Life Moments #40 – Finding Faith

If you’ve ever lost anyone close to you, you understand how incredibly lonely it can be.

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Learning to live without that person is scary and even stressful. For me, moving forward in my life makes me feel as if I am betraying my son, like I can’t live life because he doesn’t get to live life. It causes a deep-rooted fear of moving forward. Fear of forgetting him (I know it’s not possible to forget him, but the fear is real). Fear of failing to keep his memory alive. Just constant fear.

After my son took his life – yes, there is a difference, he didn’t just die, he chose to take his life – I felt even more broken than I already was. I felt weak and lost. We are all broken because none us are perfect, but at that point, when he took his life, everything was broken inside of me.

My heart.

The way I viewed the world.

My spirit.

I’ve attended only one Mass since my son has been gone. The loss completely ravaged my calm, my beliefs, everything I was striving to achieve in my walk with the Lord. No part of me understood why my son had to leave this world, but moreso, in the manner in which he left.

I still don’t understand. I probably will never understand. I am not even sure if my heart is willing to trust and have faith in God’s plan and that is scary for me. How do I go from losing my son, trying to understand the why to accepting that he’s gone and trusting God sees the bigger picture? I fight every day to get back there, to get back that trust, to find my faith again.

How did it get so lost?

~ Shannon

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Life Moments #39 -That Moment When You Realize……Part Two

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Continued……..

As you can see, many questions have been flowing through my mind non-stop and I have yet to receive any answers…at least any answers that I can accept.

As I mentioned previously, people in church have asked about me. Friends have worried and prayed for me, for our family. But, some people have actually cornered me to ask me directly why I have not been attending Mass. To be honest, it’s my father and mother-in-law who have cornered me, put me right on the spot. So, I go into my explanation:

Prior to my son’s death I had been praying for him, as most mother’s do. I began to have some concerns about his mental state. Not that I assumed any mental illness as much as I thought depression. I voiced my concerns to him and to others I thought could help. One day before he died, I prayed for God to intervene, to help my son get through a hardship he was facing. Anywhere from four – eight hours after he died, I received the news via a sheriff and a chaplain. Time of death is unknown as the coroner didn’t take liver temperature until the next morning. One of the sheriff’s on scene found his body at 11:46 pm so that’s what the coroner put as time of death. Anyway, the point here is my son’s death was the answer I received for my prayer. I was devastated. I, in no way, could understand why God would answer me in that way. Again, I understand that God didn’t make my son decide to take his life. The devil was doing that work, but I couldn’t and still can’t understand why God wouldn’t save him. As I said, God can perform miracles, but for some reason, not with my son. Again, the devil is getting inside my head and telling me that my prayers are not good enough, that my son wasn’t good enough.

And this is why I haven’t attended Mass……

However, I recently had the opportunity to attend a Thirst Conference. Right now, I can’t explain exactly what that is other than to say it’s a day long worship service, so to speak. I mean, we didn’t attend Mass the whole day, but….anywho, much to my trepidation, I drove to the location, got out of my car and stood looking at the building for a minute. I found the courage to walk inside and I am so thankful that I did. I only made it for half the conference, but the talk sessions I made it to, were exactly what I needed to hear. I even found the courage to go to Confession which I’ve needed to do for quite some time. I did not have the courage to attend the Mass.

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I am excited despite the fact I avoided Mass because I made progress.

While I the Thirst Conference the one speak who made such a difference for me was Shannon Dietz. She spoke of her journey back to God through her own trials and hardships. Hearing her speak for 30 minutes encouraged me to purchase her book, Redeemed, which is based on her struggles from childhood, her marriage, her children, and her relationship with God. I have read the book and her story has some similarities to mine. However, I can’t say that I endured her struggles. I have had to face the struggles unique to my situation.

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Don’t get me wrong, I still have questions and doubts and long bouts of sadness. I still feel anger and I am having a hard time trusting my faith, but I made progress and for that I am happy. Pray for me as I continue to heal and as I slowly make my way back to God. I say slowly because I mean slowly, like totally turtle slow.

