Life Moments #29 – Living with Loss, but Making Progress

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Darren J. Wallace 1/11/01 – 7/17/18

Darren has been gone 3.5 months – May 17 will forever be a day etched into my memory for two reasons:

  • My niece was born in 2002 and
  • Darren took his life.

It’s funny how dates will stick in our minds, but other stuff seem to drift out even when we need to remember it. At least, that’s how my memory works.

Anyway, he’s been gone 3.5 months. The first day of school came and went. It’s already been almost 2 weeks since school started! Where does the time go?

With all but one of the kids in school, I have much more time to think, to stay busy, or not stay busy. I choose to try to stay busy so I won’t focus so much on what happened as it is a heartache that will never heal. But, I do need to learn to live with it, unfortunately. Not something I want, but something I need.

I continue to talk about Darren because he’s my son and no matter if he’s with us or not, he will always be my son. Plus, I don’t find it so easy to not ever talk about him. My big fear with that is that he will be forgotten and I just can’t allow that. In my home, we will always remember him. I understand he’s not here and he never will be again, but he was. He made a difference in our lives and for that reason, he will be remembered. In fact, when people act as if he didn’t exist, my heart breaks a little more.

I will say, though, that the days are getting a little easier. I still cry at night and during the day. I still tear up at a memory or a thought. The tears are not constant anymore, but my breathe catches at the mention of his name sometimes. I visit his grave multiple times a week. A few of his friends keep in contact with me with their memories and talk about their own sadness over losing Darren.

Really, my goal now is to keep him alive in my heart and to help others who may be contemplating suicide. However, I want to focus not only on helping keep others alive, but also to change the way people think about pain (all sorts) so they never reach that point.

September is Suicide Prevention month. As we draw closer and closer to September, I ask you to remember the lives that have been lost to suicide as well as take a stand against suicide by reaching out to others who may be in a dark place. You can prevent suicide! We all can! We don’t need a degree in psychology, social work or mental health. Here are five ways you can do your part to prevent suicide:

  • First and foremost, be a friend. Always. Be kind.
  • Get educated about suicide: warning signs, causes
  • Show compassion
  • Talk about it! Don’t be afraid to talk about it. Rather than hide from it, confront it. Take away the stigma.
  • Take threats seriously, Always. This is crucial!

For me, my involvement begins with the Out of the Darkness walk in my area taking place on September 14. However, the walks occur around the country in the month of September. Find one close to you and take part in it.

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Life Moments #28 – Dreams of Darren and Communication

 

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Brothers

 

My heart melted one evening as I was getting ready for bed. My 13 yo son came to my room and snuggled against me, laying his head on my shoulder. It was getting late and since school is starting, I have been trying to get the kids back on school schedule. My first instinct was to tell him to go back to bed, but then he asked, “Do you dream of Darren?” That stopped me in my tracks, like now as it does most anytime I hear Darren’s name. Anyway, I told him that I have and asked him if he dreamed of him. He answered, “I had a dream of him while I was visiting at mema’s.” And I could hear the catch in his voice, he choked up a bit. I looked at him to see tears rolling down his cheeks. At this point, I wrapped my arms around him and asked what he dreamed about and this is what he said:

While I was sleeping, I dreamed that Darren was shaking me, telling me to wake up. And then he told me, “I love you so much.” Then I opened my eyes, but he wasn’t there. I didn’t see him.

He just started crying at that point and then we cried together. It must have really shaken him up because he was still thinking about it two/three days later. He went on to tell me of another ‘talk with Darren’ that he had a few days after the funeral. I then told him of my dream of Darren and a similar ‘talk with Darren’ experience that I had.

For some reason, we both felt a peace after those experiences.

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Boys and their toys

Death is hard for an adult. Losing my son has been an extremely emotional, devastating ordeal for me. Sometimes, we forget that others are affected by the loss as well. Talking with my 13yo that evening was a step for both of us on the road to healing.

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he loved little kids

I encourage my children to talk to me, to anyone they feel comfortable with, almost daily as I want their emotional well-being to be healthy. I do not ever want them to feel bad or guilty or silly for what they feel nor do I want them to feel bad or guilty or silly for talking about it.

