killed - grief notes | blogging from a to z challenge

During the month of April, I am taking on the Blogging from A to Z challenge, writing twenty-six alphabet themed grief notes.

On August 17, 2017 my twenty year old son was killed in a car wreck. I am trying to be OK . . . we are all trying to be OK ... in a world where nothing is OK. I am reaching for what I know heals me ... creativity ... art ... writing. Stringing together words, thoughts, and questions. 


I want you to know that I'd rather pick another words ... something easier ... something nicer. 

But I can't.

 

I vowed to be honest about what this grief journey has been like, is like. I made myself a promise that I would write the hard things, the beautiful things. I happen to believe those are both one and the same. Hard and beautiful. 

 

You can't make death pretty. You can't make pain  pretty. You can't make grief pretty. 

The beauty lies in living through it, showing up honestly. 

 

So here are my words today ... for the letter K.

 

My son was killed. 

He did not just die. 

He was killed by someone driving something for some place. 

 

Eight months later and no one has been held accountable. 

I am angry and I don't know who to be angry at. 

The individual ... individuals ... driving? was it one or more? 

Vehicle malfunction or negligence? 

The company? who knows what company is responsible. The rental company ... the company who rented? 

We still don't know. 

 

The lack of answers, lack of closure, is maddening. 

 

My reasonable mind says that none of it will matter. That it won't bring Noah back. 

My heart screams for vengeance. I want someone to pay for this. 

I never thought I'd be that person but I have become that person.

 

Because this is painful and I am angry. 

 

I wonder if they are still driving? Does it haunt them? 

The sight of my son's body being pulled from the car ... 

 

I don't even know if he was in the car. They tell me he had pulled over to get something out of the back. Was he standing beside his car? Or was he still in the driver's seat? Buckled up or not? What happened? I have no idea. I didn't see his body after he died ... did they tell us it was best if we didn't? I don't know. 

 he left my house that morning and returned the next week in an urn. 

How is that possible? 

 

 

This pain compounds when I think of every mother who doesn't get answers, who doesn't get justice. The list is endless. 

I started trying to list them but I can't. I am crying too hard. I am broken. 

 

 

 

 


joy - grief notes | blogging from a to z challenge

During the month of April, I am taking on the Blogging from A to Z challenge, writing twenty-six alphabet themed grief notes.

On August 17, 2017 my twenty year old son was killed in a car wreck. I am trying to be OK . . . we are all trying to be OK ... in a world where nothing is OK. I am reaching for what I know heals me ... creativity ... art ... writing. Stringing together words, thoughts, and questions. 


I have a love hate relationship with joy. 

I want to feel it 

but I despise it when it comes

 

I don't want to ever feel joy again

because it feels like betrayal

and unnatural

but I yearn for my heart to bubble forth with it

 

Noah whispers, "find the joy, mamasita. find the joy" 

so i reach

 

In the past eight months, I have only had one moment of pure unadulterated joy

when a friend told me that he and his new bride were expecting a bab

 

and it felt amazing to have that much hope 

for the future

for love

 

In the month after Noah died, I said that I want hope to return. 

Now I wish for joy, please

raw, naked, joy

without the cloud

and the covering

of grief

 

 


impossible - grief notes | blogging from a to z challenge

During the month of April, I am taking on the Blogging from A to Z challenge, writing twenty-six alphabet themed grief notes.

On August 17, 2017 my twenty year old son was killed in a car wreck. I am trying to be OK . . . we are all trying to be OK ... in a world where nothing is OK. I am reaching for what I know heals me ... creativity ... art ... writing. Stringing together words, thoughts, and questions. 


 

I just can't imagine . . . 

 

those words have been spoken to me many times 

over the past eight months

and I reply

no, you can't

and I don't want you to. 

this pain is so huge that I wouldn't want anyone to even try to imagine what it is like. 

It will destroy you.

 

Except it doesn't destroy you. 

