I am just back from lesson 3 of Dog Obedience class – and exhausted.  Lady goes absolutely nuts and out of control and it takes about the first 20 minutes for her to calm down enough to learn, and also not be so disruptive in class.  Enough of that – I just received an email link from Susan Lee… John Ryan was on “Live At Five” which is a local news and public interest show that comes on each day.

I am so proud of John Ryan and a proud owner of one of his robot dogs, a gift from his mom to me and it is a treasure.   The annual Breakthrough 5K Ribbon Run is this Saturday also;  I won’t be volunteering for this one but maybe next year.  This family, as well as the extended families from Breakthrough are dear to me.   If you are committed to continuous learning, consider educating yourself about autism this month… there are many great links from www.breakthroughknoxville.com and know that with the increasing incidences of autism, at some point, you will likely also know someone affected.

I am so proud of Susan too – she looks great!  Take a look at the video – you’ll have to sit through a commercial first but it’s very short. 



19 Weeks

I do write less, don’t I?  It is because I am tired most the time and my time is mostly dictated by work and the new dog.  Grant and I went puppy shopping several weeks ago and I’m the one who ended up with a dog… she’s 10 months old so technically still a pup but came trained, spayed and understanding basic commands.  Her mom was a lab and her dad was some sort of terrier and she looks more terrier.  She is very sweet but demands my time when I am home.  She has been good to have around though, a little distraction for all of us, and something to focus on with our obedience classes.  I enrolled her immediately, and she is the worst-behaved doggy in class.  She’ll learn, I think she is doing quite well to be young and in a new home.  You would think I brought a new-born home, she has been showered with gifts from near and far, it’s really pretty funny… I have many dog-loving friends, and I think they are glad I finally broke out of my “cat person” mold. 

I had the pencil sketch of Carson framed and picked that up last week.  I cry each time I look at it;  the artist did an amazing job with the sketch, and it is as if I am looking at him.  I have not decided where to hang it just yet-I have such a hard time making a decision about most anything.  Anyhow I’ll include here, the photo doesn’t do it justice.

carson_sketch2I am pleased with it and grateful to a family friend who sent along a cash gift which I used to cover the cost of the sketch and most of the framing.  

I was also presented with a lovely 16 x 20 senior portrait, also framed, by Carson’s guidance counselor and principal.  Very thoughtful, everyone at Farragut has been very kind.  I suppose I am fortunate that I never got to know the principals at Farragut since the boys always managed to stay out of trouble… probably a good thing to not be familiar with the principal.


I have had a very hard day today, it started out bad and has drained me.  I did go to work albeit late, I could not move this morning and very weepy.  It’s hard to explain, it’s not as if I feel ill but more like dead and lifeless at times.  It started on Sunday and seemed to nosedive when I woke up this morning.

Since Sunday was Easter, I figured maybe it was the holiday although this holiday wasn’t a particularly big deal for us other than the fun with dying eggs or setting out baskets when my boys were small, and then as they became older I always like to get a big chocolate bunny for each of them.   I also attended my second Compassionate Friends meeting that afternoon, and it drained me.  It’s a wonderful international organization, and the local chapter leaders are very kind and caring people who have also lost a child.  I’m just not certain it is where I need to be – they encourage us to attend at least three meetings before forming an opinion and I should try.  Sheldon has attended both times with me, and even he felt it was a little depressing.  It may not be the right time either, or even the right place for me.  I wouldn’t discourage anyone for going as decidedly we grieving parents all have different needs at different times.  In the evening we went to Ron and Norma’s for a lovely ham dinner but I still felt I had no energy to fully enjoy it.   I love being with family and especially the nephews but Carson’s absence, as well as my dad’s, always stings worse at such gatherings.  I swing between wanting to be surrounded by family and wanting to just be alone. 

