversary of my mom’s death. I sat in my car listening to Tom Petty Radio talk about the beginning of the tour, and read comments from friends on Tom Petty Nation talk about the meet ups and the shows they were going to. Most of the friends that I had made in Tom Petty Nation were going to the show in Nashville, TN. I remembered how badly I had wanted to go the year before for the Mudcrutch tour so I could meet them.

A thought popped into my head, as though it was a message from my mom. You have to go. There was no way that could happen. The show in Nashville was five days away. I’d need a plane ticket, a hotel, transportation once I arrived, a ticket to the show, a place for the kids…these thoughts tried to talk me out of going. There was no way it would work, but the voice telling me I had to go was louder than the others.

When I got home I told George about it. A familiar phrase came from his lips, “You have to go.”

But how? How could I pull it off? It was now just four days before the show. I went onto an airline site—tickets were available. I stated looking for a place to stay…but I didn’t even have a ticket to the show. I searched for a ticket…the only ones available required me to buy two. Maybe this wasn’t going to work out after all. Discouraged, I went back on Tom Petty Nation and asked if anyone had one ticket they were looking to sell, and let the others know I was thinking about going. More people told me what George had said, “You have to go!”

Messages began coming in. An offer of a place to stay and a single floor ticket gave me hope. Maybe this could happen. I went back to the airline site…tickets still available. I let George know it really could happen. When I couldn’t get him to talk me out of it, I purchased the plane ticket and made plans to buy the concert ticket at the meet up and confirmed that I would have a place to stay.

With three days to spare, there really was no time to be nervous. When I drove myself to the airport I was only hours away from meeting a bunch of people I had been friends with for years online who love Tom as much as I have. Only my second time flying I was a little afraid of what might happen, but I had to do this. It might have been the reminder that life is short, or something else leading me there, but everything lined up just right to make it happen.

When I arrived at the arena I learned the floor ticket I had bought from another TPN member was seventh row…center. The show was magical, and like always, it felt like Tom was the only one in the room. With less than twenty-four hours in Nashville, there was not too much time to explore, but I was able to meet a bunch of amazing people who understood my love for Tom and my connection to the music.

After the show I went back to work on my manuscript and prepare for my Reiki Master training. On April 30th, I became a Reiki Master. Still unsure of myself, I felt something pushing me along. I was moving forward, and maybe not on my own. I felt that I was on the right path.

After completing the Reiki Master training I had more time to think between writing. While I was thinking, something told me to look for front row seats for one of the upcoming Philadelphia shows George and I were going to. I found a pair right away, but the price almost stopped me. I logged out of the site and went back to writing. It was a crazy idea. The mouse clicked on the ticket site again and I added them to my cart. I watched the time tick away before they were thrown back to be sold. I closed the screen again and went back to writing.

What if this is my only chance to ever meet Tom? What if I never get the chance to see him front row again? I’d spend the rest of my life regretting not doing it. I went back to the ticket site and added the tickets to my cart again and made the purchase. They were going to be a surprise birthday gift for George, but when he got home I could not keep the smile off my face. I needed to tell him the exciting news, but I wanted to surprise him. When I couldn’t stop smiling, I spilled the beans. “Guess what I did today.”

“What did you do?”

“It’s an early birthday gift to you and me…we are going to see Tom front row!”

He was as excited as I was, but the only problem was it was a two month wait. How could I wait that long? The excitement filled my every thought, but left just enough room to continue on with my rewrite. Tom’s music filled the quietness of the room as I wrote. His voice kept me grounded as I relived abuse and betrayal.

By June my rewrite was complete and it was sent off to a new editor. Now that the manuscript was out of my hands I had plenty of time to think about the upcoming shows. As I waited for the tickets to arrive I became increasingly anxious…what if they were not real? What if someone just took my money and I won’t even get the front row tickets? I held back the excitement enough to not be severely disappointed if it did not turn out as I hoped. No tickets in hand until two hours before the show. The excitement did not return until we were sitting in our seat. This was real. Tom Petty was going to be feet from me. An impossibility was becoming reality.

As Tom and the band walked on stage I felt warmth radiate throughout my body. A smile so big that my cheeks hurt. I couldn’t jump and shout…I was too much in awe of who was in front of me, and who was beside me. Tom made eye contact with me a few times, maybe my smile got his attention. I knew he could feel my gratitude. I sang along with him and continued to smile. At song number seven he walked over to where we were standing and finished playing “Free Fallin’” right in front of us. At the end of the song, he looked right at me and tossed his pick to me. George was taking pictures and did not see this happen. I started to cry. Tom saw me, and he knew. He knew that he mattered to me, and that was as good as meeting him.

