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Life in General

Life Moments #59 – A Story of Darren as a Young Boy

It’s been a long while sine I last posted. To be fair, though, I have a lot going on. As most of you know, a friend and I founded the nonprofit DJW Life Project in memory of my son. My family takes up most of my time and what’s left, I devote to DJW Life. Sometimes, there are never enough hours in the day……

The other evening, my thoughts were plagued with doubts. Doubts about my mothering skills where Darren was concerned. Doubts about my mothering skills where his older brother is concerned. For years, they were pumped full of the hatred their dad felt toward me. Not by me, but by their dad. I began to doubt myself as a mother to them many years ago. When their step-mom was still alive, he led everyone to believe she was their mom, always trying to replace me. It didn’t work because they knew who their mom was and I made sure to stay as present as possible in their lives, as much as their dad would allow. When he had a girlfriend, he didn’t need me as much so he took time away from me. When he didn’t have a girlfriend, he’d let me have them as much as I wanted.

You see, his goal was to use them to hurt me. For reasons I will never understand, he wanted to hurt me. I mean, we were done. We had been done for a long time. If truth be known, he never wanted me anyway so why continue to hurt me? And why use two beautiful, innocent little boys to do so? As I learned over the course of their lives (the two boys), it was all about control. He could control me by using the boys. And, for some reason, he needed the control.

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4 y/o Darren

When the boys were young, four and six, they woke up in the wee hours of the morning…around 2:00 a.m. to find the house empty, except the two of them. They left their house to come find me because their dad so responsibly (ahem, sincere sarcasm) left them home alone. I lived about 4-5 blocks down the road from them. A Mandan officer seen them, but couldn’t stop so he called another officer. The officer arrived to see them walking down the street. He stopped them, spoke to them and they took him back to their dad’s house. While the officer was still inside with the boys, their dad pulled up on his motorcycle. The cop asked the boys to stay inside and he went out to speak with their dad. Their dad came up with all these lies to explain where he was and why the boys were left home alone. Their dad smelled of alcohol, but that’s okay I guess. Apparently, in Mandan it’s perfectly legal to leave two children under the age of 8 home alone in the wee A.M. hours so you can go out drinking. Who knew? Oh, but then it’s also perfectly legal to continue to lie about it.

But, do you think anything happened? Hell no. The case got forwarded to social services and the Mandan District Attorney, who declined to bring charges against him. It took over a month for social services to even get in contact with me because he kept lying to her about my phone number.

Now, fast-forward 13 years and what do we have…..a district attorney in Mandan bringing charges against a 17 y/o boy who had never been in trouble in his life. It’s nice to see such a corrupt system when it comes to asshole adults, but a by-the-book, make-the-charges-stick-at-all-costs system when a child messes up one time. Ahemm….spoken with the most sincere sarcasm I can speak with.

By the way, if you’d like to see the police report on this case of neglect incident above, just ask for it. FYI, you can’t ask the Mandan P.D.ย  for a copy because it has miraculously disappeared from their database. At the time of the incident, for whatever reason, the case was referred to child services in Bismarck. Coincidentally, they can’t find the report in their database either.

Almost a year after my son took his life, the shock is gone. The heartbreak remains. The questions remain. And now, the doubts begin, doubts of how good of a mother I was to him.

*This post was inspired by a young lady who isย Unsilenced *

Speak truth and the truth will set you free.

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Life in General

Life Moment’s #58 – Wow! Twenty-Seven Years

It’s been twenty-seven years since this song came out. Twenty-seven years! I was 11 years old and it was my favorite song in the world…well kind of!

But watching this video recently was a real eye-opener. I mean, really my 11 year old self sure had very poor taste!

Call it old age. Call in maturity. Call in change in taste. Call it whatever you want, but the ridiculous dancing in this video or any other video featuring the same song is very poor taste in my opinion.

I can’t imagine what I was thinking when listening/watching the music video. I can’t imagine what my mother was thinking by allowing me to watch the video.

Man, shame on me!

~ Shannon ~

Anything Goes, Life in General

Life Moments #57 – Introvert: the Struggle is Real

introvert-quote-about-introversion6I always tell my husband that it doesn’t take much for me to agree with him when he’s not being demanding. I am actually quite easy to get along with.

I get impatient with small talk. I am the person who likes a meaningful conversation so if you want to talk weather then you have to find another listener.

I love to host family gatherings, friendly bbqs, and other special events, but I look forward to the end of it when it’s time for everyone to leave.

I enjoy hanging out at gatherings or special events, but my eyes are always looking for the exit.

