Friday, 11 May 2018

It feels like yesterday: Grief at one-year

This is how I want to remember you... us! Happy, silly, in costume, playing with your sister and me being your Mom. 
The fog has returned
My focus and clarity gone
Grief has settled in again

I am tired; my body slumps and is too heavy to carry. I want to sleep.

We are now in the last days before Xavier died. He was alive this day last year. But on May 13 there is no living memory of him last year, aside from a couple hours of unconscious sleep before he took his last breath beside me. I held my breath with him waiting for the next and it didn’t come.

We had a great few days this week last year and he was full of laughs, full of life! We saw a glimpse of this again in ICU. Then he deteriorated. 

The zipper that keeps us all inside Earth started to split. His connection to this plane was ripping apart. When the zipper fully detached he was opened to eternity.

This week has been challenging, constantly fighting back memories of this time last year. Painful memories of life and death decisions. Time is nothing. It hurts just as bad now as it did last year. My grief had been contained, but is now wide open. 

But, on this, the first anniversary of your death Xavier, I want you to know I am doing ok. Before you left I made a promise to you that if you go, I will be ok.

And as hard as some days are, I am ok.

Living without you physically here has tested my strength beyond anything I have and will ever face. 
I would have carried your 70 lb broken body up and down those stairs and in and out of the car forever if it meant I never had to live like this now.

But imagining you now in Heaven running around pain-free and barrier-free like you wanted keeps me going. God’s grace saved you. Deep down I know this is how it had to be and I take comfort knowing this is also what your heart wanted. Not to be without us, but to be free. I am so proud of you for everything you accomplished in your short life and how you so maturely handled the life you were given. I am also certain you are becoming an even brighter star in Heaven.

Thank you for all the lessons you have taught me and will continue to as I move forward in this new life. I am a changed person since you left and to say it is all bad would be a lie. You have made me better, stronger and more loving.

I promised you I would be ok and please know that despite my tears, I am ok. I just miss you deeply. I will keep sending my love to you forever and await the day I will see you again!

Love, Mom

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Connected by our pain

On Friday, another family lost their son.

Not yet 20, this young man's life tragically ended in a car crash. His parents now thrown into this nightmare of losing their child. I wish I didn't know what it felt like. I wish they didn't either.

I know nothing about this family, their boy or their lives yet I suddenly feel connected to them through pain. Just as I did when I thought of all the moms from Humboldt.

It takes only a second for me to start crying when I think of that poor mother. I cry for the both of us. I cry because I know the depth of heartache she has been thrust into. And I am still learning. Learning how to cope with a never ending longing to see, feel, touch, kiss, hug or talk to your child. I am still learning how to manage the ongoing phases of grief in this non-linear process.

My heart bleeds for this mother, who like me, will have moments of peace and understanding and then moments of deep despair. I don't want anyone to have to feel this way. It is beyond sad that so many parents face this reality.

It's not fair.

Yet, there are amazing opportunities for growth in an experience of this magnitude. I am trying to embrace them and hold on to them to make sense of or find purpose in my loss. And if anything, it has proven to me the interconnectedness of us as human beings. There is something greater beyond our physical existence that connects us all...  just as I feel connected to this stranger, I can also still feel connected to my son.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

The numbers game of grief

To my sweet child in heaven, 

I missed the 10 month anniversary of you being gone. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
My day on March 13 wasn’t extraordinary, just full of regular life. Work, family, house stuff ...

So how was it that I failed to recognize the day as being 10 months without you. I thought of you. I thought of you lots like I always do and talked about you and looked at your picture and said goodnight like I always do. Perhaps I felt like you were so much a part of my day that it wasn’t worth pointing out you have been gone for 10 months.

But on the other hand how could I not remember such an important milestone. Every day without you is important. Am I forgetting you...

I think I have been so focused on it being almost one year since you died that these two months before are minor in comparison to this one-year anniversary I would rather not celebrate.Yay I made it a year so it must mean I can make it another and another and another...

But in reality the pain is getting worse. It’s so hard to believe it’s almost been a year because I hurt just as much as the first day you left. I have more days without tears, I am living. But when the right thought pops into my head, it rips open the wound and it hurts like hell all over again. 