It was like a dream. I couldn’t even talk about it right away. It was unreal. Stuff like this didn’t happen to me. As we looked through the pictures when we arrived home we saw it. George had captured the pick being tossed to me. A spilt second caught on camera to cherish the moment forever. There was no denying what had happened now. My heart was full.

The month of July was filled with three more concerts. The first night in Boston a TPN member told me Ron Blair was in the hall talking with people. I quickly walked out…and there he was. I went up to him and shook his hand and walked away. What just happened? I found George and told him…he followed me back out to where Ron had been and another TPN member, Brien was there standing next to Ron. George convinced me to ask Ron to take a picture with me and he and Brien took some pictures for me.

The next night we had not planned on going, but after the night before I looked for tickets and found front row tickets marked way down. We were both exhausted, but George told me we had to go. Less than twenty-four hours later and we were back in Boston. Dana Petty came out to dance while Peter Wolf played, but it didn’t look like she was able to see. When she came closer I offered for her to stand in front of me so she could enjoy the show. She smiled and thanked me but continued dancing where she was. Then one of her favorite songs came on and she came over next to me and danced. It was so great to see her enjoying the show, and be able to be a real fan without a bunch of people bothering her. At the end of the night she came up to me, thanked me, gave me two picks and hugged me. What was happening?

The next show was back in Philadelphia, this time third row. I was a little sad this was going to be our last show of the tour, but so grateful for what had already happened. I was also a little nervous that this might be my last time seeing Tom live in concert. After all, they had said this was their last big tour. I left that night with a little sadness in my heart. Something deep inside me told me we were driving away from the last show. I tried to brush it off. What a great time we had, and I wanted to keep that euphoria alive.

In August I was offered a job after spending a few weeks looking for a good fit. At the interview everything just felt right. The people were nice, it was a job I had done before and I knew how to do, and best of all, the stress level was nonexistent. Things continued to fall into place.

September came and I had my manuscript back from my editor and it was ready for me to go through one last time. My cover had been designed and everything was almost ready for my book to be published in October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. On September 8th, The Monster That Ate My Mommy went live. I panicked as I realized what happened, and had no time to prepare for my story to be live in the world, but felt there was a reason.

Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe’s book, The First Signs of April  had been published on September 5th, and because of the closeness of their publication we were able to have a couple of co-author events. M-E helped push me on the path to healing, and beginning this journey with her was serendipitous. The first event was planned for October 20th, to honor Tom Petty’s Birthday, as well as the anniversary of my protection order.

I spent the next few weeks preparing for the event. I picked three pieces to read, one about child abuse, one about domestic violence, and the last, a happy one, about my first time seeing Tom Petty in concert. The chapter about Tom was the saving grace; the only piece that held any happiness. Until October 2nd. That awful day that the world learned of his death. The pain of this loss was devastating. How could losing someone I didn’t even know hurt so bad? That’s where I was wrong. I knew him, I had known him for years. He was a dependable friend. My only source of constant joy for the past twenty-two years. His words had gotten me through so many tough situations. Healed so many broken hearts. Gave me joy, and hope, and happiness.

I tried to practice the chapter, and as soon as I saw his name on the page I could not see past the tears. I was ready to give up, to quit this dream, but I knew I couldn’t. His songs gave me the strength I needed and pushed me forward, just as they always had. Tom was gone, but he left such a beautiful legacy behind, and I wanted to do the same.

Just a week after my book went live, I started the End of Life Doula program at UVM. I completed the online course in November and received my certification. All the pieces I had been missing were coming together. The picture to the puzzle was beginning to become clear. I need to use my skills to help others, to heal others.

The rest of the year found my book seventy-one reviews on Amazon, most all 5-star, and the others 4-star. Readers were saying incredible things about my book; about me. I was getting messages from people who read my story and thanked me for sharing so honestly, and helping them see things differently. That life of darkness I thought I had lived was now a bright light, helping others see the way.

As I went through the year’s accomplishments with George, I told him how grateful I was for all that had happened. I told him how, for the first time ever, I felt at peace, as though I am right where I should be. Calm. Peaceful. Right. All unknown feelings, but the freeness of them felt so in sync. He told me, “The year is not over yet.”