~ Shannon

 

Life Moments #38 -That Moment When You Realize……Part One

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My Reason……

Where to begin……

For the past four months, one week, and one day, I have not been attending Mass. Of course, if you go back those months, that week and one day, you will realize it corresponds with the day that my son took his life. In all honesty, I have avoided Mass to the point that I won’t even go in the church doors. Sadly, I stopped praying. I stopped reading Scripture and study books. I stopped writing in my journal. The whole she-bang.

For the first couple of months, I didn’t attend Mass because, like many, I questioned why God would allow such a thing to happen. Please understand, I do not blame God for what happened to my son as He does bless us (some might swing toward curse) with something we all like to have, but never really consider ourselves to be accountable for: Free Will. Again, I do not blame God for my son taking his life. To some, it may appear as such, but appearances can be deceiving.

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My precious boy….

Each painful day that passed brought more questions with no answers and still does. People whom I consider friends have been kind. Nobody has questioned my sanity, that I know of 😉 and nobody seems to be critical of my frame of mind. Of course, I’ve almost completely withdrawn myself through the process so I guess I wouldn’t really know. I try to assume the best. My husband has told me people are asking about me at church. I’m not sure what that means, but there you have it. Again, I assume it’s out of concern.

Anywho, as the days keep passing by and I stumble through the healing process keeping myself busy with my new passion, suicide prevention, I feel myself beginning to lean back toward my faith. God is slowly creeping back into my life. I say creeping not in a bad way, but in a way that implies slowly moving back into my life. I find myself……

questioning Him……

questioning myself…….

questioning the circumstances of the last four months…..

questioning life and our existence….

questioning everything.

And I have realized that a small part of me misses my relationship with God, but with a little fear etched in there, too. My faith is tugging at my heartstrings, but battling my pride, my confusion, my inability to really trust in God’s plan for my life. I have tried talking to friends, to family, to my husband and I keep getting the same answer, “Shannon, I don’t know the answer to that” or “Shannon, I ask the same questions, have the same doubts, but still I trust in God’s plan” or “Shannon, I can’t tell you those answers, but I do know that God loves you and loves Darren.” And of course, those answers only bring a whole new set of questions that nobody has the answers to.

Yet, my heart is still broken and my mind is still confused. How can I have faith in something and not really know or understand what it is? As I said earlier, I don’t blame God for what happened to my son, but I question Him. Why would He (the one who can perform miracles) choose not to perform a miracle in my son’s life? Through Mass, we are taught to anticipate the glory of heaven. It’s the place we all hope to get to when our time on earth ends. I often hear that Darren is way better where he is than here where he was. His pain is over. He is no longer suffering heartbreak or anything else. I should be happy that he is in a better place. But am I? Am I happier, I question? Yes, some of me is, but some of me is still being selfish and wanting him here with me.

Story to be continued, but I will leave you with this:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. ~ John 3:16

Knowing how painful it’s been for me losing my son, why would God do that?

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Losing him and they are the reason I keep going, the reason for what I am hoping for: opening a non-profit in memory of my son

~ Shannon

Life Moments #37 – An Awakened Memory

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The other day my son had an appointment so I went to his school to pick him up. While I waited in for car for him to come out, I noticed a van pull into a driveway of the home across the street. Looking at the van, it took me back to Eighteen years ago when I worked in a paint store. The store had regular clients, clients who owned painting companies or private contracting companies. I got to know these clients pretty well, spent much time goofing off with the when they came in the store. As I watched the person inside climb out of the van, I wondered if he was one of the painters who was a regular client. He was. I spoke to him for a few minutes, but then I had to go.

Talk about going back…….

Seeing that guy that afternoon sent me back in time.

A time when I was so much younger.

A time when I thought I had a few things figured out about life.

I had my whole life ahead of me. My boyfriend and I had one child and soon enough would be welcoming our second child, Darren.

That’s where Darren began. I was nineteen years old, trying to take college courses online, and working at the paint store, Columbia Paints and Coating.

