Monday, March 23, 2015


Do you know how bad it hurts to write the word “Deceased” on a piece of paper as it refers to your child?  I didn’t.  And I hope and pray that you never do.  Unfortunately, I have had to write it and say it over and over as his bills still continue to come in --today, is seven months later. Probably because some had been returned in our rather untimely gathering of his mail.

Like "suicide", "murder" or "autopsy",  it too, is an ugly, hideous word that makes me want to scream every time I have to write it.  

Speaking of words – it never ceases to amaze me at the things people say.

When Paxton’s name was mentioned in a conversation just recently – someone actually said to me:

“He sure was spoiled.”  

I won’t argue that point here but suffice it to say that I certainly do not agree with it. My issue lies with "that" being the only thing someone can think of to say to me about the baby I loved and lost.  Seriously? 

Those are not words that have a warm fuzzy feeling attached to them – “spoiled” invokes visions of smelly food left out on the counter too long or brown mushy bananas or soured milk thick and molded to the bottom of a week-old baby bottle that mysteriously appeared from under the car seat.

That is not a word that I would ever attach to that beautiful little boy with the quick smile and the laughing brown eyes. 

But even if you didn't love him or even know him - why would you think this was an appropriate thing to say about the baby that we just lost?  Really, why?  This would be pushing it if he were alive and well and standing in my living room.  And then as if to justify that it was not meant to be a negative statement about me or my son – they actually qualified it with “Well his mama spoiled him.” And this somehow made it better – how? Now you have just said something with negative conotations about my baby and the daughter in law I loved and also lost?

His mama loved him.  His mama appreciated the gift she had been given when she thought she would never be able to have a baby. His mama treasured every precious moment and celebrated every little milestone and his mama enjoyed his sweet and fleeting baby days.  His mama - did exactly what she was supposed to do - she loved him.  We all loved him.

I was left speechless, devastated and literally sick to my stomach.  Tears are always so close to the surface and the stinging words left me afraid to say much of anything afraid if I started I might not stop...crying or cussing.  But after I’d regained my composure I thought perhaps I should have said: “Let me ask for just a moment, that you put yourself in my shoes.  Not a good place to be I assure you but, close your eyes and imagine for just a moment that the child that has died here is your child instead. Feel the heartache and pain of that loss for just a moment.  Imagine now that the child you loved has been "cremated" (another really hateful word) and all you have left of the beautiful little life she was -- is a few static toys that you cling desperately to and a sprinkling of her ashes tucked into the bale of a small necklace.  But her laughter, her smile, her soft baby hair, her sweetness and her joy is gone forever from your life.  You could never imagine your life without her.  And you do not, in fact, even want a life without her…and now what would you say to the person that at the mention of her precious name, says to you about this child: “She sure was spoiled.” ?

Now open your eyes and go enjoy your child because you still can and please be a little more aware of the effect your words can have on someone.  I know this was not said to hurt me - but it so did.


After several months of not knowing how to tell anyone that did not already know about my children, I finally got up the nerve or whatever you call it to write a letter and as carefully and succinctly as possible, tell a long-time friend that lives in Minnesota as much as we knew about what had happened.  I related the story as gently as I could and also let her know about my sister’s leukemia.  Bear in mind, nothing was ever mentioned about feeling suicidal or anything emotional like that just saying that I apologized for not telling her sooner and I just wanted her to know.

Imagine my surprise at her response to me: 

“Why don’t you just go ahead and kill yourself!  All you are thinking about here is yourself.  You have a responsibility to your sister and others and you need to be strong and stop feeling sorry for yourself.”   Then she follows that up the next day with a second email telling me that I need to “grow up” and "You are going to have to stop telling all your problems to me." (???) "This mess has kept me up all night long and I need my sleep!"   

I'm sure I do not need to add here that she has never had children...

Seriously – I need some new friends.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Just random thoughts

It has been one of the hardest weeks in many months.  Brian’s birthday apparently woke me from a numbness that I had not even realized I was in.  I have cried non-stop until I wonder how much more one can cry and keep producing tears. 

I am not a crier as a general rule.  But the tears I’ve cried since August 23, 2014 far outweigh all the tears I’d cried in the entire 60 years prior.  And I wonder if they will ever stop?

