Friday, October 27, 2017

Another Life Lesson

Every single month on the 23rd I never fail to notice and remember - like 4:00am I still wake up almost every morning at 4:00am. 

Not a single month goes by that I am not jerked back in time by the tragedy that now defines my life.  I look back over this blog and remember when it had been three months and I thought I should be showing progress.  I laugh at that now.  By three months I wasn't even yet looking at it clearly and I truly cannot believe it has now been three years.

I'm glad in the beginning that I did not know that I would still be where I am three years down the road.  I don't think I could have stood knowing that and doubt I would have made it.  At three months I was able to be thankful today I am just in dull, nothingness.

The past three years have changed me in ways I can't understand or explain very well.  I just know it has.  I am not the "me" I was before.  My life is now divided in two parts - "before" and "after" and they do not at all resemble each other.  It has changed all of us. One thing that is different is my perspective on what I spend my time on now.  Life is too short to fight.  Life is too short to spend my time arguing, playing head games, defending myself over something I didn't do. Life is too short to spend time stressing over my illusion of the perfect family, home or Christmas.  Life is too short to spend time begging for people to love me.  "Before" I wasted years of my life trying to hold on to relationships with people that clearly did not want a relationship with me.  Love isn't supposed to be this hard.  It just isn't.

I think I've mentioned before that I was very co-dependent.  I was a perpetual "hanger-on-er"  If someone was important to me I would never let go.  I'd hang on like a tenacious bulldog on the leg of an intruder.  I'd take disrespect, abuse, betrayal.  I'd adjust my schedule, cancel my plans, disregard my preferences and change my life to suit everyone else - just so I could hold on to something or someone that I cared about.  Someone that obviously, I was not all that important to; someone that could have casually walked away and never looked back. 

I have now learned that loving someone does not mean I have to hold on forever or be abused or disrespected or hurt.  I have come to see that I can love someone with all my heart and still let go.  I've been hurt by this unfathomable loss to a degree I never knew was possible and no matter how much or how hard I held on - they were still gone and there was nothing I could do about it; nothing I could do to hold on; nothing I could do to avoid the pain of losing them. 

The lesson I learned in that was:  while I could not avoid that pain - there were other hurts that were well within my control to avoid.  I couldn't stop the hurt of losing my son or my daughter in law or the baby that I adored with all my heart but I did not have to remain in hurtful, toxic relationships volunteering for hurt and humiliation that was in my power to stop.  It does not have to mean I no longer love them just as I still love my children that I lost --And though I could do nothing about the hurt I live with from that I can absolutely mitigate the unnecessary pain of a toxic, hurtful relationship and I should --because life is just hard enough.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Obituary

Last week I found out online that my ex-mother-in-law had passed away - I have not seen her in over 40 years.  Three days from the three year anniversary of Brian, Kara and Paxton's death.  Her obituary shows being survived by two sons and four grandsons - one of them being Brian.  Great grans are also named - all of course except his three children.  That should tell you how close they were.  He has a twenty-six year old son that she had never met.  A twenty-one year old beautiful granddaughter that she had never met and a great-great grandson that she never met and she lost a two year old grandson she never knew existed. 

She, I'm sure, played a large part in his feelings of loss and abandonment.  He had tried to have a relationship with her after she made the first and only effort to contact him back in 1997.  He was so excited that she had called.  He invited her to his daughter's first birthday party.  And actually believed she was going to come...of course she never showed.  He tried to hide his hurt and disappointment and I tried to silence my raging anger at them hurting him yet again.  When she called me and asked how she could get in touch with Brian - her words were: "After all, he's my grandson just like the rest." like she was justifying to herself why she had a right to try and contact him.  

I asked about her family and she tells me nonchalantly that she had lost her youngest son seven years prior.  I was shocked and saddened that no one had bothered to tell Brian.  He had always really loved Marty and was devastated at the news.  I was very nice to her and gave her Brian's number and they spoke several times. But apparently she was actually just curious as to why he stopped showing up at her family Christmases because when she finally got the story on the falling out between he and his dad, the calls all ceased. And since his last family Christmas with her had been when he was fourteen.  Apparently it had not bothered her bad enough to reach out for ten long years. 