Somehow, you go on living

proving the impossible

 

Because it seems impossible to ever go on without the person that you love

you cannot imagine every being able to 

and nothing you can do or imagine

will ever prepare you for it

it literally seems impossible

 

until your baby dies in your arms

until your husband commits suicide

until your twenty year old son dies on the side of the road

 

and you wake up the next morning. 

and the next ... and the next. 

 

the world keeps spinning

and how is that possible

didn't it get knocked off its axis 

in the same way that I did

 

aren't we all careening toward our own destruction 

because nothing, no one could survive this

 

but we do survive

we do go on living

we wake up each day

and we breathe --- inhale, exhale

 

we see color and we hear birds sing

we find joy or joy finds us

we make plans

we laugh

we cry

 

we watch movies

and eat our favorite foods

and write words

and make art

and read the tarot

 

and find hope

somehow

 

we prove the impossible 


help - grief notes | blogging from a to z challenge

During the month of April, I am taking on the Blogging from A to Z challenge, writing twenty-six alphabet themed grief notes.

On August 17, 2017 my twenty year old son was killed in a car wreck. I am trying to be OK . . . we are all trying to be OK ... in a world where nothing is OK. I am reaching for what I know heals me ... creativity ... art ... writing. Stringing together words, thoughts, and questions. 


I've never been good at asking for help. 

 

I've got this.

I can do it. 

 I don't need nobody.

 

( while simultaneously reaching for community but that's a post for another day ) 

 

I think I learned a bad lesson that people would disappoint you 

and

I absorbed the message that hardships in life were to be endured 

and 

I have always felt like I have to take care of others so I have never asked for help for myself

and

asking for help is vulnerable and to be avoided at all costs 

 

until you are on the side of the road, sobbing into the phone,
"I don,t know what to do. I don't know what to do. I don't know what to do"

 

Until you are walking up the driveway and your children meet you there, surrounding you, and you are reaching for them as much as they are reaching for you. 

 

until you are so grateful for the friend who showed up anyway despite your saying you didn't need anything because that's your default

 

Until she drives from Atlanta and together they walk into your house with calm presence and food
and the next day rose cardamon lattes and boxes of pastries

 

until food arrives on your doorstop for two more weeks

 

Within the first two or three days after Noah died, I told my children that people would not know how to be with them; that they would have to clearly ask for what they needed. If they needed silent company, if they needed to talk about Noah, if they needed distraction ... they would have to ask for the help they needed. 

 

It's so difficult though. 

 

The months have gone on and I've stopped asking because think I know less of what I need than I did at the beginning. 
It's gotten a little bit lonely lately. 

I write silent words. 


generalizations - grief notes | blogging from a to z challenge

During the month of April, I am taking on the Blogging from A to Z challenge, writing twenty-six alphabet themed grief notes.

On August 17, 2017 my twenty year old son was killed in a car wreck. I am trying to be OK . . . we are all trying to be OK ... in a world where nothing is OK. I am reaching for what I know heals me ... creativity ... art ... writing. Stringing together words, thoughts, and questions. 


I spend this month, wrangling words into stanzas and cadences

and sentences and paragraphs 

writing grief notes

because I want you to see

I want you to understand

I want you to know

 

the truth is that every word is a generalization

my experience is my own and it is specific to me

I know every note, every rise and fall, of this orchestration

I wrote it. 
I perform it.
I am this symphony of sadness mingled with hope, tiniest bits of hope. 

 

this is my story

and all that I have to say about it 

flattens out into meaningless definitions

 

because you can't know

you can't understand

you can't see

 

unless it happens to you

and I would never want that for you

for anyone

for myself

for those that I love

 

I would prefer that we only know grief as a concept, as a distant tragic something that might happen but hopefully not, as a story that we read in a book. 

 

I wish we knew only the generalization of it and not these piercing shards, the crushing weight, the perpetual anxiety. 