Funny how you will have weird premonitions about things and never understand them until you look back.  I started a Memoir about five years ago and titled it: “Bring on the Rain”. 

Well—it’s here.

And five years ago I thought I’d had a pretty rough life – Oh God, I didn’t know anything then.

But another weird premonition that I have just recently remembered haunts me now day and night.  It came with the announcement that Brian and Kara were engaged to be married.  I kept feeling very anxious and nervous and I told my friend Sara that I was and that I kept having the feeling like “if they get married, he will die.”

I had no idea how or why but those are the words that came to me regarding my anxiety about their marriage.  She kept asking “Why?  What are you thinking is going to happen?”  I had no clear answer except that I just had a bad feeling and felt like he would die.  I could not enjoy the wedding or feel happy for them and I was a nervous wreck for the entire first year.   Then I blew it off and finally got okay with it.  And then…he died.  She died.  They all died.

Things have been very hard lately and I feel like I am hanging off of a mile-high cliff and clinging to the edge by the tips of my fingers –like any little miscue and I’ll plunge to the bottom or I will just tire of hanging on and plunge to the bottom or something will come along and stomp my fingers and I will plunge to the bottom.

Though I’m not completely sure what the “bottom” actually is -- I’m absolutely positive that the threat is very real.  Is it physical death; spiritual death or just a complete break from reality?  I’m not sure but it is an overwhelming darkness that threatens to swallow me and I feel powerless to stop it.

I am not sleeping and I’m sure that is exacerbating any negative feelings I may have.  If I happen to go to sleep it is after midnight and I am waking at 3:00am –even with sleep aids.  That makes it very hard to function on my job or in my life.  What few minutes I slept last night I dreamed that I picked up my phone and had a text message from Brian.  It shocked me so until it woke me up and so I did not get to see what it said – nor did I go back to sleep.  I am running off of 90 minutes of sleep all night and I have a nine hour day at work and an hour commute and then GriefShare until 9:00 tonight.

I feel like I need to get away for a while and yet we had vacation scheduled for next week and I cancelled it.  I just could not go.  Not even my favorite spot – the beach - was a draw.  I was simply not up to planning anything or packing or driving 8-hours.  Nor did I really feel like anything would be enjoyable.  I can’t really see spending the money to sit in a condo somewhere and cry when I can do that at home for free.   

Monday, March 16, 2015

My all time favorite

Brian always kept the entire family entertained.  He just always had such an unusual way of looking at things and always just said the first thing that came into his head.

My sister came and had lunch with me today for support as she knew yesterday was going to be hard on me.  Today I was able to talk about Brian.  We sat outside in the little garden picnic area provided by our building and as I looked down at the beautiful blooming Hyacinths I remembered one mother’s day when he was about 13, Brian asked me what kind of flowers I liked.  (His dad had put him up to asking.)  I am not a long-stemmed roses kind of person and told him I would like something that I could plant in the yard.  I said, "How about hyacinths - I love hyacinths."  He later told me about going into the garden shop with his dad to get them and he told the lady he couldn’t remember what they were but they were pink and sounded like Hippopotamus! 

Miraculously, she sent them home with a pretty pink Hyacinth tied up with a bow. 

She laughed and then she reminded me of her all-time favorite “Brian story”.  Which I agreed was also mine.  And I decided to share it here.

During the 1980’s I used to be a lot more organized than I am today.  Had I not been with three kids, cats, dogs, rabbits, a full time job and attending college classes in the evenings – I would have misplaced a child or two on a daily basis.  One thing I credited with helping me keep down the clutter was that the American Kidney Foundation sent trucks around regularly to pick up household items and clothing donations.  I was diligent about clearing out the clothes and shoes that the kids had outgrown or older toys that they no longer played with.  We just did not have the additional drawer/closet space to spare.  So consequently, I was on their list of “regulars” and they frequently placed a courtesy call to me the week they would be in my area.  I was in the middle of preparing country-fried steak for dinner when one such call came in.

Brian was home from track practice and was in the kitchen with me chattering away about his day when the phone rang.  I turned to him with both hands full of flour and said: “Grab that would ya and see who it is – tell them I’ll call them back in just a few minutes.”

And this was what I heard on his end. 