Never, not one time, did I consider this is how it would end for him. Seventeen wonderful years he was with us. It wasn’t enough……..

Every waking moment of my day he floats in and out of my mind. Sometimes, the thoughts are strong, the memories vivid. Other times, he’s there, but my day is too busy to spend a lot of time thinking about it. But on those days, when the daylight fades to dusk and everything is slowing down, he is there. My thoughts trickle to him and all the memories envelope me.

I don’t know how, nor did I want to say goodbye, but I wasn’t given a choice……

Life Moments #36 – Does It Get Easier?

One hundred twenty-three days.

Two thousand nine hundred fifty-two hours.

One hundred seventy-seven thousand, one hundred twenty minutes.

Ten million, six hundred twenty-seven thousand, two hundred seconds.

That’s how long you have been gone.

I have yet to really go through your things. The clothes are still in the drawer, your boxes that were yet unpacked have been into storage, but still packed, untouched.

Many people have been asking for stuff…your friends, cousins, and aunt.

Actually, one person is quite beside herself because I haven’t given her anything of yours. Sadly, in an effort to upset me, she threw in my face that she doesn’t want anything of yours because, all the sudden, it’s morbid.

As if losing a child isn’t hard enough, there has to be an extremely jealous person throwing around insults.

My emotions already feel so raw. It’s up and down the Richter scale of emotions on any given day. I can be watching TV and fine, then all of a sudden I’m in tears. Grief doesn’t care where you are, what you are doing, who you are with. Out of nowhere, the tears start flowing and my mind is overtaken with you, memories of you. I’m right back there, that early morning, hearing the banging on the door, stumbling out of bed…..

It’s like darkness engulfs me and I can feel my heart breaking. I don’t want to get out of bed. I don’t want to do whatever errands I have for the day. I don’t want to leave my room. I don’t want to do anything…..

I beg and I plead for the pain to stop. I cry and cry, willing the tears to go away. I wonder to myself and wonder out loud. My nerves are so on edge they remind me of a frayed electrical cord hanging dangerously close to a basin of water, ready to spark and electrocute…….

The questions, the doubts, the fears, the concerns, the unspoken words all plague my mind and my heart.

And the anger wells up inside me, it sits there, waiting for an outlet….so I cry some more. This is where I am thankful that school is back in session as the kids are gone all day and don’t have to see me. I am composed by the time school releases in the afternoon. As a stay home mom with not a lot of outside work to keep my mind off of what happened, school is a distraction that I am thankful for.

Jumping back to what was said to me about smelling Darren’s clothes being morbid, anyone who understands grief wouldn’t say such a thing. It’s blatantly obvious that this person is (1) very rude and careless to say something like that, (2) has no understanding of what it’s like for one of your children to……to die. I have to be honest, I stumbled over how to phrase that! But, as for this person’s understanding, I hope she can try to be understanding, and I also hope she never has to personally endure a loss like that. It is not a pain I would wish on even my worst enemy.

Regardless of all of it, the pain doesn’t seem to be lessening. I am beginning to believe that ‘time heals all’ quote is b.s……..

Right now, I am broken…….

 

 

 

Life Moments #35 – Nothing

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Darren’s quilt that I made for him a few years ago and which I now keep I my bed.

I have so much I want to say.

There is so much going through my mind constantly.

All these thoughts and feelings that consume me, but in no particular order so to try to write them down would be insane as the reader would be thoroughly confused.

So, I choose to say only bits and pieces here and there,

but today…..nothing.

I have so much to say, yet nothing.

I. Am. Tired.

I am tired of trying to hold it all together when all of me seems to be falling apart.

I. Am. Tired.

Life Moments # 34 – The Night My World Changed in a BAD Way

This Life is for You!

The night ended as chaotically as any other night. My husband and I went through the bed time ritual with the girls: wind down time, pajama time, water/bathroom/brush teeth/more water/ another bathroom visit time, arguing ensues between girls time, calming girls down time, again, prayer time, hugs/tuck-ins time, another round of fussiness (heavy eyelids and all) time and finally…..

