Remembering My Son

How many times can the heart break, and still work? I don’t know. I’m pretty sure it’s my mission to find out though. It’s been six months since my son died. There was a festival to honor him, and raise money for a cause he cared about. It was so hard to be there. To see his friends, and not him. There was nothing I could say that seemed to make sense. I mostly sat there trying not to cry, or be angry.

My daughter misses her brother so much. She made him a card to take out to the crash site. She got his football number painted on her face. I have it tattooed on my arm. We bought tshirts at the festival, and came home and watched Batman. He loved Batman. We try to do things to keep him with us. My daughter is afraid she will forget him. For me, he is always on my mind.

A few days ago I was in one of the stores that he shopped in a lot. I browsed, and picked up a few things. At the register there are a lot of different colognes, and perfumes. I was starting at one, and the girl asked if I wanted any. I simply said “No, my son wore that.” She responded with “ I know. He wore the Black. I remember you shopping here for his funeral.” It was sweet of her, and it sad. I teared up, and tried to hide it. I walked out feeling like I was overrun by emotions, and could lose it at any minute.

That is kind of the life you live when your child is dead. You walk this line of being in control, and losing your mind. I can be calm, and think before I speak, and have restraint. But then one thing will happen. One thing will be said, and I’m gone. There is overwhelming emotion. Sometimes I have words, and sometimes I need to take action.

They say grief comes in waves. Some are small, and you can withstand them. Then some are big, and they knock you right over. They crash into you again, and again. It’s true. There is no clear cut plan with grief. You get hit at odd times. You cry when you don’t want to, and laugh when you probably shouldn’t. You forget, and then feel guilty, or you constantly remember, and can’t focus on anything else.

You find ways to cope. You seclude yourself when you need space. You go out, and you don’t care that you look like an extra in a zombie movie, because at least you made it out. You hold close those you trust, and let everyone else fall away. And you find ways to keep your brain from imploding.

It’s a process. One that I am no where near done with yet.

So in this moment, I’m just going to cry. Because all I want right now is to hug my son. To listen to him talk about girl trouble, while he eats all my strawberries, and to watch a movie with him. Because it’s the little things with him that I loved and miss.

How Poetry Is Saving Me

Almost every young girl that sees herself as a writer becomes a poet at some point in her life. For me, that was 17, and full of emotions that I didn’t know how to pin down without rhyming. My poems were moody, and ever changing, but they were also an outlet for how I was feeling.

I am now 34, divorced after a 15 year relationship, barren, a single mom for a special needs child, a mom of two children dead, a questioning Christian, a striving minimalist, and a business owner. Life has not been easy, or kind, and poetry is again a balm for my soul.

I listen to spoken word poets, I read books filled with rhyming words that soothe my soul, and set it on fire. I sink deep into words that are comforting, and understandable. I never thought that I would go back to poetry, but now I drink it in again. I can see that I have become dehydrated by the struggle that has been my life, and I need to be quenched by souls that relate to mine.

I have always had a love for words. Growing up, I was likely found in a tree, or a corner with a new book every day. The world around me was not always kind, and I wanted an escape. Words were my escape.

After my divorce, I wrote all the time. I filled journals, and blog posts, and little papers scattered about with my thoughts, my dreams, my fears, and my hopes. Words came out in ink, and filled pages with the pain of reality, and the hope of fantasy. Lists became my life. I had a list for everything, and I do mean everything.

Then my son died, my words dried up. I didn’t know what to say. What could you say when your heart was bleeding so profusely? I tried to write. I tried to make words into sentences that I could hit publish on. But, nothing seemed right, or good enough. Nothing made sense. It wasn’t right, because my world was all wrong. When you love someone so deeply, marriage shouldn’t end. When your 17 year old baby boy dies suddenly it’s not right to never hug him again. When the little girl you begged God to give you spends more time feeling frustrated, and going to therapies than being a little girl, you think about how you should be playing at the park, instead of filling out paperwork for yet another doctor. And when your body fails to preform the way it should, your world is not right.