“Hello, no, she’s busy right now.  Can I ask who is calling and have her call you back?” 
Suddenly, his face turns ashen and he has the most confused and …disgusted look on his face and then he literally yells into the phone:  

“DO WHAT?  Like WHAT?  Spare body parts?”

And with that he shoves the phone at me and literally runs from the room sick to his stomach.  Totally baffled, I take the phone --dusting everything in White Lily Flour --and say: “Hello?”

On the other end the lady is literally rolling in the floor and she says through fits of laughter:

“Yes mam, I’m with the Kidney Foundation and we are going to have our truck in your area this week and were wondering if you had any donations you wanted us to pick up?”

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Brian's 42nd birthday

Well, I expected it to be hard and it certainly did not disappoint.  I decided I might not have enough time to get it all in --so I started crying yesterday.  And kept it up periodically all day today as well.  It was harder than Christmas, Thanksgiving and even Paxton's birthday although that was really tough too. 

I baked his favorite German Chocolate cake because the lady leading the meetings at GriefShare suggested we actually acknowledge or even celebrate his birthday.  It would make us feel closer and like he had not been forgotten.  So I had planned to have lunch with my daughter and son in law, talk about Brian and tell some funny stories about him or share our favorite memories, have his favorite cake and feel like we had honored his memory and acknowledged that he was still a part of our family and always would be.  I baked the cake...

I cried all through the cake baking wishing I had baked it last year but knowing I did not.  We went to lunch - I cried all the way there and all the way back and couldn't talk about him at all because I knew I would make a scene in the restaurant.  Then they showed me his daughter's post on Facebook and that made me cry. 

She posted a sweet note to him that sadly I knew was something that he had waited his entire life to hear. She told him how she wished he could see that baby and that she now finally realized how much he had loved the three of them.  She said she finally understood how deep a parent's love really was.  She said she loved him and she wished that she had told him.  He, like most parents, would have given all he had to hear her acknowledge that.

I had wanted to write something special for him today much like she did but for some reason - I can't.  All I can do is cry. 

Here we are almost seven months later.  We still have no idea what actually happened.  And though I have honestly "tried" to buy the story we have --I still can't.  You just had to know him like we all knew him.  He had a quick temper that is true but he has never been able to hurt anything in his entire life.  He had a temper but he could never hold a grudge.  He blew it off and was completely over it and remorseful in 10 minutes.  He was just loud.  But truly good-hearted.  He loved deeply and was loyal to a fault. 

It was his birthday six years ago and he had run back into Kara that week after six years had passed since they had first met - "Mom, I know you are going to think I am crazy but I let her get away one time, and I do not intend to do that again."

They had met when he was thirty years old and she was just 18 and right out of school.  He went out with her a few times and even brought her to church once then he abruptly broke it off.  He said she was just too young.  Even though he did not look but about nineteen himself - he had lived a lot more of life than she had and he was afraid.  He was afraid she would regret not living some of her life before she settled down.  He was afraid she would do like his first wife and wait until she was 25 and then decide she wanted to live all the life she had missed.  He had reservations about what his kids would think; what other people would think; what her parents would think; how she would relate to his kids considering her age. He could not handle it and so he broke it off and apparently always regretted it. 

He said he had looked for her everywhere he went.  He only dated two girls in between and he could never commit.  He said he had not been consciously waiting on her but he did admit he could never completely get her out of his mind.  When they ran into each other after six years he asked her to marry him two weeks later!  She was grown now and he no longer had the same worries and reservations about her and he was determined never to lose her again. That was the week of his 36th birthday.  They married the following July.  He felt like all that had been taken from him when his first wife left was being restored to him.  And he was happier than I had ever seen him.  He had never thought he could ever trust again and used to always say he would never marry again.  But not only did he know immediately that he wanted to marry Kara - trust was never an issue. 

She loved him and she made sure he knew it.  He never doubted her love for him even after all he'd been through. She admired him for his talents.  She trusted his judgment in everything and she always liked the fact that he was the head of the family and took care of the finances.  Unlike most girls her age - independence was something she cared very little about.  His taking care of those things was actually a measure of security to her and I believe with all my heart that she loved her life with him.  He also admired her.  He admired who she was as a person - her honesty and dedication to their marriage and their home.  He trusted her completely and always knew she was a good-hearted person.  He admired her as a mother and in five years of marriage he never once complained about anything to do with her.  He never to my knowledge ever said an unkind word about her to anyone.  He always bragged on her cooking and what a good housekeeper she was and thought she was absolutely the best mom ever to their son.  He would have given her anything she wanted that was in his power to provide.