It's always about numbers and dates. A human flaw on Earth to be so linear in a world where science has said time is not real. I long for the day I no longer need to measure the days and time. I am happy you no longer have this incredible stressor in your new life. I take comfort to know that before your first day in heaven is through, I will be back with you!

2 Peter 3:8But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Anger, resentment and self-pity

No one likes to talk about these strong and ugly feelings. They get stuffed deep down into the shadows of our soul. Who in their right mind would want to admit to having such negative and self-loathing emotions? Me!

I must be crazy, or maybe I am just human.

When you go through something as traumatic as losing your child, you find out how many emotions we humans are actually capable of experiencing.

For years our lives were a rollercoaster when it came to Xavier's medical condition...  the "scanxiety" before MRIs, the anticipation of a successful surgery, the waiting... and more waiting. But even since he's been gone, this rollercoaster of emotions does not stop. Now it's the grief we carry with us each and every day.

My last post was on grief and gratitude. How quickly things change. Grieving is a forever process and I am finding I go in and out of different phases regularly. Lately, I have been wallowing in a rather ugly state of anger, resentment, and self-pity. These emotions are sandwiched between the sadness, which is forever a part of us.

"We have this misguided notion that we are supposed to be serene and accepting. It might surprise us how strongly we can feel this emotion. But grieving is a messy process, not a tidy package."

Perhaps this post will offend someone with my bluntness, but I want to be real. These feelings exist and are often a natural reaction to great loss. The feelings I am about to describe do not define who I am, they are not truly how I see the world and others. They are simply feelings I must work through as I process the loss of my precious boy.

I am embarrassed and disgusted to admit that I have been angry and resentful that life goes on for everyone else; angry you get to keep your son and I didn't. I  get angry God did this, he let this happen to us. I am angry Mackenzie has to live without her brother and angry he left us. Sometimes I struggle to sympathize with others who see catastrophes, when I only see minor issues. I see your struggles as a blessing because you have a chance to still experience life when my son doesn't.

I am angry I am angry.

"Even if you know your anger isn’t logical or justified, you can’t always help how you feel. Emotions aren’t always rational and logical."

There is no sugar coating the honesty in my words. But to cover them up, pretend I don't feel what I feel will only hurt me in the long run. The only way to get passed these messy feelings is to let them go. But, I can only let go of what I know I am holding on to. I must first admit to them, recognize them for what they are and then, and only then can I let them go.

And through my writing, my journaling, this post I am letting them go...

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Grief and gratitude: What's the connection?

It has been a while since my last post.

 I don't know how many times I and other bloggers have likely used this opening. But as boring and cliche as those words are, there is hope within this opening line.


I haven't written because I haven't needed to like I have in the past to release the overwhelming whirlpool of emotions splashing out of me with nowhere to go but into words on a page. Journaling has always been a wonderful tool for me when I am experiencing intense feelings or untamed stress.

In fact my lack of posts is because I have been preoccupied with life. A life I want to live despite losing one of my greatest gifts in my life, my son Xavier.

But in the last month, I have experienced joy and the gifts my precious son left here for me. I would give anything and everything to have him here with me, but having accepted the reality that is just not possible, I now choose to focus on the positives this experience has brought to my life.

I have started a new job - one I never would have expected or even appreciated had it not been for Xavier. I am so blessed. Every day I can honour my son and feel like I am helping others who are on a journey with a brain tumour. How perfect God's plan was to lead me to this perfect position where I can use my talents as a writer and the love deep within my bleeding heart.

I am so thankful.

Each night I thank God for this beautiful life I have been given. As I still grieve and long for my precious boy, I have an incredibly warm feeling spread from deep within me and pour out with tears of gratitude. In my mind it makes no sense. Why am I so grateful when I had to watch my poor boy suffer through so much, why am I so grateful for a life that he is not a part of? But yet I find myself night after night, saying thank you for my blessed life. I cry. But I cry with a heart that is lighter. The heavy, dark feeling that for months weighed me down are now weightless tears. Like somewhere deep inside I truly have accepted, and surrendered to God's heavenly plan. I don't understand it, yet I feel it. But I also know at any time, that darkness can emerge again.