Hours into December 24th George asked me to marry him. Knowing I get to spend the rest of my life with someone who treats me with love and respect, and who builds me up and encourages me to follow my dreams is what I have been searching for my whole life. Until I met him I did not believe such people existed. I thought all the movies lied to us and set us up for disappointment. George showed me love is real, and love is true, and best of all, love is returned. For the first time ever, life is as it should be. The freedom from negativity is overwhelmingly present.

As I think about all that happened in 2017, all that I accomplished, all that I lost, all that I gained there is no room for sadness. No room for sorrow. The sun is shining, even on the darkest of days. There is hope in each day. Maybe there always has been, but my blinders are lifted and I can see. I can feel. Only goodness to come.

Tom was right (he always is), “Something Good Coming.”

Spring 2016 855In Memory Tom Petty and my second father that were lost in 2017. May you Rest In Peace, play a little music, cause a little trouble and feel all the love we send your way. Thank you both for your part in rescuing me.

Grief and Loss, Uncategorized

Seven Years, Ten Days

Spring 2016 855.JPGMy mom died. Seven years and ten days after her mom, my gram died. This was the first year since my gram’s death that I did not fall into a deep depression. This was the first year that I was on top of my grief. And then one week after the anniversary of losing my gram my mom went into the hospital. As I was watched the doctor franticly look at her notes and then my mom, the look on her face said more than anything she could speak.

I sat against the wall in the hospital room I thought about the day. It was April 17th. We were having my gram’s service April 17th seven years before. It was 2:00pm when I connected those dots. I could not keep my tears in. I knew what was happening. I had to leave the room, because I did not want my mom to see me cry. I rushed down to the waiting room and let the tears out. I sent my brother a text to let him know what was happening. The time stamp was 2:07pm. My gram’s service was held April 17th at 2:00pm.

Why was the universe testing me? Why did this have to happen now? Why did I have to start the grieving process over? There were too many thoughts going through my head. I was not ready to lose her, not yet. I wanted to talk to her to tell her the things that I had been working on. I wanted to tell her that I hurt, but I understand now why things happened the way that they did.

On April 18th we were called in to her room to say goodbye as she was having a heart attack. She was still awake and able to speak. I told her “I forgive you Mom, I love you.” She responded in a few words and was asleep, never to speak any more words. We were called in to say goodbye to her a few more times that day, each time I told her that I loved her, once kissing her forehead.

My anticipatory grief was setting in. Days before we thought she just had the stomach bug. I had not gone to see her the last couple times because she did not want to get the kids sick. And now we were saying goodbye over and over again. Each time we said goodbye she would become stable and we were told she was improving. Part of me hoped that she would pull through and part of me knew she wouldn’t. I wanted to keep hope and faith alive but I also wanted to be prepared for what was coming next. It was like walking on a tight rope, not wanting to look down, but knowing you have to.

After two long days of waiting and hoping for the best we had to make a choice. Do we keep letting her fight, or do we let her go? We let them try everything, and she was surprising us each time. They gave her a 1% chance of surviving the first surgery, and she did. They gave her a 10% chance of surviving the night, and she did. We hoped she could fight it; that she could beat it. Medications were at their max and she was failing. She was in pain. If we let her keep fighting we would have lost her. We decided to stop all life saving measures and transition to comfort care.

Within minutes she was gone. We said our goodbyes to her as she departed her Earthly body. The four days that this took place were excruciating. A waiting game; hoping that we would get good news, but knowing we wouldn’t. I didn’t want her to suffer, but I wanted her to live. That is a hard choice to make. I felt selfish letting her linger just for us. We initially wanted it for her. We knew that if she had a choice she would want to live too. So we did everything that was offered to us. We did everything and it still was not enough. Regardless of our choice she was going to die. It was just a matter of moments. In the big picture her peace was worth more than those moments.

I don’t have regrets, only that she was most likely in a lot of pain. We did not know that until after she had been suffering. We did what we could do and we were there with her when she needed us. She went peacefully and quickly once the medications were stopped. We followed her wishes the best we could with little to no information as to what she wanted. She never wanted to die so she never talked about her wishes.

Seven years after losing my gram and drudging through the thick, painful, at times paralyzing grief I was given a reprieve to try to live without the pain and then I was given another major loss. Another loss that could have sent me down the ugly, black spiral I had just climbed up. This loss has been different. My grief has been different.

