Friday, January 29, 2016

For Thor - 15 - Weave

The last couple of days were full. I went to Nana's house for several hours on Wednesday and while I was there your urn was delivered from UPS. It's really beautiful, but it broke my heart. Again. We took a walk down the LOTUS road and I meditated a while at Chidambaram Shrine, pleasant but intense. I visited with Mimi who, at 94, always offers such sage wisdom. She misses you, too. Starr sent me the last pictures ever taken of you. The ones where you and I are dancing in the kitchen. I didn't dare show them to anyone that night. Your dad was so tired and needed to end his night without emotional upset. So, I stared at them and wept, alone.

Yesterday, I had a shiatsu massage, talked with Aunt Elena who called to check in on me. Nana and Grandpa drove me to town, we went to the grocery store and then to your Dad's office. Dad and I had our first counselling session.  We went out to dinner and engaged in some pleasant conversation and even shared a laugh or two.

After we got home, Dad and I played Shadows over Camelot with your brothers. I am not sure if anyone else is marking the Thursday nights at 9:45 like I am. I kept silent vigil as that moment approached. You have been dead for four weeks, my sweet son. I inhaled slowly and deeply to ride the cutting emotions without causing alarm. It would have been cruel to yank everyone away from the small flotilla of joy we were sharing, to make them stop the game and fall into that painful memory.

Your presence in the room, at that moment, was very strong, Thor. I clearly sensed that you are happy for us to be making new memories. I felt the love you have for us and how sorry you are that we are in such pain.

It was a lot to take in.

After we successfully saved Camelot from the Picts and Saxons and we settled into bed, I realized I was deeply troubled. There are cross-currents pushing me in too many directions at once, the pace is too fast. There must be time to absorb what is happening around and inside of me. There is too much talk and too many questions. The world is drawing me back into its rhythm and I can't possibly match it - and I don't want to. The solo-walk and chat with you under the wide-open skies, that is an integral part of my routine for healing, hasn't happened for two days and it is eating at me. It is just as I feared, the busy, noisy world will just traipse along chatty and restless as ever. It will pull me into its heedless pace to where I cannot take this time to grieve for you, the way I need to.

There is no linear progress on this trek. What is progress, anyhow? Today, I think it means I don't feel so acutely horrid or like a refugee all the time. One step forward, three steps back and a big slide to the side. Not so much progress today.

Some mornings I want to scream "Fuck off!" to the sun - like today. I just want to cry and not worry if someone is worried that I am crying too much, or that my tears of anguish cause them angst, or that I don't want to leave the house, yet, or that two days of being out exhausts me, or that I have strayed too far into the deep-end of grief and am approaching the edge of reason. 

Yeah, this is life in the deep-end, alright.

It feels as if I am splintered into several distinct pieces and each one has a different need. I am at once a grieving mother who has lost a son, a mother to living children who are grieving and need their mom, a wife to a husband who is also grieving, a daughter/sister/friend who mourns with and receives from, and a spiritual being who is opening to a bigger understanding of divine love and the greater purpose of life. The pieces of me that are an employee and community member are still darkened and haven't begun to function, yet.

It's going to take time and Grace to weave myself back into wholeness. Like Grandmother Spider who patiently weaves the web of life, I need to settle into the deep, reflective pools of time and peaceful spaces to pull these pieces of myself back together. To weave them into a new design. My life will be forever changed by your death, Thor. I'm never going to be the same me that was before. That's okay. The rich beauty of your time with us and the asteroid-like impact you have on our hearts is being woven into this new pattern. In this way, and a myriad of others, you are always with me. 

One step forward, three steps back and a big slide to the side...  Progress on this new weaving is going to take a lot of time.

I love you, 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

For Thor - 14 - Floe

Normal life. I admit, I resent it and its persistent knocking at the door. How the hell is it possible that the world is still trudging along like nothing happened? I get my fair share of advice from people who may or may not have traveled this road, many of them offering the same words of encouragement; a return to normal life, whatever the heck that means, is going to help me. Help me do what, I wonder? Get through? Get past? Move beyond? Live with? I don't know what or how it will be for me down the road. Is it wrong to say I can't "do normal"? At least, not yet?

I have been testing out ideas to resume my "normal" schedule. It's a dicey business. I poke and prod the notions of work, responsibility and community service like an explorer in the Arctic testing the stability of chunks of ice in a floe. They are not stable enough to stand on, to take action on. Not yet. They would flip me off and into the icy sea in a second if I put weight on them. But like a floe, these pieces of my life, these pieces of me, move along a gentle current. They spin and swirl in eddies of pragmatism and life-affirming need to serve and love others. They gather piece by piece and knit together into new forms. These new forms just may be able to bear weight…

I tentatively test them with a mental probe. Am I ready to take this on? Not yet.
How about just a tiny piece of it? Maybe. This is progress toward the regular pace of normal life. I suppose it's good. I still resent it.

Each moment that passes takes me further away from the you that walked here on this Earth with me. Each moment that passes pushes us deeper into a new dynamic, the one where I don't get to hold you in a hug or share the ups and downs of this life with you here on this Earth. Each moment that passes takes me further away from the warmth of your smile and the sound of your voice. The everyday actions of normal life will accelerate this terrible time slippage. It will distract me as time ticks by and when my attention again turns to reach for you, I will find that you are even more ethereal than before. I resent the shit out of this. I know it's inevitable. I know I must rebound and re-engage. I know…I know… But damn, it's hard to step out into my life when I know you will be left here, frozen in time, forever nineteen. I'll become an old lady, a grandma to your brother's kids. But never for yours. I hate moving forward and leaving this you behind.