My pain and sorrow are still there. Each and everyday I miss Xavier. I look at his pictures I have hanging in my cubicle at work and tell him I love him. I smile for a second before the lump builds in my throat again. But I am now living with grief opposed to just grieving.

I am moving forward into this new kind of relationship with him. I am beginning to understand it, become familiar with it opposed to simply mourning the physical loss. It takes time and I will likely spend my life building this spiritual relationship in which Xavier lives on in the deepest, most meaningful ways of my life.

I believe he too has moved forward. While his physical signs are more infrequent, I feel him more deep within myself, I hear him more with burst of thought when I am quietly listening. I just know he is with me. As much as I would like more physical signs like the dimes he always sent in the loads of laundry for months, or the birds -- we are able to communicate on a more intuitive level now. And I am so thankful I am even able to recognize this spiritual connection. God has buried so many treasures within us to sustain us through the worst of times if we just allow ourselves to discover them.

I see and I believe in the bigger picture. And that picture will always have Xavier in it!

Sunday, 31 December 2017

Don’t go 2017!

New Years 
A time of reflection. A time of celebration. A time of joy and a time of sorrow. 
I approach 2018 with so many mixed emotions. 
This year has been hell on Earth. The pain and heartache of losing Xavier will forever be how we remember 2017. 
But leaving this year and starting anew fills me with an overwhelming sadness. To say goodbye to this awful year is to also say goodbye to the last year I will ever see Xavier alive. He lived in 2017. I have memories we made together in 2017. 
Next year I will have none. He will not lived a day in 2018. 
New Year’s is one more piercing stab of reality he is gone. 
2017 was the worst year of my life, yet I want to hang onto it forever. 
Hidden within the brokenness of 2017 was also a year of immeasurable growth: growth in my faith, my spirituality and my awareness of who I really am. 
I lost my son and found insight. Things I had been searching for in my life and trying to make sense of suddenly became clear.  I found strength I never knew existed, I found love at depths never experienced before and I found myself. 
And it is for those reasons, for the growth I gained in 2017 that I will look at 2018 with a hopeful heart. I will seek opportunities to use what I learned, and honour Xavier as I do so. His guiding light will carry hope for us all into the New Year! 

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Hope in the Force: A deeper meaning in The Last Jedi

AS the hype grows hot for the new Star Wars movie The Last Jedi, my heart grows sad.

The movie, which premiered in LA this weekend, comes to local theatres on Thursday. 

Seeing the new Star Wars movies has kinda been a thing for our family. Before having kids, it was an automatic date night for Mark and I (and I really enjoyed the added romance between Anakin and Padme). Then when we had kids, especially a boy who grew to love the original Star Wars just as much as his dad, going to the movies to see the newest one became an "event". Mark and Xavier would brave the crowds to go during opening weekend, then about a week later Mackenzie and I would go with the boys (because they are that good to see them twice in one week!) 

But months before the movie was even in theatres we talked about going. When the trailer for the trailer would come out we would all get excited and then watch the trailers over and over again online. It always brought a lot of joy to us all and especially Xavier. 

And he wasn't afraid to let us know what he thought about Lucasfilm's (now Disney) epic productions. He fell asleep during Rogue One and told us how much better Episode 7 was, which was why he was really looking forward to #8 The Last Jedi. 

But he won't be watching it with us this year. 

My heart breaks to think of seeing it without him. I can just picture his excitement and anticipation. We will never be able to think of Star Wars without thinking about him. Xavier loved a lot of things, but Star Wars definitely took the cake. 

We were packing up our house to move (we had bought a house more suited to his physical needs at the time) when he stopped and started sorting through his Star Wars toys. He looked at us and said: "These ones are really important to me." At the time we didn't know how close to death he was. Two weeks later he died. 

And this is why, as much as it will hurt, we will watch The Last Jedi. We will go to honour Xavier and invite him to watch it with us, through us as only his spirit can. 

We have always been fans of Star Wars, but now our "fandom" has taken on an entirely new meaning.
Our love for these beloved, fictional stories now hold truly special memories of our son. It has made us believe in The Force! 

“Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealously. The shadow of greed, that is.”

- Yoda

Xavier’s Hope Video featuring Star Wars!