I like people, but I am not a people person.

I am an introvert.

So, what exactly is an introvert? Many people may confuse being an introvert with being shy. However, in my own experience, I know my limitations. I know I cannot speak in front of a crowd because I don’t want everyone focused on me. I can be with a group in front of a crowd, but not alone. This little thing may be shyness. I also understand that noise gets to me and conversations that never seem to end are draining. An introvert is

a person who tends to shrink from social contacts and to become preoccupied with their own thoughts.

Being an introvert makes bounce back really hard after the smallest excursion with other people. I love going out with friends or having gatherings, as I’ve already mentioned, but afterward, it seems to take a few days before I really feel ‘right’ again. Not right as in you’re right about this or that, but right as in my mind relaxing, my emotions leveling out, and my energy returning.

I am a stay-at-home mom. We have a large family that takes up 90% of my time. It seems crazy because I don’t think I’ve accomplished anything by the end of the day other than run after kids. Some days, it’s one appointment or errand after another. Recently, I babysat my granddaughter for only a short minute (like half an hour) and then I visited with my son for a bit. Afterwards, I came home and I was just exhausted.

I needed time to unwind, to gather my wits, to rejuvenate, but I had to make supper for the kids getting home from school. I didn’t get a chance to get any quiet time before my other children got home so I just felt myself begin to shut down. I was present, but I wasn’t. I mean I was going through the motions and that’s about it.

I am an introvert and most days, I feel overwhelmed. I am generally a nice, easy-going person, but quiet. Many people mistake that as being rude, standoffish or shy as to which I am none of those. I have shy moments, shy moments, and standoffish moment, but that is not the sum of who I am.

As an introvert, my feelings are front and center which may sound funny to some. And to others, well they may want to say that there’s more to life than feelings. Regardless, that’s what it is for me. I sometimes over-react and sometimes under-react. Being an introvert allows me to be insanely aware of my feelings, which sometimes get the better of me.

For instance, remember I said I like to host gatherings. I really do. I get excited, even overzealous through the planning stages. By the time the day arrives, I am a bundle of nerves. I start to feel anxious and exhausted at the same time. However, I put on my happy face and proceed as normally as possible all the while my insides are twisting and turning.

When I have company, only one extra person, and the walls start closing in around me, my insides begin shouting, “Tell them to leave. It’s time for them to leave!” but outwardly, I am gracious and polite while feeling guilty for wanting them – needing them – to leave.

And the phone, I hate talking on the phone! Give me a face-to-face conversation any day, just make it a short one.

Other times, I feel frustrated at myself because I am tired and I don’t want to be rude, but also at others because “can’t they see or sense my discomfort! why are they prolonging it?!?”

And please understand, I like to talk! I like people. But it gets to be very overstimulating very fast. When I need a break, please allow that. I feel frustrated that some people can’t understand that.

I am more relaxed when I’m by myself. I can go days and days without speaking to anyone perfectly fine. This applies to being alone without my children as well. Although, this is a bit harder because my self-discipline tells me I should be with my children pretty much all the time since I am a stay-home mom.

Honestly, it takes great effort for me to enjoy someone else’s company for more than a hot a minute. Not because of who they are or aren’t, but because of what my personality is.

So, the next time you run into someone who doesn’t talk much, but listens awesomely or who appears to be standoffish or rude, just remember….

Not everyone gets joy from being in big crowds, noisy places, or busy moments. There are some people who like to take it slow and easy. Remember, for those who are introverts, just how draining it can be to be at that party or running endless errands. We do these things because we want to, but we also know our limits.

Alone is our thing.

Be kind.

~Shannon

 

Life in General

Life Moments #56 – Losing You was a Challenge I Don’t Want to Face

It’s harder than most people think. Everyone wants to say, “I understand” or “It will get better with time” or “It will stay with you forever.”

And which do I believe most? – “It will stay with you forever.”

As for the rest – No, you probably don’t understand and No, it won’t get better with time.

Because losing him was hard. It was a life-changer, a life-changer I want nothing to do with, a life-changer that nobody needs or wants, a life-changer that I didn’t get a choice in. Many people might say it’s a life-changer that nobody deserves. However, when I hear the word deserve, my question isn’t about whether or not I deserved it or my family deserved it, but did he deserve it? It doesn’t really matter though, in the end, because deserving something is a moot point. We make choices and we live with those choices. Sometimes, choices made by others will have just as big as, if not bigger, of an impact on us than our own choices.