The daily ritual that I do each day helps. Hatha Yoga, a little meditation, hot coffee, write to you, sweep the floors, make the bed, walk outside where I can talk to you. Love up your brothers and your dad. I cry when the waves crash over and through me. Each day I gain strength and perspective as I learn to live with your death. The totality of what it means to body, mind and soul is gradually integrated into my being. If that's not a testament to the resiliency and strength of a human heart, Thor, I don't know what is.

New ideas for living a life replete with love, joy, and happiness surface once in a while. Like tiny colored fish, they dart across the sea of my mind and draw my attention for a second before they are gone in a flash, back into the subconscious. It is there that they will continue to grow and bring new patterns for living into my heart. They are not ready to show themselves for long. Not yet. For now, it is enough that I know they are there. They are hope, Thor. Perhaps you sent them to help me find my way back to 'normal' and maybe even, to once again, experience joyful laughter.

I love you,

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

For Thor - 13 - Biggest Big

I went for a long walk through unbroken snow yesterday. The sun was bright and the sky offered a beautiful display of clouds that danced across that blue expanse. The wind gently tugged at my scarf and kissed my cheek. I was pulled by a deep need to find some high spot along the road where I could see the rolling lay of the land. I was called to stand on the same ground as you did on your last day. You know where, coming up the trail from the creek, right where Chaz came to "rescue" you and Travis after you two knuckleheads had been "lost" on a long hike in search of a deer.

Home is my restful cave, a sanctuary to recuperate and reflect. Nature is where I am able to move and shift these heavy feelings as I work through them. I told Aunt Lakshmi how all I want to do is lay on a beach and soak up the sun and let the ocean absorb my tears and pain. The ocean is big. A beach is big. A wide open sky is big. I need big nature where I can wail from the depths of my soul and it doesn’t feel overwhelming. If I do that in the house it's too contained, the energy bounces off the walls, echoing and reverberating endlessly. So I seek big nature. On some days, I need the Biggest Big Nature I can find. I would go to the moon and pour this anguish out into the deep abyss of space and let Mars and Jupiter know just what it means to be a human mother.

Eventually, I found that spot where I could see over the hills and the creek valley that is your backyard. I felt you so close there in that moment. So, we had a chat, didn't we? I wailed to the cloud-studded sky, to the sun-dazzled snow; to you.

I would like to have been able to say goodbye to you. I mean if this was really the deal we made, and clearly it was, then it seems only fair that I would be allowed a chance to say," Oh, is it time for that already?" I wish I could have known that you were going on a really, really long trip. And that I would be put on a new road; a new journey, as well. I would have stopped what I was doing, wiped my hands on a tea towel and taken a moment to look deep into your eyes where our souls could see each other. I would hold your sweet face in my hands and kiss your brow and tell you how very much I love you. I would ask if I could pack you a lunch because that's what mothers do when our kids go on long trips. You would remind me that it is okay, even if it sucks epically, and that this is all part of a greater Life Plan. (Who the fuck thinks up plans like this, huh?) We would know with a deep understanding that we'll see each other again, sometime down the road. That the anguish won't last forever, although the transformation will.

We are in this together, Thor. I would not be walking this road if not for your death. You are complicit in this current state of things. As souls that have work to do together, I hold you to the contract of our partnership, sweetheart. You may be a badass angel, but I am still your mom until I depart this life, dammit! I hope that you don't leave us too quickly in search of new adventures. Walk this road with me as my angel guide. Let me feel you near when I have to navigate the rough patches along the way. Let me feel you near when there is joy, again. Walk this road with your brothers and your dad, too. We all need you to help us with this sudden plot twist that has left us all bewildered and unsure.

All this I said, and more. Then I closed my eyes and waited. I heard you in the wind and felt you in the warm sun that dried my tears. You're here with me, with us, for the long haul. Your love is all around me, every moment. Have faith.

I'm glad we found time and a place to talk, Thor.

I love you,

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

For Thor - 12 - Sorrow

This shit is deep, Thor. The currents here are deep and wide, slow-moving and powerful. These are not the choppy waves at the surface of this sea of grief. I am sinking into new levels, closer to the heart of the matter.

There is a lot of suffering here. Everything is exposed and everything is moving. Nothing will ever be the same, again. 
This is one scary-ass notion. Fear causes suffering.
I sometimes don't want to expose and feel all these emotions. I don't want to admit you are dead. Resistance causes suffering.
I am wracked with guilt for not doing a better job as your mom and protector. Guilt causes suffering.
I am to blame, even if my logical mind knows there is no one to blame. Blame causes suffering.

Gradually and sometimes with excruciating slowness, these deep currents push me into these painful places. They say this is a natural part of grief, to confront one's own inner blocks. They say that all my "stuff" will surface. I think of a seawall where waves crash against it and are amplified to great heights when they hit that resistance.

Well, Thor, I have a good raging sea crashing the shit out of about a dozen seawalls all at once. Deep currents push and pull me in many directions at once. It is spectacular and exhausting. The spiritual teachings I've been given are helping me pray for and access the tools to dismantle these blocks - Grace being the main one. I pray hard for Grace to intercede. This is so deep and so wide I must have help. Help has come. I am not alone in navigating these tractor-beam currents that could easily destroy me.