A few years later, my ex-brother in law's only son, Chris was killed in a car accident shortly after he graduated and strangely enough she called to tell me that.  We talked several times shortly after his death and I expressed my deepest and sincerest sympathies and comforted her as best I could.  I sent a card to the family. And a week or so later she called again to ask me how I knew about Chris?  Now after living through the shock of that kind of loss I understand why she may not remember it but she acted as if I'd been stalking her and denied ever calling to tell me?

Six years ago I had a nagging of conscience when I realized she would now be over 80 years old and didn't even know her grandson or his children.  I reached out to her and told her I'd come up and bring all of them to see her if she'd like.  She told me she did not think that would be a good idea.  She didn't think we should: "Mix and mingle the two families" and that things were best left as they were.  I was literally speechless.  I had never been so cut down and made to feel so stupid in my life. I never told Brian I had called her I wanted to shield him from any further rejection from that hurtful family.

One of the joys of Facebook (not a fan.) was that he searched for and found his step-mom on Facebook back in 2008 and contacted her in hopes I guess of opening the door to some communication.  He remembered her always being nice to him as a child when he went for his every other weekend visits.  She was apparently cold and distant to him and had nothing to say to him except - "Have a nice life."  Code for: "please don 't ever contact us again."  He was clearly hurt by it and was literally fighting back tears when he told me about it and then refused to ever talk about it again. 

For five years Kara had tried to get him to make contact with them -- especially his two half brothers.  He refused.  He said, he had a dad and he was the one that raised him and cared about him and he had no need to contact them.  I know he wanted to but was protecting himself from any further rejection and so never would.  He was not even aware at the time that his brother's even knew of his existence.  They were very young the last time he ever saw them.  The oldest maybe three or four and the youngest only a few months old.  He didn't want to upset their life in the event that they did not know about him.

When Brian died my other son insisted I contact Brian's dad and let him know.  He said I was not being fair to him because he had a right to know.  Brian was his son. 

I refused.  I did however tell him I had his phone number and address and would give it to him if he felt the need.  He was free to call him if he felt it was the right thing to do but that I, personally, felt like if he wanted nothing to do with Brian while he was alive then chances are it would not matter to him that he was dead.  If he had not cared for Brian in life why would he care now.  As far as I know, he never made that call or if he did - then I was right because he never showed up at the Memorial service.  And today I find him listed on his grandmother's obituary as being one of her surviving family - three years after he died.

This is so sad to me.  I try to forgive everyone and let God alone be their judge but I am human and it is sometimes harder with some than others.  How could a father just turn away from his 17 year old son and never look back - like he didn't matter?  Like he had never existed?  How do you do that? Surely there is justice in the next life for people like that?  Surely.

Friday, September 1, 2017


Birthdays, I think, are the hardest.  Yesterday would have been Kara's 33rd.  At least half of this month of August has been so difficult and I feel like I have really taken a major leap backwards and birthdays have played a large part in that.

The 16th - the date that I gave Kara her early birthday present because I had been unable to come home much with my sister sick and was afraid I would miss her birthday.  I never-ever give anyone their birthday or Christmas presents early.  Guess we now know why I was lead to make an exception this year.

The 18th - the date of the last video that Kara's made of Paxton and sent to me.  She also sent one to her mom.  Mine was of Paxton saying:  "Hey Nana, I love you."  Nancy's said: "Hey Me-ma, I love you."

The 22nd - Kara's mom's birthday and the last time she ever heard her daughter's voice and just hours before their deaths.  Her birthday will never be a happy occasion of celebration again.

The 23rd - the actual day they died but forever noted incorrectly because they were not found until the 24th. 

The 24th - the day that changed all of our lives forever.  The worst day in all of our lives up to that day.  The day that changed what we would have as a future but it also because of what the police said happened even made us question our past.  If that was true then nothing else we had ever known was true.  That day made us all question everything we knew, everything we believed in and everything we could ever hope for.

The 25th - Brian's oldest son's birthday.  It was his twenty third and it was the one that would change every birthday from now on because "this" would dominate.  "This" would mar.  "This" would be all he would ever think about for every birthday now forever.