With that said, I miss him terribly. I miss everything about him. His kindness. His laughter. His insane belief that he must carry his burdens alone. I miss his smile and the way he played with his siblings. I miss his quick texts, short and to the point, never saying more or less than was needed. I miss the quiet way he walked through the house and his hugs. I miss his hugs so much. Not the quick, arm thrown across my shoulder kind of hugs (although all hugs are Great!), but the way he wrapped his arms completely around me and he let me do the same. I miss him asking me to make him oatmeal every afternoon after school or at some random time on a Sunday. I miss watching him interact with his siblings. I miss the wrestling matches with his brothers and watching them toss the football in the yard. I miss the love that shown so brightly when he held Zephaniah. I miss the softness that he was in his heart, his voice, his temperament.

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He was quiet. He was lovable. When he smiled, his eyes lit up the world around him. I miss him something awful and I will never get over it.

It’s only been 8 1/2 months – sad, depressing months. I can’t fathom the rest of my life without him.

Most days, like happened this morning, something will trigger thoughts of him and then the sadness starts all over again.

I miss him and I want him back. Nothing will ever change that. Not time. Not age. Not years that go by. He will always be part of me and there will always be sadness there.

~ Shannon ~

 

 

Life in General

Life Moments #55 – Eight Months You’re Gone

49896839_10213241104126984_2937278728725594112_nI sat and stared out my window, watching the snow fall silently and peacefully from the foggy morning sky to the cold, hard earth below. A cover of sparkly white now rests gently on the rolling hills outside. It looks as if it would be so soft and cuddly to the touch, but we know, it would be cold and wet.

As I sit here, watching the snow fall, it occurred to me it’s been eight months today, eight months since you left us. Eight months since I seen your smile. Eight long, hard, emotional months.

I am still just as lost today as I was that day eight months ago. The days and weeks just keep going just as they did in those early days and weeks with me stumbling around blindly, somehow trying to make my way through the mire. And of course, I still think about you constantly. It’s kind of funny, but always sad though because some days you consume my thoughts and other days, I just float along. Here, but not really here.

How do I keep going?

I ask myself this everyday. Somehow, I always find the strength, this unknown force that makes me get out of bed each morning and proceed through my day as normally as possible. I have considered counseling, multiple times, but have yet to find the courage to attend. I am making headway though. I did call someone the other day. Now I wait, Wait for courage. Wait for time. Wait for comfort. Wait. It seems to be a game of waiting all these months.

It’s silly,ย  I know, this irrational fear that I have. Anxiety has taken hold of me. I worry about silly things now that didn’t hardly ever get my gander up…that is before you passed away.

I see the goodness around me, my life full of chaos mixed with love, the kids arguing and playing so joyfully. You know our life. You know who we are, what kind of parents we are, about how your siblings are with one another. You know the good times we’ve had in our life and the not-so-good times. You know it all because you were part of it for seventeen years, four months and six days.

Sometimes, when I have a moment to myself, a moment to simply get lost in my thoughts, I see you. I see you with me. I think of you often, which you and everyone else around me knows very well. Our life isn’t the same without you. Your departure has left a hole in our hearts and I wonder if I will ever make it through.

I am tired, Darren.

I. Am. Tired.

And fighting to keep going is even more tiring.

As always, You Should Be Here

 

~ Shannon ~

Life in General

Life Moments #54 – Your 18th Birthday

2018-05-21 11.19.58Well, I’ve made it this far.

Today, you are 18, although you will forever be 17.

You would also be graduating in a few months, but…..well we know you won’t be graduating.

You won’t be going to prom or college.

You will never marry or have kids of your own.

A whole lot has changed in your absence due your absence. I am different. Your brothers and sisters are a little different.

As 2018 rolled into 2019, I anticipated this day. It’s not a day I am yet to have, but I don’t really get a choice. It’s a day that will come every year and I just have to find some way to get through it.

You’ve been gone almost 8 months and in that eight months, my heart has broken daily a million times over. I hate it!

As hard as this day is, it will always be special because on January 11, 2001 @ 5:15 a.m., the world met an 8 lb 7 oz bounce who changed the lives of many in the short number of years he blessed the earth. I am so thankful God allowed me to be your mom. I was young, only 19 – almost 20, but you changed me then. You taught me how to love just a little bit more. Having a child changes a world completely. Somehow, it makes things more real.

When I became a mom to you, I promised to love you, to protect you, to fight for you…in general, to be the best mom I could be. 2018-06-30 17.09.55

When you died, I realized I had failed to do the things that I promised. Oh, I loved you. I love you still, very much! But I failed to protect you, to fight for you. You see, I really believed, from the time your dad and I broke up, that you and your brother would be better off with him. I was convinced, for many reasons – reasons that you probably understand better than anyone – that you deserved better than me. I thought your dad was that. Over the years, I learned how wrong I was.