I had a great spark of clarity this morning. Suffering is not the same as Sorrow. Sorrow feels good somehow. It's right and appropriate for me to feel deep sorrow. It hurts deeply, but it's the same way it hurts when a broken bone knits back together. It's a healing hurt. I can feel you and the love for you in this sorrowful place. When I am caught in a suffering current there is only agony which causes more damage, and worse, I do not feel you close, at all.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.

My earnest prayer is that we will all be free from suffering. That we will all be free to feel that sweet sorrow as we mourn your death. And that we will all awaken in a state of Grace and be filled with Peace as we take steps forward on that new day with you ever in our hearts, dear boy.

With all my love,

Sunday, January 24, 2016

For Thor - 11 - Vigil

I am a mother who has lost a beloved son, the child of my soul. Mourning your death consumes me. I wonder if I'll ever feel joy again, for real? Scattered moments of amused distraction here and there can draw a smile and even a small laugh, but it doesn't sing from a joyful place in my heart. I laugh because your dad and brothers, and even I, need to hear it. It's a signal that I am not so far gone into this journey that I can't be reached. Even false laughter has a purpose, I suppose. But it's weak and a little pathetic to my ears. It feels out of sync with where I am right now. My whole being is a House of Mourning. Is there room for joyful laughter in these hushed halls or must I abandon them?

The thought of moving out of mourning anytime soon is out of the question. I am rooted here, locked in position like a sentinel standing vigil. This is my privileged duty, to have borne, raised, love, and now, grieve for you, Thor. I will stay here until I can stay no longer. When the sun dawns one day and there is a new warmth, a new glow, shining on me that invites me to move, only then will I abandon this post and take up a new one.

Still, I wonder…can there be joyful laughter in this House of Mourning? Is there room for the deepest anguish and for happiness, too? Do I have to stop mourning you to have a smile reach my eyes? I tried so hard yesterday to muster a good effort for your brother's birthday. It was too soon. I crumbled under the effort and ended up in the bed hugging a stuffed dog. I was put there by your dad who suggested that I needed to take a nap. Grief is exhausting. Later, we did okay. We cooked a nice supper and enjoyed watching some shows together. I know they all notice that I am a little forced in my cheerfulness and a little desperate in my need to hug them tightly.

I say 'I Love You' to them all the time now and I hope they don't mind. Like an amputee constantly touches the remaining limbs to be sure they are there - our family has lost a limb - and so I constantly reach out to be sure they are still here. I touch your dad's hair or hand. I hug Chaz and Xan for a long time so I can smell their hair and sometimes cry on their shoulder. I am reassuring myself - and hopefully them, too - that we are going to be okay. Never the same, but okay as long as we are together.

Lemme tell you what, Thor. I am not even a little bit okay with all of this. But, I am trying my best to be real in each moment and to be open to how I can grow through this experience.

I am in a strange land. The terrain is treacherous. I don't know the way. I'm not scared because I know you are with me.

All I know for sure is that Love holds the key to it all.
The Love that unites us all cuts deep to sever the illusion of separateness and pushes me beyond my human limitations so I can see; we are all one. This is the Love of God. It calls to me to step into a greater understanding of how we are all connected. It can help us all bring more light to the world. This is the real lasting legacy of your life and passing, for those who are brave enough to take it up.

These are the pieces of insight I've gained from standing vigil over long days and nights, unrelieved. It is a sacred place.

Still, I wonder can there be joyful laughter here, too? What good is all this love and light if there is no joy?

Maybe it's too soon and I am not ready. I can hear you say, "Patience, mama. Have a little patience. It will unfold in its own time. Be gentle with yourself. I'll help you along the way."

Good to know I have such a badass angel on my side.

I love you,

Saturday, January 23, 2016

For Thor - 10 - Jumbled

Jumbled.  I am a mixed bag of nearly every possible human emotion today; deep sadness, anger, longing, sorrow, joy, hope, love. They are so numerous and they move so quickly through my being that my nerves feel like they are literally shaking. The hairs on my arms and legs are like trip wires every sensation setting them off. I want the parakeets to shut the fuck up. Their cheerful twittering is a garish invasion of my sensory boundaries. My arms and legs feel weighted like I am swimming in peanut butter. I have a constant headache, right in the middle of my forehead. This is the physical story of grief. It fucking wrings me out.

It also opens my heart in unimaginable ways. I am being transformed in this crucible. Thank God and Grace, I have some tools to help me endure what apparently cannot be avoided.

Meditation is good, I sink into quiet contemplation often. It is here that I get sense higher purpose, order, peace and sometimes, a whiff of joy. I take deep healing breaths; when I can suck the wind all the way down to the bottom of my lungs. If I'm not mindful, it gets hung up in my throat and turns into a half-choked sigh, but I keep at it. The breath moves energy through my system. I move my body through a simple series of Yoga poses to further help disperse and release the pain of sorrow. It helps me find a measure of steadiness, some footing where I might rest and gain some strength. Then I write. And cry. And I ride these waves of intense feeling.

Life marches on, the beat never slows, never pauses. Even for something as life-shattering as you dying, it never paused. Not even for a second. I still don't understand that one, but here we are.

Today is Chaz's seventeenth birthday. It's also your sweet Grandpa's 70th birthday. We are planning to have a party to celebrate life; these lives. The specter of your passing lingers here so strongly, still, that it's going to take some work to pull this off. We need to sever the sadness and mourning from shadowing Chaz's birthday. It's so damn close in time that it will be difficult. I want him to know that even while I mourn you, that I have not forgotten him. And that he is celebrated, joyfully, on his birthday with my whole heart.