There is just still no way that I can know who he was in his heart and believe he was in any way capable of this.  I know I'm his mother but it isn't just me - no one that ever knew him can believe it.  There was nothing he would not do for anyone. 

He was my heart and I don't know how I will ever live without him but still to me the hardest part of this is the legacy this leaves for him that I will never believe he deserves.

Brian, I love you with all my heart and I miss you more than I even thought possible and no matter what - I knew who you were and nothing will ever make me believe this. 

Forty -two years ago I became Brian's mom - and nothing will ever change that.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Bitter sweet

This week Brian’s 18 year old daughter gave birth to his first grandchild.  It was a sad moment knowing he was not there for support or to welcome him into the world and sadder still knowing he will never know the joy that grandchildren can be.  
It was also a happy moment knowing that we have a new addition to our blatantly dwindling family.  He was so was sweet and the moment I held him I did not want to let him go. And it took me back to another hospital three years ago December and I had to wonder how we got here? I sat and thought about how you never know what is just around the corner at times like this when you are so happy.  Would I have allowed myself to know Paxton's love had I had a clue what was ahead?  I hope I would have.

I wanted to shield this new baby from all of the horror and all of the sadness that changed our lives forever six months ago.  I don’t want his birth or his life to be marred by what is still so fresh to us all.  I’ve always heard that when God closes one door, He opens another.  I hope this new baby is that open door to my granddaughter and that she will get comfort and relief from her loss.  Not that anyone could ever take the place of her family members but maybe he will help fill that emptiness and lessen her pain.  I pray that for her.  She is very young and has a hard road ahead of her and it is my prayer that God will watch over her and that baby and that she will develop a relationship with God and raise the baby to know and love Him.  At eighteen, she has already had more hardship, heartache and sorrow than most girls have in a lifetime.  I know that though this will be a difficult road, that baby will bring her joy like nothing else can and help her to put her life back together. 

I am sad that they are sixty miles from me and living with her mom, so there is no chance, that I will even be a part of his life.  That is a shame because I could sure use a little joy.

This coming Sunday will be another of our major firsts – Brian’s 42nd birthday.  We had Kara’s birthday one week after she died; then our first Thanksgiving, Paxton’s birthday and then Christmas.  We will still have Easter – which we always celebrated together with a cookout and family get-together and then Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and the first anniversary before we are through the first year and all of the “first” triggers.  I keep hearing how sometimes the second year is harder than the first – oh God, I hope and pray not.  I cannot even imagine that.

I am better.  I know I am better because I’m no longer wishing I would die every day and that has got to be a good sign.  I still can’t believe I lived through it thus far.  I really can’t.  Undoubtedly I actually am stronger than I realized.

My oldest son got a new puppy.  My daughter got two puppies.  My granddaughter has a precious new baby.  They have all found something to love and something to help fill that gaping hole in their lives.  I am glad that they have something to love.  My daughter thought I should get a puppy too but cleaning up puppy poo and salvaging what’s left of my shoes does not sound all that comforting to me right now.

Nothing can fill the hole left in a mother’s heart when she loses a child or a grandchild.  I lost both and a daughter in law I loved. That’s huge.  I’m just not thinking a puppy is really going to get it.  Besides the last thing I want right now is anything to be responsible for.  I am functioning --most days.  But I just want to be able to do my job to the best of my abilities and beyond that --as little as I can.  There are still many days I’m completely useless.  I know a lot of my grief was put aside while I sat in the bone marrow clinic and I feel like I’ve got some catching up to do.  But I am still glad that they have found something to bring them a little bit of happiness in all of this.

GriefShare and this Blog are what keep me sane.  That’s a long way from “joy” but they have both been a lifeline that keeps me functioning.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Strange happenings

There have been several strange things that have happened since the loss of the kids.  I’m not exactly sure what to make of them but I wanted to record them here and you can take them however you wish. 

The Clock:

About a month before they died the clock in Paxton’s room quit running.  Naturally I assumed it was a dead battery and made a note to get batteries for the clock. 