The weekend before was my second “Listening Hearts” gathering;  this is the bereaved mother’s group that was started by Debra and is a group of about nine of us.  We have all lost sons and we are all similar in age.  It’s really the only place I feel somewhat “normal” or that no matter what I say, I don’t worry it will make someone uncomfortable.  In fact, I find myself not really thinking about what I say at all so it is one of the few effortless places for me to be.  All of us know the same pain, even if we grieve in our own ways, we have commonality too.  These are women I feel will be always in my life somewhere.  We are able to laugh and cry and it’s ok.  We made lovely flower arrangements – there is a craft activity of some kind each time and it’s relaxing to work on something and enjoying the sisterhood.  It’s a sad sorority to belong to but it does bring comfort.  Sweet Ruby took my flowers to the site of the accident as it only has a cross memorial now;  she lives up that way and has offered to decorate for me.  I was afraid to take the flowers to the cemetery since it is now mowing season and with no marker and vase, concerned they would be tossed out in order to mow. 

Debra coordinated and led a beautiful spring ceremony – we were asked to bring a cup or two of dirt from a place that was special to our child.  I brought a bag of dirt from out by the ditch by where little kitten is buried.   There was a lovely reading and then each of us went up and shared a story (or not), a song, a poem…. whatever we wanted to say or do.  All of our dirt was mixed together in honor of our cherished sons…  small pots and seeds were provided so that we could each have a small part of our sons’ to take with us, their memories and shared stories.  It was a special time, made special by each woman there.  Beautiful Katie later played her bagpipes for us, she is taking lessons, very musically gifted as was her son and her living son.  Who doesn’t love a bagpipe?  I don’t think I had ever heard bagpipes played “live” either, loved every minute.  Writing about this event is already making me feel better and not quite as dead. 

Listening Hearts Mother's Bereavement Group April 4

Listening Hearts Mother's Bereavement Group April 4

I am hoping to wake up tomorrow feeling better.  I have the increasing dread of graduation approaching and that weighs on me… between all the ads and the mail that comes for Carson from colleges, tuxedo rental places, insurance offers it’s really very painful.  No college, no prom, no graduation.

The Quilt Is Finished

Several have asked me why I don’t write so much in my blog… I suppose there are several answers and then again, maybe no particular reason.  Mainly I am too tired as I work full time again, and then some.  It is exhausting to me and my concentration is not so great, there isn’t much left by the time I get home from work.  The writing usually comes when I am especially upset as well, and that is usually when I am driving now.  It is my only alone time.  And also a reminder that the world is still the same yet very different to me.

I dropped the sketch of Carson off today to be matted and framed;  the woman who helped me was great, even when I burst into tears as we selected mat board and I had to explain it to her.  She had a talent for selecting what I think is a nice set of mat boards and a great frame too… less talent in trying to console me but that’s another story.  She meant well.

Tomorrow I have the difficult task of meeting with the guidance counselor and I believe a principal or two at Farragut High School.  They have something they want to present to me, and I need to return Carson’s textbooks although they said it wasn’t necessary.  Maybe I’ll keep just one.  I cry every time I think of how that will feel and not knowing what to expect… I suspect the layout is done for the yearbook but not sure.  It will be a tough trip either way.  My brother has offered to meet me there and I will let him.  I feel so helpless.

I titled this post “The Quilt is Finished” so I should include that.  I got the finished quilt over the weekend and pleased with it although I cry each time I look at it and hold it.  It’s ok though, it’s what I have to do and can’t control and don’t want to control.  I keep it in Carson’s old room which has been painted and emptied except for all those plastic totes full of pictures waiting to be scanned as well as what schoolwork and papers I have saved.  Cheryl donated her old loveseat that is in there now too, complete with slipcover that I can’t figure out how to put on it after I washed it.  There’s much I want to do with the room but simply don’t have the energy for it at this time.  Carson’s old card table is still set up in there.  His clothes and computer and everything else are packed away in his closet.  More plastic totes.

The quilt is very special as it is made up of his boxer shorts, shirts, pants, shorts and even a part of a Cracker Barrel apron.  The center was beautifully embroidered by Diana onto one of Carson’s oxford cloth shirts.  Isaiah 40:31 was given to me to read by the non-traditional counselor…. “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.  They shall mount up with wings like eagles;  they shall run and not be weary;  they shall walk and not faint.”  Someday it will bring comfort I suppose and I will wait for that day.  I requested that the clothing he was wearing when he had his accident be incorporated and some of it is.  Directly above the center is part of the t-shirt he was wearing under his “scrubs” top.  To the left is a piece of the blue jeans he was wearing.  To the right are those old yellow boxer shorts he wore all the time, and below that, the gray hoody he was wearing.  Bottom center is the top to his scrubs.  I can actually name every single square but I especially wanted the clothes that were cut from him incorporated into the quilt.  I had hoped the battery acid stain that looks like an angel could be pieced in but because of how that hoody was all cut up, it could not.