We have cause to celebrate and we will celebrate, with joyful abandon both Chaz and Xan and all the milestones, achievements, and markers that they will see in their lives.

Your brother, especially, is going to miss you today although I doubt he will say anything. You know how sweet, sensitive and empathetic he is, I can sense him apologizing for having a birthday at such a bad time. I can see it in his eyes, he is deeply affected by your death. Hurt and wondering how we will go on with this new family dynamic. You've left a void, darling. One that Chaz will grow into making his own mark; the second-born, middle child will become the eldest. You will always be the first, Thor, but you are forever nineteen, frozen in time. Your thread was cut short while the rest of us move along. In two short years, Chaz will be older than you ever will be.

The good news is that we have found someone for them to talk to; a friend, who lost an eighteen-year-old brother when he was twelve has offered to spend some time with Chaz and Xan. In the meantime, maybe you could spend a little extra Angel energy hanging around your brothers? Teenage boys are not known for open conversations, especially about feelings. And more especially when those feelings are really intense.

Dad and I are doing okay. We each have our process for dealing with this, but we are finding each other in moments here and there where we simply hold hands and cry a while. Being snowed in together has been really good for helping us find some connection. Some space to mourn and share together.

You know, I still can't believe you're gone. I keep waiting for you to come through the door looking for something to eat and to have a chat with Mom, some new big idea on your mind that you want to test out on me. I wish you were here to celebrate the birthdays with us. I just plain wish you were here, dammit.

Here we go, again. Cry.
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
Think of Chaz-o and his birthday.

Yeah, totally fucking jumbled. 

I love you, 

Friday, January 22, 2016

For Thor - 9 - Cocoon

Today we are expecting to get our first real snow of the year, Thor. And it's gonna be a whopper! Eighteen to twenty-four inches of the white powdery stuff in central Virginia is most definitely a logistical challenge for our infrastructure. We are prepared with everything we need from firewood and gas for the generator to good food, and most importantly, wine and chocolate. I am sure you can appreciate my sense of priority here.

I am looking forward to being snowed in with your dad and brothers. We need some time to reconnect and begin to figure out how we are going to reform around this hole in the fabric of our family. We've relied on the open love and generosity of family and friends to help us catch our breath and get past the initial shock and horror of your passing. We will rely on them more in the coming weeks. I am still wobbly and shaky, like a new foal. But for today and maybe tomorrow, too, a huge white blanket of snow will settle over us. We are gathered to the hearth of our home and will be together. It feels sacred and necessary to have this time, just we four.

We'll cook up a pot of green chili and watch some movies unless the power goes out (fingers crossed it won't, but you know how it is around here). And if the power goes out we'll break out the board games and oil lamps, like we always have. Dad will press Chaz into helping with the generator since you aren't here. We'll take naps by the woodstove as the quietude of the winter snow gently cocoons us into a deeper peace. There is space for contemplation and renewing rest in the womb of winter.

It will be poignant and unspeakably sad for us. These are intimate family moments that have always included you. We will miss the larger-than-life presence that you carried into every room you entered. And the sweet and funny way you engaged with your brothers in their favorite games that were foreign to you; think Settlers of Catan. The first time you played that with them was hilarious. Your brothers will miss sledding with you. They'll miss riding in your truck with the snow flying high off your tires as you churn down the road - mostly sideways but moving forward nonetheless - a lot of "WhooHooing" along the way. I am pretty sure they are going to be very put out that all the firewood hauling and snow removal has fallen to them. I bet you are laughing about that one, just a little bit. You rascal!

We hold onto each other through this rocky terrain, this rough sea. Together, we weave a patch to knit this hole in our lives. The warp and weft are woven with strands of love, salty tears of sadness and sweet ones of joyful memories. It is our way of keeping you alive in our hearts, but also how we will learn to move on as we take our first steps into a new day. It's how we will come through not just intact, but stronger as a family.

Lord, do I miss you, sweetheart. It's hard to stay with this vision of a future where we are whole and happy again in the wake of your death. Sorrow still rules my heart, but I am trying to raise my eyes to the horizon where hope will dawn. One thing about the dawn, it always comes. 

I love you! 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

For Thor - 8 - Interlude

There is a moment after something really explosive happens when there exists a perfect eerie silence and everything moves in slow motion. I can see the air particles floating and I can see the hair on the dog move with a breeze. I can hear my heart beat. The sound of my breath is loud in my ears.

I am bloodied, standing on weary legs, swaying. Your dad is here, too. We can't talk so well, right now, but that's okay. We are together. When the time is right, we will find the words to express what is in our hearts. We are the gritty survivors of this personal horror. There is nowhere to go, nowhere to be, but here, now, moving forward one excruciating step at a time.

I remember watching an old movie about the Bataan Death March. In moments like this, I feel a tiny kinship to those poor souls. They each walked their own horrible road, silently helping each other along. Never presuming to know the depth of the other's anguish, only that they were in it together.

Damn, I'm exhausted and want to sleep but there is no rest. Not the rest I crave, anyhow. The body is fine. It is my heart that is so tired. Sorrow pulls me into its own flow and I have no energy to struggle against that current. It is the work before me; to live this sorrow. It is a crucible in which I will burn until I am soft and resistless. Only then can I be forged anew.

Only then will I find you again, Thor, in the sacred place where the angels roam and where we are all connected…in that One Love.

A friend shared a poem with me recently that I've reread a few dozen times.