Some ways that I find helpful to engage my young teenagers in heart-to-heart conversation include:

  • Listen. My first objective when it comes to communicating with my children is listening. When he or she feels heard then conversation will continue. Using myself as an example, there are many times I quit talking because nobody is listening. Everyone wants to know that what they have to say is important enough for someone to hear. If we teach our children from a young age that their voice counts, they will keep their voice.
  • Let them lead the conversation. If you want to know what’s going on with your young teenager, let them do the talking. It’s so easy for adults to ‘take over’ the conversation with our ‘wise’ advice. Sometimes, the best lessons we learn are the ones learned the hard way. As much as it sucks for us, as parents, to watch our children stumble and fall, we have to understand that eventually they will regain their balance and learn to walk. Such is life.
  • Give them breathing room, but make sure they know you are there. Not there to fix their problems, but there to help them through the problem. Not there to take over their joys, but there to share their joys.
  • And learn their passions. There isn’t any better conversation than a conversation with someone than a conversation about an interest the two parties share. If you hate football (as was my case), learn to love it. I made my two oldest boys talk about it with me all the time. They had to explain everything to me, but they talked. They were teaching me something! Now that can open doors!

So mommas and daddy’s, pull up a chair and encourage your young teens to talk. I wish I had pushed a little more with my Darren.

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Hangin’ out with little brother

#FightSuicide #SuicidePrevention #SuicideAwareness #MissinHimBad #lovehimforeverlikehimforalways #suicidesucks #lovethembabiescuztheyaintbabieslong #Darren

 

Life Moments #27 – Changes

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Reading this quote made me think about change in my own life. I came to the conclusion that:

Change is not my friend.

As many of you know, my son passed away three months ago.

As I said:

Change is not my friend.

Losing him has been one hell of a change, a change that I definitely have not been able to accept. At least, I’m doing a pretty crappy job of it right now.

The day I lost him, my world dropped out from under me. These days, it seems like I am just floating through my life.

Here, but not here.

I have carefully catalogued each memory of him into my mind, but don’t let them surface very often yet. It is quite painful.

But, I recently was going through some computer discs and came upon some goodies.

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Over the last few days, I have had quite a few melt-downs. I feel like I am drowning in this heartache. Nothing around me makes sense and although I should feel joy, the hurt is just too big. I went to his grave, like I do most days, and just sat there.

Not talking.

Not scolding.

Not feeling.

Just crying.

I sat there and just cried.

I want the pain to stop, but it won’t.

I want Darren to be back with us, but he’s not going to be.

I want the tears to stop, but they won’t.

I am a jumbled up mess right now. Will I ever be normal again?

Change is not my friend. Even less now than ever.

 

#FightSuicide #SuicideSucks #lovehimforeverlikehimforalways #MissinHimBad #Iamnowbroken

 

Life Moments #26 – Missin’ My Baby

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I sat and stared at your picture today.

It still doesn’t seem real that you are gone.

Honestly, it can’t be real.

Can it?

I have spent a lot of time thinking of the short seventeen years, four months, and six days you were with us. I thought about all the laughter and the tears. I thought about the triumphs and the fears. I thought about the many sleepless nights, from infancy to teenager.

Sometimes, I want to run, just run, screaming for you to come back. Other times, I sit and cry. Sometimes, I want to hit the wall or a tree, just hit something so hard because you’re gone. The early morning we got the news, we waited to tell the kids until later in the day. However, we found out everybody already knew and we didn’t want the kids to find out from someone else so we picked them up from school. I remember your middle brother telling me he wanted to hit something because he was angry that you were gone.

OMGoodness, it was such a shock to the little kids. To me, I was stunned. I didn’t have a reaction right away other than disbelief, like it wasn’t true, but I knew. To this day, I wish I hadn’t carried that fear because maybe if it wasn’t a fear then it wouldn’t be true and I wouldn’t be typing this right now.

And still I ask, it can’t be real.

Can it?

I think about you constantly. My mind is jumbled with thoughts of you, of helping others, and letting our tragedy make a difference for someone else.

But, I just can’t get past how stuck I feel, as if I am sinking in quicksand and nobody around me can help. People move on. People accept it, remember you, but move on. Why do I feel so stuck?

Every day, I get up slowly and I look around. And I remember that you aren’t here so I try to graciously get through another day. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I talk about you all the time. I write about you mostly. I show pictures of you that I have on my phone to your baby sister. I have been teaching her your name. She can almost say it, so garbled that it doesn’t sound anything like your name, but it is. One day she will say it clearly!

I still can’t believe you are gone. And all I want to know is…..

WHY?

and

How do I go on?

 

 

#missinhimbad #Darren #lovehimforeverlikehimforalways #FightSuicide #suicidesucks

Life Moments #25 – Hanging On…..Barely

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These last few days of summer are busy, busy, busy trying to get everything ready for the school year. Today’s agenda: took a couple of the kids to their semi-annual dental appointment.