The 31st - Kara's birthday.  It would have been her 30th.  A birthday she was looking forward to and dreading but would never see.  And now forever for her family they can never think of her birthday that the anniversary of her death does not loom over it.

I pray for peace for all of us as August is once again in the rear-view mirror thank goodness.

Friday, August 25, 2017

A Few Pictures...

 October of 2013
Paxton getting ready for his first Hay Ride with the church

Paxton's first visit to the Georgia Aquarium with both families

Nana taking a million pictures in the woods up by the barn. 
This is my favorite and still sits on my desk.

Paxton at "Charming Charlie's" trying on hats
with his Mama and Aunt Robbie the week before.

Kara and Paxton the day of my last family picture day. 
He was too tired to stay awake for any of the pictures.

Nana having another picture day of Paxton watching the leaves fall
as I pushed him in his little swing in our back yard.

Daddy and Paxton at Aunt Heather's wedding.

Kara and Brian's engagement picture at the swing by the lake.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Three years ago today...

My life came to a screeching halt. Everything that had been true about my life ceased. What was left was an empty shell that I would hardly recognize.

It's been a hard day but it wasn't as hard as last year or God forbid the one before that.

I miss them all every single day.  But I don't cry as much.  I still see Brian in crowded streets sometimes and still hear his voice in my head sometimes like he's right next to me.  At times my arms still ache for that baby.

I don't stare at their pictures and feel comfort anymore.  Their pictures now have begun to make me sad instead.  Though Paxton is still the wallpaper on my phone.  So I see him several times a day and I can't see ever changing it.  

I realized yesterday that Paxton has been gone longer than he lived. I've been without him longer than I had him with me.  That made me sad because I worry now that I will start to forget his face, his silly squeal, the feel of his tiny hand in mine, his soft wispy hair, his funny little toes that crossed over one another like they were too crowded for his tiny feet. I fear that I will forget that cute little face as he slept with the yellow and  blue pacifier I grew to know so well.

Kara and everyone else thought he was too old to still have his "Binkies" and that they should have been taken from him. And of course they were right, I'd have never let one of my own children take one that long but by this time I'd figured out how fast they grow up and go away and it kept him a baby just a little longer. Brian also knew how fast they grew up and he just couldn't take it from him and though it was totally unlike me, I was glad he couldn't.

We started a Memory Garden for them back in May. We hoped to be done by today but surgeries and life got in the way so maybe by Christmas. I bought a woodpecker made from repurposed metal tools and odd parts - so just like Brian and Paxton loved birds so it seemed right.  I bought a big corrugated metal butterfly that I thought suited Kara and hung it on the fence. And I have planted her favorite hosta there. Problem is it is all in the shade and very little will thrive there without sun but hosta will so that is good.  Donald has worked really hard on it and it is beautiful.

I pictured it kind of peaceful and a little formal looking but it has taken on a life of its own and it will be more "them" and they were not formal. She was artsy and modern.  He was eclectic and loved recycled metal art and homemade anything.  Those were hard styles to mix but they were both fun and whimsical so that is what we will go with. Paxton? Easy - cars.  Motorcycles, buses, trucks, trains anything with wheels.

It has been a hard three years and I'm praying that this will be the year we turn the corner and start to heal.  I know we will never stop missing them. I know we will never "get over" this and just get on with life but I pray it will get better for all of us. I pray for Beauty from Ashes. For purpose.  For healed hearts and healed lives. For hope.

I pray peace for my daughter and my son, my husband and my grandchildren. I pray for Kara's mom and dad, her sister and her brother and peace for them --for all of us.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Three years and still no answers

We are quickly approaching the third anniversary and to be honest I had expected things to have gotten way better.

I had expected to be able to have the good memories now overtaking the bad at least most of the time.  I had not expected to still not know what happened.  I had not expected to be "stuck" in a constant loop of still dreaming up scenarios and trying to figure out some kind of logical explanation for what has no logic.  Instead of accepting what we have as the truth -- I am in the loop going back over and over and over with a different person as the culprit and building out the scenario that would fit that person being the shooter.  While the all out meltdowns have subsided, an overwhelming sadness has settled permanently over me and it still dominates my thoughts most all day --everyday.