 

What we know is different than what someone else knows.
and what we know today is different than what we will know tomorrow.
There is no planning, no preparing.
There is just showing up each day and seeing what it will be. 


friends and family - grief notes | blogging from a to z challenge

During the month of April, I am taking on the Blogging from A to Z challenge, writing twenty-six alphabet themed grief notes.

On August 17, 2017 my twenty year old son was killed in a car wreck. I am trying to be OK . . . we are all trying to be OK ... in a world where nothing is OK. I am reaching for what I know heals me ... creativity ... art ... writing. Stringing together words, thoughts, and questions. 


In grief, your friends and your family come into focus. 

 

Looking through a telescope, binoculars, a microscope, you adjust that little wheel, the images blurring, sharpening, blurring again, and finally you can see clearly. That is the experience of grief. 

 

It changes your community, your circle of people. 
because you can see clearly. 

 

Far away friends are brought close. again and for the first time. 

Friendships are stretched and tested and  survive to maintain status quo 

or deepen into many layers 

or are found wanting and released. 

 

Nothing is new. 

Everything is magnified. 

 

and your tolerance for bullshit is zero. 

 

Family dynamics, always complicated, grow more so while it becomes simpler to see where your energy belongs and where it doesn't.

I release some ... again. 
I embrace others. 

I reach more for the relationships that give in return. I revel in getting to know these mighty women; where have you been all my life ... and then again, where have I been? 

Family dynamics, always complicated. 

 

Social medias be damned ... sometimes. 
but it saved me
gave me

more friends and a bigger family. 

 

 

 

 


enigma - grief notes | blogging from a to z challenge

During the month of April, I am taking on the Blogging from A to Z challenge, writing twenty-six alphabet themed grief notes.

On August 17, 2017 my twenty year old son was killed in a car wreck. I am trying to be OK . . . we are all trying to be OK ... in a world where nothing is OK. I am reaching for what I know heals me ... creativity ... art ... writing. Stringing together words, thoughts, and questions. 


Grief is an enigma - mysterious, puzzling, difficult to understand. 

 

You know nothing about grief until you are going through it. You know nothing about grief if you are going through it again in different circumstances. You know nothing about the same grief that you have been experiencing for the last seven and a half months. 

 

It's a mystery that comes in and out of focus, only revealing this part or another part at any one time. You don't get the full picture ever. 

 

We try so hard to understand it ... for ourselves and for others ... but I've come to the conclusion that making sense of grief is an impossibility. I only have my experience today, now, in this moment. What I am experiencing may not, and probably does not, apply to anyone else. What I am experiencing today may not, and probably will not, apply to me tomorrow. Maybe the inconsistency is the only consistency. 

 

We have tried so hard to analyze grief, to compartmentalize it into easy to understand words. It's all wrong. 

 

The most common words are the five stages of grief ... denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Thankfully, it is becoming more and more common to find articles debunking these stages than promoting them but still these patterns are firmly planted in our conversations about grief. When we read about the stages now, frequently, we still want to use those word labels but acknowledge that they do not occur in a linear fashion. 

 

Personally, I think the stages themselves are bull shit. They make more sense to me when used as Elizabeth Kulber-Ross intended - as patterns she noticed in patients who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness, in people coming to terms with their own death. I do not see how we can quantify and label any grief experience. The moment that we do that, we are giving someone a road map and telling them that they experience "should" look something like that. 

 

No. 

There is no should. 
 

Noah left behind the love of his life, a mother and father, eight siblings, two nephews, countless friends and parents of friends and co-workers. We all love him. Just as our experience of him in the world was unique and individual to each of us, our experience with his death is unique and individual. 

 

Maybe the best that we can do is listen to our own story, bear witness to our own pain, notice our own patterns. Maybe the best that we can do for others is to listen when they want and need to talk, sit with them when they need silent presence, love them. 

 

We can only unravel the mystery of grief for ourselves, in this moment. 


dead - grief notes | blogging from a to z challenge

During the month of April, I am taking on the Blogging from A to Z challenge, writing twenty-six alphabet themed grief notes.