As I sat in the waiting area for my kids’ turn, I watched everyone scurrying around me as they, too, were doing the last minute dental check-ups. It was a busy place today! I observed in my own quiet way. The introvert that I am, I just watched. Kids here and there, even ran into a friend’s son, someone who knew my son. He kindly ask me how I was doing, but I try to stay away from the subject of Darren with most people as it….it’s a hard topic for me. I told him we were hanging in as expected and then changed the subject back to him and his accomplishments. He has been kind of a big deal at his high-school the last few years due to his wrestling skills so I gave him congrats on his upcoming freshman year in college and more wrestling. Yes, I’m guilty. I don’t know all the wrestling terms, but it was nice to see him. I know his parents are proud of his hard work and commitment. He will do great things in his life. My point here was that I just needed to change the subject from my son to something a lot less emotional for me.

As he said goodbye and left with his friends, I went back to my observing. Each family was there for a purpose, a dental check-up and as I watched their perfectly ordinary lives from the outside looking it, nothing seemed askew. The children chatted, the parents or parent thumbed through magazines and conversed with their children. And as we normally see, many people were on their phones, completely oblivious to the noise around them. I continued my observing, most of the time lost in thought – a black cloud hovering above me – wondering what their lives were really like. Nobody except the receptionist knew of what had happened to my son. To be kind, she asked how we were doing – a well-meaning question full of concern, but it cuts so deeply as my heartbreak is still so recent. It’s only been three months. A question that is asked with the best of intentions, but painful nonetheless.

Every day I swim in this grief, trying with all my heart to claw my way out of the darkness, but not having much luck. I wonder if everyone else knows and just not saying anything because what is there really to say? What are the other people in this place really thinking?

They don’t know. How could they?

Finally, our turn. As we made our way to the exam tables, the boys needed updated dental x-rays so we started there. Looks like braces in the near future for one, the other just needs to brush his teeth better. What is it with kids and brushing their teeth? You would think they would want clean teeth! 

Time to exit my head and put on my focus hat because now it’s time to drive. It felt like a really long day, but in all actuality, we were only gone about 3 hours.

In my grief-stricken state of mind, three hours that felt like a week and now my mind is exhausted.

How does grief have that affect on people?

Hmmm……

He’s never far from my thoughts. The pain is always with me.

#heavyheart #MissinHimBad #Darren #Smoochie #anotherdaywithouthim #FightSuicide

 

 

Life Moments #24 – His Life Ended Too Soon….

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Darren, age 9. Aww, I sure love him.

As we are enjoying the last week of summer vacation, my heart grows heavier with each passing day.

Every teenager and parent anticipates the excitement of senior year. Darren was no different, although his reasons may have been different. He couldn’t wait to get out of school. He wanted to be done so he could begin his life out from under the control of his parents.

However……

He will not be attending senior year.

As I see all the fresh senior pics posted around me, my heart grows heavier.

Darren’s will not be one of them.

He and I discussed senior pictures earlier this year. It was something I was looking forward to. He and I shared that passion for photography. And he was very photogenic.

So, this is only one of the many milestones I will never see in his life.

I will never see him enjoy being the uncle to his little niece when she is born.

I will never see him go to college or not….whichever he would have decided.

I will never see him get married or have children of his own.

I will never get to hear him talk about his joys or see his smile.

It breaks my heart to know these things, but I can’t really stay in this place of darkness.  I can’t undo what has been done. I can’t run away from it. I can’t wish it to change as much as I want to.

What I can do is remember him and learn how to live each day without him.

And I’m not looking forward to that.

#FightSuicide #MissingHimBad #LoveHimForeverLikeHimForAlways #Darren #Smoochie

Life Moments #23 – Where Do We Go From Here?

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The sled for the truck pulls. The tractor pulls it backward into the starting position after each truck’s turn.

The other day, my husband, my children, and I went to the county fair as we do every year. My husband shares the same birthday with our twin sons and every year on or around his birthday, the county fair takes place. One of the attractions that we enjoy at the county fair is the truck pulls.

And every year we have gone to these truck pulls for almost as long as we have been together. We have some wonderful family memories that have taken place at this truck pull. This year was no different.

Only is was different.

We were missing one child, which – like most of the summer – put a damper on it for me. So, as we arrived at the fairgrounds, I suddenly had the urge, like uncontrollable urge, to just go back home. I told my husband exactly that and since the day was already off to a rough start, he was more than willing to agree.