So my words stopped. Everything spins so fast when it’s all crashing down around you. When you feel like Alice, falling down a hole, you try to grab at whatever you recognize. There was nothing about my life that I could recognize. So the words stopped.

Poetry started showing up in my news feed. It was suggested in ads. It was there on the library shelves staring back at me. So I picked it up. I read a few lines, and my brain begged for more. Give me more words that feed my soul. Give me more people that understand. Give me more pictures in my mind of what I had been feeling.

I drank in the words, slowly at first. Then I searched for more. My soul is still twisted with all of the pain, but a little bit at a time, the words are saving me. And I am finding that the more I drink, the more I am filled, and I start to hope that one day my own words will come again.

Looking For Myself When I Break

Cameron Brick

Note: I wrote this almost two weeks ago, and it is still a daily struggle. But I hope through sharing it that you will relate.

I haven’t been myself in a very long time. I became who I thought he wanted me to be. The ironic thing is, when I changed he didn’t want me anymore. He wanted someone else. And in the process I lost myself.

I lost my ability to say no. I lost that part of me that didn’t take any shit. I lost the part of me that said that I am worth standing up for. I lost the idea of who I wanted me to be. I lost the edge, and the beauty of being a soul who speaks her mind, and became someone who just let things happen to her. And I became someone who didn’t like being alone with herself.

I miss him, and I miss what we had, but tonight I needed more. I have needed someone to be there and hold me, and talk to me about the bad things happening, and tell me it was all going to be okay. I lost the ability to do that for myself.

I broke tonight. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I couldn’t stand the pictures he was showing off of his new kids, or that he said he was talking to his girlfriend. He said it to me. A woman should never have to hear those words from the man she thought she would spend forever with. It was harsh and cruel.

I broke tonight when the crowd was on their feet cheering, and encouraging the boys on the field, because my son wasn’t out there any more. I look for him, and I don’t see him. I know that I won’t. He died. I saw it myself, when I identified his body. But I still look and hope to see him, and then I plummet into sadness, and heartbreak.

I broke today when we had to meet with the funeral home director to collect the death certificates, and copies of donation checks, and his ashes. When we realized what had caused the accident, and we all felt responsible in some way, I broke. I listened as his biological mom talked about all the grief she is going through, and I could say “ me too” for everything she said, but because I didn’t give birth to him, so my grief wasn’t validated.

I broke when the man who I married years ago was supposed to be there and didn’t show up. Because that meant that I was there without any support or back up. I was fighting for myself, and still collecting what he needed, and I was doing it without him. More broken promises.

I broke when a friend showed up to watch the game with him, and I was left out. He was my friend too. He had become my brother. He said those words, and yet I wasn’t a part of the conversation, the friendship, the bond that they still had was cut off from me, and I broke.

I broke as I held my dead son’s cousin while we buried her baby this morning. Another baby gone. Another mother crying out for her baby to come back to her. Another heart that will never be the same.

I broke when people that I had come to love had only harsh words to say. I broke when people that once knew me best, didn’t even see that I was not okay. I broke when I thought of all the loss I have had, and wondered what would be next. In 5 months I lost my husband to divorce. I lost my son to death. And all I am left with is my daughter. I worry what will happen to her.

And I lost myself. How could I still even have anything left of myself with all the brokenness? When your heart breaks into so many pieces how is it even possible to have anything left of yourself?

I broke. I did not explode. I wanted too. I did not stop living. I’ve wanted too. I just walked away. I needed out so badly. I needed away from all of the pain. I needed my husband to love me. I needed my son to hug me. I needed to not hear the cries of a childless mother. I needed to not hear the anger of a broken bio mom. I needed to not see the pictures of him with his new family. I need out. So I ran.

I stood up, and walked out. The game was ending. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I talked to a friend. She knew I was shutting down. I said that I was going to explode or go silent. She said I need out

I work all the time. I know that isn’t totally true, but I do work hard. I have too. I am now a single mom. The only child I have left alive is high needs. I have to educate her. Take her to all of her many appointments, and help her through all of this grief. I have to work to keep her warm, and fed, and clothed. And I still try to be a fun mom, and make her life better.

