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Approaching Five Years

I’ve largely ignored this blog and haven’t had a desire to go back and read my entries from those early days. It’s still hard to believe.

I did submit a little write up which is more “blog entry” material for my Listening Hearts newsletter recently and figured this might be a good place to house it. Maybe I need to write more? It helps and the dark days of December are approaching.

Here it is:

December
As I write this in late October, those unwelcome guests who occupy my mind, anxiety and dread, have already started unpacking and setting up house for their annual visit. The “hap-happiest time of the year” is a myth for those of us who have buried a child no matter how many years pass. If I were really honest, December wasn’t always that happy anyhow…. perhaps here and there of course; the music, lights, smell, food, celebrating Christ’s birth….in truth I assumed responsibility to create a perfect Norman Rockwell image – exquisite meals, gifts to be cherished, a glittery tree… the list is endless. Note: “exquisite meals” is still part of my own myth, but it was good eats!

My sweet Carson arrived on December 31, 1990 on the day of a blue moon. I had a knowing even before he arrived that he was special and confirmed the moment I held him. He skidded off a sleet slick road on the evening of December 1, 2008 just a few weeks shy of his eighteenth birthday. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and died the next morning.

The world still turns, the sun still rises and shines and five years later, I am still breathing. In many ways I feel frozen in time, the time before that phone call. In other ways my life is so very different. Did I ever think life could look like this? I will say I have many unanticipated blessings – I find this a remarkable declaration. The tragedy has led me to redefine my values and what is important (and what’s not). New friends have come into my life – the term “friends” really seems shallow, these are real souls brought to me with purpose. Some old friendships have deepened, others have slipped away. Life is full of ebbs and flows naturally, and only now am I fully aware of this.

I left a career I was no longer interested in anyway. I left a house that was more than I needed. A lengthy romantic relationship ended, although in truth, it had been over for quite some time before my tragedy. I got a dog. I have a hobby, several, for the first time. I no longer feel responsible for everybody and everything. I don’t have to be right ALL the time. I practice Reiki and meditate. I have an enlightened spirituality I never knew before. I express gratitude with intention. I rarely worry anymore, quite a shift. I have no fear of my own death. I don’t ask “why” all day and every day, only from time to time.

Would I change it if I could? Of course I would but I can’t. I imagine this is what the books call acceptance. Life is not all rainbows and glitter but after five years I am grateful for both the blessings in my life as well as the ability to recognize them. I pray your journey leads you to exactly where you are meant to be.

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It has been forever since I have publicly journaled.  Mainly I believe I have been coping and functioning as well as can be expected.  Until the last couple of weeks.  I believe I hit bottom this week when I became sick with a stomach thing… feeling rotten physically makes the depression worse, and really, too much time to think and dwell on what I cannot change.    The gravity of my loss is so heavy.  For a time I felt Carson was coming back, I was just waiting for him to come back.  The biting reality is sinking in now, and I miss the days of waiting.

My therapist Linda was able to work me in today as I know I am once again stuck in a bad spot.  I haven’t felt a great need to see her for a few months now.  She does help me understand what I need to think about doing;  I answered that question on my own so I’m not sure why it takes a therapist to spoon feed it back for me to “get it”.  I always need something to look forward to…  I have a few things but I need something big to look forward to.  The dread I feel as another season ends and another first begins is overwhelming, as is the dread of dealing with the one year anniversary.  Much of this is causing this complete despair I feel.  Days are getting shorter… leaves will begin falling. 

The hardest part I  believe… I really felt I was making progress in the right direction and this deep-dive has left me feeling shaky and unsure that I can go on.  One step forward and what seems like a hundred backward.  I have a great circle of supportive friends and family, a great job with the best people you will find anywhere… and despite all this, it’s just not enough and that stings as  well.    I am grateful for all of this yet feel guilty that it’s just not enough.  I am surrounded by loving and caring people who want nothing more than for me to be ok.  And how helpless I know they all feel…  at what point will they give up?  My closest circle both family and friends are natural caretakers… how frustrating for them.

So what’s next… well I see the check-up-from-the-neck-up doctor next week…. he will likely want to increase my meds (he wanted to last visit and I refused…  I suppose I should learn to trust him a little better but I am so guarded).  I have plans for a dear friend to come visit in October, my sweet Marcia from Montgomery.  And I’m considering a beach trip.  Not sure how to cram all of that into October but I know I need a change of scenery.  Linda reminded me I need to make plans of what I can do or contribute in Carson’s honor… even if I do not have the strength now, just planning and having ideas when that time comes is a positive step.  I am glad I saw her today… I still  have such heaviness but feel less stuck.