And now, here we are. You no longer with us and the rest of us so brokenhearted we don’t really know what to do.

Having you, Darren, changed me. It pushed me to be better, to love more. Losing you changed me yet again. It broke my heart, but I have somehow found the strength to keep going. It taught me to never take anything for granted, not one single second of any given day because it could all be over within that second. A person can be yanked from your life for eternity just like that.

I meant for this to be an awesome show of love for you, but for whatever reason, I just can’t find the words…..or more aptly, there are no words that can describe how I am feeling right now. I mean, there probably are words, but they escape me.

But it all boils down to this: I miss you. I love you a ton and I miss you just as much. Every day that has passed since you left us has been spent wishing you were still here. i replay the whole week prior over and over again in my head, trying to make sense of it. I can’t. I can’t make sense of it. I have been confused for the last eight months. Confused, sad, and angry.

Anyway, you were a blessing when you were born. You were a blessing when you passed away. You will forever and always be a blessing to me. Happy 18th Birthday in Heaven. I know you are happier there. I know you are at peace. I know all your pain is gone and your heart feels lighter. And, that makes losing you a little easier to bear.

~ Love Mom

Life in General

Life Moments #53 – A New Year – Not a Good Start so Far

I have never been one for New Year resolutions and I guess I won’t start now, but I do wonder what the new year will bring.

I am so over 2018. It’s brought heartache and joy, as most years do I suppose. I mean, how do we get through life without them!?!

As I type this, my mind is full of questions. Disappointments are ranking pretty high in my world of late. It’s hard to look at someone you love with all your heart with defeat.

I feel defeated.

I feel drained.

I feel disheartened.

I see my world slowly unraveling and I can’t seem to regain hope that my disappointments will become joys.

And as I have been for awhile, the questions about my faith seem to be coming more rapidly.

NOTHING make sense!

I look around at everyone I love. I see the anger. I see the sadness. I see the brokenness. I see the fear and concern. I see the weaknesses that we try to hide. And I ask:

Where is God in all of it?

I’ve said before, I don’t blame God for my son taking his life. We make choices and sadly, he made his. It has affected me tremendously. I mean, I really can’t even put it into words. So, no I don’t blame him.

But….

I wonder: Where is He in all of it? Where was He when my son needed him? Where is He now?

Trust God, they say.

It’s God’s plan, they say.

God gives us free will, they say.

God sees the whole picture while we only see small portions of it, they say.

And what they say makes sense, somewhat…

I am CONFUSED!

I am angry about my confusion.

All these thoughts of life, of Darren, of situations right now are roaring through my head constantly yet I have NO answers.

I am tired.

In fact, I am exhausted.

I just want it to stop.

The questions. The sadness. The confusion.

I am drowning in it…..

So, what will this new year bring?

I don’t know, but I am nervous about it.

I think I am actually developing anxiety over it, if developing anxiety is a thing….

Prayers please. Lots and lots of prayers.

~ Shannon ~

 

Life in General

Life Moments #52 – A Little Joy

As many of you know, I became a grandmother a month ago. She is the most precious bundle of joy in the world. And I am one lucky mimi!

We are in the midst of the Christmas season, celebrating Christmas only four days ago. My family and I were all sick for a few days prior so on Christmas Day we were quarantined. I cancelled out plans to spend the day with my oldest son, his girlfriend, and our granddaughter along with my parents, siblings, and nieces/nephew who were supposed to come into town. My hubby and I spent the day with one another and our children. It’s been a long time, if ever, that my husband and I celebrated the holiday with only our children. It was a beautiful day. We opened gifts first thing….you know how kids can be. My husband and I prepared our Christmas meal. We watched movies and played board games. I read a few stories to the kiddos. It was just a beautiful day without any chaos, surprisingly enough.

Just this afternoon, my oldest son and his family came to the house to celebrate Christmas since we are back to good health. My husband and I made round 2 of Christmas meal, scaled down a bit, and we visited. It was another beautiful day. We gave the three of them their gifts after having Christmas meal and visited some more. To top of the evening, I was asked to babysit my granddaughter.

Of course I will!

Oh, I love the little peanut. I love babies anyway, but she sure is a blessing! And she’s not an overly cranky baby so the evening has gone very well.