I want to crawl under that quilt and never come out again.  Absence truly is the hardest truth.

Spring at last

I typically wait all winter for spring to come, yet it is here and it only makes me sad.  I have mentioned to several friends that in the one support group meeting I attended (Compassionate Friends) it had been discussed that the old traditional mourning period was a year.  The question was asked… why do you think that was?  I had no answer as I felt (and feel) my mourning period will be for the rest of my life but the answer was because one experiences all those “firsts” since your loss.  That is starting to make more sense to me but I still stand firm that my pain will never leave, and each day is another first… another day waking up without Carson.  His absence overwhelms me, and even more-so with the realization that it is an absence I will feel all of my days.   This just isn’t life.  I miss life, I miss springtime and the appreciation of the “rebirth” of the earth.  I feel very old and very tired.  There are moments of “old me” but they are short-lived.  I cry alot.

How dare the daffodils to bloom?

Week-Old Thoughts

The following I typed out as I waited in Atlanta after my trip to California.  I was teary-eyed when I left, and once again as I waited in Atlanta.  The week away was a good one – honestly, I would like to run off and just keep running.  It was a week of distraction and sunshine and fresh vegetables and a little wine.  It was a week for the first time in a long time, and likely not to be felt for another long time, where pleasure  and smiles were  balanced  with the sadness.   I am weary of the heaviness and sadness and missing Carson and myself and who all of us were prior to December 1.

My writing from the airport on March 11:

The vacation is over and I am sad about that as I write this from Gate 38 at the Atlanta airport.  I’m usually anxious to return home from a trip but this time I was more anxious about leaving since it was a well-needed break.  Only a few weepy moments, mostly in the last couple of days as I know the return to reality will hit hard.  (NOTE:  It has)  Janet kept me sufficiently busy but the good kind of busy – sightseeing and enjoying the beauty of the California coast as well as the mountains.  Bittersweet to buy souvenirs but none for Carson this trip, and that thought crept in frequently.

I suppose there are always going to be a few regrets and I do have a few on words left unsaid and places unseen, but I try not to dwell on these and rather choose to remember that I never failed to tell Carson that I loved him, and he did get to see and do many things in his almost eighteen years.  Regular beach trips as well as a western trip by car with his dad many years ago.  He enjoyed the trips to Baltimore and I believe the last one was his favorite as he was older and able to enjoy getting around town with Grant.  I am glad he ate at Fogo de Chao, overpriced as it was, Carson was an immediate fan vowing to save his money and have lunch there everyday on his next visit.  I had hoped to take him to Atlanta for a birthday lunch in January;  I believe he is one of the few people that actually do get the full value out of the meal at Fogos.  The sun on my face felt great yet saddened me too.

On Tuesday, Janet’s youngest daughter arrived from Knoxville to finish out her spring break.  Janet and I had driven an hour or so south to Laguna Beach for lunch with some old Farragut kids, so her oldest daughter, a confirmed California girl, picked up her little sister.  The girls are so beautiful, as is their mom, and they reminded me so much of Janet when we were kids.  Already feeling the weight of leaving a virtual  paradise I also felt sadness and joy all at the same time watching the two sisters giggle and pick at one another.  I never wanted an only child and feel sad for Grant to not have a brother to giggle and plot with.  So many reminders of our loss and Carson’s absence from our lives.

I will stop for now as I am becoming a bit teary-eyed sitting at Gate 38 and will finish up from home.


It is very early in the morning on Thursday and I am sitting at Janet’s kitchen table in Marina del Rey, California.  I forgot to save her network password so I decided to write a little on a Word document and will cut and paste into this blog once she is awake (even though I really want to go in and wake her up for it, it is only 5:30 a.m. here now).  I forget how dependent I am on the internet for my news and staying connected, especially early in the morning over coffee.