Quiet.

Three little zonked out girls are tucked warm and snuggly into their beds. Afterwards, hubby and I relax in front of television until one of us goes to bed. Might be him. Might be me. Might be both of us.

Soon enough, all’s quiet in our home. Darkness surrounds us while everyone sleeps. Hubby sounding like a freight train, baby waking for her feedings, but sleep….oh the peaceful sleep.

Meanwhile, 35 miles – give or take – from my home, my son lies dead. I awaken from my peaceful slumber to hubby saying, “Honey, you have to get up. The cops are here asking for you.” And me, in my sleep-hazed confusion respond, “What? The cops? What?” as I stumble out of the bed and stumble, still half-asleep and rubbing my eyes, out to the kitchen where I am greeted by a sheriff and a chaplain to hear the worst words I’ve heard in my entire life, “Your son, Darren Wallace, is dead.”

I simply stood there, dumbfounded. Not my Darren, not any of my children, but not my sweet, loving, broken-hearted, Darren. Not my big eyed, blue-eyed curly-headed Darren. I cannot even remember my reaction. I didn’t break down into a crazy-minded mother (but if I had it would be understandable!), but I was frozen. Like seriously, couldn’t make my feet move kind of frozen.  I remember asking how, what happened. It all seemed so surreal, like I was standing outside of my body watching this happen to someone else. I stood there, tears streaming down my face frozen in that horrible moment.

How could it be happening to me, to my family?

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I’ve relived that day in my head about 1000 times. I would like to say only once a day since then, but that wouldn’t be true. A more accurate amount would be to say 3-4 times a day. And I always arrive back to the same place……Why? How?

As I rushed the girls’ bedtime to me that fateful evening, my son was contemplating suicide. As I was going through the girls’ bedtime ritual with them, my son was lying dead.

It’s two days shy of four months and it hasn’t gotten easier. The days come and go in the same fashion, with the same fervor they always have, but now his death hovers over me, surrounds me like an invisible blanket.

Since that evening, my trust has diminished. I still trust the people in my life prior to that tragedy. Since then, I have met people who I trust, but I definitely don’t trust anyone in the judicial system, if I ever did, I’m not sure. Definitely not now. There’s a story there for a different day.

I had a meeting today with a couple of ladies. During the meeting, one lady asked about my son. I told her some about his story. She mentioned something along the lines of how some people would not be able to speak about their experience. I went on to explain why I think it’s easier for me. It’s never easy by any means, but the agenda to this meeting is what has made it so much easier for me. I am trying to do something with my son’s story. I am trying to help others not get there, to that dark place. Some may know and some may not, but my son took his life that tragic evening. So, when I mention the dark place, that’s what I mean. My dream is to help others not get there, but also, show others that that doesn’t have to be the option. Our goal is to launch a non-profit in memory of my son, DJW LifeProject.

Help is available and you can start with the number below. It is a national hotline, not connected to me or the non-profit I spoke about above. You can follow DJW LifeProject on Facebook if you so choose.

Life Moments #33 – What Do You Say……?

What do you say when you have so much to say?

What do you say when so much of what you have to say can be hurtful? What do you say when you can’t say anything?

That’s where I am for the last 4 months.

Hurtful thoughts that

turn into hurtful words

that have potential to turn into hurtful actions.

What do you say?

I spoke with a friend the other day….a friend – and I use the term loosely – I haven’t spoken to in a very long while.

Friends…could be friends I suppose, but….well who the hell knows?

Anyway, during our conversation I told her about everything I have been dealing with in a nutshell kind of conversation. I didn’t include all the painful details, but the important ones.

As I sat there in the conversation with her, it dawned on me that I probably need to see a counselor because…..

My heart is broken from years and years of dealing with hatred and, quite frankly, stupidity.

I feel anger. I feel hurt. I feel confused and betrayed and everything in between.