All you can depend on now is that
Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.
More than you, it knows its way
And will find the right time
To pull and pull the rope of grief
Until that coiled hill of tears
Has reduced to its last drop.
Gradually, you will learn acquaintance
With the invisible form of your departed;
And when the work of grief is done,
The wound of loss will heal
And you will have learned
To wean your eyes
From that gap in the air
And be able to enter the hearth
In your soul where your loved one
Has awaited your return
All the time.

~ John O'Donohue

Inexplicably, the world clicks back into motion, its usual hum and banter chatters around me. Normalcy calls. Dad gets up and goes to work. I make coffee and sort laundry. I make breakfast for your brothers. I pay a bill and wash the dishes. I move purely by muscle memory into these tasks I've done thousands upon thousands of times. The blood pumps in and out of my heart. Air is pushed in and out of my lungs. I listen to the world move around me and know that one day, I'll engage again, but not now.

I am heartened by Chaz and Xan, each day. I look forward to seeing their smiling faces and to feeding their hefty appetites. They are suffering, too, and need me. We talked one night about my expression of grief and how that can be scary in its rawness. What I hope they are seeing is that this is how much I love them, too. This depth of feeling is not reserved for you, only, Thor. Each of you has my whole heart. It's one of the miracles of being a mother. What I hope is that they know that feeling and expressing the deep emotion triggered by your death is natural, even if it does suck to the ultimate height of epic suckiness. I hope they know that it's alright to cry, and it's alright to laugh their asses off, too.

There is joy in the world and it is a soothing balm for these wounds. We're gonna go find us a big pot of joy and roll around in it for a while. We are going to go bowling, I think. And out to lunch. We'll see how that feels and take it from there.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

For Thor - 7 - Explosion

There are a million cross-currents running through all of us who are grieving your death, Thor. I've tried to gain my bearings and get a feel for these unpredictable rogue waves and whirlpools that toss me about from moment to moment, hour to hour. There is no pattern, but I am beginning to recognize the edges, the boundaries of what I can absorb before I am shaken to the core and cannot breathe.

There are other travelers on this sea of grief; trying to make their way and they, too, are blinded by tears and heartbreak. They have other ways of coping with this horror. Sometimes we find ourselves very much in each others way and looking to the other one to yield, to give a little room.

A skilled negotiator, usually, I can make almost any situation work for all concerned. But not now. All the nerves in my body are stripped bare and raw to the tiniest hint of stress. The barest idea of taking on more right now is overwhelming. The usual agreements your dad and I have in dealing with a the little compromises in our relationship are off the table right now. I feel selfish for not being able to continue to expand in this way; to accommodate these old contracts at a time when he needs me to do it.

Mainly, I am scared that I won't have the necessary skills to be gracious, magnanimous, adapting, empathetic, listening - my usual strong suits. I am afraid I'll lash out and cause harm when everyone is in so much pain, already. That I won't have a filter or the will to use it; that I'll say or do something that will just be plain mean.

We had a huge fight last night. It had been brewing. Everything is so intense right now that we haven't been able to talk, so a fight was inevitable. Your dad wants or needs me to give ground and I, for the first time ever, cannot do it. I collapsed under this weight in the kitchen floor and sobbed. I am usually so strong and capable. I can compartmentalize and move through all kinds of trauma, stress, unease, unpleasantness with empathy. Not now.

He tried to give me a comforting pep talk, holding my hands there in the kitchen floor. It just made it worse. He doesn't realize the depth of what I am feeling. Your poor dad, he has the hardest time choosing the right words to tell me, I just end up angrier…remember the other boys…have to get your shit together for them (and me, was implied)…come on don't flip out like this. And then when he can't reach me, he loses his patience and storms away yelling at me. I know the intensity of my grief scares him because he can't fix it. No one can, I try to remind him. It just fucking sucks.

We hurled verbal barbs at each other for a while. Testing the limits of our relationship and love.  Exposing other hurts that had gone unreconciled over time. That's one thing about grief, it strips you bare. To the bone. There is nowhere to hide those parts of me that I'd really rather no one had to see.  Your dad's hurt eyes begged and pleaded with me with me to show him that the gal he loves, that I, am still in here. His plea went unanswered.  I don't know where I am or who I will become when all this blows over. I know I love him. That is all. I hope it's enough.

Later, when we'd yelled and cried ourselves to being empty hulls, I rested my forehead on his back and then a hand and he turned to me. He is haunted by seeing your body at the scene of the wreck. I wasn't permitted to go, so he went for both of us, to kiss you on the forehead like I used to when you were a baby and hold your hand. He did that because I asked him to. I couldn't bear the idea of your body going anywhere without love and comfort from your parents. 

I feel so sorry that I cannot graciously do this thing he needs me to do. I'm being selfish and I know it.  We are doing it, grace or not, and I will be praying that I can find some shred of decorum and strength to cope - for him. For his sake, I'll get up off the floor and quietly take a Xanax and weather this shit.  Next week, we are going to find a grief counselor for us and the boys.  We need new tools so we can begin to rebuild our Family Ship.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

For Thor - 6 - Sunbeam

Dozens of little dark-eyed juncos are scampering for seeds on the frozen ground, their feathers puffed up to insulate them. I can relate. I need insulation from the frigid cold finality of your body's death; of your departure from the life we shared. I admit it, it's painful and horrible, and I want to go back and rewrite the script.

The new story would have me being more for you; more fun, more present, more loving, less judgy, easier to laugh, less caught up in stupid crap. It would have you on-stage with us, still, playing the part of the bigger-than-life beauty that we all love so much for a few more decades.  I did my best and wish it could have been more. For you. For all of us.

