Life Moments #45 – Tell Me I Was Dreaming…..

My favorite music is country music. Most of the time, if I am listening to music, that’s the station I have on….Country. Some how, there’s always a song that will go along with any mood. Yes, I know all the silly comments about country music and dogs and wives, etc. etc. I know it’s not the most popular genre of music, but it’s my favorite.

Anywho, there’s a song by an artist that was pretty popular when I was growing up…..

Tell Me I Was Dreaming by Travis Tritt

That tends to fit my life for the last almost five months. When I heard about my son, I wanted to believe it was a dream…..and I still wish it was. Every single day.

So, with that said, please tell me I have been in the middle of a nightmare for the last five months and please wake me up.

I know. I know, Unfortunately, I know….there is no waking up from this nightmare.

My son is gone. Forever…..

So, if I must dream now, let them be good dreams.

I pray each night that I will dream of my Darren. Pictures of him surround me. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, he shared a hobby of mine: photography. One of my favorite photos that he took sits on my nightstand:

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It’s not the best quality as it was, but definitely not as seen above. That’s a picture of the picture in a frame. To see the actual picture out of the frame is much better.

But it doesn’t matter to me. The quality of the photo doesn’t matter. What matters is that he was with his three best friends. Amigos. Buddies. Pals. Bros. No matter what you call it, it all means the same.

They stood, facing the setting sun so bright before them. And he seems to relaxed. So free.

And that’s how I want to remember him. I don’t want to think of his broken heart. I don’t want to recall the tears he shed. I don’t want to picture the sadness I seen in his eyes.

But I do. I see it all.

And my heart breaks one more time every time I see those particular memories.

So, please tell me I’ve been dreaming…..

~ Shannon

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Life Moments #44 – How I Have Learned to Deal with Disagreements with Someone Else or Stress

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Does anyone here ever talk to themselves?

I am constantly having conversations in my head. Sometimes that results in me talking to myself.

I mean, literally, I will have a complete conversation in my head and either talk out loud or answer myself out loud.

That’s a little crazy. Right?

No, not really. I’m as sane as anyone walking around, which may not being saying much…..

Anyway, there’s an old adage that I’ve heard said a thousand times, at least –

It’s okay to talk to yourself, it’s when you answer yourself that you should be worried.

Haha….

Okay, I am not crazy and I am not worried about my mental state. I talk to myself and I might even answer myself, but such is life…

Anywho, one thing I’ve recently learned about myself is this: If I feel frustrated about something in my day or at someone, I quite simply mull over what I would say if I could, if I had the chance.

And that’s probably what saves me from doling out a ton of tongue-lashings at people. To explain, I recently have felt quite frustrated at one person in particular. It’s not someone I talk to very often, in fact if we even talk at all. As I was going through my day one day, getting ready for an upcoming event, it made me think of this particular person. She has made me angry. She has manipulated and played games. She has tried to take control where it’s not hers to take and I am done with it. I am done with the stupidity. I am done with the childishness. I am done with the disrespect and inconsideration. I am done with the high-horse she sits on. I am done.

And the thing that has gotten me through the frustrating moments without losing my cool is that I have conversations in my head, telling her exactly what I think and holding nothing back.

Let me explain myself….

I am a nice person. I don’t like confrontation. In fact, I try hard not to hurt people’s feelings or cause upset because I just don’t care for the stress it brings.

But….

Even though, I truly do just want to be nice and not cause disruption, I am blunt. When I get fed up with people’s crap, I can be mean. But, it’s not just mean, it’s brutally honest mean…..I don’t even really know how to explain, but I know that I don’t like to be that way. I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings. I don’t want to get into big arguments with people as most of the time it ends up just trading off insults, each one getting meaner and meaner while accomplishing NOTHING.

So, these conversations in my head that involve me giving a good tongue-lashing to those who really deserve it accomplish at least that – the ability to tell someone off without using a filter. Once I have these conversations in my head, it’s done. I’m done and the next time I come face to face with the individual who’s stressing me out, I can speak to him/her cordially.

See?

There really is a method to the madness.

~ Shannon

Life Moments #43 – The Down and Dirty, the Grimy and Raw, the Sticky and Gross…..

Life has a way of really tossing us a lot of dirty stuff at us. Although we make our own choices, many never learn the art of take responsibility for said choices. Sadly, their mistakes are always someone else’s fault. And so life goes, always living with the shoulda, could, woulda perception because they never really understood what it meant to take responsibility. For anything. Their words. Their actions. Their selfishnesses. Their wants. Their needs, so on and so forth.

Nineteen years ago, I gave birth to a beautiful, happy, bouncy baby boy. baby-dylan2

He weighed 8 lbs and 3 ozs (or 5 ozs). The pregnancy itself was a topsy-turvy affair. His father and I were young and selfish, mean and stubborn which caused me to be an emotional wreck the whole pregnancy. Well, that played havoc on my Picadilly as now he’s a very anxious person.

Soon enough, his father and I welcomed another little beautiful, happy, bouncy baby boy into our lives. He weighed 8 lbs and 5 ozs (or 7 ozs).