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I am now where I think I can begin a list of Carson’s favorite things… I’ll start it and just keep adding to it and invite anyone else to comment on what I have missed or maybe wasn’t even aware of….  today is April 26, 2009 and unsure when I’ll publish, will leave in “draft” for a little while.

It’s end of June, I am ready to publish and will continue to add to this list.

  • Pepperoni, right out of the pack
  • Chef Boy-R-Dee dinosaurs
  • Japanese food, teriyaki chicken in particular with lots of rice and extra shrimp sauce
  • Steak – beef of any kind but a great big juicy steak – NY Strip, Filet Mignon, Sirloin and Ribeye (although he preferred the less fatty cuts such as sirloin)
  • Ham – my brother reminded me over Easter how Carson would eat a big plate of ham and nothing else.  True.
  • Cocoa Crispies cereal, also Bite Size Frosted Mini Wheats
  • Pepperoni Pizza – would even eat frozen pizza just not Totinos… Totinos is always on sale CHEAP – he asked me to please not buy that brand anymore. 
  • Ramen Noodles – he liked to “doctor” them up with his own flavorings and add-ins
  • Wendy’s spicy chicken filet sandwich
  • Chicken strips – fried not baked.  He was so happy when I got a fry-daddy type fryer for Christmas in 2007
  • French fries
  • Hamburgers – he like to make his own on a small Foreman grill
  • Weigels Peach Tea
  • Sometimes “Vault” but it hurt his stomach to drink them
  • Cherry gummy candy he would get at Weigels
  • Bacon
  • World of Warcraft computer on-line game – he sold his character identity due to high rating, I ended up getting some sort of warning through PayPal over this and never asked more questions over the transaction
  • “American History X” and “The Big Lebowski” movies
  • Stephen Colbert – “The Colbert Report” – he got me hooked on this show
  • History Channel and any science or history documentary
  • Chips Ahoy Chewy cookies (in the red package)
  • My sweet tea (Luzianne Decaf)
  • Cars – fast cars and anything to do with cars (magazines, websites, etc)
  • Protein supplements, I always ordered powdered stuff from bodybuilding.com for him, he was really into working out
  • Plaid shirts always with a t-shirt underneath
  • Jack Links Beef Jerky
  • Spaghetti noodles with spray butter only on them
  • Broccoli, the tops only
  • Japanese Ginger salad dressing, only at the restaurant, I never could find any at the store he liked that much
  • Pantene “Classic Clean” shampoo/conditioner in one
  • His cat, Red (and Blackie but Red was his favorite)
  • Bubba Burgers
  • Bacon

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It’s very early on Saturday morning, and it has been a long while since I have felt like writing.  So where am I in this grief journey?  Well…  the abrupt cessation of writing seems to coincide with about the time I was prescribed flouxetene (generic Prozac in case you are wondering)… my head doctor as well as my therapist seemed to think this was needed as I approached the 6 month anniversary of Carson’s death.  I was hesitant to take it, mostly I think pride as well as a bit of “shame” factor, although I’m not sure if pride and shame can really be separated.  I never feel it’s a bad thing if a friend or acquaintance seeks help for depression or anxiety yet for some reason it’s a very hard thing for me to accept in myself.  Our dad taught us to be “tough” I think is the main driver there, and a pill seems to equate with weakness.  Anyhow, I got over that although it crosses my mind fairly often.

Ironically, after having this “shame” conversation with my therapist, who gently urged me to take the shrink’s advice (they work in conjunction sharing their notes about me), she added that it wasn’t necessary to share with anyone that I was taking an anti-depressant.  In a way that is funny to me and in another way I want to question her comment next time I see her…  it’s as if she was validating my shame.  Oh well.  I fully understand the stigma of mental health issues, but at the same time, I feel a need to share that it’s okay… who else may be suffering because of their own shame issues surrounding not being able to “snap out of it”? 

So what has Prozac actually done for me?  I have a very narrow range of emotions and tend to stay “between the lines” is how I explained it to my shrink last week.  He suggested increasing the dosage (I’m on the lowest dosage) but I told him I didn’t think that was necessary.  I can laugh although not as long or loud, and I still cry although not as often or long.  Static.  I have also noticed in the last month I feel like Carson is coming back home.  I’m not sure if it’s the head medicine or what is called the “denial” phase of grief, or perhaps a combination of the two.  Intellectually I know he is not, I visit his grave, I see his little wreath with his picture attached in a plastic pouch, so yes, I know my Carson is dead and buried.  But I feel I’m waiting on him to come home just any day also.  It’s hard to explain.