Every movie or TV show I try and watch turns into a comparison to our story or a lesson in investigative process - this happened in the show - could that have been what happened?  Every show seems to run across my mind as another possible scenario to flesh out and see if I can make that theory work. 

I want to retire but I'm afraid to; afraid of how I will spend my days without the distraction of work and the responsibility to get up and get there.  Without a reason - would I even get dressed?  I have no hopes, no dreams, no plans and no purpose in life.  I don't think retiring in this frame of mind would be a good move.  I know I need help - counseling - medication - something to help me gain perspective and help me to heal.  I've done everything I know and to no avail.

I keep being told to let go of "what" happened.  Searching may lead to some answer that I think is actually worse than what I have.  I don't think that is possible.  What I have is misery.  It is Nothing - nothing believable or logical.  Even the story we have, as bad as it is would - if it could be made logical to me, would be better than this --this  fruitless effort of trying to make the story match the person I knew for 41 years.  But that brings us to my second big issue with all this.  This whole things does not fit with the God I've always known either.  So my life is in constant deep confusion.  Everything is upside down.  I have no logic and no constants and no foundation.

I am a female left-brain thinker.  Logic rules my world.  I can live with a lot of things - chronic pain, aging, unfairness, a world that is falling apart, hard work, thankless people, financial insecurities but the one thing my mind cannot deal with is a complete lack of logic.

Things in life are just logical to some degree.  It is like the laws of nature.  Gravity.

And while there could be a logical explanation where Brian is concerned if someone else was involved. That could be logical.  But there is no logical explanation for the fact that it absolutely did happen and there just seems to be no reconciling "that" with the God I know either. 

I need the truth.  I am consumed by the inconsistencies of all of it.  Literally consumed.  There is no "processing" what makes no sense. 

And yet as I've been told there is not always a guarantee of logic in everything in life.  People are not always logical.  Drive-by shootings are not logical.  Drug addicts are not logical.  Drunks are not logical.  Teenagers are not logical and I know all of this and yet my brain is in a tailspin trying to put a puzzle together with all the wrong pieces.  And what I have is exactly that - all the wrong pieces. 

I have a picture of a man who adored his children for 21 years; A man that loved even his blatantly unfaithful wife so much so that her leaving left his life in ruins for over 12 years.  A man that never exhibited jealously; a man that had struggled through years of financial devastation, loneliness, abandonment, losing his children, his wife, his home - and spent 12 years bowing to another man's demands in order to be able to see his children.  He sat back quietly and handed over his hard earned money, the money supposed to be for his children and watched as they bought drugs with it while he could not even hardly live.  He lived through the worst life has to throw at you and was now finally past that.  His children now grown and on their own, his money now his own, he had a new beautiful wife eleven years younger than him.  She was a good mother; a good life partner; a good wife.  He had a new miracle baby boy that he adored; a new home that would be totally paid for in five years with a payment he could afford.  He had two paid for vehicles.  He worked for himself and made  his own hours, worked when he wanted to and made good money.  His life - finally coming together for the first time since he met his first wife at 17 years old.  And now?  Now he decides to get up in the middle of the night and kill his family and himself?  No.  Absolutely No.

Pieces to a puzzle that just do not fit.  These pieces do not add up to that picture.  And that will not go in my head and just be accepted as truth.  Doesn't look like truth, sound like truth, smell like truth.  I knew him for 41 year before that night.  Those 41 years have to account for something.  24 years I watched him struggle through many, many times that may have brought someone to desperation and yet it didn't.  But I am supposed to believe that for absolutely no reason that anyone could ever find - he suddenly does this?

Friday, June 30, 2017

We Finally moved...

This is your catch up as lots of changes have taken place since my last post in 2016.  Seems like "change" has been the theme song of all of this.  About the only thing that hasn't changed is my frame of mind.

We have moved from what was our home of 23 years to our supposed to be a down-sized, home to retire in.  So my version of down-sizing is going from three bedrooms and two and a half baths to four bedrooms and three full baths and I know that doesn't sound like down-sizing.  But actually the square footage is about the same. It is not any bigger and actually seems smaller and it is all under one roof.  We went from 26 acres to less than 1 acre --so it really is.