We are so precariously perched on this planet. Nothing is guaranteed. There is no promise of anything except now. This moment is the only one we have, for sure. And even it could be the last one. Remorse and regret and even a mother's longing for a different story have no place here. They are thieves bent on stealing away the gift of the present; Peace and Joy. 

Just. Be. Here. Now.

The sun is shining in the window at that low, winter angle that cuts through the trees and sparks on the front-door glass. It's warm, even if the air is frigid. You reached out of the sky to touch my heart with a single sunbeam. You are here. I know.  My sore heart opens to what is possible; to where this journey will take me - us.

It is enough to know that you will help me along this road. I'll pack light and look for the signs you send. Those signs reassure me that It's All For Good and It's All for God. That is wasn’t a waste, as I lamented yesterday. Not one second of the precious time I had with you was a waste. I need to hold onto the Big Picture; we cooked up a potent life plan, one that was daring and bold and scary as hell. One that would push us all beyond what we think we know and into what is Real Knowing. Into Real Love.

Keep sending me these sunbeams and little birds, Bubby. They insulate and lift my heart. They ease the way when I am cut by a million shards and am bleeding on the path.  I'll call on them when those tsunami waves come crashing - and I know they will. This is a marathon. Not a sprint. Just like when you were a little boy and were scared and would reach for me, I need to hold your hand, okay? Please, don't let go.

I love you, Mom.

Monday, January 18, 2016

For Thor - 5 - Refugee

What a waste. I can't help but feel what a fucking waste it all was.

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I appreciate the time I had with you. I have fond memories to replay in syndicated reruns in my mind's eye. I had 19 years of you being my boy. Yada, yada, yada…life's purpose and what greater good can come of this. Blah, blah, blah…I'll get through this stronger and better. I have the dozens and dozens of friends telling me stories to keep you alive and assuring me that I'll be okay. Not the same, but okay.

Lemme tell you what, I want you back, dammit! Fuck this fucking process. Fuck this fucking pain. I just want you back.  I want to go back and the way is closed forever.

Refugee. That's me.
There is no going back to where I was before the Night of Horror. The way is barred. The world that I knew and built with you has been blown to smithereens. I am shoved out of my cozy life ill-equipped to weather these elements.  I am being force-marched on a terrible journey into a strange, dark and forbidding landscape. Bleak. The sky opened up and rained down obsidian glass that froze into a million tiny scalpels. This is the path. It cuts deep with every step I take.
It is so much easier to sit down and not move.

I bought you an urn yesterday. In what reality is that shit okay? Huh? I took great care in its selection. I know it's one that you would choose for yourself if you could. But it laid me out. I googled, found, compared and bought an urn for my son's ashes online. They even had a coupon code. Bitter laugh as I was able to score free shipping and a 10% discount. The juxtaposition of something so normal -- online shopping and the victory dance of scoring a discount, with something so damned awful -- selecting a pretty box in which to put your mortal remains blew my damn mind.

There were so many visitors this weekend. They keep me from falling into the abyss; that sucking black hole where the totality of this anger, anguish and longing swirl. Instead, we sit on the shore and let the waves of these dark feelings lap on our toes, taking it in small doses. Company keeps me from diving in head first and drowning.  They also keep me distracted for the most part. But sometimes grief simply won't be denied for even one second more.  It holds me in its grip and dashes me against those obsidian shards.  That's when I call my lifelines.

Text "911" to the family. 

Thank God for champagne, and for Aunt Radha for reminding me that I might need a little something. Tiny little bubbles of anesthetizing fruity goodness percolate into that black mire to loosen its death grip and allow me to breathe.

Thor, sweetheart, right now there is not one single part of this that is okay.  Greater plan? Ha! Purpose, schmurpose! I don't give a damn about that right now. I am pissed off and selfishly irritated that I have to do this.

And at the same time, my heart is weeping with more love and more compassion than it ever has. So maybe there is one tiny thing that might, someday, be okay. Just don't push it, alright?

Sunday, January 17, 2016

For Thor - 4 - Tsunami Ambush

Thor, even if it was a short-lived respite yesterday, I thank you for it.  I caught a glimpse of how this will eventually be made right. It felt good to have that vantage point where I could see where I am going. For just a few moments, I could rest in the knowledge that I have a course. It is not an easy course, but I am not lost. I can head into that blasted landscape; that sea of grief with direction and purpose. And with you by my side as my most loving guide.

I was ambushed in the kitchen. I was cleaning the counter and washing cups from morning coffee. The warm sudsy water and the smell of dish soap were soothing to me.  The next thing I knew I was doubled over, trying to catch my breath. Great wracking sobs shook me and your dad swooped in to keep me from falling. Oh, yes. I was heading for the floor. Your Dad is strong, Thor. And your brother, too. I am pretty sure they thought I was having a heart attack. They held me as this agony washed over my psyche and through my heart. I thought I was drowning, honestly. I couldn’t breathe. I had no orientation. Everything was spinning around. My heart and lungs felt like they were literally on fire.

The thing is, I wasn’t even thinking anything in particular. I wasn’t fondly caressing a poignant memory or replaying The Night of Horror in my mind. I was blithely doing something mundane and a wave of grief rose up and up and up. It pulled all the hardest pain up with it. The kind that any smart person would run away from. It pulled it up out of the deepest part of this broken heart and then... It. Crashed. Down.

