I Don’t Understand!

From my journal dated January 1, 2003:

Jenna said two gals [friends from homeschool days] stopped by while she was working yesterday. They’ve been home from college for a week and a half. Since no one had asked her to do anything on New Year’s Eve, Jenna decided be bold and ask if they wanted to hang out with her last night – watch movies or do something. They used to hang out all the time together, along with other friends. She just wanted to do something fun.

Jenna said both of them stood there like deer in the headlights, hemming and hawing.  Obviously, they were doing something else, but didn’t want to include her. Or didn’t know if Jenna should be invited or would be welcome. I don’t know. It would have been better if they had just told her they had other plans and made arrangements to see her another day. They just got their coffees and left.

My poor girl. She’s just hurting so much. She’s so lonely.

When Jenna told me about it this morning, she was so upset. She said that everyone she knows has either deserted her or treats her like crap. And she said she expects it any more! She’s surprised when anyone is actually nice to her, wants to be around her, compliments her on something.

My heart breaks for my precious daughter. How can they treat her like this?? She’s a wonderful, kind, caring, giving, beautiful young woman. She deserves so much better. She did nothing to cause this. How sad! I don’t understand how people can treat her like this. She did nothing wrong!!

© 2011 Rebecca R. Carney

New Year’s Day

From my journal dated January 1, 2003:

New Year’s Day. A new year. A new day. The days all just run together for me. For me right now, they’re just another day without Jason.

My sister went home yesterday. I hope she had a good time. Joe and Doris always have such a good time together, and I’m very glad. They’ve been friends since I first met Joe. I told Jenna the other day how Joe used to call her Dorie Dew Drop and she’d call him Joey Baby. Seems like such a long time ago.

I know that she’s been really frustrated with me. I don’t know what she expected – probably that we would connect or relate as we once used to. Doris said something along the line that she missed Jason, but she felt like she was losing me, too. I don’t know what more I can do. Honestly, I just don’t have the energy.

I can see where she’s coming from. She really wanted to make sure I was okay. She wanted me to open up and talk to her. But I just can’t right now. I love her so much – but she can be such a poker and prodder. She always has a solution she wants to share. She wants to tinker around and “fix” me, fix things. Some things just can’t be fixed.

I don’t want anyone to poke or prod me or try to fix me. I feel like I need to guard my broken heart. I don’t want to fall apart. I’m afraid I can’t pull it back together again. I’m just weary. I don’t really want to feel very much; it hurts too much. I don’t want to go back and talk about everything we’ve walked through this past year; it takes too much energy. I just want her to accept me where I am, how I am. I can’t live up to someone else’s expectations. All I can do right now is one step at a time, one day at a time.

I’m just dreading life now that Doris is gone, though. It was good to have someone who really cared about us for a change, someone who wanted to be with us and do things with us. We don’t have anyone now. I am not looking forward to this empty year, this empty life. I feel like I don’t have anything to look forward to. What do I look forward to? March 3rd? The trial? An empty summer? Jason’s 21st birthday? It just looks like a very black year to me.

© 2011 Rebecca R. Carney

Too Much Reality

From my journal December 27, 2002:

My sister is here. She came for Christmas, and I am very glad for it. But I’m not very good company. I’m so much more silent and withdrawn than I used to be. So much more subdued. I feel like I just observe, like I’m on the outside looking in.

Both Jenna and Eric were working yesterday, so Doris, Joe and I went shopping at the mall. On the way home, we drove by the cemetery so Doris could see Jason’s headstone. She hadn’t see it yet.

I felt like I had done Jason an injustice by not going by there on Christmas Day. It just felt so wrong to have celebrated Christmas without him. I hadn’t felt wrong about all we had done to celebrate Christmas up until that point. Then it seemed like we should have skipped the whole thing since he wasn’t here.

I know we need to do things. Our lives don’t stop – can’t stop – even though sometimes it feels like they should. Like they have.

I mostly followed Joe’s lead – getting a Christmas tree, getting presents, the whole Christmas Day thing. I really tried. But, as I stood there yesterday, I felt like we had cheated Jason by celebrating at all. He wouldn’t have wanted us not to celebrate Christmas, though. I know that. But how can we “celebrate” without him? How do we “celebrate” without him?

Doris had a difficult time at the cemetery. It’s really hard to see Jason’s name on a headstone. It’s too much reality, reality your mind doesn’t want to accept. It shouldn’t be him! He’s too young – so much life ahead of him; so much he could accomplish; so many lives to touch with his amazing heart. Such a good heart. Such a good guy.

© 2011 Rebecca R. Carney

Christmas Day

From my journal dated December 25, 2002:

Christmas Day. Our first Christmas without Jason. I can hardly think those words, write those words. Without Jason. I still can’t grasp the concept.

We did the “usual” types of things. I made cinnamon rolls; Joe read the Christmas story; we exchanged presents. But I feel like so much of my heart is dead right now. It died right along with Jason. It died of neglect. It died because I don’t want to feel anything right now; it hurts too much to feel.

I go through the motions, but my enthusiasm is gone. It doesn’t reach my heart. I am so aware that things are not the way they should be. Jason should be here. Our Christmases will never be the same. We have a huge hole in everything we do, in every day and every event for our entire lives. Nothing will ever be the same.