My flights were uneventful other than I forgot how long five hours can be when cramped into those airplane seats, but was thankful to have aisle seats so I could stretch my legs out as well as stand up regularly without having to unseat an entire row of fellow passengers.  I did snooze some, more like cat naps, as I was awake at 4:00 a.m. in order to finish packing and get to the airport for my early flight. 

I guess I was dreaming early this morning (I woke up much earlier but made myself stay in bed), but had a quick flash of Grant and he was crying and asking me to help him.  Now I am anxious about that but it’s too early to call him as he has late classes on Thursdays.  I may send a text, even though my plan charges twenty cents for each text sent or received, I think worth it.  I have plenty more already accrued this month.  I actually hate to text, it takes too long.  In my half asleep-half awake state I also heard my dad calling my name, more like one of those yells as if he’s looking for me.  Weird.  But I have woken up feeling a bit anxious from these early morning dreams, or whatever they are… maybe subconscious thoughts in a half-awake state?

I was always anxious when I had to be away from my boys especially when they were little.  I traveled more for my job ten years ago, and even on short trips I was always uneasy about leaving them.  It could be this is some of the carry-over, so far from home and helpless to do anything for them. 

I only had a couple of teary moments yesterday, I was fearful of having a crying spell on the flight, making for an awkward moment for the elderly couple I was sitting with.  Our icebreaker was when the elderly woman needed to get up and had to wake me… apologizing profusely.  When she returned, still apologizing, we chatted a little while, I suppose mostly for me to let her know it was fine that she had woken me.  They were retired and living in Ohio, and had a son in California, and had also bought a home in Venice but decided not to move once their granddaughter was born five years ago and living just two doors down.  They are here several times each year for a month at a time.  Two sons, one daughter, two grandchildren and a great-grandbaby on the way.  I managed through my own sharing, yes two sons myself… and then explained that I had lost one in December.  I did so with only a teary-eyed moment.  It was not quite a conversation-ender but less chat after that, and I did nap some more once our niceties were exchanged.

Janet has been a great hostess and has a nice townhome, complete with ocean view.  It is simple yet stylish, very California-like.  We unloaded luggage and rushed to the Santa Monica Wednesday Farmer’s Market as they close fairly early.  It was a treat and we loaded up on many great fresh vegetables, all locally grown and very cheap.  We shut them down, still making last minute grabs of fresh produce.  The vendors do tend to discount as they are closing too.  My finds include strawberries, carrots, pistachios, orange beets, dates, sugar snap peas, fresh guacamole, finger potatoes and fennel.  We ate the peas last night, so sweet and fresh, and a few of the strawberries… out of this world delicious.  I think I could be thin if I lived here, living on fresh produce and so many places to walk – flat places which is a bonus for me.  I have never eaten fennel so that should be interesting, it looks like giant white celery with carrot tops.  Next was Whole Foods where we enjoyed wine samples and cheeses – interesting there is a wine bar in the middle of a grocery store.  Our next stop was a beautiful hotel/inn with a comfortable lobby bar where we enjoyed a cocktail on big comfy sofas.  We walked next door to a relatively famous landmark, Casa del Mar, a very elegant hotel with a lobby bar and restaurant.  It is very old but completely refurbished – elegant in every detail and right on the beach.  Janet shared that during the 90’s it had been home to the Pritikin Institute (the Pritikin diet thing of the 90’s).  We asked a bellman to take our picture in the lobby – he was happy to and shared he took hundreds during Christmas when the lobby is fully decorated.

I forced myself to stay up as late as possible to try to adjust for the time difference, I think I made it until about 9:30 which is longer than I thought I was capable of, but the time went fast chatting with Janet, catching up on the last thirty years.  California is a perfect place to live for Janet – not so much for me but a great place to visit and get away.  I worried some it was too soon to take such a trip but thinking this is a good time and a perfect place to be right now. 