On August 17, 2017 my twenty year old son was killed in a car wreck. I am trying to be OK . . . we are all trying to be OK ... in a world where nothing is OK. I am reaching for what I know heals me ... creativity ... art ... writing. Stringing together words, thoughts, and questions. 


 

My son is dead.

It's startling to say it, shocking to hear it.

Sometimes I say those words out loud to myself because sometimes I have to remind myself. I forget. I want to believe that he is still just living in Florida then I am immediately crushed because not only is he dead but he is NOT living in Florida and Atlas can never just forget. His absence is evident every moment of every day.

Oh my heart. 

 

We, personally and as a culture, try to use different language. 

 

Even just saying, "my son died" feels softer, not as harsh but also incredibly void of feeling or reaction. Why do we avoid reaction? It should be hard to hear, hard to say. 

Death rends your world. It rips it open leaving raw and gaping edges. It is tragic and brutal. We avoid looking at the reality of it, avoid the only true words that can describe it. We keep our distance by reaching for easier words. 

 

"I am sorry for your loss" 

Sigh. It is not my loss. Don't you understand? The entire world is missing Noah, going on without his smile, his light and love, his determination. That young man was making life so much better for so many people. 

And I really don't like to say that we lost our son. 

We did not lose our son. 

I know he was a lost boy when he was here in physical form but we did not lose him. He is still here. Not in the way that I want ... not in the way that I need ... but he is still here. 

But he is dead.

My son is dead. 


Here I am this morning, re-reading the words just before I post this. I cringe. I want to apologize. I don't want to make people feel uncomfortable. I don't but I do. I want us to have real conversations and not just in support groups where everyone is experiencing loss. I can't sit in a room full of people who are in trauma. When they share, I close up, revert to having to be strong for another instead of strong for myself. I need to say these words aloud, to change the way that we express and understand grief.But I am a classic over sharer who says all the words and then wants to shove them back into her mouth, her mind, her heart ... who worries always about saying too much and then about saying not enough. There are so many words I wish I had said but that's a post for another day. 

captive - grief notes | blogging from a to z challenge

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During the month of April, I am taking on the Blogging from A to Z challenge, writing twenty-six alphabet themed grief notes.

On August 17, 2017 my twenty year old son was killed in a car wreck. I am trying to be OK . . . we are all trying to be OK ... in a world where nothing is OK. I am reaching for what I know heals me ... creativity ... art ... writing. Stringing together words, thoughts, and questions. 


I am a captive to my grief. 

 

I didn't choose this. I certainly didn't want this. I have little to no say so in how I can show up to my life. Grief is always in charge. 

 

A persnickety and arbitrary captor. grief plays nice one day and then the next, shuts it all down. One moment, grief allows me the space the breathe and the next, grips my throat, always showing me who is in charge. 

 

I bargain. 

I plead.

I surrender.

 

On the wonderful days, I tip toe to the door, seeking my escape, hoping to not wake the beast. Knowing that one wrong but sweet move ... a song, a memory, a kind word ... will bring grief roaring, clamoring to slam my exit closed, capturing me again ... and again.

 

I accept.

I struggle.

I surrender again. 

 

 

I am raw and bruised from relentless beatings. Any seemingly meaningless, normal and mundane frustration  ... losing my key card, dishes in the sink, unplanned days ...  cuts into my wounds and I lash out from unseen pain. I am not easy to live with but grief adores me. 

 

I've lost count of the things that I misplace or lose entirely. I think that grief takes them and hides them from me, a mind game that keeps me constantly searching.  Grief is a magnifier. Any mess, anything and everything, look thousands of times larger to me. I know that I am overreacting. Grief demands that I know what is going to happen, all day, everyday and then delights in upending the plans. 

 

 

I speak sweet words

I walk on eggshells.

I make a home with grief.