My mom and I were not close. I spent my whole life longing for her love. She gave me the love I had looked for as she clung to her life. In her final moments she gave me what she never could before. I am not sure if my pain is subdued this time because of the distance that separated us; or if because she left me at peace with our past. I am sad as I think about what never was. And I find myself thinking of things I want to tell her and forgetting that she really is gone. I don’t know the difference. I just know that it is easier. So far. I also know that grief is ever changing. I know that it is different. I know that it is tricky and I know I cannot out run it.

As my mom was still alive, fighting for her life I looked down and saw my gram’s ring on my hand, on her arm. I was brought peace knowing that she was there helping me and also there for her daughter.

My mom was 62 years old when she died; my gram was 62 years older than me. My gram was 34 when she had my mom; I was 34 when my mom died. As I sat and thought there were a lot of connections like this. It made me see that we were all connected, but more importantly that the big picture is already mapped out. Things are preplanned and we are just along for the ride. Good or bad; if it is meant to be it is going to be. Life is always going to be; until it is not. It is what you do in between the being and not being that matters most. It is time for me to be the most that I can be in my time I have left.


Grief and Loss, Uncategorized

The First Steps

 My Gram and Jada took their first steps hand in hand on April 10, 2009. Jada was eleven days away from her first birthday the day my Gram died. She had been trying to take her first steps for a few weeks. She would get up and get ready and then she would sit down, as though she were afraid. The afternoon my Gram died, Jada took her first steps with her hand at her side, as though someone was holding her hand. I am sure it was my Gram helping her take her first steps as she took her first steps on the other side.

It was the first steps for us as a family without her, and for her without her body. It was a different world for all of us. We were all learning to live this new life. Through the pain I could see the gift my Gram gave us; a story to reminisce about on the day that tore our world apart. That was who my Gram was, she was always helping others, even if it meant she went without. Watching Jada take those steps I knew she would stick around and protect us. I knew our worlds were still connected. I knew she was not gone. Those thoughts gave me peace, but it did not take the pain.

My first steps without my Gram were agonizing. I remember seeing the world as though it were going by in slow motion. Looking at people walking past me and thinking they had no idea how broken my world was now. They had no idea the pain inside of me. They had no idea that I had just lost all that I knew. I felt disconnected from the rest of the world.

People do not understand the pain of losing someone so important unless they have lost someone. The experience has no words to truly explain the feelings, the raw emotions that are rushing throughout your whole body. There is nothing that compares. People want to help, they want to have the right thing to say to give comfort. There are no words. Nothing brought me comfort. Time. Time is all that helped with my healing. Hearing people say “time heals all wounds,” is not helpful. Hearing it only made me angry; my loss will never be “healed” as in “fixed,” but with time I learned how to rebuild my life without her physically in it.

I explain the loss as losing a leg and then learning how to walk again. With determination and help you will walk again; if you want to. You have to deal with the pain and the road to recovery is different for everyone. You can give up, get an infection in the wound and let it kill you. Or you can take the care that you need to, no matter how long it takes and recover. It is never over; your leg never grows back. That is the new you. It is all in what you make of it. Your first steps will not be easy, they will not be without pain. You will think back to when you had your leg and you may get angry. You may get so angry that you start to give up. You may think that it is unfair, that this is not how it was supposed to be. You may have dreams where you have both legs and you are running. Feeling free, like your old self again. Then you wake up and you look down and you are reminded that life will never be the same again. The dream brings more pain than joy as you feel the loss all over again.

In time you are able to smile at the gift of the memory. Every day is a new day to feel new things. To cry new tears. To smile new smiles. To be thankful for the memories that fill the spaces. It will not be easy, it will be some of the hardest days of your life. Time moves on, even if we do not. The first steps are the hardest, but take heart knowing that as you walk those first steps into your new life, you are not alone. If you believe you will feel their presence. The good news is you only have to take those first steps once. It is all  in the way you look at things.

Grief and Loss, Uncategorized

The Seventh Year

The seventh anniversary is fast approaching as I find myself full of love and peace for the first time since her death. I am sad, and cry occasionally as memories flood my thoughts. Sad. Not overwhelmed with depression. In past years as soon as I remember that Easter is on the way I would become depressed and it would last for a few weeks after the true anniversary (April 10th) of her death. Depression that took the life out of me. Depression that made it hard to breath, hard to sleep, hard to do anything except feel sorry for myself and be angry at the situation.

I often thought how unfair it was that my best friend was sixty-two years older than me. How unfair that the only person to love me completely was taken from me. I was so angry as I thought about the timing of our lives. I would cry thinking how different it could have been had I been born earlier, if I had been able to have been with her longer. I thought about how alone I was in this world since losing her. I thought how I did not deserve love from anyone else and I did not want to find love because I never wanted to feel this kind of pain again. I disconnected myself from everyone, even my children. I did not want to ever feel like this again.