I have a constant ache in my heart from losing Darren, but what hurts the most is that so many years of his life were stolen from me by a selfish person….and now, I don’t think it will ever go away. When he died, a piece of me died to. Dylan is grown-up, about to become a daddy and Darren will be 17 forever…will never see his 18th birthday.

So, what do you say, when you have so much to say, so much that could be hurtful…..could probably even be considered hateful? What do you say?

How do you keep maneuvering through the grief, one painful swerve after another? How do you keep living life when all you really want to do is go live alone in a cave until whenever? How do you continue to put one foot in front of the other when both of your feet feel like 1000 lb dumbbells?

I will say this:

Death freaking sucks! Death of a child. Death of a parent. Death of a friend. Death of a stranger.

Death freaking sucks, but nobody is immune from it!

Now, I can be a bit more understanding when it comes to other people’s losses. I can listen without trying to ease their pain because nothing I say makes a difference anyway. Trust me, I understand this better now. I will no longer be one of those people who wants to offer my condolences, instead I will be there to say,

“This freaking sucks!”

And I will mean it because it does freaking suck.

So, again, what do you say when most of what you have to say, during a time like mine, is going to hurt someone else?

…….

You say nothing at all.

Life Moments #32 – Fighting Suicide

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I went by your grave this afternoon. As I sat there, talking to you, all the memories flooded back. The sheriff’s visit, the few days following the news, the funeral planning meeting, the wake, the day of the funeral, standing graveside….it all came back in a flood of tears with none left to shed. How is that even possible? How can one cry that hard and not have tears!?!

As I sat there graveside for the thousandth time since you passed away, I thought of the first graveside moment. I thought of the devastation prior to that. And I thought, I still can’t believe your gone. How can it be true?

It’s been 111 days since you took your life, 111 emotional, tear-jerking, heart-stopping days. And it’s not getting easier. Oh, the tears may be less and sleep might come a little easier, but the memories linger and the emotional roller-coaster is just as unpredictable as it has been since I received the news that left me and everyone else with a broken heart. 41096945_2013372018953370_8538320440995610624_nRemember, I was visited your grave and while sitting there, the one feeling that came back was anger. I am angry about so many things revolving around your life, your death. And as I sat there, that first day by your grave, the burial flashed through my mind. I don’t remember much of that first week after you passed away, but I remember feeling anger, not at you….at everything else, everything that led up to your last day. Some of the biggest thoughts that ran through my head include questions such as:

  1. Who did she think she was trying to plan your funeral because you are my son?
  2. Who did they think they were trying to exclude me from any of your funeral?
  3. Who tries to keep children from other parent?
  4. Who tries to walk around as if the other parent doesn’t exist? Who does that shit?
  5. Who ignores such devastating information that was ignored and then turn around to point fingers? Who does that shit?

But, I don’t want to stay there in that place. Rather than let someone else’s hatred be my focus, I’d rather focus on helping others with our story, Darren’s story. It’s National Suicide Prevention Month and fighting suicide is a story I want to invest in. The statistics for suicide are insane! North Dakota alone has had a 58% increase in suicide rates, the biggest increase in the country, since 1999 (NDDoH). Insane! With such an increase, we need to pay attention. Suicide is there! We need to recognize it. We need to address it. We need to PREVENT it.

And everyone can contribute to that!

Ahh, there it is. How can you help?

In plenty of ways!

You can:

  1. Talk about it! Talk about whether you have been there. Talk to others who may be there now. Just talk about it. Learn the warning signs so you can reach out to someone who’s in that place of darkness.
  2. Contribute your time. Help spread awareness through social media, email, phone conversation, face-to-face contact, etc.
  3. Be a friend! This one is actually very simple and is something we learn as children.
  4. Donate to the cause: walks, cycling programs, etc. The money goes to funding research and prevention efforts.
  5. Take part in the activities that raise money for the cause: Out of the Darkness walk (available across the nation), Cycle Around the Globe, advocate for suicide prevention to local congress leaders, state senators, other state leaders.