I left as quickly as it came. It just rolled away and left me sputtering. I didn’t trust my legs for a bit. They had a newborn foal feel to them that had me convinced I would end up on the floor and rather ungracefully, at that.  On the inside I was shell shocked and bewildered; all the little cubby holes of where I’ve been gathering collections of memories and was keeping track of day-to-day schedules and other random things were thrown into a wild, jumbled pile. Grief, apparently, is not a fan of order. Like a marauding horde, it overtook, ransacked and looted my tiny vessel of sanity. What the fuck?

There was no warning of the tsunami ambush. I was doing nothing in particular that would bring it on. It just rose up from deep inside and wiped everything out. And like a real ocean tsunami, it was presaged by a recession of the waters, an invitation to go deeper and not be afraid. They say that’s why tsunami’s are so deadly because people run out deep into the receding water line never guessing that it is just the water drawing back for a knockout blow.

Unlike real tsunamis, these waves of grief are not deadly. As terrifying as they are, I can see how they help me heal. Leaning into the pain and staying open to the love is so important. Any sane person would want to curl up in a ball and hide from this shit. If the dentist asked you if you’d like to have your teeth drilled without novocaine you’d run like hell, right? These waves are painfully purposeful; pulling up pieces of my heart that I might want to hide, to protect, from the agony of this new story. The one that is going on without you here. To be healed and to be whole, I lean in and let the waves find the pieces of my heart and bring them to the surface. Once here, in the open, I can reveal and release that agony and then, gradually, let the gentle sun shine upon them.

One piece at a time, the Crystal Heart that was shattered will once again be whole. It will shine again with the warm sun and even more vibrantly and with even more dancing rainbows.

I know a few more things today than I did. I know that grieving your loss, Thor, is an epic journey like The Fellowship of the Ring. I have all I need to embark on this path; a map (One Love), a destination (One Love), some guides (You and all the angels), some allies (our family and friends who are showering us with love and prayers) and vast resources (Inner Strength and Fortitude). Most of all I will keep Faith and Love with me at all times to fearlessly meet the unforeseen obstacles, pitfalls and scary-ass ambushes that await me on this journey.

I love you, Thor.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

For Thor - 3 - Love

I’m not angry today, what a relief. That really sucked, yesterday. Today I feel a deep well of gratitude and love rising up in my heart. It must be you, sweetheart, wrapping me up in some big ass angel wings. I am really grateful for this because my heart is shattered and scattered. There are pieces of me all over the place.

The corporeal mom, the one that lives here on this planet -- living and breathing and suffering -- is churning through turbulent waters. The good news is that I have charted a course across this raging and unpredictable sea of grief. I am headed for a shore that promises to reconcile the disparate parts of me. That shore is Love.

The winds howl and the swells threaten to capsize my little vessel, but I will get there. Likely I’ll be a bit battered and will have tattered sails, but I will find that shore. That Love. I will find you.

The deepest part of me, the part that knows The Infinite, is really good. It is here that I feel you - connected to me, connected to all of us. It’s hard to stay here all the time because the other part of me is in so much pain and suffering.

For today, I am grateful to be smothered in wings of pure love that emanates from you and the love we share. A calm has descended over me to offer a respite from the intensity of this journey. I truly feel all the love and prayers and connections that have been awakened since you left our physical realm. It is astonishing and awesome to behold.

A heart, cracked open, can let love flow and shine so much more freely and brightly. It is the biggest gift of a tragic sacrifice like yours. It is a tough one to accept when I am split between grieving a mother’s loss and stepping into the work of the soul.  Since your physical death, I feel there is a challenge laid before us - to awaken and see our true reason for being here. It is simply to Love All. To live my life’s purpose here, I must be brave and recognize this heart-shattering gift. I must pick it up and accept it. Any mission or challenge that is so important that it required the life of my son to wake me up has my full fucking attention.

I wrote a poem several years ago that I reworked it a bit. I feel emboldened to find the way through this to where you ARE.

Vulnerable. Shattered. Willing. Here. Cracked open. I love you, Thor.

My heart is cracked open
In the jaws of your death,
This heart bleeds the ichor of a mother’s grief.
Anger and anguish are flushed away on a wave of sacred tears
I lay upon the altar of my surrender.
Face down and stripped bare before God;
Who touches me upon my furrowed brow
and knows the depth of my suffering.

My clenched fists slowly unfurl into praying hands
As a desert flower in opens in the rain
Divine Grace radiates into the hole in my heart
It is a cooling salve to smooth
the broken bits, the shards, the rubble
Of my human frailty.
There is hope here.  A softness that I melt into and breathe.

No wracking sobs of agony and emptiness.
This is the breath of Peace.
I am loved.  I am Forgiven;
I hear your voice encouraging me. Assuring me;
Do not cower before your potential.
Love all.  Be bold. I will help you.
I must leave the notion of separation behind
On the altar of surrender.
It cannot carry me to where you are.
This heart is cracked open.
Grace pours in.
It sings;
Be Lived!.

Friday, January 15, 2016

For Thor - 2 - Anger

Today there is an angry edge to my thoughts. I’m mad at you, Thor, actually. Go figure, right? You’re used to that, I suppose. But I am also angry at myself. It's enough anger to go around, believe me.

I’m trying to do a few normal things. I washed the dishes and put in a load of laundry. I made the bed and fed the cats. What’s new is the dialogue in my mind. It swirls in and out of a one-way conversation to a plea to the Universe for a Goddamned Do-Over. “I miss you, Thor. Oh, look at how cute you were in this picture. I can’t believe you are gone. You never know when shit’s gonna happen. You’re so vulnerable. God, can’t we go back and try this again?” Then I get mad.