The journey through my grief has been a long, painful, devastating one. The road has been bumpy; but one thing never changed. One thing always remained the same; my Gram has never left my side. As in life, when ever I need her, she is there. She raised me with enough strength to get through the toughest obstacles. She loved me unconditionally, and this journey has taught me that love never dies. The love she gave me could not be taken from me. She loved me so deeply, so purely that it has become a part of who I am. That is a gift that can never be taken from me. After seven years, enough of the pain has brushed away for me to be able to recognize this gift. It was always there, and it was what kept me alive when all I wanted to do was die to be with her. It kept me moving forward when I did not know where my next step would take me. It was always inside of my heart, right where she planted it.

A lot has happened in the last seven years. There has been so much pain, so many accomplishments,  so much laughter and so many tears. And up until recently, I looked at it with negative eyes and thought she has missed so much of my life and so much of my children’s lives. I see now that she has not missed a thing. She has been right there beside us the whole time. Wiping away tears, hugging our hurt hearts, and high fiving our accomplishments. That Jade ring she gave me the night before she died has been on my finger everyday, except while being repaired. When I look down at my hand I sometimes see hers and I am reminded we are never alone.

The kids and I have dreams where she visits. Alana and Jada swear they hear her tell them goodnight. We all miss her everyday. We all feel her presence. We celebrate her birthday and we talk about her to keep her memory alive. If you know me, you know my Gram. I talk about her often, and most conversations circle back around to her. She was and still is such an important part of my life. Her memory will continue on as long as those who know her are still alive.

The past few months have been some of the hardest, however they have shown me a lot about myself and the people in my life. Overcoming pain, reliving events that happened so many years ago and having a chance to do things differently. Depression came in and out. And for the first time ever I allowed myself to heal so much pain and look at things differently. For the first time ever I allowed myself to matter. I have worked hard the last few months to learn who I am and why I think and do things the way I do. I have given myself permission to learn to like myself. Loving is coming, but it is a long, long road. I have also learned to be able to receive love from others. I am working hard at believing that I am worth their love. I deserve love. I deserve to have that kind of love again. I know now that I do not have to face the world alone. I know that I am capable of loving and being loved. I also know that love is worth the pain.

I now can look at the love I received and gave my Gram as a gift. My anger and deep, overpowering sadness has turned into gratitude for what I was given. Some people spend their whole life looking for the kind of love she gave me. And although I only had her in my life for twenty-seven years; I had her in my life for twenty-seven years. It is all in how you look at it. I could have lost her eighteen years before, but I didn’t. I was given the gift of her love and guidance for as long as she felt that I needed her. She had enough time to instill in me all the values she felt were important. She taught me that I have all that I need inside of me, and most importantly she taught me to never give up.

I come into this seventh year grateful for everything that I was given.  I am thankful that I will never be alone because I will always hold the love and memory of my Gram in my heart. I am thankful that I can see the beauty in the pain. I am thankful that I found someone who loves me as purely as my Gram did, and who did not give up on me when I tried to show him all the reasons that he should. I am grateful that I was given the chance to live the rest of my life loving someone who loves me as much as I love them. I am thankful that I understand that the love is worth the pain, for that pain is a pain like no other. That pain has the power to take everything away from you, but it also have the ability to give you all that you need. It is all in how you look at it. Embrace the pain and take what you need from it, just don’t let it take anything more from you.

iphone 2016 490

Grief and Loss, Uncategorized

One Year In

Six years ago I wrote this about how I was feeling after the loss of my gram a year after the loss.

You would think that after taking a full 3-credit college course and getting an ‘A’ would make me a little more in tune to my own grieving process. The fives steps they tell you that are all apart of what grief is, right? It should be easy for someone that has been educated in this subject to at least notice the stages within oneself. Denial and Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Looking back at the past 15 months I can see times where I have dabbled within each of these steps. I can also see where I have gotten so close to Acceptance and ran just as fast away from it. Thinking that if Acceptance is had than there is no where else to go.

It is almost as though without my Gram in my everyday life that I am not living, nor do I really want to at times. I will live but I will not be alive. People say stay strong for your kids, and I am trying, but it really isn’t that easy. I’ve had to be the strong one my whole life and my rock, the only person that I had to help me stay strong has gone. Without her I can feel myself start to crack, crumble into dust that is the sand that the world has been walking on. I have never ever in my life admitted that I am weak or that I may possibly need help, but I have hit the bottom and if I go any further down I know that getting back up will be a massive struggle.