© 2011 Rebecca R. Carney

Christmas Season – Not the “Same as Always” This Year

From my journal dated December 11, 2002:

On Sunday, Joe and I took Brandy [the dog] for a walk on the Woodinville Slough Trail. We were so sad and needed to get some fresh air. I think the Christmas season is affecting us so much more than we ever thought.

After our walk, we stopped and purchased a Christmas tree from the lot at Mary Sutton’s church. Came home, put it up, and started decorating it. Joe put on the lights, as he’s always done. But he just couldn’t handle doing any more than that. Eric and Jenna weren’t home, either, so I had to do the rest all by myself. It was so hard.

Christmas 2001

Debra* had asked Eric to fix a guitar for her daughter’s birthday. She came up to our house that afternoon to pick it up. We have known Debra and her family for many years; we considered them our extended family – family by choice instead of birth. We chose to make them our family. I feel like Jason’s death changed all that.

There I sat in the middle of the family room floor, surrounded by boxes, tissue paper, and ornaments waiting to be hung on the tree. I was such a mess. I was just drowning. I felt stuck, unable to do anything else. I would have given nearly anything to have someone help me. I guess I just had a hope in my heart that Debra would take time to sit down and help me. I would have loved some help right then. It would have made such a difference.

But she couldn’t do it…wouldn’t do it. I don’t know which. She probably had some place else she was headed. It was like she couldn’t wait to get the guitar from Eric and get out of our house. She barely even talked to me.

We always went as a family to pick out our Christmas tree, and then we would put on Christmas music and start to decorate the house and tree. Joe always put on the lights first. Then I would unwrap the ornaments, and each person would put his or her special ornaments on the tree. Sometimes a story starting with “I remember when…” would accompany the ornament.  Jason always put the angel on the top as soon as he got tall enough to reach.

We loved our Christmas traditions: Going to look at Christmas lights and rating them by “stars”; Chinese food on Christmas Eve; Christmas Eve candlelight service; freshly-made cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning; Joe reading the Christmas story to us; taking turns opening presents; Christmas dinner filled with goof food, family, laughter. Now what do we do?

Nothing is the same. Traditions now emphasize Jason’s absence. How can we just go through the same traditions this year? What are we supposed to do instead? I can’t just throw them all away. We can’t just do nothing. That seems wrong, too.

Christmas 1999

It took me a long time to decorate the tree. I absolutely fell apart when I pulled Jason’s stocking out of the box. How can he be gone??!!?? It’s just not right!! It’s all so very wrong!! This hurts!!! My heart hurts!! How do we celebrate Christmas without our boy??

© 2011 Rebecca R. Carney

Observing Life

From my journal dated December 11, 2002:

Sunday was a really tough day for us. Maybe it’s because Christmas is fast approaching – our first Christmas without Jason.

Went to church; sat up in the balcony. Neither of us knows where we belong right now. It just feels like we don’t fit anywhere. I feel like I’m just observing – observing church, observing activities, observing life. Sometimes I feel very detached.

Joe and I talked some about this whole “not knowing where we belong” thing when we got home and what to do for Christmas. Joe was just so sad today. He cried and cried. He’s a broken-hearted daddy.

I don’t know how we’re going to stand celebrating Christmas this year without Jason. It hurts so much just to think about it.

My Changed Identity

From my journal dated December 11, 2002:

Saturday night Joe and I went to a Christmas dessert theater at Northshore Baptist. Betty* invited us to go, said her husband had purchased a table and they had extra tickets. I have been trying to be less reclusive and more sociable, so we decided to go.

As we were waiting in the lobby to get the tickets from Betty, we saw Leif, a friend of Eric’s, standing with another guy. We went over and talked to him for a few minutes, and then started to go into the sanctuary. As I glanced back, Leif was leaning toward another guy, talking, and they were both intently looking at us. I’m sure they were talking about Jason and the accident.

I know I’m now known as “the mother of Jason, who died in a car accident” more than anything else. I’m positive that’s what Leif was telling his friend. That’s my main identifying factor…or at least one of them.

I loved being known as Jason’s mom. I was so happy and proud to be Jason’s mom. But now my identity has changed. People identify me to others in reference to my son who died. I know it’s typical. I did the exact same thing Saturday night.

We ran into a gentleman at the Christmas dessert from our homeschool group whose wife had died from cancer. That’s exactly how I identified to my husband how I knew this guy – “they were a part of our homeschool group; Eric taught his son guitar; his wife died of cancer.”

I do remember consciously thinking at the time, though, that that’s not the only way I think of him. Yes, there’s an awareness in me that his wife died and their son lost his mother. But, I don’t only think of him as a widower.

When someone’s child has died, a huge chunk of that parent’s identity has been altered. People view me through a screen now – one that has Jason’s death superimposed on it. I guess I view myself that way, too, most of the time. Except it’s not a screen. It’s as if it’s been imprinted on my heart, on my life, and all over me. “My precious son has died. My world is shattered. My heart is broken, and I don’t know how it will ever heal.”

I think it may take as long to rebuild my identity as it’s going to take to rebuild my life.

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With apologies to Patricia Hung (http://joyintheaftermath.com) who so eloquently addressed this same subject in her blog yesterday. Honestly…it was the next entry in my journal. Becky