We can all prevent suicide. Join the cause. Support the cause. Everyone’s life is precious. Suicide should never be the answer because every life matters. This life is for everyone so  Let’s Prevent Suicide.

I invite you to support my team as we walk to #FightSuicide. The upcoming walk in our area is September 14. My team goal is $500 and we are a little less than half way there. I ask you to contribute something. I’m not kidding, even something as little as $5 will help us meet our goal. If you can’t donate, then please share. I walk for my son, Darren. He was seventeen years old and took his life in May. The truth is it could be your son, your daughter, your wife, husband, grandparent, uncle, aunt, cousin or friend. It could be anyone you know. I didn’t think it would ever happen to my family, but it did. Please be a life-saver.

https://afsp.donordrive.com/team/Darren

 

Life Moment #31 – A Place I Don’t Want to Be In….Not Supposed to Be In

 

While I was growing up, my mom was mostly a stay-at-home mom. My dad worked as an OTR truck driver so he was gone most of the time. My mom really started working as we got older and didn’t require so much one-on-one with her, when we became a little more independent.

Either way, we knew we could count on our parents to provide for us and to be there for us. We weren’t materialistically spoiled, but love spoiled. As I started growing up, college was not on my radar. My dream was to become a wife and a mother.

Simple. I know and not very common, but there it is. I wanted to be a wife and mother.

Well, in the ebb and flow of things, mothering came first…marriage came much later.

However, when I held that life so completely dependent on me for the first time, I knew it was what I wanted. The wife part didn’t matter anymore. Oh, sure, I wanted to get married. I wanted us to be a family, but life had other plans. Instead of marriage we had another little life. As those first two were born and life kind of hit us head on, neither of us knew what we were doing. We stumbled along…….

But…..you learn and we did. We weren’t the best parents. We made mistakes and we kept chugging along. Marriage never became an option and eventually, we went our separate ways. Much to my dismay, the two boys ended up living with their father. Again, not what I wanted, but by that time, my self-esteem had been hit so hard, I was convinced the boys deserved better than me. Little did I know…..

I never imagined that my future or theirs, held the tragedy that my family has endured. I worried about something happening to one of them. I feared it. I fretted and fussed over them getting hurt, but never in my heart did I believe one would commit suicide….

until…..

The early part of this year. As a parent, the biggest fears I had were severe injury, my child getting kidnapped and enduring extremely traumatic physical/sexual abuse, and death. Yes, I feared for their emotional well-being, physical well-being, and daily treatment, but I really believed they were better off where they were.

But, I don’t know what happened. I am still stuck, trying to figure out when suicide became an option for my son. How? When? Why? As I said, the earlier part of this year, I began to get concerned about my son taking his life. My worry for him increased and I tried to reach out for help….In vain. I was ignored. My pleas were ignored.

Every night I lay awake wondering all kinds of thoughts. I question everything.

I mean E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G surrounding Darren’s life. I question his mental state. I question his emotional state. I question my parenting. I question his dad’s parenting. I question his relationships with other people. I question and question and question some more. I replay that night in my head. I replay the last time we seen one another in my head. I replay the four previous months in my head. I replay the last year in my head. I replay it all in my head and still have no answers. I am as much without answers as I was three months ago.

I want the pain to stop.

I want the questions to stop.

I want the tears to stop.

Mostly, I. Just. Want. Him. Back.

Now, to figure out how to go on without him — heartbreaking for me as his fear was that he wouldn’t be missed.

How do I move on with my life without forgetting about him. I mean, forget. Who could forget? Definitely not me, but he’s not here, so where does that leave a person?

In one of his suicide notes he wrote:

I should just go, go for good. I’ve thought about it many times………..*** will be happier, it’s just Darren gone.  ~ Darren

I’ve thought about that quote many times since he passed away. What does it mean?

He’s gone, there’s no denying that. But, what does it mean for him to say “It’s just Darren gone” because he’s not just gone. Yes, he’s no longer with us. He will never walk or talk with us again on this earth, but his memory is very much alive. He will always be with me albeit not physically, but with me still.

Oh, hell, this sucks!