There is a period in my life, that looking back on, all I can see is blackness. I didn’t know then that I was depressed. All I knew is what was. I think back to that time and I do not want to go back. I know that my Gram would want me to grieve and get over it. I have great comfort in knowing that I will see her again, even greater comfort in knowing she is still here with me. Since she died I have not felt like she was completely gone, and I think that may be the only thing that has keep my head above water. The day before she died she gave me her Jade ring, her good luck charm and no matter how hard I tried to give it back to her she would not take it. That night I looked at in on my finger and knew what her plan was.

It was a plan that I had feared my whole life. I can remember lying in bed at her house crying myself to sleep hoping that she would be alive in the morning. Her death had always been my biggest fear. I did not think that I could ever live without her. She was my soul mate; we had an instant connection from the time that I can remember. She was where I always wanted to be, she was my best friend, my everything. She has been taken from me and I am left here wondering what the hell do I do now? Everyday is a struggle and a journey until the next day.

My gram was an amazing woman who lived her life to the fullest. She was given 2 weeks to live after a massive stroke 18 years before she died. I was the only one there when she was having her stroke, and she kept it together long enough for me to go get help. We had always been there for each other when we needed it the most. That is what makes this so hard. The hardest thing I have ever had to deal with and the person I counted on is not there to help me through it.

I was recently told that I am depressed. I knew this and I didn’t. I knew that important things were no longer important and I knew that my whole body ached. I have all the classic symptoms, the ones that I learned about in high school and college, but I didn’t want to acknowledge them. I guess I thought that if I made them into no big deal they would go away. The commercial about depression that says “depression hurts,” it really doesn’t make any sense until you are depressed. It does hurt, a lot and all over.

As I step back a little from my world of sorrow I see the way my Gram lived; just that; she lived. She lived every day to the fullest and when they told her she was going to die she basically laughed at them and went on her own terms. A few weeks before she died, after her son, my uncle passed away she told me she was ready to go. She said that she knew that I no longer needed her. She said her job here was done and she was not afraid to die. I tried to tell her that I was not okay and that I couldn’t imagine life without her, but she would not hear it.

We tried to plan a funeral for her, but I kept putting it off. I really couldn’t bear the thought. I had also had plans on writing her Memoir to get some of her amazing stories on paper, but I put that off too. I had it in my mind that if that was written she could go. I had all kinds of these thoughts on how to make her live forever, obviously they didn’t work.

At the hospital, the morning she died I went into her room and saw her lying there, so helpless yet peaceful. I had always thought that seeing a dead body, especially hers would be impossible. It was not, I did not want to leave her there. I kissed her and held her and smelled her. I leaned over her and watched my tears hit her forehead, and I was hoping for a miracle, like in the movies. I know it sounds stupid, but I really was hoping that my tears would bring her back to life. She was laying in one of the new hospital beds that adjust to body weight, and for a spilt second I thought she was breathing. It was amazing. For that second I thought she was back. But she wasn’t. I held her hands and caressed her arms, kissing her forehead. I did not want to leave because I knew it was going to be the last time I would ever see her body again. The one the comforted me for so much of my life.

I felt horrible leaving her there, I wanted more than anything to be able to push her out of her room in her wheel chair and have her home again. Instead, I walked out carrying the bag of her belongings. That was an awful, empty feeling. The next few days are a blur. I wanted more than anything to communicate with her. I just wanted to talk to her. I would say one last time, but once will never be enough. For my birthday that year I was able to have a séance with three other people. She was not strong enough to really communicate much, but she was able to tell me that she was okay and that she hated leaving me. She was also able to help take some of the guilt I had been feeling away.

I wanted so much to dream of her, to communicate that way, but each morning I would wake up with nothing. Until recently. I have been having dreams occasionally; they are so nice it is hard to wake up. I know that she is really there with me and that is how I find life bearable.

But to get to the much needed point, I am ready to start living life again. She was/is the person I most want to be like and letting depression swallow me whole is not going to get me to that destination. Even from death she is helping me through this tough time. I think all I needed to remember is that even though she is not here physically, she will always be here helping me along the rest of my journey. I was blessed to have her in my life for as long as I did. I am really looking forward to grab a hold of Acceptance and embrace it; it is what she would have wanted.