But tonight I broke. So I went to the place where my son died. It is the only place we can go to feel near him. Then I reverted 20 years. I drove fast. I drove back roads. I blasted Puddle Of Mudd. I sat in my cold car with a coffee and a pack of camels. I wrote on the side of the road. And slowly, after two hours, I started to feel okay. I started to feel like me.

Am I still mad? Yes. Am I still sad? Yes. Am I still broken? Hell yes. But it helped. I took myself back to a time where I listened to Alt rock, and drove fast, and wrote in the cold with my smokes, and coffee instead of going home to dive right into work.

When I did get home I put on baggy clothes, crawled into bed, and wrote some more. I grabbed books that have nothing to do with building a business, or eating healthy, or education. I grabbed a magazine, and a novel. I grabbed the laptop and music.

I need me. I need to find me again. It probably won’t always be in a Puddle Of Mudd song. But I have to try. Because for the first time in a long time I don’t feel quite so bottled up and stuck in who I tried so hard to be I felt like me. The girl that likes loud music, and fast cars. The girl that needs space to drive, and sit, and write, and be angry.

Parenting After Death

When a child dies, in some ways a parent does too. The hopes you had. The dreams you listened too. The plans you made with them for a future, and a life all of their own. They all die.

Losing a child of any age is horrific. I lost a baby in early pregnancy. It was horrible, and left damaging scars on my family. But, when you have come to know your child, you watch them grow, you see their smile, and you hold them tight….the damage is worse. I didn’t know that it could be, but it is.

I will never get to feel his strong arms hug me again. I will never get to see his beautiful smile again. I will never get to listen to him call me mom ever again. I will never get the late night talks, or midday texts. The pain in those lost things is heart wrenching.

I think of graduation, and college, and marriage, and babies, and jobs, and dreams I will never get to see with him. It almost immobilizes me. Parenting a dead child is the worst. You go out to the place you feel most connected to them. You watch their friends go on with the life that they were supposed to live. You wake up, and go to bed wondering what you are supposed to do with all the parenting you have left and can’t use for them. Even if you have other children there is a void that you just can’t fill.

People ask you how many kids you have, and you stumble because you don’t want to make things weird. People don’t know that you have parented a child so old when you give advice. People don’t know if they should say something or say nothing when they see you at the coffee shop, so they give you looks of pity, and hugs, and you love them for trying.

When you are parent with out your child the world looks different. I experienced this to some degree when I went through years of infertility, and again now. People complain about their own kids (and I’m not above complaining about mine) But you know the ones I’m talking about? The ones who probably should have stopped several kids ago, or maybe gotten a dog instead? Or there are the people that just can not, and will not get their shit together. Now I understand that some of these people have real reasons, I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about the ones who just sit around, and leach off of other people. Hello, you were given a life! Live it already!

When you know that your child will not get the opportunity to live a long life it makes every thing just a little bit more harsh, or more beautiful. There doesn’t seem to be much of middle ground right now. So I look at my life, and what needs to change. How to move forward, asking what would I teach him about something like this.


Cookies For Cameron


I panicked a few days ago. I worried that I had never made cookies for my son. I text my ex husband and asked him. He couldn’t remember either. I was heartbroken and distraught. What if I had never made him cookies? Every mom should make their kids cookies. There is something special about your mom making you cookies.

My mom made me cookies when I was sick. She would put my sister and I on the couch and bury us in blankets, and then we would watch Bed Knobs and Broom Sticks, and drink hot totties, and she would make us fresh warm cookies. It made me feel so loved. That’s what mom’s do. But, I can’t remember if I ever did.

My mind raced to questions like “What if I failed him?” To me, not making my kid cookies was failure. I started to worry then about all the things I might not have done for him. Did I read to him? Did I take him to the park? Did I watch his favorite movie with him? Did I listen when he was hurting or confused? Did I love on him when he was sick? Did I do a good job at teaching him to be kind, and to love well?

I know I did. I can think of times when I have done each of these things. Except I can’t remember anything about damn cookies. But the rest of it…..I know I did it. Yet, I panic. What if it wasn’t enough? What if he didn’t know that I loved him as much as I did? What if, what if, what if…..