But, I couldn’t go home.

You see, I had told my oldest son that I would come watch him because he thought he was going to participate in the truck pull. And, as most of the time, I wanted to be supportive and cheer him on.

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My oldest son, my youngest daughter and myself

With some apprehension, we unloaded the kiddos and trudged our way through the gate. As we walked along, I began to feel my apprehension go into almost a full-blown panic attack.

What the heck was causing such unrest in my soul?

My son being gone and here I am about to see his father not only there, but there to enter the truck pull with two (2) trucks. Mind you, I haven’t seen his father since our son’s funeral, and I haven’t spoken to him since before the funeral when I texted his girlfriend that they are to blame for the death of my son.

My nerves were very much a jumbled mess.

The other day I was talking to my oldest son who is completely broken-hearted right now. He lost his brother. He is angry. He is hurting. And he doesn’t understand why any more than the rest of us.

But, he is there. And he is caught in the middle. Sometimes, I think he feels like he has to choose. I told him when we spoke last and he was so upset that if it came to choosing, if he just felt like he had to choose –  like if he didn’t have a choice but to choose, then I want him to choose his dad. Not because his dad is better than me. Not because his dad deserves him more than I do, but because I don’t want to make him choose.

If parents could only understand what their hatefulness and spitefulness does to their children then they wouldn’t engage in such behaviors.

I am angry at their father. I am angry about the kind of person he is and what he has done to our boys. I am angry. But I wish him no harm. I blame him for what happened to our son because I honestly and completely believe that my son did what he did due to the hatefulness he received from his dad. But even though I feel that way, that man is still their father and we still have one son. For that reason alone, I try to forget the angst, the pain, the anger he has caused me and let the rest of it rest.

Crazy, huh?

#wheredowegofromhere #lovethatboyofmine #wishingtheotherwasstillhere

Remembering Darren Giveaway!

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Many of you may not know me personally or even know my Darren personally, but he wasn’t just one of my children. He brought blessings that only he could bring into our life. I feel we all have a purpose on this earth. Some may never know their purpose, and I may not even know mine, but one purpose for me was to raise a family. My husband and I are still pretty young, only 38, so our children are still pretty young, too. We haven’t completely raised them yet. My oldest is 19, Darren was 17, then 14, 13, 13, 8, 6, 5, almost 1….we have a ways to go before they are actually “raised.” However, it is with a big heart that I strive to accomplish my purpose of raising a family.

Losing Darren has been a hard battle, to say the least. My mind hasn’t fully comprehended that he’s gone although I know that he is.

It is through outreach, promoting suicide awareness, and talking about him that helps keep him alive. He may no longer be here in his body, but he will always be here in my heart.

So, far all who knew him, I ask you to talk of him as well.

Tell your stories of him.

Remember his goodness and laughter.

Remember his shining personality and help others to know him through your memories.

Many of you know by now that one way I am keeping him alive in my heart is by contributing to suicide awareness. I am getting involved in the fight against suicide. I firmly believe suicide can be prevented. It can be prevented by reaching out to those who are in a dark place. For instance, my son was texting a girl the night he took his life. He told her what he was doing. She could have prevented this from happening if she had had the courage, the decency, to call someone (his father, myself, 911) when she received the first message.

But, this post isn’t about her lack of action.

I am asking you to get involved.

I am asking you to pay attention.

I am asking each of you to contribute your own memory of Darren. Please comment your memory below.

 

In remembrance of Darren, the first three (3) people to comment their memory of him, will receive a gift to honor him.

Let’s remember Darren.

Let’s #fightsuicide together.

Life Moments #22 – It Will Never Stop Hurting……

IMG_20180703_004456_474 August 17, 2018 will be three months.

Someone told me this afternoon that she doesn’t know how I have handled it so well these last months.

I just told her I don’t think I have.

Every day is like walking in the clouds. I am here. I can function. I do what I need to do, but I’m not really here. Some days it’s almost like I am going to explode or completely go off. These last few days have SUCKED! And I

have

not

been

okay.

Emotions all over the place.

Will it ever stop? Will I ever feel something besides a broken heart?

I just want the pain to go away.

Will it?

#brokenhearted #missingyou

Life Moments #21 – A Now Open Letter to Darren, Written Two Years Ago…..

IMG_20150724_011415I love this picture of my baby! He looks so much like me when I was young.