I was very concerned with the Christmas season beings it’s our first Christmas without Darren. He has been in my thoughts frequently the last few days. Tears have been shed, a few nights have been sleepless, but that seems to be the norm for me the last months. The joy of the season has been flighty at best. I have still been questioning much about my faith. Some days I seem to be okay and feel pretty faithful, but other days not so much. Some days I think I am making headway, and other days I know I am losing ground — going backwards.

What a topsy-turvy existence!

But, over the last couple of days, I have seen a glimpse of my joy. Fleeting, maybe, but I seen it. I recognized it! And I want it back!

Little Miss Ivory has been a blessing through such a time of turmoil. I love that sweet, precious baby with all my heart.

She may never know Darren in person, but by the time she grows up, she will swear she did! She will hear all the stories of him. She will love him through our love for him.

As always, I ask for continued prayer for my family and I โค

~ Shannon ~

Life in General

Life Moments # 51 – I Don’t Know Anymore

Sad-Quotes-Love-Quotes-Cute-Heartbroken-Relationship-Quotes-6079As this year gets ever closer to rolling into a new one, my heart continues to break for what my family has endured.

Honestly, I don’t even know what to say anymore because it appears that this time of mourning should come to a close. Now is the time I start grieving alone and not let that grief be seen by others who are in my life.

I am so confused. I’ve never been here before and I don’t know how to navigate this area of life. I know we all lose someone eventually, but it seems I am doing it wrong. Lord, please help me. I am failing at what I am supposed to be doing which is being a wife and a mother among other relationships.

Don’t get me wrong, I know God is there. I know He is, but I don’t know where. I want to see him all around me, but it’s as if I have become blind. It’s dumb! I don’t want to have a broken heart, but I do. Can that be changed? Will it remain broken or is there some healing somewhere?

I am confused. I am angry. I am sad.

But, I still feel joy. I still feel happiness. I still feel sympathy for others. And I still feel hope for our future.

I fear those things, my feelings of such, do not matter. There is so much about life, about God, that I have yet to understand.

As many of you know from past posts, I have stopped attending church. For reasons that make sense to me and despite anyone’s understanding or lack thereof, I have. However, it is now beginning to affect my marriage. And I feel stuck. I consider myself a Christian wife, but I am left with questions about my faith. I am left with questions about how it all ties together.

If I understand correctly, our lives are based on choices by the hour, by the minute even! And while we can’t make choices for someone else, we are in full control of our own choices. When I go through my choices – some hasty, some thought out carefully – I can weigh the impact of each choice I have and then make the best possible choice. Right? The best possible choice.

But for who?

Who am I considering when I make my choices? Not only who else will my choices affect, but how.

Okay, so that part about choices, I can understand.

What I can’t understand is: Are my choices the only ones affecting my family?

Don’t worry if you are confused, I am too.

I am wrestling with the devil in a time when I want to be listening to God. I am wrestling between my heart and my head.

And I fear I am losing.

Today is not a good day. Today, I am not okay.

Please pray for me, for my family.

~ Shannon ~

 

 

Life in General

Life Moments #50 – Another Change is Coming

 

2018-05-21 11.19.58

For six months now, I have been living in despair. I don’t mean so much in despair that I can’t do what I need to do to take care of me or my family. I mean the despair that is a broken heart. I am surrounded by memories of my son, but I am also surrounded by life that continues to go on.

So, go on I must.

We are very close to the season of giving. I love the holidays as it is a time when family can get together without feeling guilty about not doing this or that in their every day, busy lives. We relax. We mingle. We talk. We joke. We enjoy. So often in the midst of every day life and every day struggles, we seem to miss the little things that make up the big things. And it’s the little things that matter….

But, before I go off on that subject, I want to focus on what the upcoming season really means to me:

  • family togetherness
  • good fortune: I don’t mean material riches, but those of the heart
  • time to rest
  • a few days without running here or there, to this sporting event or that meeting
  • hopefully some sleep

These last six months have depleted me – mind, body, and soul.

However, there is a change coming. We are expecting some excitement in the very near future.

Not only will my family be celebrating Thanksgiving in the coming days, but we will also be celebrating the birth of my first grandchild. My son and his girlfriend are having a baby – which I think I may have mentioned a time or two. 1 (13)Their precious baby girl is due on November 28. As I continue to grieve for the loss of my son, I will witness a miracle as all babies are beautiful miracles. As I continue to grieve for loss of one life, – a life I loved more than my own – my son and his girlfriend will bring life into the world.

Oh, I can’t wait to meet that precious, beautiful being. It seems our blessings multiply most during the times we feel so broken.

~ Shannon ~