Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Global Trach Tube Awareness Week

It's Global Trach Tube Awareness Week again and I am honored to once again write something for it. Here is the link to their page;  https://www.facebook.com/GlobalTracheostomyTubeAwareness

And here's what I wrote:  

When I lost my son on November 17, 2014, the world stopped spinning. Suddenly there were no alarms, no Darth Vader sighs from machines, no 24/7 schedule of meds, no appointments to make or supplies to order, no good morning grins, no midnight cuddles, no reason to watch Sesame Street.

How do I start over in the wake of my personal tsunami?

Well, at first I didn't. First I had a mountain of "now" to consume. This whole grief thing is completely overwhelming and I had to let it overwhelm me for a bit. I let people help me, I let them cook for me and help me think. My brain stopped working for awhile. My best friend came over, made me tea, and helped me make a to do list.  Then when someone said "if there's anything I can do,,,," I could whip out the to do list and read it to them. 

They say it takes at least 3 months for the shock to wear off and real grief to start. I waited. After the funeral, my husband and I rented a Hippie Van and camped up and down the West Coast.. It was good to get away and not think. Coming home was pretty terrible, but I was ready to begin to deal with the catastrophic reality my world had become.

Step One: Sort through the debris

An unbelievable amount of stuff that had been precious became meaningless the moment he stopped breathing. So far I have mailed about 20 boxes and delivered about 10 carloads of medical supplies and personal things to people who can use them. I have also put out about 30 black trash bags of things no one wants. I'm probably close to 3/4 finished.

As I sort through the physical things that now have no meaning without him, I am also sorting through my mental and emotional self. The sea change hit my insides as well. We were a symbiotic team. I lost not only my son, but also my identity as his mom and my occupation as his advocate and his aide. Without him, so many things I was proud of are now irrelevant. I am disabled by grief. I feel like a stroke patient learning how to do absolutely everything again and not always sure it's worth the effort. I never know when something will remind me of him and I will feel another wave of grief overwhelm me and leave me gasping for breath.

Step Two: See what's left to rebuild my new life

As my house is evolving from ICU through mailroom into cozy ‚"empty nest" for my husband and me, I am discovering gems among the trash; things I had forgotten I owned and things I will keep forever in his memory. I am also rediscovering myself. I am so proud of the life we built together in spite of all the difficulties we faced. My role as his advocate may be over, but I will always know that I handle crisis beautifully. I learned to be so strong and powerful in defense of my son, now I need to be just as strong an advocate for myself. I learned wisdom and gratitude and patience and compassion from living with him. These are gifts I can take away from his funeral. He lived a beautiful life. It was my honor to be his mom. I will never stop loving him, or missing him, but I am learning to appreciate the person I am because he loved me.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day 2015

This week I realized that I still cling not only to Sam's memory, but to my sense of responsibility for his wellbeing. I suppose that makes sense because being responsible for him was close to 100% of my identity - or anyway 100% of my minutes - every day for year's and years. My NAME was Sam's Mom. 

But, in fact, clinging to that sense of responsibility is killing me because I no longer have any power to care for him. NONE AT ALL. 

And I have not released him to his new life. 

It was hard releasing Ben Forsberg. I can still touch him occasionally and I am so proud of him and I adore his wife and kids.  Still I had to let him go. I don't know how he is doing each day, I don't have a part in the big decisions of his life. He is my son, we love each other, but he's a grownup. 

I didn't have a lot of choice about releasing Ben. He would have left no matter what I did.  But I did have a lot of choice about how I let him go. I could have made it a lot harder for him. But I think a mom does what is best for her child and I really want what's best for him. And I don't think staying with me was best. He's better off where he is and I love him enough to know that. 

Wow.  Same story with Sam!  I didn't have a lot of choice about letting him go, I had a lot of choice about how I let him go, I made it as easy for him to leave me as I possibly could. He's better off where he is now, even though I have zero input in his "life" or whatever now. 

And I miss both my boys so much I can hardly breathe. 

"Do the hard thing that is best for your child" has always been my motto.  I haven't always lived up to it or been wise enough to know what course of action is best. Too often I have simply reacted and had to think and apologize later. 

This lonely Mother's Day I am thinking of Hannah in the Bible who graciously gave her precious little boy, Samuel, back to God. I'm trying to be gracious, but I just feel old.