Actually that took place a full year ago now.  We left the area and moved 102 miles from our previous home.  We left my daughter and son in law and all of her boys which does not seem like the smartest thing I've ever done but in a way I did it "for" her.  I was getting so clingy until I was sucking up her life.  She wanted to stop wallowing in all of this. She got a new puppy to fill a hole in her heart and that gave her something to focus on besides tragedy.  She somehow convinced herself to just let go of wondering what happened and go with what she had.  She was tired of crying and being depressed and she wanted to get back to life.  And she's young and I absolutely wanted her to do that.  I would want nothing less for her.  That of course is what I want for me too.  It just has not come.  But i felt like if  we continued to stay close to her - I would keep her pulled into my drama and prevent her from moving forward.

And...we needed a fresh start.  We needed to be somewhere where everything was new and different so that it was clearly apparent that nothing was the same so that I might stop expecting it to be the same.  So I could stop seeing Brian everywhere and waiting for Paxton to come through the door.

I needed a change in my church although that was scary and I really didn't think we would ever have a chance of becoming comfortable anywhere else at this age and with this hanging over us.  But I needed fresh spiritual blood in my veins.  I had been disappointed in the lack of spiritual support during my faith crisis and that was not helping my attitude any.

We moved what seemed the equivalent of "halfway" between my two existing children.  Although my son actually lives in NC and my daughter in NW Georgia and we are in NE Georgia it constituted "halfway" because we are twenty miles from each of his two daughters.  He will regularly come to visit them.  And he said he would never come to our old house again after the funeral and going on three years later - he never has.  So we tried to make it easier on him to come visit and actually easier than it would have been had we actually been halfway.  However, to be honest he doesn't come here either.  He is another casualty of all of this.

We are now seventeen miles from my best friend Kathie as opposed to 85 miles.  For the first time in over 30 years we can see each other more than twice a year.  She came to our house in the summer, we went to hers for New Year's Eve.

In our old home I really had no close friends.  I had good neighbors and I had church family but not real intimate friends with history and longtime loyalty.  And Kathie has kept me out of the closet. She has refused to let me go and live in the darkness.  She helped me decorate the new home or I would still be living out of boxes and not caring one bit.  She helped me purge some of the mountains of stuff we ended up moving with us  She made me put up a Christmas Tree --at least a little one. She drags me shopping and the four of us have a standing almost weekly dinner date.  She has helped me transition to the area by recommending doctors, restaurants, shopping etc. and has made this a lot easier than I ever expected it to be.

Here, we are 35 miles closer to my sister as well and though that isn't close it is half as far as we were.  She is doing okay - not good but it is a day by day thing and still at times I need to take her to the clinic and this allows us to see much more of each other.  We can meet for dinner halfway which helps too.

And as I said, I'm now 20 miles from my two granddaughters that I seldom got to see and now I'm getting to catch up and be a part of their lives.

I am still fifty miles from work but I'm no worse off and maybe a little better in that it is all interstate and my commute though bad, is not as long time-wise.  And after being here a year - I wonder why this wasn't the obvious choice for us all along.  Only because of leaving my daughter and my church did we not consider it for so long.

So there actually was a method to the madness.  And hopefully someday that property will sell and we will be out from under all that upkeep. 

Probably the biggest advantage to moving here though was that we are anonymous.  No one turns all the way around in their chair and stares when we walk in a restaurant or the post office or the bank.  No one pins us down and asks us uncomfortable questions.  No one refuses to work for us.  Still not sure how we will build an intimate close relationship with the members of the new church we've chosen and keep such a huge secret but for now anonymous feels pretty good; almost normal. 

It just sort of seems like a huge deception and we haven't yet worked out all the kinks of whether we will or whether we won't ever tell them.  I tend toward wanting to "rip the Band-Aid off" and just go ahead and see if they are who they say they are but Donald does not.  He is happy there and doesn't want to rock the boat and take the chance.  So until we are on the same page and prepared to take whatever outcome we get - we are just enjoying the small semblance of normalcy in their not-knowing.  I realize it is a trust issue but I don't think I could take it if they turned their backs and started judging us or looked at us differently or started shying away from us.  So for now - we've chosen to maintain the anonymity and deal with the guilt of the church no less!