As Jason’s favorite classical piece, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, came up on Pandora this morning, I found tears welling up in my eyes and I started crying. I am just so brokenhearted. Another Mother’s Day without Jason. Another Mother’s Day with no family close by. I miss my boy so much. He made everything so much better.
Mother’s Day is another stark reminder of his absence, a reminder that I wish I had treasured every single moment so much more than I did, a reminder of all we have lost. We take for granted our kids will be around for the rest of our lives. We take for granted we will have another chance to make more memories, to share more hugs and celebrate holidays. Even after 20 years, there are days when I just don’t know how to do this life without my boy. Mother’s Day is one of them.
I guess Mother’s Day exposes those cracks in the facade I try so carefully to maintain and to hide, allowing a bunch of feelings to flood to the surface. Mother’s Day just really gets to me. We’ll be alone again this Mother’s Day. I know that I am still a mother even though Jason died, but I feel so incomplete and empty. I wish I could skip Mother’s Day entirely and wake up on the other side.
I miss you, my beautiful precious boy. My Mr. Sunshine. You made me happy when skies were grey. I love you with all my heart.
March 3, 2022 is just around the corner, really only a couple of days away – the 20th anniversary of Jason’s sudden departure from this world. I can tell the day is getting close, as I can every year. It’s like I have an internal clock that reminds me, even though I don’t intentionally remind myself. I don’t need a calendar. I feel it in every fiber of my body.
All of a sudden I feel like I’m having a panic attack. I can’t breathe. I want to escape somewhere or to run to some place, but I have nowhere to go. There is no place without the pain of grief. Or a song comes on and tears spring to my eyes. This is generally not uncommon for me, but it happens more so this time of year. My emotions are much closer to the surface – not only grief, but all kinds of emotions. My patience is short, I am more easily frustrated or on edge. Out of the blue, I find myself incredibly sad. Situations that occurred during that time in our lives come to mind more often, even in dreams.
I dreamed the other night that two people – a gal in our homeschool group that I considered to be a friend and her daughter who was a friend of our daughter – had decided that they needed to write letters to me to apologize for the way they had acted when Jason died. They kept trying to give me their letters, but I was still so hurt by their actions (or lack thereof) that I was unwilling to read them. At the same time (in my dream), our landlord – the one who so unceremoniously kicked us out – drove by. His vehicle was full of other homeschool people we knew. With our landlord being the loudest, they were all leaning out the windows and yelling over and over, “I’m sorry!!!! I’m sorry!!! I’m sorry!!!” And then I woke up.
Over the years, I have worked hard on forgiveness, even though with one or two exceptions there have been no apologies, no acknowledgement of anything. At the lowest and most vulnerable place in our lives, we were left so alone for a lot of the time. I have written about some of what we all went through, but I am not at liberty to share all. I have to keep my mind from going to certain places. If I want to (and even sometimes when I don’t really try to), I see things that happened during that time so clearly in my mind and can step back into that time so easily. I don’t want to be a bitter person. I’ve read other bloggers who talk about incredible support. I’m happy to hear about bereaved individuals who have support, but, as you know if you’ve read any of my writings here, that necessarily wasn’t our case. It’s been a long, rough journey. There have been some kindnesses, to be sure, but a lot of loneliness and a lot of residual secondary losses/grief.
We watched a movie the other day called “Free Guy.” It’s a comedy starring Ryan Reynolds, who plays a character in a video game. It took a little while to get into the movie and decide whether we liked it or not, but, in the end, we enjoyed it. As we were watching it, I kept thinking, “Jason would really like this movie.”
Jason liked playing video games, even learning to play his favorite game of chess on an Atari game console when he was little. In college, he took a video game programming class. His professor wrote to me several years ago, saying he still had a copy of the game Jason developed and got it out once in a while to play it. It’s nice when people remember…and tell us about it. They say moms – family members, too – are the keepers of the memories.
