I am the single older-ish lady and mom who lives next door…I say mom as that is my single highest priority, most joyous, and most devastating job I’ve had in my life. If my story (as succinct as I can be) and grief experience resonates with you in any way, I am here for you.
My oldest son was kidnapped when he was 8 years old. His captor was incarcerated after he was found and my son seemed to be unscathed.
My dad passed in ’92 and I held his hand as he left his body…for that I am grateful and was also traumatized as the respiratory therapist instructed me to hold his hand so he could not pull the mask off his face….which he tried to do.
In the next seven years, my mom was helping my oldest brother, a Vietnam vet, with his struggles with PTSD and more. My brother found my mom on the floor and called the ambulance. I met them at the ER (I worked next door) Our mom was transferred to the larger hospital as she had a subdural hematoma that required surgery. It was traumatizing for all, especially for my brother, with the sibling head knocking that can go on with situations like this… I was always the peace keeper and the one who brought all together but my concentration was on my mom and then my brother. My oldest son was my rock during this time….it was new years eve and it had been an exhausting week in the ICU, I went home the next day to check on my mom’s house (winter in VT) and my brother who I had not been able to reach that morning. The unimaginable was found…my brother had shot himself and left a note. My mom passed 5 days later. It was a complete blur…my brother and I were the executors of her estate and I was on my own with siblings who could not get along and rather became the victims during a time of complete loss for all of us. I told myself then without really knowing why or how that grief was an energy and I needed to keep it moving or it would get stuck either emotionally or physically. So I moved…I took up yoga for the first time, I did African dance and drum…I moved, I grounded as much as I possibly could and it was a blur.
Two years ago in April of 2020, my oldest son passed away after a series of struggles. He has joined the Army in 1999 and he found the love of his life in 2014 and had a beautiful daughter in 2015. In 2017 his fiance attempted suicide twice, she could not control her drinking and was bi-polar. he was the stable parent, he removed all alcohol from the house. That said, at some point along the way he was drinking clandestinely and no one knew it. He was extremely bright, a gifted student and I always felt he would be successful at whatever he wanted to do, because he could do it all. While the world was on his shoulders those two years he then in 2019 he lost his dog of 16 years, he lost his job, and was not taking good care of himself as his fiance moved out in March of 2020 with his daughter. She was his world and he was hers. He was distraught, he was trying to get better, he was sick, he couldn’t breathe, he had a fever, he was tested for covid, he was isolating and doing everything right…he did not want to die. I spoke with him every day that week…in retrospect my work was in the way..balancing work and my boys was tricky and I will forever fault myself for that. I could’ve done better. That next day, a Saturday, I went to visit my youngest son and when I was there his brother called him and he was not able to breathe and said he just wanted to sleep…we drove to his house right away and called the ambulance. (I wished we had not – they were horrible) My son was on the couch and he had a bottle of whiskey in front of him…on a table…I believe he passed while we were there…the emt would not take him, he said he needed to sleep it off. I said, he needs to be in the hospital!!! Again, I blame myself for not being more aggressive and advocate for my beautiful boy.
I the hospital his fiance told me it was all her fault and that he told her to check on him every two hours to make sure he was still alive that Friday night. And to not tell mom…and she never called me. I told her I was feeling a lot of things in that moment but that little girl needed her to be a sober parent.
I continue on today and everything I do is with my oldest son in mind…what would he want…what would he do. I am spiritual and I know he is with me every step of the way. I miss him beyond words and wish he were here in the physical.
I continue to work on my own PTSD and have always been that person that others come to and open up. I listen, I witness, and I am simply there when needed. Love and compassion.