“Why the hell did you have to do {fill in the blank}.  If only you hadn’t {fill in the blank}. If only I had {fill in the blank}. What the fuck were you doing in that truck in the first place? Why didn’t someone tell me you were thinking of getting behind the wheel? Still feeling 10-feet tall and bulletproof, darling boy? Is it wrong to want to yell at you “I told you this would happen, dumbass!”? Yeah, I want to yell I Told You So to my dead son. I’m pretty fucking ticked.

I bet it was a heck of a surprise to you to find your Self severed from your body and floating above it. What I would give to know what your consciousness was experiencing at that moment. Do souls have remorse? Did you want to come back? I know you didn’t intend to leave me. I know you wouldn’t ever intend to hurt me like this. But dammit, it happened. And you are free and here I sit with all this shit to sort through. Here I am mourning you, worried for your dad and your brothers - and everyone who loved you - and how we recover from this impossible wound.

And you, having completed your time here with us, you are expanded into the Realm of Angels. It’s not supposed to be this way. You and your brothers are supposed to hold each other up many years from now when your dad and I take that journey. You are supposed to have had practice in grieving deep loss by mourning the passing of beloved grandparents, first. This is a bizarre plot twist in the natural order of things.

I’m mad at myself for failing you. It’s my job to keep you whole, healthy, happy and alive; has been since the day I gave birth to you. You were determined to make my job really hard --and apparently impossible. Early on, I realized I had to simply give you to God.  I would do my best to protect and help you, but ultimately you are God’s child, not mine. If he wanted to take you, he would and there’s nothing I could do about it. This doesn’t mean I didn’t do my part... from baby gates to vaccinations and being hyper-selective of media and friends, eating right and all those little life skills and lessons. The lessons you learned and shared with so many, in turn. I worked to keep you here where you could thrive among us. I failed. God won. He wanted you back and took you. Asshole move, God. Really.

Each morning I light the candle that sits next to your ashes and look at the beautiful photographs of your smiling face. I tell you good morning. And I wait. What will today’s grieving be about? Which barbs will snag my heart today? Will it be a sweet savoring of memories? Will it be sobbing jags poured forth from the rend in my heart?  Today along with the agony of missing you it seems to be anger. Again, this is apparently normal. What the hell kind of normal is this that a mom is pissed off at her dead son.

Just writing those words is inflammatory. Dead. Son. Holy shit, Thor. How did we get here?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

For Thor - 1

Today marks the two-week mark of your leaving your life here with me. I can’t believe it’s been two weeks. Hell, I still can’t believe all this is real. There is much evidence to convince me that I won’t see your sweet smile or have a big bear hug from you ever again. I sit with the little black box that contains the remains of your earthly form...and still I am not convinced. The evidence cannot be true. The words I read on cards, and the mountains of food and flowers, and streams of calls and visitors; all are trying to tell me your beautiful life with us, as we know it, is done. Still, I cannot accept this terrible thing. The books on grieving say this is normal, that someday I’ll accept and move along. It seems a long way off.

We say you’ve gone on to bigger and better things. We say that you were always bigger than life. We say there is a purpose in your tragic exit at such a young age. We say that there is comfort in knowing you are so well loved. We say these things to somehow make sense of it all, to give meaning to something that has ripped out my heart and left it bleeding on the ground in the same place where you drew your last breath.

I want to yell at you for leaving me and not telling me where you are going. And why. And when you’ll be home. I want to hold you in my arms again and tell you it’s okay. I want to fix you supper and hear about your day at work and how you are making a name for yourself. I want to dance in the kitchen with you a few more times. I want you to tell me what it’s like where you are now and if you can hear me when I say, “Goodnight, Thor.” I want to hear you and your dad and brothers play guitars again while I soak it up and am quietly proud of all my men. Moms want a lot, don’t we?

The Big Ma (The Mother of All) in me knows that you are infinite and immortal - as we all are - in the One. The Mamma that brought you into this world and nurtured and raised you is not so willing to let it go. I mourn the fact that your beautiful body is gone and I can no longer hold your hand. I mourn that we won’t get to know each other as adults. I am heartbroken that I won’t get to see you be a daddy and get to help you learn to walk this hard and beautiful parenting road. A road that is fraught with so much more peril than I could have ever guessed.  

Oh, Thor. We must have made a deal; we must have struck some terrible contract before either of us was born. I agreed to be your mom and you agreed to be the wild, beautiful child that would captivate, inspire, love, help and heal so many. I must have agreed to the terms that you would live like a thunderbolt and rock us like a hurricane leaving countless people scoured clean of petty hurts and the fear of living life fully in the wake of your passing.

As horrible as it is right now, as tempted as I might be to want to go back in time and renegotiate that deal we made with Fate, I wouldn’t do it. There is a terrible perfection in all of this. Like a firestorm that consumes everything and leaves the landscape blasted only to awaken in full technicolor bloom at the first healing rain. My vantage point isn’t high enough for me to see the Big Picture. I cannot envision the thread of your amazing life woven into the tapestry and how many other threads are connected to it. I cling to my faith that everything is God and that this inexplicable happening is part of this Divine Plan, too. I cling to my faith that the healing rain will come. Probably in the form of tears from all who love you. Today the tears are shed out of anguish and sadness and maybe even a little rage. Someday they will be shed with fond love and warm remembrance of your beautiful heart and soul.

One day this blasted landscape will bloom again. And it will be beautiful.

I love you, Mom.