It’s the what if’s that I can’t dwell on. I can’t go there. I can’t think about them. They will immobilize me. I know that I did the best I could. I know that he knew my heart. Now it’s time to focus on what I do have left. It’s time to focus on my daughter.

Since my ex husband and I split up I have woke up so many days thinking about him. I redirect my mind by telling myself to focus on my kids, and work. This morning that was especially hard. I woke up thinking about life with my ex, and about how he is now getting some of the things that he wanted, things he couldn’t get with me. I was feeling alone, as I do most of the time now, so I thought-focus on the kids. My brain corrected myself to KID. You have one kid now. Focus on that kid.

My daughter needs a lot of care. Now that her brother is gone she needs more. She told me yesterday that with the split/divorce and then her brother dying the last two years bombed. I don’t want her to feel that way about her whole life. I want her to dream. I want her to grow. I want her to learn through tragedy, not stay in it. But, it’s hard. It’s hard as an adult, let alone a child.

I rarely make cookies, but my daughter enjoys them. Being gluten free makes cookies a little bit harder to do well. But, I want to try. I want to give her a chance to enjoy life, to enjoy the little things. to learn to live life, not stop. So I write schedules, and budgets, and make plans to live life.

And I ask my daughter to make cookies for Cameron with me.

Grief Looks Like…..

Listening to the same song 467 time in a row

Eating 2 times a day because you know your friends will ask you if you have eaten

Being so busy and not thinking until your body gives out and you have to stop

Drinking coffee, and smoking 4 times your normal amount just to keep you calm and going

Most of your clothes not fitting right because your body can’t regulate weight

Bottles upon bottles of pills in your bag so you don’t loose your mind

Falling asleep in weird places because you haven’t slept more than a few hours a night

Memories hitting you at random and being triggered by random things

Being more sensitive or moody

Crying in public or not being able to cry at all

Thinking about how different the future will be and getting angry

What ifs and wishes

Sitting still and semi comatose with no words, just staring because the pain is too much to handle

Wondering if you are loosing your family one by one because you are cursed

Repeating yourself over and over again because you can’t remember what you have said

Making plans then leaving early because you are too drained to stay

Making list after list to follow because it’s the only way that you continue to function

Words About My Son’s Death

My son died. It’s been three weeks since I’ve written, and two and half since he died. Mostly, I don’t know what to say. It was a horrible car accident, and in the hours that followed we waited to hear if he was dead or alive. In the days, and now weeks that followed we prepared his funeral and said good byes. The news of his death spread to effect a wide community of people.

He was loved, he was always smiling, and most of all, he loved well. He lived life to the fullest. Everyone was family to him. He was the protective big brother to so many people. He was a son, and boyfriend, and a heart to his sports teams.

He was 8 days short of turning 17. He did not have an easy life. He worked hard to get where he was, and become better than he had be taught. He worried about grades, as he made plans to become a forensic annalist, then join the military. He played his heart out on the football field, and on the wrestling mat.

I was not his mother by birth. I became his mom through love. I fell in love with him, as a tiny boy learning to walk. I fell in love with his dad, and we married. I took care of him, and loved him as though he was always a part of me. Because really, he was. I loved him as he grew into a man. Late night talks, and texting, and so many sports events brought me closer to him. There were a few years that we were absent from his life, and they were such hard years. But, when he let me in, he did it with a fierce love that will never be matched.

In the days that have followed his death I have seen traumatic things that no parent should ever have to see. I have made plans, and bought reminders for family members, and fought battles to see my son honored. I have wadded through so much grief, and so many questions. I have ended rumors, and been targeted, because everyone needs a place for their anger to land.

Normal life has been hard to get back to. How do you do normal when part of your heart, your family, is missing forever? I don’t know. But we are trying to learn. Sometimes I take life one hour at a time. I make plans, and cancel them, or leave early. I wear out quickly, and I still don’t sleep well at night. My heart aches all of the time. The loss of a child is something no one can handle well. But, I keep trying. I keep going. I am slowly adding back into my day the things I need to do; work, home school, appointments, and fun with friends.

We take things in pieces, because we are in pieces.