During this time, my sister moved in with us and my life became very hectic --I never bought the batteries. And the clock remained stopped.  No big deal.  I have no less than ten other clocks.  And Paxton could not tell time.

Sometime, in September “after” the loss of the kids I walked by his room and noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. I stopped looked in and the pendulum on the clock was swinging.  I assumed my husband had replaced the batteries until I looked at the clock closer and realized it was not actually running.  The time was stopped on 4:22.  I have already noted in a previous post that the morning of their death I awoke from a sound sleep at 4:00 am and burst into tears for no known reason.  I sat upright in bed – crying and praying for all of my children (and I always consider my grandchildren as my children too) and my sister, currently in the hospital and then lay back down and went right back to sleep. 

Later I asked if he had replaced the batteries or started the pendulum.  He said he had not.  That would mean that a completely stopped pendulum started itself on a clock that was not running and had a dead battery for several months prior...

I walked over and stopped the pendulum.  And again, I made a mental note to pick up the batteries for the clock.  I noticed the time was still at 4:22 and since I was still waking up every morning at 4:00 on the dot it kind of stuck in my mind – that too seemed slightly weird.  I left the room to finish what I was doing.  I decided someone that had slept in there during the time of the Memorial Service must have started the pendulum and I had just not noticed until now. However, twenty minutes later I headed down the hall a second time, glanced in the room and the pendulum was swinging again!  The clock had been stopped for over a month.  The batteries had not been replaced.  And now a second time the pendulum had started itself swinging.  That was September.  This is March.  It is still swinging.  The clock is still stopped on 4:22 and I have still not replaced the batteries.

The Phone Call:

I have for some reason been saying since the loss that I just wish I could hear Brian’s voice again.  I really don’t know why that?  Not see his face or talk to him but hear his voice and I bet I have said it twenty times.  I guess because I was the last one to talk to him and just keep regretting letting him off the phone so quickly. 

Ever notice how everyone has a certain way of beginning a conversation on the phone?  

Brian’s was always the same.   He generally called on Sunday afternoons to run by for a quick visit or because we had the baby and he was coming by to pick him up

Brian - “Hey, what are y’all doing?  How long you going to be home.  Thought we’d come by for a minute.”

Always the same. 

My mother – “What’s going on?”

My daughter – “Hey. What cha doing?”

My oldest son – “Hey.”

My oldest grandson  - “Hey Nana, what’s going on?

One Sunday afternoon at home I had cried literally all day long and all I could think of was how I would never be able to hear Brian’s voice again.  I just kept saying how I wish I could just hear him one more time.  About an hour before we were set to leave to come back to the rental house in the city my phone rang.  It came from a number that was familiar to me but I did not “know” it and nothing came up on the caller ID.  When I answered the very familiar voice says:

“Hey, what are y’all doing?  How long you going to be home.  Thought we’d come by for a minute.”

–Familiar number; Brian’s words --Brian's voice? 

I almost fainted.  I literally screamed into the phone like a crazy person – “WHO IS THIS!” 

“It’s me Nana --What’s wrong?” 

My oldest grandson.  I can’t tell him.  I can’t even talk.  My knees go weak and I burst into tears.  I need to sit down.  I had never noticed his voice and Brian’s ever sounding alike and never had he began a conversation with these words…

The Phone Assistant:

I finally broke down and got my new phone as my old one would no longer hold a charge.  I had gotten all the pictures off and they assured me that the texts would all be saved and come over on the new phone.  This phone has SIRI.  My old one did not.  I am not familiar with that feature and did not even know how to activate it – intentionally.  However, in trying to check email my finger lingered on the home key a little too long and up pops SIRI. 

“What can I help you with?”

So deciding to explore this feature I let it go on.  SIRI begins to type suggestions for me.

“Some things you can ask me:” pops up on the screen.

“Where can I get coffee near me?”

“When is my next meeting?”

“Are we there yet?”

“Call Brian?”

DO WHAT?!  Did this thing really say that?

I check again as pages of suggestions continue. 

Where is Brian?

And the clincher…”Text Brian that I am on my way…”

SIRI - Could we just sit down and talk?  Finally someone has answers?  I have a multitude of questions concerning Brian that I’d like to ask.  Could we have coffee or lunch?  Could you just tell me please what on earth is going on and what really happened?