I do feel more focused at work although not at the level I was prior to December 2.  I suppose the meds have helped with that, as well as more time passing.  Mostly I feel I’m in limbo, waiting for something to happen or change.  And I wonder if I will feel this way for the rest of my life?  Waiting instead of just living each day. 

I still need to have something scheduled to look forward to;  currently it is going to Abingdon for our annual 4th of July foodfest.  This year sadly, no boys there.  The nephews have all moved off…. Carson is gone.  My father’s absence is felt so strongly each year at the 4th because I believe that was one of his favorite things, being with the family enjoying a hot summer day with lots of great food and proudly watching his grandsons.  We traveled to Baltimore in May to spend the week with my sister, was a nice time.  I’m just running out of things to plan to look forward to. 

What else has helped me?  Outside of the head med, I am hopelessly in love with my dog that I got end of March.  She has been terrific therapy for me.  I have been a confirmed cat person for at least 30 years and never thought I could become so attached to a dog, but I have.  She makes me laugh alot.  She even sleeps with me now and I said that would never happen.  Having supportive and loving friends, family and co-workers has helped alot too, I always knew I was blessed with great people in my life but it’s the tough times that confirm this.  New friendships formed through Listening Hearts group, which is a bereaved mother’s group, has been a lifesaver as well.  Having the kids still come around, I am always so glad to see them all.  It’s an honor to be allowed in their young lives, a time in their lives that generally the last thing they want is some middle aged woman to hang with here and there.  They are so sweet to come by or call fairly regularly.

I suppose in a nutshell, my life is “row row row your boat…. life is but a dream” right now.  Not so merrily, merrily, merrily however.

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FHS ’09 Yearbook

Carson’s Page in the Yearbook

 I picked up the yearbooks today at the school, I thought the kids did a nice job with his page.  It’s not a great scan simply because I’m not all that talented using the scanner but hopefully it is readable.  Hopefully if you click on the link it will  open the page.

Graduation is this Saturday;  Big Joe’s mom has invited me to a brunch she is hosting that morning and I will try to go to that and see the kids.   I understand from my brother that Jenny Lobello did a very nice job reading the 23rd Psalm for Carson at the Baccalaureate last Sunday.  Sweet Jenny came by the house on Saturday and spent some time with me and shared stories of Carson, and her plans for college this fall in Chicago.  She was so brave for getting up and reading that… and I know she was both scared and emotional about it so I am very proud of her.  She shared that she was assured she could back out last minute if she was unable to do it but I know she really wanted to.  Sweet girl and a good friend to Carson.  I come to know more of his friends and never realized how kind so many of them are, we just don’t take that time when we have teenagers… or I suppose they don’t care to be around parents for very long so we don’t get much opportunity.  It’s a shame really.  I believe Carson would be proud of his friends, and a little embarrassed over the attention also.

I visited the cemetery after my doctor’s appointment on Monday;  I’ve only visited a few times as it is so hard.  Someone has left a  pretty wreath on a stand with his name in gold letters across a ribbon.  The little cars are still there, beneath the wreath.  I have learned that another friend Kelsey left those cars months ago.  I am now anxious to order his marker although I get a knot in my stomach thinking about that too.  I still can’t believe this has happened.  In many ways it is like a very bad dream;  I often ask myself aloud if it is a dream…

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It has been a weepy day for me being mother’s day as well as baccalaureate for Farragut High Class of ’09.  It’s been a rough last week or two for me, very anxious.  Chronically sad.  Still asking how could this have happened?  I feel very much like the walking dead… the spirit is dead but the body continues to live somehow.  Stuck in the same place, like purgatory.  The same images continue to flash through my mind and memory, but about a week ago I saw Carson as a little boy again.  Sure I see the photos of him but in my mind I’m unable to see him other than those last few hours.  It was a short burst of happiness to see him as a little boy…  lying on my bed letting me scratch his little back when he was five or six years old.  I haven’t seen it again though, and have tried very hard.