I’m looking forward to getting our things out of storage when we move into our new house. We don’t have much left. About half of what we have in storage are photographs and momentos. My goal is to put together a scrapbook in memory of Jason – things that I saved from his time here on earth. Swimming awards, Awana Bible memory awards, things he’s written, pictures he drew, photographs, little everyday things that represent who he was. They are poor substitutes for Jason himself, but they are what I have, along with my memories.
Oh, my precious boy. I can’t believe you have been gone twenty years. I’m so incredibly sad you aren’t here. I miss you so much and I love you without end.
We recently closed on a house that is being built. It’s been a long time coming. It’s a small house – 1100 square feet, two bedrooms, two bathrooms plus an office and a sunroom. It will have a walking track, lawn maintenance and is about a half a mile from a cute, small town. It’s in a community of nice homes with people who seem friendly. I’m hoping we can make some friends there.
We had looked around this area for a place to buy off and on since we moved here nearly ten years ago. We considered moving to an area where we could be closer to our daughter or son and grandkids. It’s difficult to have people you love and want to be around on two separate coasts. With health issues (Joe’s heart attack and me being in the hospital twice last year with UTI’s that went septic) and COVID, we haven’t seen Eric and his family in more than three years. We haven’t seen our grandkids in more than three years. It’s a difficult thing for me not to be able to see my family on a regular basis. Although our daughter no longer lives near us, we are able to see her more often as she lives only four hours away. We still miss having her close. Housing costs in both areas were prohibitive for us, especially since I would have to give up my job to move either place and we wouldn’t qualify without my income. There’s no easy solution. This opportunity came up and we decided to make the commitment to once again try to make a house feel like our home.
After Jason died, we had a hard time figuring out where we belonged. No place felt like home any more. Everything was changed; nothing felt comfortable and easy. The house that was busy with activity and people before Jason died was now so lonely and quiet that the silence literally hurt my ears. It hurt my heart even more. Every corner, every place was a reminder of Jason’s absence. Every time we left the house and had to drive by the accident site, which was often, the reminder of that horrible day and his death stared us in the face. Some of the people we knew were uncomfortable with such deep grief and avoided us like we had something contagious. We became the people that other people pointed to from across the room, the ones whose son had died, the ones people ducked down the grocery aisles to avoid. Most people had no idea what to say to us. It was difficult, to say the least.
Joe and I struggled horribly. I felt like I was crushed to nothingness, an empty box with both ends cut out. Increased noise sensitivity and a flight-or-fight reflex whenever I felt trapped or cornered in any way were just some of the things I dealt with on a daily basis. I couldn’t sit still for very long. I was antsy and restless. My doctor prescribed sleeping pills so I could get some sleep. We didn’t want to stay around the empty house on weekends, but we didn’t have much of anything to do. It was hard to find the enthusiasm and interest to do anything. I kept going to school and Joe kept working. It’s as if we thought that if we just kept moving, maybe it wouldn’t hurt as much.
We eventually sold our house in Snohomish and most everything we had and moved to Oklahoma. We purchased a home and bought some furniture. I got a job. Instead of feeling at home, I found that I pulled inside myself and went into a survival mode there and, although I worked full time, felt like I mostly just existed to make it through the day so I could go to bed. While it had been difficult to live in a place that screamed of Jason’s absence, it was even harder to live in a place where he had never been, around people who never knew him. My sense of connectedness was gone and I felt adrift.
After deciding that Oklahoma was not the place for us, we once again sold our house, along with all of the furnishings we had purchased a few years earlier. The things we wanted to keep, such as photos and momentos, went into storage until we knew where we were going to land. Since then, we have lived in furnished rentals in Florida and North Carolina, trying to figure out where we fit. We still have the few belongings we have left in a storage unit. I currently work two jobs – one for 30 hours a week and one on a contract basis. Joe, never one to sit still, has found odd jobs to keep him busy in retirement and in pocket cash. We really don’t know where else to go. You really can’t outrun grief. No decision is a decision in itself and it’s time we have a home of our own.