Thank you Cheryl for sharing this cute little video:

If you are a cat owner, you can probably relate.  Except for the club (and that is only because my cats do not have opposable thumbs), this little cartoon sums up many mornings at my house.  There are several reasons that pets are on my mind these days and for this particular post.

Carson loved animals…  the cats at my house both present and past, as well as the dogs and cat at his dad’s house.  I know many argue that our beloved pets do not have souls and we will not be reunited with them, I don’t believe that at all.  Someday I will know if I have been right or wrong about that.  For Carson’s 13th birthday, we made a trip down to our local SuperPetz and I let him select a new kitten.  I had my sights on what I thought was the perfect kitten, very pretty and affectionate little kitten, but he chose his own.  I wasn’t impressed with her at the store, but within twenty-four hours of bringing her home, we were all hopelessly attached to her.  We actually found her in January;  kittens are very hard to find in winter, apparently they just don’t breed in the cold months but seem to make up for it by spring.  Even old Red, the big dumb cat we still have, seemed to attach himself to her very quickly, acting as surrogate mother to her, very protective of her.  We all loved that little cat more and more as she provided much entertainment as well as affection for all of us.  Long story short, she was tragically hit by a car just after school started about nine months after we adopted her.  Grant called me at work since he arrived home from school first;  I immediately came home…  how awful it was to see her on the side of the road.  Carson would be devastated especially since it was “his” cat… we all were.  As a single mom of boys, I never put the role of “man of the house” on either of my sons but I had to ask Grant to perform what I believe was the first time I forced that duty on him – that was to gather the dead family pet up in a sheet and handed him a box for her casket.  I was too distraught myself, not only for my loss, but the dread of telling Carson when he came home from school.  I couldn’t bear for him to see her on the shoulder of the road from the school bus window.  I do recall that Carson retreated to his room after I told him – we all did.  I wept openly and Grant did too, but Carson chose to mourn in private.  We had a little funeral just before dusk – Grant dutifully dug the grave.  At the little backyard service, Grant and I each had words of remembrance through our tears and Carson remained silently fixed on the grave.  Not wanting to pressure him,  I asked him did he have any words for his beloved “Little Kitten” – he finally broke his silence but not his stare…. “I hope whoever did this gets run over by a car” and went to his room.  I couldn’t reprimand him for such sentiment because he was so hurt, and chose instead to let him deal with his grief in his own way.   It was a turning point for both my boys – Grant having to be “man of the house” for the first time, and for both boys, their first significant experience with death and loss.  Less than two months later, we learned of my dad’s terminal lung cancer diagnosis. 

Old Red was never the same either… he’s really never been much of a pet but he and Carson were always closely attached after that.  He always slept with Carson.  Grant and I have always quipped that Red is the dumbest and most worthless cat ever…. yet Carson always defended him and seemed to understand the cat, of course Carson was always siding with the underdogs of the world too, both four-legged and two-legged.  Oddly, Red quit going into Carson’s room altogether and it was immediate.  Even odder, he has begun sitting in my lap which he never did.  When I cry, the cat comes and stares at me – it’s hard to explain and it probably sounds a little crazy.

Pets – it is now public and known that I have agreed to let Grant get a puppy after I return from my trip to California.  We will select it together since I do have some say in size and breed mix… nothing too big and absolutely no “yappy” breed mix or any of the “mean” breed mixes.  It will be Grant’s dog and his responsibility although I will pay for the invisible fence and crate.  The rest is up to him.  I will dog-sit as needed since Grant does work in the evenings.  When he moves out again, the dog will go with him, so he really does need to be considering size due to limits at most apartments.  I think it will be good for Grant – he misses his girlfriend’s dog so much, and he is a good dog handler, much better than me.  My cats will never forgive me.  It is something for Grant to look forward to as well.  God help me (and Red and Blackie).

Speaking of family pets – what about that monkey in Connecticut?  I have read every news story available on Google search about that I think.  It’s a tragic story for the woman who was attacked but my interest is in the owner.  Wow.  The chimp drank wine, slept with its owner, took her car once, took Xanax, opened the police car door?  Carson would have enjoyed reading the articles with me.  It makes me feel less crazy for thinking that my cat senses my loss and sadness, and that getting a puppy is probably a good thing.