I ran across a letter today that I wrote to Darren in November of 2015. It reads as follows:

November 17, 2018

Darren,

Hello, my boy. Sometimes, I don’t quite know what to say, but yet I have so much I want to say.

I will start with the MOST IMPORTANT piece of information I can give you –

I love you, all day, every day, no matter what, no matter the circumstance, no matter the mistake, no matter the good deed, and just as much (if not more so) than the last time I told you. You can never do anything in this world that will change my heart about you. As I told you a few days ago, there will be days you make me happy, days you make me cry, days you disappoint me, days you make me laugh so hard I may start crying, days you will make me so proud I could burst and days that drive me completely insane, but NEVER will there be a day in my lifetime or yours that my heart loses its’ love for you. From the moment I found out I was pregnant with you, you made a difference in my life, The forty weeks I carried you, my heart beat with love, sustaining life for you. The day I held you in my arms, that spot in my heart reserved only for you grew and kept growing. You see, a mom’s heart never runs out of room for her children. She could have one, eight, or twenty, but each child has a reserved spot in mom’s heart to call his/her own. I don’t love any of you kids any less or more than the next. I love you differently because you are each different. My love for you is and always will be as deep as the deepest ocean, as bright as that ball of fire in the sky, and as sweet as the lullabies I used to sing to you as a baby. This is the most important truth, other than God, that I can ever give you.

However, now I want to tell you that life is hard. It seems with each passing weekend I spend with you, you are withdrawing more and more. I’m concerned for this, for you. I am not sure if this is normal teenage behavior or if it’s something more. Dylan was quite different at your age. I am not sure if I should be worrying or if I should be accepting that this may just be teenage angst for you. I will say, though, that I am here for you. I am here if and when you want to talk. I am here if you want to cry on my shoulder…I know, I know….boys your age don’t cry. Just saying, if you did, I’m here. I am here if you just want to watch a movie, go to dinner, or a theater movie…..for whatever you need or want from me as long as it’s not dangerous or illegal.

When I talk to you, I cannot always tell if you agree with what’s being said or if you’re only agreeing because you want the conversation to be over. You are quiet. You are more inside your head. Honestly, I am not even always sure if something is bothering you.

Then, not only is reading you hard for me, I seem to forget when looking at you beings you’re so tall, that you are two years younger than Dylan. After conversation with you, at any time, I can hear the difference between your age and his. But this isn’t about Dylan.

I want you to know, that even though you seem older to me because of your height, I see you when I look at you. I see what you have given me in this life. I see the heart you try to keep tucked away, but every now and again, it breaks free. I see the laughter in your eyes. I see the words you want to say, but don’t. I see you Darren. I see my blue-eyed, blond, curly headed little boy. I see the man you will become. I see the hurt you feel sometimes. I see the anger you try to keep tightly bound. I see the indifference you portray that hides the soft-hearted boy you used to be and the teenager you are now. I see goodness and love that you are scared to display. I say, let it all out, Darren. Be the kindness and the goodness and the love that you have inside of you. Let the whole world see it, feel it. I say this because it helps you, but it will also make the world a better place.

You remind me so much of myself when I was your age, but at the same time, you don’t. It was hard for me to love others when I was growing up. I didn’t trust easily. I was always unsure of myself so I hid behind a facade of false bravado. I thought too much about what others thought of me and that I wasn’t good enough for anyone. I secretly vied for people’s approval, but acted as if I didn’t care what they though of me. I was scared and became mule-headed because of it. I wanted change in my life all the time because that was how I felt alive. Change for me happened quite frequently as a child due to the senseless amount of moves we made.

I just want you to know, Darren, that parents don’t ever stop learning how to parent. I know you don’t like all the gushy-gushy stuff, the emotional stuff, but I’d really like for you to talk about it. I really will make you feel better. If your feelings are heavy right now, it’d be a relief to unburden some of that weight. Now, I am not a doctor and I am not going to label you. I am perplexed by you. I don’t know if you have really deep sadness or if you are just going through teenage hormones. Whatever it is, remember that I am always here for you. Call me. Hug me. Talk weather with me. Text me “I love you mom.” I can respect you and your space, but I refuse to let you stay downstairs all weekend without talking to me. When I come down to talk to you, it makes my day. It makes me smile.

I love you to the moon and back, kiddo.

Love Mom

As I read through that letter, my heart smiled and ached at the same time. I miss him so much. I’d been concerned about him for a while, but…….

When I found that letter, I was happy. How awesome it is that he saved it!

#hewassomebodytome #myheartisbroken #foreverlovedandsadlymissed