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……

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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?

————-

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!

Life Moments # 30 – Suicide Prevention Month

It’s official….

It’s now #SuicidePreventionMonth

And here’s my motivation:

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Since Darren passed away in May, I have been looking for ways to get involved. I’ve made numerous posts all tagged #suicide.

As many of you know, my son took his life. He made a choice to end his life rather than continue living with all the pain he felt in his heart.

I don’t understand. I will never understand.

I don’t know what pushed him to that point. I have some very strong assumptions that will stay with me forever.

Through these last 3.5 months, I have been trying to get as involved as I can in the prevention of suicide.

Through reaching out, I have found some great resources, ways to get involved, and met some great people who also share my passion for helping others who have gone through what I have or who are headed down that road. My hopes are to connect with those people who have seen the darkness, but have found a way to overcome it.

So, to kick off suicide prevention month, here are some suicide facts:

Please join me in spreading awareness. You can even join my team for the upcoming Out of the Darkness walk @

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