Two weeks ago I started a draft of Carson’s favorite things;  I haven’t added to it yet and don’t feel ready to share it just yet either.  Within a week of that I found a sweet list that Boo had made of “Remembering Carson” on her myspace page.  Her list is precious to me, she shares more of Carson with me.  With her permission I am including here:

 

I remember the time we laid in my bed and it was cute because he was so tall his legs kinda went over the side.

I remember the time we passed notes on a napkin in the pizza restaurant trying to guess the gender of the lady beside us…

I remember my first red light I ran on an accident and his words were ” well, are you trying to kill me?! LOL, silly boo”

I remember the time we went shopping for his clothes and I told him I would dress him if he dressed me… AND BOY did he look NICE in tight jeans… oh man his butt was delish. He was so SO SO proud of himself for the outfit he put me in… i mean… I did look good in it 🙂

I remember the first time I met his mom… and the first time he met my family

I remember when he wrote on top of my refrigerator with his finger in the dust… he was so tall

I remember going to a coffee shop and sitting for hours and only drinking free water

I remember the first ride in his Supra car

I remember all his stories about wrecking and mean teachers

I remember him rushing off his friends and sometimes even leaving them at his house to come with me somewhere.

I remember the first time going to church with him… and his SNAZZY outfit

I remember our first hug

I remember our first conversation and forgetting his name, but knowing exactly what he looked like and that his name was strong and unique

I remember the night he irritated me… and called and asked if Ace hardware (where i worked at the time) made keys… and that was an OBVIOUS question… he just wanted to talk to me and didn’t know how to go about doing it

I remember the night we talked about gender and how it wasn’t body parts… but a frame of mind.

I remember A LOT OF THINGS
and I never want to forget them… EVER
but I am scared that I might so I feel like I always have to tell people over and over and over to refresh my mind with them.

I remember our last phone conversation.
I remember kissing him for the first time on the cheek in the hospital.
I remember his funeral.

I REMEMBER HIM.

Thank you, Boo,  for this gift you give me.

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Grant’s 22nd birthday is coming up on April 27… another first without Carson.  I am planning on taking a small group of his friends to a Japanese hibachi-style place on Sunday for an early dinner.  Carson loved going to these places, it’s fun plus the food is good and Carson loved rice and all the meats (he would pick over the vegetables, only eating broccoli).  Grant has always been a fan too, and these are good “group” places to go.  Hope we can pull it all together.

I have slept most of the day today, rising only to barely make a haircut appointment.  I am totally wiped out for the last few days.  I saw my head-doctor on Friday and he is suggesting I start on an anti-depressant, Prozac to be exact, and I do not want to do that at this time.  I have several arguments on why I don’t want to, and will consider his advice over the next month or two, as well as resume seeing my therapist.  The doctor’s argument for starting sooner rather than later is to lessen the plunge, as he feels I am headed for a plunge.  He insists it will not interfere with the grieving process that I must go through but I am not convinced of that just yet.  I feel some of the sleepiness goes back to the thyroid issue too and don’t want the multiple issues to be masked by head medicine.  I am not opposed to these meds when needed, and don’t even feel shame or stigma regarding treatment with these, I just don’t think it’s what I need right now.  I am tired of being tired, I do know that much.

I am struggling through prom and graduation season.  There will be recognition for Carson at the baccalaureate on May 10 and I’m still not sure if I will be able to go or not.  It will have to be under heavy medication if I do go and sitting well in the back of the church.  I probably won’t know if I can go or not until that day comes.  Big Joe’s mom called and has invited me to a brunch at her home on the morning of graduation and I will try to go.  It’s just so hard for me to commit on what I can and cannot do right now.  I have a strong desire to crawl into my bed, pull my covers over my head and stay there from now on.  That is not a realistic thing for me to do but I still very much would prefer to do that as to anything else.

In a few short weeks I will be headed to Baltimore for a visit with my sister;  Grant and Boo are planning on going too.  I am looking forward to that but concerned about having little to no energy.  I’m already trying to think of some other trip to plan beyond that, it’s as if I have to have something to look forward to in order to make it to that date.  I would love to take a month or more and just get in my car and drive cross country. 

The dog is growing on me.  She’s really very sweet and settling down some now.  I did go to obedience class without her last week – she wears me out so I used the teacher’s dog (who is already perfectly trained – sure made it simpler to “teach”).  We practice at home;  she’s very smart but has a ways to go in her training.  She’s a barker, although barking less now.  Still no interaction with the dog and my cats…. cats live in the basement with Grant and are always on “alert”. 

I’m very tired so finishing this up to go stretch out a bit.

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