I am, at the same time, both excited and filled with trepidation at this purchase and such a large commitment at this stage in our lives. It hasn’t helped that rising inflation costs and supply chain issues are affecting building materials and things we need to purchase for our home. We need to purchase most EVERYTHING for our home – from pots and pans to appliances to a bed to sleep in – and everything in between. I have been working gradually at purchasing kitchen items – with the help of my sister who had a virtual “housewarming Pampered Chef party” for us a while back and family who bought items for the house at Christmas. We are working on the big-ticket items, but need to have the house to be done enough to be able to have delivery there, all while trying to work through rising prices and backorders. It’s a bit overwhelming at times.
I’m hoping we finally can feel “at home” in this house. As I said earlier, I haven’t really felt “at home” any place since before Jason died. Carrie Underwood sings a song called “Temporary Home,” one with which I feel an affinity. I know that we are all travelers just passing through this life on earth. This is our temporary home. I believe that one day we will see Jason again in our final destination, our home in the heavens. I look forward to that day. Until then, we will do our best to be people of whom he would be proud and try to find joy and contentment where we can in our new home while we are here on earth.
The anniversary of Jason’s death is one month from today. It has always been a difficult time of year for me. Grief ebbs and flows, but it never ends. As of this year, he will have been gone longer than he lived. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around that. We will find some way to honor Jason in our new home. He is always in our thoughts and in our hearts. We take him with us wherever we go.
Tomorrow is Jason’s birthday. He would have been 39 years old.
I realized tonight as I got ready for bed tonight that I had felt such an emptiness all evening, like my arms were trying to reach out to hug Jason. He gave the best hugs in the world.
I wasn’t actually physically reaching out with my arms, but it was almost as if my whole being wanted to reach out, bring him close and hug him tight. But it felt like there was a huge, empty, gaping hole right in front of me where Jason should be, a void that could only be filled by Jason. My arms just felt so empty and there was such a huge ache in my heart.
We can talk about holding memories close. We can remember certain events and relive them in our minds. We can look at photographs and reminisce.
I remember what Jason’s hugs felt like. I remember his laugh and his smile. I remember his beautiful blue eyes. I remember so many things about him.
But a memory doesn’t hold a candle to the real thing. For me, there will be no more Jason hugs, no more memories to be made or events to be celebrated with Jason, no more Jason anything. I can’t wrap my arms around him and feel his wonderful bear hugs. And my arms feel so empty tonight.
I rarely dream at all. If I do dream, I usually don’t remember them.
I haven’t dreamt much about Jason since he died. When I do, they are very vivid. I dream that it’s all a huge mistake that Jason died, that he is alive. I dream that I am looking for him, that he must be somewhere and I need to find him.
Last night I dreamed that the place we lived had a Mount Vesuvius-type volcanic eruption. Jason and the girl he loved had been somewhere together when the blast happened. I couldn’t get to them to protect them and, when the blast was over, I frantically searched and searched and searched for them. I ran through the ash-covered streets checking each person who had succumbed to the the volcanic eruption to see if it was Jason and his love. The ash was so deep that it made it difficult to tell what exactly the shapes were, whether they were human or an inanimate object. I looked in every possible hiding place I could find to see if they had taken shelter in one of them. I desperately wanted to find them alive and for them to be okay.
I couldn’t find them anywhere and kept getting more panicky by the minute.
And then I woke up. I laid in bed and thought about how much I miss Jason, how incredibly different our lives would have been in SO many ways had he lived.
No matter how long it’s been, I think our hearts always long for our children to be alive and with us. We desperately want them to come home and to be able to hug them tight. We want them to be safe. Sometimes the longing comes out in our dreams.
As I sat having lunch in the park with my husband, Carrie Underwood’s song “Temporary Home” came on the radio. It always makes me cry when I hear it. It’s such a beautiful song, one more of hope than loss. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to it, I urge you go do so now.
I can relate with this song on so many levels. I feel like my husband and I have been living a “temporary life” for so many years that it’s difficult to remember what it’s like to be settled in a home of our own. On top of that, since Jason died, I have been so incredibly aware of how temporary things here on earth are – friendships, life, happiness, health, etc. – and that this world definitely is not my ultimate home. I long to see my precious boy again, and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I will see him again one day.