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Seventeen years ago before hurt filled his heart

By this time, it was apparent that their father and I shouldn’t be together. We fought all the time. Yelled and screamed and cursed and called one another names. But, speaking from my own perspective, I lost any bit of self esteem that I had through that tumultuous four-year relationship. Maybe he did too and maybe he didn’t. I’m not sure, but I was sure that we didn’t need to be together. Eventually, we broke up and went our separate ways.

Through the years, he and I have made our mistakes. However, when he and I broke up, my self-esteem was so shattered, I really believed I wasn’t good enough for those two beautiful baby boys.

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Fifteen years ago when squeals of delight rang through our home

And if you can’t see where that’s going, then here it is: they lived with him. I really believed they deserved better than me so I believed his lies. As they got older and I matured, my self-esteem slowly healed. My heart breaks, though, because while my heart was healing and my self-esteem was growing, my ex was destroying our two children, those two beautiful baby boys who soon grew, as babies do, into toddlers and elementary children and finally into teenagers.

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Two months before my son took his life and our world changed.

Just to clarify, he and I broke up fifteen years ago.

And now, even after my seventeen year old took his life because of all the heartbreak, my ex and his family continue to manipulate my nineteen year old’s mind. He and his girlfriend are about to have a baby, in November actually. We buried my son in May and will be welcoming that beautiful baby granddaughter in November.

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Three months ago when we found out they’re having a girl.

This pregnancy has been such a beacon of hope in a world of sadness. As the grandmother, I was excited to hear the news and with excitement, ask if I could throw a baby shower. Well, through some misunderstanding in the beginning about it, we finally made it here. The baby shower is in two days.

But…..

My son’s heart is broken. It was his brother we buried almost five months ago. Just imagine, a nineteen year old carrying his seventeen year old brothers’ casket for the funeral. Yes, with honor and heartbreak, he did that. As you can imagine, the heartbreak didn’t stop there. He, like the rest of us, live with that ache in our chest that will never go away.

And now, at a moment in his life where he should be feeling the love of his family not only for the heartache that we have all endured, but also because he and his girlfriend are bringing life into the world in a time of darkness. But, he can’t feel the love because his father’s family is making him feel shitty about a baby shower in which I am hosting that they were invited to, but refuse to attend. I am not sure that his father is saying anything to him, but some people in that family are certainly making him feel like crap.

He’s asking for one day……

One day for his parents to celebrate …………

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Their baby girl. My son  wants his parents to celebrate this meaningful moment in his life, but his dad refuses.

His parents to celebrate – together – one of the most precious moments in his adult life  and his dad or that side of his family won’t even give him that. Through those two boys’ lives, their dad has said he’s given them everything they’ve wanted. Just about anytime they asked, they got (according to their dad), but he refuses to give this to our son. It breaks my son’s heart which breaks mine. He refuses to stop being angry at me long enough to give our only living son the only thing he or his brother ever wanted….their parents not fighting, not to be put in the middle of adult squabbling.

I always try to be positive. I always try to see the good in people. I always try to forgive others even though my heart is still breaking.

But right now, after what my ex has done to our children, I am finding forgiveness not so easy come. It’s a daily battle…….

~ Shannon

Life Moments #42 – The Biggest Question: Why?

Yesterday, I called the sheriff’s office once again to get answers about my son, to no avail. The questions about what happened linger in my mind.

But then the biggest question of all constantly hovers in my mind like a vulture hovering on its’ dead prey:

     Why?

Why?

It lurks in the corners of my mind.

Why?

It steals away fleeting joy in only a single moment.

Why?

It disguises itself with anger that lingers inside of me, not really waiting to explode, but holding as a leak, draining out slowly.

With the question of WHY, comes all the questions surrounding my faith, my belief or lack thereof in a broken system, and trust – knowing who the enemy is and who is not.

One funny thing I recently found out is that in perceived moments of crisis (imminent threat of violence or self-harm), law enforcement responds ASAP.

However, in moments where only a concern is present, law enforcement does NOTHING.

If one person had listened, just one, Darren could still be here.

If one person had listened, just one, Darren could have seen a better way.

If one person had listened, just one, Darren could be in the room next to me rather than buried in the cold ground.

If one person had listened, just one person…….

I ask you: Be The Person Who LISTENS.

Life Moments #41 – Battle Between Heart and Head

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It’s not easy to move forward even though I know I need to.

I am scared to admit when the days are easier so I don’t let myself say it out loud. I don’t ever say, “yes, my day has been good. I have felt happiness.”

Why be scared, you may wonder?

Because Darren was one of my children and he always will be. To move forward, after he’s no longer here on the life journey with us, feels like I am betraying him in some way. Also, because I’ve may have gotten comfortable with the pain of losing him and to go back to happiness feels like I am betraying him.

It’s a crazy thing that mothers feel about their children. I have spent many years as a mother trying to take advantage of every second of spare time we could all muster up trying to be involved in his life. He didn’t live with me so time was a luxury I didn’t want to give up when it came to being with he and his older brother.

But, as it stands, seventeen years was all I got so looking back, time was more of a luxury than I truly understood.

Now, as I rebuild the pieces of my life, my family’s life, that Darren’s death shattered, my new normal is living with the constant heartbreak of him not being here.

How do I move forward with that?

~ Shannon

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

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…….

 

 

 

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